Thermal Paper: Know Thy Enemy

In this world of receipts, we must know what we’re up against. Thermal paper, the ubiquitous material on which most of our receipts are printed on threatens our taxes, expense reports, and bookkeeping efforts by fading in seemingly impossibly fast fashion. In order to defeat it, we must understand it. From Wikipedia:

Thermal paper is paper that is impregnated with a chemical that changes color when exposed to heat. It is used in thermal printers and particularly in cheap, lightweight devices such as adding machines, cash registers, and credit card terminals.

The paper is impregnated with a solid-state mixture of a dye and a suitable matrix; a combination of a fluoran leuco dye and an octadecylphosphonic acid is an example. When the matrix is heated above its melting point, the dye reacts with the acid, shifts to its colored form, and the changed form is then conserved in metastable state when the matrix solidifies back quickly enough.

The only good way to make sure you are protected from fading receipts is to scan them. By scanning receipts and uploading them to Shoeboxed, your receipts will be captured and actually enhanced, so your receipts will always be readable and at your fingertips.

Some people come up to me on the street and say, “Hey, but what if my receipts are faded already?” I then say, “The awesome scanners that we use in Receipt Mail-In automatically enhance the contrast on your receipts so they become more readable online that they were in real life. Who are you?”

Know thy enemy; beat thy enemy!