Will Vinyl Records Melt In A Hot Car?


Will Vinyl Records Melt In A Hot Car?

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If you have a record collection that you are going to be moving from one place to another or are simply thinking about buying a few records but aren’t going straight home then this article is for you. In this article we will discuss the temperatures that records begin to melt and whether that can happen in your car. 

Vinyl records begin to melt at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100C). Temperatures inside of cars can go up 43 degrees within one hour so as long as the outside temperature isn’t above 169 degrees then your records won’t melt. However, records do warp at temperatures of 140 degrees so they could warp if the outside temperature is above 97 degrees. 

The above information is assuming that your records are in the truck, floorboards, or other places where they won’t receive direct sunlight. Since records are black they will absorb heat from the sun and can heat up much more quickly if exposed to sunlight which in turn would cause them to warp much faster.

So if your records are sitting on the car seat or another place where they are getting hit by the sun they will warp in much cooler temperatures than 97 degrees outside.

Cars can get hot real fast so a good rule of thumb is to never leave your vinyl records in a hot car or  in direct sunlight. You might be ok if it is only for a few minutes and if they are in a spot where the sun doesn’t hit them but why would you risk it? 

You are risking not only your records being damaged but also taking a chance on them smelling up your car as they can release some chemical type smells when heated up. 

If you have no choice but to leave your records in the car for a little while then the best place to put them is in the truck. The trunk of the car is the coolest place to store them and it will ensure that they don’t get any direct sunlight on them. It is also a good idea to park the car in the shade if possible since that will keep it from heating up as fast as well.

To see some of our favorite tools to clean vinyl records and to store them properly you can click here.

If you would like to learn more about records in a vehicle you can keep reading or you can also watch the video below.

Can the sun melt my vinyl record?

Whether the sun could melt your records is a little bit of a complex question and the answer isn’t as simple as yes or no. In the right circumstances yes, the sun could melt your records. 

Records are made from a soft, moldable plastic that is called vinyl. To get the desired round shape, this plastic is ground into a powder and then heated to high enough temperatures to liquify the powder and mold it into shape. The melting temperature of records is greater than 212 degrees Fahrenheit. 

If the record is sitting in the sunshine and is sitting in the sun for an extremely long period of time then the sun could conceivably melt your records but in all likelihood they would warp rather than melt.

How the surface that the record is on affects its melting point

One of the factors of whether the sun can melt a record or not is the surface that the vinyl is sitting on. If this surface conducts or retains heat, then it will have the possibility to cause the vinyl record to not only warp but to melt entirely. A reflective or magnified surface has this ability.

Most of the time a record won’t melt just from the sunshine alone but it will certainly warp and become unusable in its warped condition. 

How long does it take before a vinyl record begins to warp?

The length of time it takes a record to warp depends on a few things but it won’t happen instantly.

 The temperature has to be higher than 140 degrees Fahrenheit before the record will begin to warp. Assuming that the outside temperature is above 100 degrees then it will only take a little over an hour before the record begins to warp if it is inside of a car.

With record warping it isn’t an exact science either. The records will become soft before they start to warp so if they are not standing up straight but are leaning on each other the warping might begin to take place at 120-130 degrees meaning the outside temperature of 80-90 could cause warping for records in a car as well.

Your records won’t warp if you are just going into a store or restaurant for a few minutes as it will take 40-60 minutes before the car gets near its maximum temperature so a quick run into a store while leaving them in the car shouldn’t hurt them (assuming you make sure to not stay in too long). 

Can you store your records in the car? 

Based on what has been written above hopefully you know the answer to this is the summertime is a big huge NO! But what about winter? Obviously it is much cooler in winter so records won’t be in danger of getting warped or melting.

Is it ok to store records in your car in the winter? 

Again, the answer is no. The reason is because the temperature inside the car will vary incredibly over the course of 24 hours. Let’s say overnight that it is 10 degrees. That means your records will reach that temp during the overnight hours as well. 

For that low for the day the high temperature for the day might be up to 30 degrees. A 20 degree swing over the course of a day isn’t good for records but it won’t hurt them. However, inside of the car you won’t have just a 20 degree swing. You will have a 60 degree swing! 

That is because the temperature inside a car that is in direct sunlight will go up 40+ degrees over the outside air temperature. That means at night your records will be 10 degrees and during the day they will be 60-70 degrees! 

That huge temperature swing will cause them to attract moisture and they will probably begin molding! Even if they don’t mold, the constantly changing temps will mean that they will likely warp and even become damaged by the sleeve or jacket sticking to the record itself. 

When it comes to storing records in a car the simple solution is just don’t do it! 

Proper Storage 

So you have decided to start a record collection, but now that you have these amazing vinyl records now what? 

How do you care for them properly? 

I am glad you asked, as I have a few ideas to share with you on how to do just that. Making sure you take care and store your records properly is the best way to ensure that they last for decades and even for many generations!  

Storage

This one might be a no brainer to some people, but do you know the proper way to store your records? If not, keep reading! 

Storing your records in a clean and dry place is a great first step. You don’t want your records getting dirty or wet as either of those are a hassle to clean up and is sometimes even impossible to recover the record depending on how bad it is. 

You also want to make sure to keep them out of the direct sunlight and stored in a place where they won’t have huge temperature swings. A good rule of thumb is only store your records in places where the temperature is comfortable for you. 

The last thing I will mention about storage is the way that you should store them. Records should never be stacked on top of each other. They should only be stored next to each other like books on a bookshelf. 

Storing records on top of each other will cause the records on the bottom to warp or even break entirely. 

If you want some cool storage ideas for your record collection check out the video below. 

How to handle your records

There is a special way that you should handle vinyl records to keep them in as good of condition as possible. The proper way to  pick up and handle a record is by holding the record on the outside edges or the middle where the label is at.

Never hold a record on the grove side as you run the risk of causing damage to your record by scratching it or just through the oils on your hand. The oils that are on your hands will attract dust so having that oil on the groove portion of the record means that section will get more dirt on it and need cleaned more often. 

Get inner sleeves

So you think your record is safe inside the jacket? Technically it is but as they say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. 

Getting inner sleeves for your records is a great way to prevent them from getting dirt, oil, etc. on them. Most records come with paper sleeves already. Although those are better than nothing there are many better alternatives on the market. For example, poly sleeves/bags are a much better option to protect your records. 

Poly bags work great and last a long time. They are also quite inexpensive as you can find them for only a few cents a piece. If you have a large collection you can even buy them in lots of 100 such as this lot on Amazon here.

How to clean your records. 

So we learned how to properly handle records, but how do we clean them? There are several ways to keep your records clean and pristine. 

Dry cleaning

No, I don’t mean take them to the dry cleaners and have them clean them! I simply mean cleaning your records while they are dry. 

To do this use a micro- fiber cloth /brush, to clean before and after every use. It is a good idea to get a specific record brush that is designed for cleaning to make this process a little easier. Make sure to clean in a circular motion along the grooves and don’t put too much pressure on the record. 

Wet cleaning

This is recommended when you want to give your records a good, deep clean. You can use specialized record cleaning  fluid or just use distilled water to do so.

Surprisingly, wood glue actually works very well to clean a record! The glue will stick to everything else that is stuck to your record and when you peel off the wood glue, the dirt and grime will come off too. 

If you don’t believe me or want to see it in action, check out the video below. 

Conclusion

We have learned a lot today about how records handle heat and how you can best take care of them. Records stay in the best condition when they are stored in cool dry areas and a car certainly doesn’t fit that bill. 

It is never a good idea to leave your records in a car for an extended period of time no matter how warm or cold it is outside. 

Storing your records isn’t incredibly difficult as long as you make sure to follow the simple instructions mentioned above. Keeping your records clean or even cleaning them when they get dusty or dirty is also quite easy and something that anyone can do. 

Having a record collection is a lot of fun and it doesn’t require you to be an expert to keep them in tip top shape. Ultimately all you have to do is handle them carefully and clean them regularly and they will last for many decades to come. 

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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