What is Blotting Paper?

You may have heard of blotting paper, but what is it?

According to Wise-Geek:

Blotting paper is a form of highly absorbent paper that is used to blot various substances to remove excess liquids. Most commonly, this paper is used to remove ink or oil, but it can be utilized to lift other liquids as well. Its absorbent properties can also make it a convenient medium for drug distribution; LSD, for example, is sometimes sold on strips of this paper.

The use of blotting paper appears to date to around the 1400s, although it was probably not used at all levels of society, because paper was still relatively expensive at this period in history. People who lacked access to the paper would scatter sand across written documents to absorb excess ink and then gently shake the sand away, a messy and sometimes smearing endeavor. As paper production became more efficient and less costly, blotting paper quickly spread among writers of all classes, as it was ideally suited for sopping up extra ink.

For written documents, the paper is extremely useful when fountain pens, quills, and dipped pens are used. These pens often leave a trail of extra ink in their wake, which can spear or blotch on the page. By using blotting paper, a writer can keep written documents clean and clear, and avoid the creation of accidental ink smears. Typically, the paper can be reused several times before it has absorbed the maximum amount of ink.

Blotting paper is also available for cosmetic uses. It is ideally suited to lifting excess oil and dead skin from the face, and some women carry around a small package of blotting tissues for this very purpose. Some companies also make powdered paper, which removes oil while laying down a layer of face powder to keep the skin fresh; it can also be found in scented packages.

Many stationery supply stores carry blotting paper, often in a variety of sizes. This product can also sometimes be found at department stores and general stores which carry a range of merchandise, or at stores which specialize in vintage items. Someone who is seeking the paper specifically for cosmetic uses may want to look for it at a store that specializes in skin care, and it can also be ordered directly through specialty suppliers.

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