Do Vinyl Records Burn?


Do Vinyl Records Burn?

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If you are just curious about records or are trying to learn if your collection is flammable then you are in the right place. In this article we will discuss whether records can burn and other related questions that you might have about records and fire! 

Do vinyl records burn? Records are made from vinyl (plastic) so they will melt beginning  at a temperature of 212°F or 100°C. Whether a record melting means that they “burn” is debatable. If you were to hold a match to a record it would begin to melt but it would not ignite. 

Vinyl records can melt easily because they are relatively soft plastic. A vinyl record can get warped by the direct sunlight or even by sitting in a hot car for too long. A typical Vinyl record starts warping at the temperature of 140°F 60°C. 

Of course just because it melts doesn’t necessarily mean that they “burn” for most people. In the video below Shawn K is using a propane torn and an accelerant to try and light the record on fire. They are able to completely melt the record but it never really “burns”. 

If you can’t stand people destroying perfectly good things then don’t watch this video! 

Is burning vinyl records toxic?

Vinyl records are made with one of the most toxic plastics for our health and environment. For more than 30 years, leading health, environmental justice, and health-impacted organizations across the country and world have been campaigning to phase out this poison plastic. 

Vinyl plastic releases one of the most toxic chemicals under the sun and it causes cancer, birth defects, and other serious chronic diseases. When you try to burn it, it releases dangerous pollutants including vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride, mercury, dioxins and furans, and PCBs.

If you burn a vinyl record that means you are burning/melting the plastic. The smell of the record melting are those chemicals being released into the environment. 

Can I play a melted Vinyl record?

The short answer is No. You might know that you can play warped records but even when they are slightly warped it can damage the player or the stylus.  Once a record has begun to melt then the needle will not be able to stay in the grooves as they will likely be melted down. Portions of the record might still be playable but the sound would be awful and you would only here small sections of each song. 

How to Protect Vinyl Records?

As I said earlier, vinyl records are relatively soft. They can be damaged by a simple drop or even by leaving them in direct sunlight. So it is very important to know how you can protect your vinyl records properly.

Step-1: Store them properly

Use an inner sleeve to store your records. Unless you bought your records from a yard sale or second hand store your records will come with a sleeve. 

The best sleeves are composed of either a plastic liner within a paper inner or as a round-bottomed plastic-only sleeve. You should store your records in any type of these sleeves because it will protect your vinyl from scratches and debris.

Never drop your records into the sleeve. Many people do this without even thinking about it and I know I have been guilty of it in the past as well. If you drop the record into the sleeve you are putting pressure on the record when it hits the bottom and also making it possible to scratch the record on the way down. 

It is always best to gently put your records in the sleeve slowly and smoothly.

Always store your vinyl record in a dry, cool place as well. You should always avoid direct sunlight to prevent your records from warping during storage. 

Watch this video below for more tips on storing your records properly. 

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Step-2: Handling Your Records

Do not ever touch your record with your hands. We all have oil and dust on our hands and if you touch the record with your hands then the dust will get onto the record’s surface. Dust will directly affect the playback record and sound quality of your vinyl record.

Even if you have just washed your hands the oil on them will stay on the surface of your record and cause it to attract more dust. 

Use a steady hand when starting a record. If you have a manual turntable then you have to place the needle on the record. In that case, you need a steady hand otherwise you might scratch the record. A shaky hand is risky for placing the needle on the record. 

Always be careful when removing the needle as well. When you try to remove the needle after the record has played to completion, wait until the platter has stopped spinning. 

Even if your record player automatically moves the arm many people will try and stop or start the record in the middle to try and get a specific song. This is never a good idea as it will often result in you scratching the record with the needle. 

It is far better to simply start the record at the beginning and listen to it all the way through. 

How to clean your record properly?

Use carbon fiber brush: Remember your t-shirt or towel is not a record cleaner! Always use a carbon fiber brush to clean up your record properly. 

 A fiber brush is very useful because it can easily enter the grooves of the record and can clean all the dust off of it.  Additionally, the type of fiber easily removes static electricity which is responsible for attracting dust. 

Use the brush only to clean your record and do not use the same brush to clean other things. You can also use liquid cleaner or spray to clean the brush as needed. 

Purchase a vinyl record vacuum cleaner: A vinyl record vacuum cleaner is more efficient than using a fiber brush and spray. It provides a deeper clean to the record and sucks the debris out of the grooves.

How to Fix Vinyl records Scratches?

Scratching your records is a common issue and is one of the major downsides to physical media. If you scratch your records or purchase a record that is scratched there are a few ways you can try to fix them. 

Method 1: Using wood glue

Place a tip of the wood glue bottle on the edge of your record. Place the record on your turntable and start it. When the record starts to spin continue squeezing out the glue so it creates lines around your record. Stop when you see thin lines over all of your record’s playing area. 

Take a piece of cardboard around 2 inches and touch it to the outer edge of your record. Start the turntable and let the record spin. The glue will spread out and cover the record as it moves. 

Try to spread out all of the glue and make sure your whole record is covered with it. Stop your turntable and leave the record on the turntable for around 24 hours. After waiting 24 hours you will see your record covered with dry wood glue. Remove the glue slowly and gradually to try to pull it up in 1 piece.

It’s done now time to test. Turn on the turntable and make sure your record is listenable. Wood glue helps you to pull out the toughest dirt and dust that is in the grooves and should fill in some of the scratches as well. 

Method 2: Completely resurface the record

This is obviously a much more intense process and can be very time consuming. Rather than give you a long list of step by step instructions you should watch the video below. 

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Conclusion

Vinyl records don’t really “burn” as they pretty much melt since they are made of plastic. They will eventually melt away to nothing if left in fire for a long period of time but they really don’t ignite. 

When records burn they are quite bad for the environment so please don’t try and light your records on fire as an experiment. 

Related questions

Do vinyl records break easily?

 Vinyl records do not break very easily. Modern records are made out of plastic (or more specifically polyvinyl chloride(PVC)) and they can last a very long time. Breaking a record into pieces is actually quite hard and won’t happen under normal circumstances. 

Why does vinyl sound warmer?

 A record can contain a lot of information due to its analog format and many people prefer the warming sounding analog over the sound of digital recordings. 

Which one is better is a large debate in the record community but a lot of people prefer the sound quality of analog records. 

Matt Robbs

There is nothing quite so enjoyable as bringing back memories from your childhood. We used to spend hours playing pinball in my friends basement and that really got me involved in everything retro!

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