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It only happened recently when a heatwave struck the United Kingdom, but one of the oddest questions popped out of nowhere due to the event: what temperatures can vinyl records withstand? It all started with the media giant Tiktok, and when a vinyl record lover, Matt, discovered the heatwave left, his records warped. With the video gaining traction, many people have turned to ask the same question as you did. (source)
Typical vinyl records start to melt at around a hundred degrees Celsius, or approximately 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite indoor and outdoor temperatures not being that hot, the material can absorb heat which will help reach those dangerously high levels.
In this article, we take it upon ourselves to solve the phenomena of the melting vinyl records and finally answer the question, “What temperatures can vinyl records withstand?”
Table of Contents
The Phenomenon That Sparked Curiosity: The Heat Wave And The Vinyl
Before we get started with all the “vinyl record warping science,” let us first investigate the very phenomenon that sparked the curiosity in everyone’s heads: the Tiktok video and the excruciatingly hot United Kingdom heatwave.
On a fateful week of July, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland reported and recorded their hottest day yet– prompting The Met Office (The United Kingdom’s national meteorological service) to issue their first-ever extreme heat warning. Yes, you heard that right, they published their first-ever notice of such sort! (source)
Of course, many people tried to avoid experiencing the hot weather, wearing loose clothes, and staying indoors; the people of the United Kingdom sure did their very best to keep cool. However, some did get a little bit creative.
While a significant portion went out to enjoy the heat and play sports or went to get a tan, Tiktok user and vinyl lover “Matt” tried to be more creative.
Instead of going to Google and searching up “What temperature can vinyl records withstand?”, he instead tried to take it to the great outdoors to solve the question.
With the help of his trusty phone to help film the process, he used a Demi Lovato vinyl record (broken, of course) and went out to do some initiatives and left it amid the burning sun.
An hour into the experiment, the vinyl was starting to get a bit of a wobble. And by the three-hour mark, the record was beyond any hope for reviving (although the record was never functional anyway).
Despite the process not being exactly the most accurate way, nor is the most scientific way of doing experiments, they did (to some extent) find the answers to their inquiries. At least, he could infer that the high sun and the heatwave would bend their vinyl records.
Even though “Matt” did this experiment all in the name of fun, they were still able to give us a lesson that we should never, ever forget. We don’t need to know what temperature vinyl records can withstand to infer this. All we need to do is never expose our vinyl records to the hot sun!
What Temperature Can Vinyl Records Withstand?
Vinyl records are complex inventions that need precision to work. This intricacy signifies that to ensure the vinyl record’s integrity is to ensure that the records must not be scratched, nor be at any point be dropped or warped. So what exactly makes a vinyl record distorted and warped?
There are many reasons why vinyl records incur such damages, but we must never forget that vinyl records’ number one enemy will always be heat and mishandling.
For the sake of simplicity and to stay unto the subject matter at hand, we will only be tackling with heat. What is heat, and what temperatures can vinyl records withstand?
Keeping It Below Boiling Point
Let us get this straight: humans can only survive at a heat of a little bit more than 40 degrees Celsius or 110 degrees Fahrenheit at ten percent humidity. Yes, it only takes that amount for us to be “too hot” and experience hyperthermia and even death. Imagine that but double that number, and do that to your vinyl record. (source)
While not known as a very heat-resistant material, vinyl can absorb way better temperatures than us at around a hundred degrees Celsius or a little more than 210 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this does not mean that we should always expose them to such conditions.
Think of it in this way: while eating a little bit over our calorie budget will not harm us extensively in the short term, it will pose a significant threat in the long run.
As such, we should apply the same mentality to our vinyl records as well. We should not constantly expose them to temperatures even above 50 degrees Celsius, even more so in more extended periods.
If you love your vinyl records, you should not wait until a burst of heat to reconsider your vinyl handling practices. That’s because even a spark of a cigarette can start a wildfire. Let’s not wait until we see a wildfire of damage to vinyl and start disposing of our cigarette butts responsively and store our vinyl appropriately.
Cars Are A Different Story
It is not a secret that cars, especially when left under the heat of the midday sun, can get plenty hot. Many people, especially those living in the Southern United States, can even attest to this and have done their fair share of experiments as well. In the video linked below, we can see a person using a frying pan and an egg and placing it on the hood of his car only to successfully fry it. (source)
So let us go back to the topic at hand, shall we? So, what temperatures can vinyl records withstand? To give you a more physical example, I can confidently say that your car’s temperature is probably too hot for the vinyl.
As said earlier, vinyl records can begin to melt at boiling point or 212 degrees Fahrenheit or a hundred degrees Celsius. Of course, the temperatures within our cars do not reach that zenith of heat. However, by themselves, when left outside, they can reach temperatures of 43 degrees Celsius or 110 degrees Fahrenheit within an hour of exposure. (source)
Of course, 43 degrees Celsius is a far cry from the 100 degrees Celsius boiling point. However, we must note that a hundred degrees Celsius is the temperature where vinyl records melt. Therefore, we can imply that vinyl records warp at much cooler temperatures.
As to such, we have researched specific values as to what temperatures constitute “warping levels” for your vinyl records. With that in mind, we have found out that the answer to the question “What temperature can vinyl records withstand” is much lower than a hundred degrees celsius.
The actual number is that vinyl records themselves can withstand temperatures up to 60 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit without warping. This lower limit of temperatures implies that the outside temperature must not be warmer than 97 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius to assure a “no warping safe zone” for your vinyl. (source)
Direct Sunlight Is Much Worse
There are many variables as to why your vinyl records may warp due to heat. Of course, the temperatures are the main issue, but the context or the environment themselves play a significant role.
Although we have mentioned the magic numbers for vinyl records: 37 degrees Celsius and the boiling point, there is still a consideration. After all, your vinyl record can still warp even without reaching those peak numbers.
You may ask what can expedite the process, and the answer is direct sunlight. At this point, the question is more than just what temperatures vinyl records can withstand but more of how long can your vinyl records stay in direct sunlight.
The time it takes for your vinyl records to warp can vary greatly. You may be surprised how a vinyl in direct sunlight with temperatures of 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) can warp your vinyl faster than exposure to 50 degrees Celsius temperatures (120 degrees Fahrenheit) inside shaded areas.
Just because the temperatures outside are not the hottest does not mean that you can leave your vinyl records outside. Remember that direct sunlight may damage your vinyl records way faster than constant room temperature, and cooler temperatures do not necessarily mean a warp-free environment.
Time Is Of The Matter
As said earlier, the warping of your vinyl records may not only result from a simple temperature rise. After all, it would take scorching temperatures to scathe your vinyl records. However, with the presence of environmental and uncontrollable factors, you may be surprised how fast your vinyl records can warp even without reaching maximum temperature. One of those so-called “factors” is time and duration of exposure.
I was hoping you could think of the situation this way: exposure to a hundred degrees Celsius of heat for five seconds will deal minor damage compared to 40 degrees Celsius of heat for thirty minutes. In this world (and yes, including vinyl records), the number one cause of corrosion is time.
This corrosion has reminded me of the quote by Veronica Roth, “I give you this to take with you: Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.” (source)
Leaving your vinyl records in the heat for extended durations of time will make sure that it will not remain as pristine as it was, as, after all, time and heat are a vinyl record’s main components for “corrosion.”
Keeping all the imagery aside, here, we have a list for easily giving you a timeframe of how fast it takes for heat to warp your vinyl records
Time It Takes For Vinyl Records To Warp:
- Inside the car, a vinyl record will take only a little more than an hour to warp when outside temperatures reach above a hundred degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius. (source)
- Leaving vinyl records outside in direct sunlight under temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius or 95 degrees Fahrenheit will start to warp your vinyl records in under an hour. (source)
- Leaving your records under “normal” or below 35 degrees Celsius of heat in cars for less than an hour will not warp your records. (source)
To summarize our findings and compress them into digestible bits, we will put them into a list and label them as “Key Takeaways.” So to hasten this process, here is the list of answers to the question: “What temperature can vinyl records withstand?”
What temperature can vinyl records withstand:
- Vinyl records will melt at the water’s boiling point or a hundred degrees Celsius (210 degrees Fahrenheit).
- In most situations, keeping Vinyl records in hot conditions with temperatures more than 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in more than an hour will most certainly wrap them.
- Cars are a vinyl record’s enemy, and leaving them there in more than 40-degree weather will warp them.
- Direct sunlight, even at cooler temperatures, will be able to warp your vinyl records.
The Warping Situation: What Are The Reasons As To Why My Vinyl Records Will Warp?
Vinyl records, although quickly produced, are not made out of the most durable materials. Because vinyl records need to be light, malleable under processing, and cheap, they are composed of plastic vinyl (as stated in its name).
Despite the modern standards of vinyl records being considerably more durable than their older iterations, they are still pretty fragile. Even with slight scratches, warping, and dust, their performance will be disturbed, and the vinyl records will not achieve optimal sound.
Because it is so, it is always essential to make sure that your vinyl records are free from possibly damaging agents.
Aside from trying to answer the question, “What temperature can vinyl records withstand” we will also try to answer what other factors can warp your vinyl records?
Heat Is An Obvious Answer
Of course, making sure that your vinyl record is not subject to extreme temperatures is one crucial variable that will help avoid warping. Since we have discussed this point thoroughly already we shall proceed to the next issue.
The Method of Storing Vinyl Records Is Integral
When the space race first started, we did not know the implications of such an aggressive and lifeless environment to our human bodies. However, once we began to send out astronauts and cosmonauts into space, we noticed something. The people we sent to space when returning to Earth grew taller.
According to NASA, such a phenomenon exists due to the lack of gravity in space. As such, cosmonauts and astronauts grew a tad bit taller. Fascinating how much gravity has affected the shape and form of the human body! (source)
Of course, not only the human body is affected by the gravity of the Earth. Your vinyl records are also affected by gravity. It seems like the temperature vinyl records can withstand is the most crucial variable, but with gravitational force as well!
Of course, we do not bring our vinyl records to space, so that should not be too much concern. However, one thing we should take note of is the force exerted by other items placed on top of your vinyl records, which will exert pressure upon your vinyl.
There are many ways to achieve this: putting heavy objects on top of your vinyl is one, but a common mistake is stacking your vinyl records together.
Of course, vinyl records are not the heaviest, but when stacked, they can exert enough pressure to warp your vinyl records!
So aside from finding what temperature can vinyl records withstand, we should also consider what amount of pressure you should put on your vinyl records. And to that, I say, do not stack your vinyl records on top of each other! Store them vertically (upright) or at least stack them in the manner that they do not succumb to external horizontal pressure.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How Can I Keep My Vinyl Records Safe?
To keep your vinyl records safe, keep them stored in a cool, dry place. Also, make sure to allot some budget into your vinyl storage system.
One of the main reasons why vinyl records succumb to damage is due to improper handling. We always recommend never to touch the surface of your vinyl records.
- How Can I Save My Vinyl Records In A Heat Wave?
To keep your vinyl records safe in a heatwave, make sure to store them in a shaded area and keep them within their sleeves. As much as possible, use an air conditioner to cool off your records. Keeping them as cool as possible is serious business!
- Are Vinyl Records Flammable?
Although they are prone to warping and melting under high temperatures, most of the time, they do not ignite.
I’ve written a few more articles about warped vinyl records that might interest you. You can find them here:
- https://www.tiktok.com/@mattsvinyl2626/video/6987037309719809285?is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v, Accessed Sept 11, 2021
- https://peakvinyl.com/warping-temperature/, Accessed Sept 11, 2021
- https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/19/us/uk-heat-wave.html, Accessed Sept 11, 2021
- https://www.newsweek.com/vinyl-record-melts-sun-during-brutal-british-heatwave-1612228, Accessed Sept 11, 2021
- https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/04/science/randall-munroe-xkcd-temperature.html, Accessed Sept 11, 2021
- https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/child-passenger-safety/kids-hot-cars, Accessed Sept 11, 2022
- https://youtu.be/QOueGSJi00c?t=57, Accessed Sept 11, 2022
- https://retroonly.com/will-vinyl-records-melt-in-a-hot-car/, Accessed Sept 11, 2022
- https://www.southernliving.com/culture/quotes-about-time-passing, Accessed Sept 11, 2022
- https://www.space.com/19116-astronauts-taller-space-spines.html, Accessed Sept 11, 2022
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