WARNING- Read this if you collect records

I recently saw a link to this article about PVC sleeves and how they might be affecting the records within:

Can PVC record sleeves damage vinyl

Comparison of good vs damaged records

Reading through pretty much the whole thread has just convinced me to throw away many hundreds of PVC sleeves that I’ve had my most prized/expensive records stored in.

Searching around, this knowledge has been around for a while, but none of the people I’ve spoken to who collect records were aware of the issue, so it seemed sensible to write this post to help spread the word.

If you can’t be bothered with reading through the whole thing, I’ll summarise: it’s mainly the outer sleeves that are the issue- the thick, fairly rigid ones, normally textured around the edge. Yep- the very things that we’ve bought to protect our records could be irreversibly damaging them. The consensus seems to be that something (plasticisers, oils?) is leeching out of the PVC, transferring through the cardboard & inner sleeves (even plastic inner sleeves in some cases) over time and affecting the vinyl of the record itself. This is referred to by some as “off-gassing” or “out-gassing”. Some people say that plastic inner sleeves are a potential problem too. Acid free paper inner sleeves are safest from a chemical perspective. Other people avoid paper like the plague due to the the dust it transfers to the record. It seems the whole subject of record preservation is a minefield.

Sure, it’s inconclusive and seems to be more likely in hotter/more humid climates and seems to depend on the manufacturer of the record, but there’s around 10 people from around the world in the thread that I linked to above that have lost lots of records from having them stored in PVC sleeves. I decided the safest bet is to ditch all of mine. Just not worth the risk.

Thin polythene sleeves like they often have in record shops are fine. Mylar (trade name for polyester) are the best, but expensive and hard to find. According to people in that thread who sound like they know what they’re talking about, the most inert and cost effective are polypropylene. I’ve just bought 100 of these to try and I prefer them to the polythene sleeves as they are slightly thicker, so don’t tend to slide off so easily when putting records back into place on the shelf. I’ll be getting more.

Sadly, the PVC sleeves are still widely available. I used to prefer them as they offer more protection to physical damage. Let’s help spread the word about these potential vinyl killers. Please pass this on this to anyone you know who collects records. Too much vinyl has been lost already.

Further reading

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This entry was posted on Friday, February 20th, 2015 at 11:53 pm and is filed under All things vinyl, analogue. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


4 Responses to “WARNING- Read this if you collect records”

  1. March 24th, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Scott Says:

    Just today won a PS-F5 on Ebay. Thanks so much for your site!!! Really appreciating it. It helped me in my purchasing decision. Because of this post, I’ve begun considering the different sleeve options. On the subject of PVC, here’s one interesting, wide ranging, compendium on the subject matter of PVC itself. http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/Global/usa/report/2007/8/ten-reasons-to-avoid-pvc-plast.html

  2. March 24th, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Scott Says:

    OK A little further research revealed this little gem- new to me at least!:

    “Why is it called vinyl?

    The term “vinyl” doesn’t follow the standard system for naming chemicals; it should have been called ethenyl. The word “vinyl” comes from the Latin “vinum” for wine, because of the close connection between ethylene (from which vinyl is made) and ethyl alcohol, the alcohol in wine. The term vinyl had been in common use since 1863 and so was allowed to continue as an alternate name for ethenyl. Good thing, too, because “spinning some ethenyl” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.” from this link http://www.watoxics.org/healthy-living/healthy-homes-gardens-1/factsheets/vinyl

  3. March 25th, 2015 at 10:51 am

    marcus Says:

    Ha! Yes, vinyl certainly has a better ring to it 🙂

  4. March 25th, 2015 at 10:53 am

    marcus Says:

    Congratulations on your new purchase. I hope it treats you well.

    PVC’s nasty stuff indeed. I wonder how many artists realise what goes into the making of their records and whether there are any alternatives.

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