This article has been updated, with a solvent free solution. Please check this new post: UPDATE: How to remove self-adhesive stamps from a paper backing?
One of the questions I get asked a lot is how to remove a self-adhesive stamp from an envelope or paper backing. Soaking it in water simply isn’t a consideration, as many of you already know. A little bit or research on the internet turned up this fool-proof method.
A chemical named Bestine, which can be purchased in hardware stores or art stores works miracles. Bestine is a fast-evaporating solvent which won’t damage the stamp even if it is embossed or has foil on it. Since today’s stamps are not as fragile as classic stamps of the past, this chemical is safe to use on them.
Here is the technique:
- Trim the paper around the stamp to a few millimetres and apply Bestine to the back of the paper with an eye-dropper. You will see the paper become translucent within a few seconds.
- You should be able to peel the stamp off the paper in about 10 seconds. Place the stamp face down on a flat surface and let it dry. The back of the stamp will remain sticky because the Bestine evaporates quickly, leaving the adhesive on the back of the stamp still active.
- To remove the stickiness of the adhesive, once the stamp is relatively dry, apply a bit of baby powder to the gum side. The stickiness will disappear, but you will still be able to stick a stamp hinge to the back.
A few extra tips: It’s best to work with one stamp at a time since Bestine evaporates so fast that you need to peel off the stamp almost immediately. Or else, the Bestine will dry and you have to start over. Don’t worry if your stamp appears greasy, once it dries this will disappear.
If you can’t find any Bestine, another solution is a can of 100% natural non-aerosol citrus based air freshener, like Citrus Magic or Zep. The procedure is the same, just spray the back of the stamp with the air freshener, wait a few seconds and then peel off the stamp. Talc it to remove the stickiness as above. It is then ready to be mounted in your stamp album.
I hope this helps all of you out!