% ammonia in household cleaner?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by eli griggs, Jul 20, 2007.

  1. eli griggs

    eli griggs Member

    Messages:
    374
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2005
    Location:
    NC
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I want to mix up some film cleaner, using the formula in "The Darkroom Cookbook", #188, which calls for a small amount of 28% strength but all I have on hand is "Food Lion" clear ammonia and the label gives no clue as to how much ammonia is in it.

    Can anyone offer guidance on how to make this work?

    Eli
     
  2. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,908
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't know the formula offhand, but household cleaner is very dilute and certainly not 28%. Household stuff is about 3% or so IIRC. You can get the 28% from most chemical supply houses.

    The 28% stuff is pretty caustic and can cause severe burns. You should work with it in an open area, with safety glasses and rubber gloves.

    I hope that the formula dilutes this quite a bit. I wouln't want to clean film with a strong ammonia solution. Depending on the other ingredients, if it is too strong, it can do more harm than good.

    Mixed with alcohol and water though it makes a good glass cleaner if at just the right concentration.

    PE
     
  3. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,725
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2002
    All I can say is that the fumes from it will develop Oxalid paper. I don't even know if that paper is still used. When I started working for NACA in 1952 the Ozalid process was out means of reproducing. Some of my office mates had worked overtime making ozalid copies of 50 ft rolls of oscillograph film records of flight test data. The next morning they found that the Ozalid developing machine had not worked and they were faced with the possibility of more overtime. Government employees seldom got paid in money for overtime. Payment was in compensatory leave.

    I remembered that the Ozalid process used ammonia vapor as a developer. Our janitor's closet had a bottle of household amonia. I got a small retouching brush and dipped it in some amonia with the idea that we could develop the traces in the office. As soon as the brush got near the trace, it popped right up. That night, the large lower drawer of every desk in the office became an ozalid developing machine, with an open cup of household ammonia and one or two loosely coiled rolls of ozalid paper. The next morning, all the traces showed and everyone in the office had clear sinuses. That was the beginning of my carreer as Gadget Gainer.
     
  4. eli griggs

    eli griggs Member

    Messages:
    374
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2005
    Location:
    NC
    Shooter:
    35mm
    PE, the formula calls for 5ml of ammonia, with 95ml of H2O, and alcohol making up the rest, giving a final volume of 1 liter.

    I was thinking household ammonia solution was about 10-12 percent, but your figure of 3% is very interesting, as it shows how little I know about this material.

    I am printing this weekend and I had hoped to had a working formula in the bottle, but I may have to wait till I can order 28% at some future date.

    Eli
     
  5. eli griggs

    eli griggs Member

    Messages:
    374
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2005
    Location:
    NC
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Gainer, that's a great story. Thanks for sharing.

    I love it when I can solve problems on the fly like that, not that I am chemically gifted. When I worked as a freelancer, assisting other photographers, shoots often had need of some last minute tweak or rig; I loved that work!

    Eli
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,908
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    5 ml of 28% is about equal to 50 ml of 2.8%. Therefore if you had household ammonia at whatever % use the ratios to get how much to use. Reduce the water by the same amount you increase the ammonia by.

    Do not use scented household ammonia.

    (The reason I said about is due to the fact that ammonia is less dense than water by a fair amount, and becomes less dense as the concentration increases. I don't have my tables handy to calculate, but I would guess this is 'about' right.)

    Hope that helps.

    PE
     
  7. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,725
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2002
    Solving a problem gives one a truly great feeling. It almost makes me feel guilty when I get paid for it. Almost, but not quite.
     
  8. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

    Messages:
    1,063
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Location:
    Westport, MA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Ammonia for reprographic diazo/blueline stuff is usually like 18% to 30%
    (20-26 baume). It's cheap but I don't know how easy it is to ship or find locally.
     
  9. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,725
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2002
    My bottle of Vista household ammonia claims 1 cup in a gallon of water will remove old floor wax, so it must be fairly strong. Much more than 5% I would think. Probably could look up the MSDS on the net.
     
  10. dancqu

    dancqu Member

    Messages:
    3,676
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Willamette V
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Check for Parson's. Quite a bunch of it on local shelves. Dan
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,908
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Go here:

    http://www.checnet.org/HealtheHouse/chemicals/chemicals-detail-print.asp?Main_ID=434

    It says that household ammonia is 5 - 10% ammonia. I estimated 3% based on the fact that I had to use about 10x more household ammonia to do the job in an emulsion, but there was a dilution factor and density to consider so I was off by at least 2x.

    The statement above about Baume only points up the fact that there are several scales for Baume apparently. One was in use in the US and the other was in use in Europe. The 28% ammonia is sometimes referred to as 880 Baume or .880 Baume in European texts.

    One text says it relates to density and another text says that it does not.

    I have no definitive text on this as they all seem to differ on the subject.

    PE