The Vinegar Syndrome

Posted on August 23, 2010


As acetate film decays, it shrinks, loses flexibility, curls, and wraps.

The Vinegar Syndrome is a name for the decay of 8mm movie film that affects the cellulose acetate of film and slowly destroys old home movies. Bacteria is the culprit.  This bacteria produces an acetic acid which is a key component of household vinegar. The result of such decay leaves a strong and sometimes overwhelming vinegar odor which is why we call it the Vinegar Syndrome. Some of our customers are very disappointed when they learn that their precious old film footage of family members is lost forever. 

Before we transfer your old film reels to a digital format, we treat it with a special chemical that slows down The Vinegar Syndrome. If you are not ready to transfer your film, we strongly recommend that you clean your film with a product called filmrenew. Call us and we will do it for you for a small fee. However, even film that receive a treatment will eventually be subject to this form of decay in a short matter of time. 

You can see the early onset of film degradation by the curling of the film as shown in the picture above.  If a Vinegar smell is detected, then your film is affected. If left untreated the decay will progress  and eventually make your film brittle, destroy the image and the 8mm film will be unplayable. 

Besides treating the film, you should also be aware of where the film is stored. Your 8mm film should be stored in a cool dry environment, such as a closet. Never store film in an attic or damp basement where it is subjected to moisture and heat. 

If you’re the owner of 8mm movies and wish to have them preserved for you and your children, consider an 8mm to DVD transfer now. The Vinegar Syndrome is lurking, waiting to destroy those films containing precious memories.  Is it really worth waiting to do an 8mm to DVD transfer?

Posted in: Movie Film