What is Sulfite Paper?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Sulfite paper begins its life through the creation of what is known as sulfite pulp. The process for creating sulfite pulp is fairly easy. Wood pulp is treated with the use of peroxide or hypochlorite and ran through an operation that yields a thick paper product that has lost the natural hue of the wood pulp and began to take on a lighter shade. Repeated applications of the chemical compounds will result in an even lighter shade, until the end product has taken on a brilliant white appearance. From there, the paper can be further processed to any thickness that is desires, depending on how the end product is to be used.

Woman painting
Woman painting

One of the most common uses for sulfite paper is with the development of photographs. The sturdy nature provided by the sulfite processing ensures that the paper will allow for an excellent reproduction of the image on the paper. Because the paper can be produced in just about any size, it is possible to use the compound for any size image that is needed. Along with the clarity that is provided by the sulfite paper, the color quality will also be excellent. This is a great feature for not only color photographs, but also for the production of static billboards, which often rely on color to catch the attention of persons driving by.

Another use of sulfite paper is in the production of business related paper products, such as portfolios, folders, sales brochure covers, and promotional items where appearance is extremely important. When laminated, this paper provides a brilliant background for logos, graphics and even text that will do a lot to enhance the professional appearance of the company. Because the paper is available in several weights, the product is ideal for any printed matter that is expected to hold up to frequent handling over an extended period of time.

Sulfite paper is also the paper of choice for many writers, who prefer to turn in their manuscripts on high quality brilliant sheets. Manuscript copies that are printed on this paper will also resist yellowing over the years, and also not become brittle with age as quickly.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Is it acid free?


Is there a real property difference when substituting sulfite paper for cotton rag in watercolor papers?


I don't have anything against sulfite paper per se, but I think that it's better to use a more natural paper. Sulfite paper goes through so much processing, just like any other bleached paper, which we (and the environment) could really do without. I think it's about time we got over the whole "paper must be sparkling shiny white" thing and start going for recycled, unbleached paper.


When considering paper equipment, do I need to get a special pulp machine to make sulfite paper? Or can I just use a regular paper making machine?


Is there a good reason to use sulfite paper as opposed to regular chlorine free unbleached paper?

And as far as paper goes, isn't it better to use a natural paper, like bagasse paper? I was under the impression that it went through less processing.


Yes--guar gum is used to make the Foods By George English fruit that I absolutely LOVE. They are gluten-free.

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