How to Destroy Used Imaging Film From Fax Machines

By James Bolger

Updated September 26, 2017

Do 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. Why? The content of any received fax remains on the film unless the fax film is destroyed. Anyone interested in your confidential matters can retrieve the film from the fax or in 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.

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

Microwaving. A short burst in a microwave oven will destroy the information imaged on fax film. Unfortunately, the materials that make 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.

Incineration. If your workplace has a furnace or large stove, this option may work well. 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 check that your workplace custodial staff will permit you to destroy used fax film with fire.

Boiling. If your workplace has a stove, place the film in a covered pot and boil 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.

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 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.