If your film has a vinegar smell, it will soon be too late to transfer it at all! “Vinegar syndrome” (more properly known as acetate film base degradation) describes a chemical reaction that deteriorates motion picture film over time. The film base is made of cellulose triacetate plastic. When this plastic base decomposes, de-acetylation occurs. The acetate ions react with moisture to form acetic acid. This produces the pungent vinegar odor. This chemical reaction is continuous, and once started, cannot be stopped or reversed. Worse, the reaction is also autocatalytic, meaning it feeds on itself and speeds up over time. Film degraded by advanced vinegar syndrome suffers from shrinkage, embrittlement and warping – and cannot be transferred.
We never recommend shipping away family archives, treasured photos, and irreplaceable home movies. It’s too risky. Linhoff Photo has been professionally preserving memories for over 60 years.