It is usually referred to as "The Vinegar Syndrome" A Google search reveals
32,100 results.There is far too much information to go into here,I suggest you look into it yourself.
Kiwi O'Connell <[log in to unmask]> wrote: Hi
The smell is "Very" distinctive! Some call it vinegar, I call it dirty
smelly old socks. It is unmistakable.
By the way, it is my understanding that you do NOT bake acetate tape.
Sound Archivist/Audio Engineer/Sound Consultant
3017 Nebraska Avenue
Santa Monica, CA, 90404
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Robert Hodge
Sent: Saturday, April 21, 2007 12:55 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] A stinky puzzle
I have encountered many reels of 35 and 28 mm motion picture safety film
which had developed vinegar syndrome- including some which had gone so
badly as to be easily detected- even beyond through 2 sets of closed
doors while stored in a projection room film storage vault.
Not to mention, lately, even more reels of 16 mm .
Not to be confused with the aroma of camphor which eminates from
diacetate stock even when it was new.
Decomposing nitrate has neither the aroma of vinegar or camphor. I'm
not sure how to describe that aroma as it is very unique. Acrid
Storing your slides in an isolated location, with molecular sieves,
will slow the VS. In time, if the slides no longer exhude acetic acid
odor, then they probably don't have VS.
Belfer Audio Archive
222 Waverly Ave .
Syracuse N.Y. 13244-2010
>>> [log in to unmask] 4/21/2007 7:01 AM >>>
On 20/04/07, andy kolovos wrote:
> Last week I opened up a plastic shopping bag that contained to
> a slide carousel filled with 35mm slides and a reel of tape. The
> form a slide-tape show on the topic of, apparently, maple sugaring.
> The first thing to greet me was the pronounced stink of vinegar.
> I assumed the tape was the culprit and put it aside to reek on its
> However, upon holding it up to light later, I did not encounter the
> usual acetate translucence--the pack was totally opaque.
> This got me thinking about the slides again. Did Kodak (or anyone
> that matter, since the slides in the carousel seem to be a slightly
> mixed bag) produce acetate slide film? Could the slides be going
> And about the tape--it's a 7" reel of 1/4" tape. Poorly packed. the
> backing of the tape has "Eastman Kodak Co" printed on it. It's in a
> black plastic Sctoch 211 box (the kind with the smoked plastic drop
> front) and on a blue plastic Scotch reel. It is my guess that the
> recording dates from the mid 1960s--this is going on information from
> the donor (whose father made the recording).
> This whole thing confuses me a bit because it undermines two basics
> what I've been taught on the matter::
> 1. Only acetate will develop vinegar syndrome
> 2. Acetate tape will appear translucent when held up to light.
> I am forced to consider that it could be a polyester tape with a
> vinegar problem /or/ an acetate tape that is opaque when held up to
> If the slides are going vinegary, could the vinegar problem have an
> impact on polyester-backed tape? Did Kodak make a non-translucent
> acetate backing?
> In any event, after separating the tape from the slides, the slides
> still stink, but not nearly as bad, while the tape (which admittedly
> is somewhat sealed in it's case) stinks as bad as ever.
> Any thoughts?
Having used a wide variety of photographic films over the decades, I
have never come across any kind of smelly decay. Dyes may fade, and
residual fixer can attack a silver image, but no smell.
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