On a similar note to How can I safely destroy a hard disk?, I have dozens of CD and DVD discs that need to be destroyed before disposal.

While I've seen shredders which promise to destroy discs, this is not feasible for the number of discs I have to destroy due to the cost of equipment.

3 Answers 3


Microwaving each disc for a couple of seconds will be sufficient to destroy it - see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKd92oU9ivs from about 10 seconds in - this is a slow-mo video, the actual effect happens in less than a second

Find a solvent that attacks the plastic - acetone or gasoline would be the ones I try first

Use a solvent that attacks the aluminium mirroring - (car) battery acid is relatively common from specialist suppliers, and is occasionally marketed as drain cleaner

Use a sander to remove a large percentage of the label side

Set them on fire

Bolt 20 together at a time and drill large holes in them. CDs are read from centre to edge, so destroying the centremost circumference will make the rest of the disc unreadable to all except specialist equipment

Hold the CD between thumb and fingers so the label is facing your palm. Use emery (sanding) paper to scratch the non-label side (just need a few small cuts in the surface- a single wipe across the diameter should do) along the line that the CD will fold when you bend it. Try and fold it in half - it'll shatter into pieces. If you're finding they do fold and you want them shattered, freeze them first and fold them while still cold

Lay them out in a line and run a blowtorch over the label side, blistering it. Only need to do a single line across the diameter to make them predominantly unusable


For small quantities, I simply palm the disc and bend+squeeze until it breaks.

  1. This can be a bit sharp; wear a glove
  2. Do this in a trash can; not over. Those little flakes of silver can make a mess
  3. The flex of the disc should be convex away from your palm; otherwise, your palm acts as a stop

An alkaline bleach or acetone (nail polish remover) will destroy the polycarbonate disc. In practice it takes maybe 10 hours of soaking and the discs will warp. Keep a lid on the container if you use acetone or it will evaporate.

Other chemicals can be used but they are not as common or as relatively safe. Use gloves, wear a mask, do it outdoors. Ideally you want a transparent container that gets some sunlight (the UV accelerates the process).

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