Chemical disposal by evaporation?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Ektagraphic, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    Hi Guys-
    I have been looking into better methods of chemical disposal rather than just dumping chemicals. My town does not have a hazardous waste day that would allow me to drop the stuff off and I don't know anyone well enough that lives in any town around me that would allow me to go with them to drop the stuff off. I could get a 55 gallon drum and have it picked up and processed when it is filled for $250. I would two. One for develop, one for fix. I still have most of the fixer I have ever used stored in bottles, so I'm going to pick up a silver magnet. I was wondering if anyone knows of any contraption that I could buy or make that would allow me to evaporate the water off of the chemicals and be left with the concentrated chemical whether it was back to solid for or even in a sludge.

    Thanks,

    Patrick
     
  2. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    patrick

    years ago i worked for a company that sold evaporation units.
    it looked like a shop vac and had a heat element at the bottom and a thick
    liner and a fan
    you ran it, and it slowly heated off the liquid leaving a dense sludge.
    the problems ...
    it takes a while to run it and evaporate the stuff, so $$ ( for electricity )
    and the fumes it gave off from heated chemistry ( probably not a good thing )
    and what do you do with the sludge ?

    if you decide you want a magnet, feel free to contact me, i will be happy to help you with your recovery efforts.

    john
     
  3. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I think that I would take the sludge and put it in the garbage with my trash. I feel as if that may be a better option that just straight dumping, no?
     
  4. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Straight dumping of sludge in the trash is going to contaminate the ground and water for years to come.
    To begin with, mix the developer and fixer, they will counteract each other. Remember that is the job of the fixer. If you are using standard B&W chemicals, the by-product of this mixture is urea - a major component of chemical fertilizers. A well known photographer, who shall remain nameless, used to have an apple orchard. The effluent from his darkroom sink flowed through a garden hose to the base of a different tree each day. He grew wonderful apples.
    If you put the fixer b itself in a bucket or barrel with zinc, or iron filings, the silver will soon replace the other metal and produce a silver rich sludge. There are reclaimers around the country who will buy such sludge.
     
  5. cdholden

    cdholden Member

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    I've been tossing my spent fixer in a 5 gallon bucket, with the lid slightly ajar, but with it covered to keep most of the dust out. It sits in a shaded, but warm location. As it has been evaporating, I've just been adding more spent fixer. I'm not so productive that it overflows, so no problems there... at least not yet.
    I got a silver magnet from John some time back. I'm planning to fire it up and extract some of the silver soon and just do it about every 6 months. With my current production, that seems to be a good plan, but I may need a second bucket for temporary "overflow" usage.
     
  6. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    You've found that you really don't have hazardous chemical waste. :smile: Except for the silver salts dissolved in the fixer, everything else is fine going into the local sewage treatment plant.

    Does your household wash dishes and laundry? Use prescription drugs, toilet bowl cleaners, apply fertilizer or weed killers to your lawn and garden? All of those are worse than the very small quantities of photo chemicals you dump.

    Prescription drugs inc birth control products, being the worst as the human body usually discharges 50% of them as waste and no sewage treatment plants break them down. If you want to keep those out of the environment, collect all human liquid and solid waste, dry it and burn the sludge in a high temp oxidizing incinerator.
     
  7. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    They do not counteract each other and the mix will still pollute. I don't know where the idea that they produce urea came from but it is not true!
     
  8. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    I mix developers, stop and fix together and dump it in open 5 gallon buckets that I store in an outside shed. After the water evaporates, not much remains.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    thank you !

    it's amazing how much confusion there is about photochemicals.

    it all depends where one lives
    but in some places it is OK to mix everything BUT fixer together, with a WHOLE SINK of water
    to dilute it and drain it .... it is the PH that matters sometimes.
    but FIXER is something different.

    there used to be someone here on APUG that insisted selenium was harmless because it was found in the ocean and in vitamins ... selenium poisoning can kill you ...


    thanks for being the voice of reason gerald !
    john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2012
  10. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    This is true; don't do it. All you're doing is putting the problem someplace else.

    This is wrong and dangerous advice. It arises, I think, from the neutralisation instructions from Cibachrome where the chemicals are mixed together and indeed do neutralise, however that has no meaningful silver content compared to spent fixer. Cibachrome is not chromogenic, it's nothing like the B&W, C41 or RA4 processes, and its chemistry is quite different.

    Fixer will inactivate developer, but the developer WILL NOT remove the dissolved silver from the fixer - I mean, where would it go? There is silver in there and it's not coming out just because you mixed something else in there. Barring advances in alchemy and the transmutation of elements, that silver element is still there, and silver is significantly biocidal. It will kill weeds and stunt the growth of trees (a long-term photographer friend of mine has a dip in the row of pines past his darkroom because he was dumping fixer for a couple of years). The dumping of silver into the waste stream is regulated in most places for this reason: it will kill the bacteria used in the sewerage processing plant.

    You can dump diluted (at least 1+10 from working strength) developer down the drain in most jurisdictions because it's just not that toxic (it's a reducing agent and less harmful than most household bleaches). You should never dump spent fixer because of the silver content.

    If you can't be bothered (I can't!) to do silver reclamation, you can find a local friendly photo lab who will be doing reclamation both because it saves them money and they will be required to by law. Take your fixer to them and they will probably thank you for it. Problem solved.

    Bleach I don't have a good solution for. Good if you can get the photo lab to take it, otherwise it's wait-for-HAZMAT-day or pay a collector. Some garbage dumps will allow you to pay and drop off quantities of chemicals if they're properly labelled, identified and not in industrial quantities.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2012
  11. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    I don't know what legal rules apply to non-business use of chemicals, but I am somewhat familiar with the rules that apply to businesses, as I have a film processor in my printing business. The EPA rules regarding silver content are very stringent, and a basic silver recovery unit will not remove enough silver to render the fixer non-hazardous. I use "Chemgon" units that are basically 5 gallon jugs that contain enough sodium polyacrylate (I think that's it) to solidify the fixer and bind the silver to the polymer. They only work where the chemical inserted is neutral pH -- so you can mix spent developer and fixer together, but as the developer may not be designated hazardous, it may be more economical to neutralize the fixer with sodium carbonate. Make sure the pH ends up neutral. After months, I finally convinced the EPD in Georgia that Chemgon units were OK to use to dispose of fixer in the regular trash (as long as the trash is going to an EPA approved disposal facility).

    Developer may not be hazardous, especially if it does not contain silver. But in my printing business, I do use the Chemgons. For my photo hobby, I may take a different approach.

    Evaporation is no longer permitted under EPA rules for conditionally exempt small quantity generators of waste -- any treatment system must be a "closed" system.

    The bottom line is that for small businesses, full compliance with the rules is near to impossible, very expensive, and explains why many jobs that deal with the physical world are now in China. And why we are likely all criminals until proven innocent.

    By the way - I wonder if hobbyists desiring to be "green" might acquire smaller quantities of sodium or potassium polyacrylate and use it to solidify fixer in old milk jugs. It's not terribly expensive. The Chemgon units can be thrown in the trash, and one would think that a smaller scale system using the same solidifying agent might be so disposed of also.
     
  12. dr5chrome

    dr5chrome Member

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    This a possible smart solution if you don't want to put the chem-waste down the drain. If you are hooked to a city sewer it is likely better you let the city deal with the waste. The only thing they are concerned with is silver. If you aren't putting out commercial levels of waste the city will never be concerned about you - you just don't output enough. This they determine by your water bill.

    If you are on a septic - I would consider not dumping photo-chem continually down the drain. If you have the space and plenty of sun you can build a solar evaporator. It might be years before you have haul away the waste.
    In Europe, they are not allowed to dump photo chem at all - any kind. Many labs over there have big electric evaporators. They are rare in the states but some companies have them. We have one. I have not used it in years - Ill sell it to you if you don't care much about your electric bill.. :wink:

    dw



     
  13. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi dormemus

    that publication is from 1999,
    and i think ( i couldn't find it )
    someone here posted one a few months ago that is "current"
    and kodak said "don't put anything down the drain"


    patrick

    just find out what is allowed where you live, tell them you are not a commercial enterprise
    but a high school student and a hobbyist &c

    good luck cutting through all the chafe
    john
     
  16. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    But what do I do with the waste from the evaporator?
     
  17. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    Thanks for all of the replies! The trouble is, I am on a septic system, so right down the drain (which I know is fine in the city with sewer) is not safe here. Where I live, no one seems to have advice as to what to do besides paying to have it hauled away.
     
  18. jm94

    jm94 Member

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    Mixing chemicals to 'inactivate' isn't wise... all the pollutants are still in them especially the silver... and mixing say, ferricyanide bleach with acid fixer has the potential to evolve cyanide gas or traditional sepia toner can release hydrogen sulfide which is also toxic... Selenium toner could evolve hydrogen selenide, which is as toxic or more so than hydrogen sulfide.

    So watch it before mixing chemicals that really shouldn't be mixed!
     
  19. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    Why do you even bother. The chemicals you dispose of from a home darkroom are well within the acceptable limits for disposal down the drain for anywhere I have heard of. You can check what the local limits are by contacting your local sewer service. Municipalities do worry about disposals from high-volume commercial labs, but not home darkrooms. Those labs are usually able to pre-treat their waste so that it becomes innocuous. A silver magnet may make sense from an economic standpoint if you do a fair volume of printing, but otherwise just toss the chemicals. Working solutions going down the drain are far less hazardous than concentrated, dry remains, unidentified, in some landfill.
     
  20. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    A mentioned here before, ferricyanide mixed with fixer is unlikely to release significant amounts on hydrogen cyanide. Even if it did, it would only be a hazard to people in the immediate vicinity at the time of release. Cyanide is quickly inactivated in the environment (that's why it's a lousy war gas). Hydrogen sulfide from mixing acid and sodium sulfide and hydrogen selenide are somewhat greater problems, but small quantities of them are also quickly inactivated in the environment. The very small quantities of silver discharged from a home darkroom are not considered to be a pollutant. They are usually quickly converted to inert forms, and silver isn't that dangerous anyway. Environmental chemistry is quite complicated, and most things are not dangerous pollutants unless they are released above a certain concentration.
     
  21. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    having a siilar problem, i decided on john's silver magnet!
     
  22. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member

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    A classic example of the chaos that results when people post without reading previous posts in a thread. :blink:
     
  23. ambaker

    ambaker Subscriber

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    One source that can be of assistance, is the MSDS for the product. Some have useful disposal instructions. (eg How to make their product safe for routine disposal.). Others unfortunately, only give you, "dispose of properly in accordance with state and local regulations.".
     
  24. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hey sal

    i think the second poster did read what patrick said
    and like so many people here and elsewhere chemical disposal
    just doesn't factor into their photography.
    a lot of people suggest that household chemicals ( bleach, laundry detergents, &c )
    and hair care products are more hazardous then anything a photographer would use
    and because a hobbyist is a small quantity generator it is OK to dump stuff down the drain,
    even on a septic system. they post kodak data sheets from the 90s or 70s or whatever
    to support their claims that it is just kooks and tree huggers that believe or suggest one should do differently
    ( and it is their right do just dump whatever they have down the drain. )

    i always suggest calling local authorities because some places are more lenient than others.

    YMMV
     
  25. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member

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    You're a more generous person than I am John, giving the benefit of the doubt that way. However, if read, it was ignored.

    Patrick wrote:

    and the response was:

    Bold italics added by me.
     
  26. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    This approach seems interesting....