Uplayable Shellacked CD

Hello there!

I recently bought a cd of my favorite artist. This cd has been made ‘unplayable’, on behalve of the record campany. This was done by putting a layer of shellack/ vernish on the playable side of the cd.

I know that it, somehow, is possible to make this cd playable again. Doos someone know in what way this shallcked cd can be restored?

Kind regards…

Most chemicals used to remove film finishes will also harm the plastic used in the cd. If the finish on this cd is actually shellac, you might be able to use denatured alcohol to remove it without affecting the plastic. I know I’ve used isopropyl alcohol as a cleaning agent in the past without damaging the polycarbonate layers in cds or dvds.

If it has varnish, you’re probably not going to get it off without damage. Alcohol won’t remove it. Having the disk polished by a dvd rental shop might be the only possibility.

Are you certain that there is a finish applied to the bottom of this cd? If you purchased the disk, and it is unplayable, you should be able to return it for a refund. I’ve never heard of this situation you have described.

Kerry56 is correct on the denatured alcohol if it was actually shellac. I really doubt that it is shellac.
For varnish
This is just a suggestion & might not work. I haven’t tested this on a CD but if you have an old one other than this one that is already a coaster do a spot test first. If you see no damage go ahead.
My suggestion is a mechanics hand cleaner. A couple I have used for their intended purpose are Goop & GoJo .
You might also test turpentine on a coaster disc. I’ve never tried it either.

Last & my main suspicion is the substance is polyurethane . Probably the only way to remove it would be a DVD rental shop as kerry posted. You should tell them what you suspect because if you don’t & the substance damages their machine they might sue you.
You might test as above removing this with acetone . With any of the above removers use chemical resistant gloves when using them . Make sure there is plenty of ventilation too. The exception would be the mechanics hand cleaner.

Out of curiosity, What’s on this CD that they don’t want you to hear?

Thank you, for the response!!

This cd is called the Undertaker. Prince wanted to release this one in a small amount. The record Company did not want hem to release it, because of ‘overkill’ of releases by this artist. Then some cd’s were made unplayable, in the way I described.

One response mentions ‘Goop & Gojo’. What is this, exactly? Some sites mention Goo Gone, as a possible product to remove it…

I have also seen somebody talking about using a laser. Does somebody know something about this possible alternative?

That’s kind of a weird thing to do though as you’d think they’d just destroy the discs.

Anyway, most organic solvents have the potential to damage the actual disc however both isopropyl alcohol and methanol can be used safely on CDs or DVDs as they evaporate quickly and won’t dissolve the polycarbonate.

I’ve been using methylated spirit to clean discs for years now.

Methanol is also one of the best solvents for shellac.

If it’s not actually shellac then you could consider a more physical method such as polishing off the unwanted layer with a disc polishing machine which would leave you with a playable disc.


As above I would test any cleaner on a known bad disc or coaster & see how it affects the polycarbonate . In other words put some an a coaster let it set for an hour or so & see if there is any damage.
On the GoJo & GOOP a little Googling found the easily. Since I did the work here are the links:
GOJO® Professional Paint & Body Shop Hand Cleaner



I still lean toward the mechanical removal with a professional disc polishing machine . Such as a DVD rental store might have. There may even be a business that does this in your area. Just explain to them what you think is on the disc & see if they want to attempt it.

Lighter fluid (Ronsonol/Zippo) has no effect on polycarbonate CD’s

If it works on your Shellac or not is something only you can answer

I’d be inclined to be very careful about using any solvents with potentially doubtful properties on something that’s so rare, as there could be longer term degradation of the polycarbonate that you wouldn’t initially be aware of.

Methanol and isopropyl alcohol are used by archivists to clean discs and if it is actually shellac then a bit of methylated spirit on a lint free cloth should safely remove it.

I should of course add though, being careful not to get any on the label side as it can also remove the design depending on what way it’s printed. :wink:


This CD is probably a good candidate to make a backup copy as soon as the cleaning is done . Then it might not ever be played again . Or that’s the way I would do it.
Just keep the original as proof I had the right to make the backup.
So long term degradation probably wouldn’t be a factor. So whatever worked short term probably would be OK. No telling what damage has already been done by the " shellac " .
Wombler is correct about being careful with the label & great care should be taken to protect it so any solvent doesn’t cause it to let go.