Bizarre logevity of my last batch of Dektol

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by SkipA, Aug 11, 2012.

  1. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    I have two bottles of Dektol under my darkroom sink that I mixed September 4th, 2005. One is stock solution, the other is diluted 1:2. Both were stored in half full amber glass bottles with the airspace filled with Beseler XDL spray.

    I was making my first pinhole paper negatives this morning, and I decided to use the 1:2 diluted solution to see if it would develop the paper. It did. It worked.

    I'd never exposed paper in a camera before, so I had no idea where to start with exposure. I used a 5x7 f/560 200mm camera. First exposure was 1 minute 30 seconds, and the next one was 2 minutes 45 seconds. There isn't much density on the first paper, and the second one is a little thin, but it appears quite printable.

    I've just made a couple more longer exposures on the same paper, 4 minutes each. I'll develop those next, then make contact print positives and develop them in the same seven year old 1:2 developer, and report back.

    I haven't tried the stock solution yet. I would expect it to be in at least as good a shape as the 1:2 diluted stuff, which, by the way, was used once as second developer for some Tri-X reversal movie film.

    I am amazed this developer worked at all, after such a long time in a half-filled bottle. Has anyone else ever found such an old mixed working solution developer to work?
     
  2. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    The spray displaced the oxygen, making it a full bottle. :smile:
     
  3. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    Kodak says that the stock solution lasts 6 months in a full stoppered bottle. This is a 1:2 diluted working solution that I mixed 7 years ago, that seems to be working fine.
     
  4. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    I have mixed Kodak RA4 developer that is over a year old, it works fine, and it's published "shelf life" is something like 6 weeks. :smile:
     
  5. jm94

    jm94 Member

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    I have done the same!

    Once bleach + fix becomes blix though, from what I remember doesn't it degrade no matter what due to the fixer oxidizing the bleach? I have had 'blix' go very quickly even in airtight bottles and from this week on will use separate bleach and fix.

    Most developers will last well when in a full airtight bottle or protected with butane or fluoridated hydrocarbons such as found in compressed canned air.
    I prefer to keep my developers as powders so i can mix on demand if a powder form is available. Rodinal will last for decades but once mixed degrades very quickly (<48 hrs) Never used dektol myself but might give it a try...
     
  6. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Be very wary of doing that - near the end of the thread are scans demonstrating the problem. What I'm doing now (given that Ektacolor bleach does not bleach properly unless it has the fixer's buffering agent mixed in) is to keep 400mL* working solution of blix and replenish that from pre-diluted solutions of bleach and fixer. Worst case, I lose 400mL of blix due to the bleach eating the fixer; the longevity of my chemicals is still good because I keep the bleach and fix separate until they become the working solution.


    * 100mL would be fine, though I'd need to replenish more frequently.
     
  7. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Skip,

    I have had similar experience with Dektol. It really seems to last.

    Neal Wydra
     
  8. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    It's interesting to hear that others have had similar remarkable developer longevity experiences. Maybe Dektol is just more stable than some others. It would seem to be worth testing an old developer, even if it is well past its manufacturer's "suggested" shelf life, to see if it is still active. That said, I would not trust any critical work to a developer as aged as this one is.
     
  9. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Beseler XDL spray works great. I have a 30 year old can that I use. You don't need much because it's heavier than air. Can't find it anywhere.
     
  10. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    Beseler XDL Spray and the old Jobo (Tetenal) Protectan spray are comprised of chlorofluorocarbons. They are presumably no longer available due to bans on commercial products containing chlorofluorocarbons.

    I have one more full can of XDL Spray. When that is gone, I'll need to find a suitable alternative. Nitrogen maybe?

    My cans of canned air (Dust Off, and similar brands) say they contain difluoroethane, supposedly not harmful to the atmosphere. But is that all thats in it? And does difluoroethane provide the same protection afforded by the dichlorodifluoromethane that is in my XDL Spray? They sound similar, but I doubt that's a good way to judge it. :smile:
     
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  11. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Now I feel guilty :sad:
     
  12. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    I wouldn't worry about it. In fact, I don't. Those products are no longer available. I don't think my remaining can and what's left of your 30 year old one is going to do any appreciable harm. It's already packaged, so we might as well use it.

    I guess we could take it to our local hazardous waste disposal site ... but that's just going to an extreme, IMO.
     
  13. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Thanks! I use is sparingly because Beseler doesn't make it any more. For good reason.
     
  14. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Once you run out of CFC, try butane (lighter refill). Slightly heavier than air but you still need to give a good blast to expel all the oxygen.
     
  15. jm94

    jm94 Member

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    diflouroethane is a common one as is tetraflouroethane there is flouromethane as well. tetraflouroethane is another common one, the 'ice' smoke is quite harsh with this one which tells it apart, it displaces oxygen so it should be as effective as it wont react with the chemicals most of them are relatively inert.
     
  16. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    jm94, I have been reading up on "canned air". It seems that people were huffing the stuff and some were dieing, so now bitterants are added to the products to dissuade people from doing that. Apparently the bitterants make huffing intolerable. If you use canned air to displace oxygen, you are also adding these unspecified compounds. One would need to know what bitterant is added to determine the effect on your developer.

    Another thing I found out is that "canned air" is also a refrigerant. Difluoroethane (HFC-152a), trifluoroethane (HFC-143a), or tetrafluoroethane (HFC-134a). These are supposedly potent greenhouse gases, so even though they don't deplete ozone, there is still ample reason for some people to feel guilty using them. Thankfully, I'm not one of them.
     
  17. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    What paper? Many have developer built in and only need sufficient ph to develop.
     
  18. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    Ilford MGIV - Multigrade IV RC Deluxe, MGD.1M. Purchaed in 2004, I believe. I used most of it at the time I bought it, but I had about a dozen sheets left in the box, so I figured I'd experiment with paper negatives.
     
  19. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    That will develop in alkali solution without developer (or dead developer) but probably not to maximum black.

    Put a piece of film in room light in a small sample of either, that'll confirm developer activity.
     
  20. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    I'll try that. Thanks Athiril. I did not know that some papers had developers incorporated.
     
  21. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    I tested them with film in daylight. They developed totally black, both in the stock solution and in the working solution. So they are still active after all these years.