How to Destroy Used Imaging Film From Fax Machines

If you receive confidential information by fax, you may want to destroy the used imaging film from your fax machine. This important step will help ensure your privacy. The content of any received fax remains on the film unless the fax film is destroyed. Anyone who is interested in your confidential matters can retrieve the film from the fax or the trash. The thief can read any information sent to you through the fax machine.

Every method of destroying fax film has some drawbacks. Take a close look at your options.

As you would with paper documents, run your fax film through a paper shredder. This will make the information unreadable. Film does tend to jam in paper shredders, however.

Expose your fax film to a short burst in a microwave oven to destroy the information imaged on the film. Unfortunately, the materials that make up the film will melt, and may release noxious fumes. Strong odors may result, too. Microwave power levels vary, so you'll need to experiment with power settings and times. Take care to avoid burns when removing the microwaved film.

If your workplace has a furnace or large stove, consider incineration as an option. Bear in mind that fumes may result from the process, so make sure the fire is in a well-ventilated area. You may want to confirm that your workplace custodial staff will permit you to destroy used fax film with fire.

If your workplace has a stove, place the film in a covered pot and boil it for 5 to 10 minutes to destroy any contents. Keep the pot covered to reduce the risk from fumes. Only boil film in a well-ventilated area. Remember, destroying used fax film will ruin the pot for any other purpose.

Consider professional services. Many document-destruction firms will also accept used film for destruction. Beyond comparing prices, make sure you are comfortable with security arrangements at the firm, and that few people will see or handle your confidential materials.


  • Common tricks for removing information from fax machines include:

    1) Removing used fax film from the machine and substituting a new roll;
    2) Calling a firm and offering to buy old film and recycle it; and 3) Searching garbage cans for old film.

    Keeping fax machines that handle confidential material in secure areas, limiting access to appropriate persons and promptly destroying old film can reduce most of these risks.

About the Author

James Bolger has spent two decades writing on health, nutrition, golf, fitness, travel, insurance, and more. Bolger served as managing editor for "Maturity Matters," a newsletter on senior lifestyles, and "Your Health and Fitness," a consumer health magazine. He has also written on health and medical research for academic medical centers. Bolger earned his Bachelor of Arts in communications/English from DePaul University.