Excimer laser removal of beeswax from galician granite monuments

Aldara Pan Cabo, Stefano Chiussi, Julia Serra, Pio Gonzalez, Betty Leon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The paper presents the use of laser radiation for cleaning of beeswax treated granite stone. In the early sixties, prestigious restorers decided to apply molten beeswax on the granite surface of valuable monuments with the aim of preventing the erosive action of atmospheric agents. An interesting example of this treatment is the Renaissance Frieze in the Cloister of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Northwest Spain). With time, salt accumulation beneath the beeswax layer has caused an intense surface disintegration of granite. Conventional cleaning methods can destroy sculptured details of these emblematic monuments. For this reason, excimer laser cleaning has been chosen as a promising non contact, selective and environmentally friendly cleaning technique to be studied.

The cleaning tests have been carried out using an excimer laser (ArF, 193 nm), with fluences between 0.5 and 2 J cm(-2) pulse(-1) and a spot area of 0.025 cm(2). Samples representing beeswax films over Roan granite have been irradiated and their degree of cleaning has been studied as a function of the number of pulses and the laser fluence.

Cleaning efficiency has been evaluated by FT-Raman Spectroscopy, allowing to establish the beeswax ablation threshold and the ablation rate.

Excimer laser cleaning allows a progressive and controlled removal of a few tenths of micrometers of beeswax per pulse without damaging the underlying granite stone. (C) 2008 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-52
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Cultural Heritage
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Beeswax
  • Excimer laser
  • Granite stone
  • Laser cleaning
  • Artwork


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