Chemicals and septic tank

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by DSLR, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. DSLR

    DSLR Member

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    I'm going to develop a roll of 120 tomorrow and have a few questions. When I'm doing the stop bath (with water) is it OK to let that little bit of developer (Hc110) go down the drain? Same with the fixer, after I pour the used stuff back in the bottle is it alright to let the little amount still on the film rinse down the drain? I'm going to pour the used developer into an empty water bottle and will discard the fixer properly as well. I have a septic tank so that's why I'm worried.
     
  2. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I went through the same angst when I moved to this house with a septic tank. My biggest concern was silver saturated fixer, so I bought the silver recovery system that john nanian here sells. Spent fixer goes through a silver magnet, then through the trickle tank before heading down the septic. Film is washed per the Ilford method with wash water going through the trickle tank. Print holding water and hypo clear goes through the trickle tank as well. Hopefully so little silver is left when the prints go in the washer to not matter.

    Just to be on the safe side, and because I like to be "green," I switched to LPD paper developer that I replenish and reuse, reducing those chemicals into the waste stream. My film developer is very dilute, and people tell me there is more of the same kinds of chemicals in the food I eat.
     
  3. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    This is based on the assumption that you are developing no more than a few rolls each week.

    Even with a septic tank, the quantities you are using will be harmless even if you should slip up and pour the tank full of recently used developer (HC-110) down the drain.

    And as for the fixer, you should be re-using it anyways. The tiny amount that will go into the waste water with your wash water won't hurt anything.

    After the fixer has been used to its capacity, the fixer itself is relatively harmless, but the silver in it can cause problems with septic tanks. So careful disposal techniques are more important.

    There is very little concern with the quantities used in home darkrooms.

    If you find yourself doing more film, it would be wise to investigate silver recovery solutions - jnanian, who is a long time member here sells a "Silver Magnet" which is a good small-scale example.
     
  4. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    I have the same concerns and have been developing film and printing. I think the above advice sounds reasonable, and I notice Dan is putting first rinse into his silver magnet, so he's erring at about the same level of caution that I am. Here's what I'm doing: HC-110 ( I use 1-shot ) and Dektol go into a jug after use. For film, I've been reusing the stop bath but when I use plain water as stop ( for Adox CHS 50 ) it also goes into the jug. When I'm through with the stop it will go into the jug. Fixer also reused and into a different jug when it's used up. For film I'm using Illford wash ( but extended: 10-20-40 inversions, then two good soaks, then a soak in photoflo ) the first 2 go into the jug. For paper I do a long first wash and it goes into the jug. After that I let the wash water go down the sink into the septic.

    This subject has come up previously here and I intend to follow good advice from PE and buy resitual hypo and residual silver test kits and actually test to see if I can detect any silver at the point where I'm allowing it to go into the septic or residual hypo on the film after my wash method. I doubt I'll be able to because the dilution ought to be great at that point.

    What to do with the jugs is an interesting question. I'm using 5 quart containers that I buy the oil for my truck in. All that's in the main ones is used developer, stop, and rinse water. I seem to be averaging about 10 quarts per month. I think it will be okay to take those to a place where they can go through the municipal sewer treatment. The used up fixer is separate and I will take that to the hazardous waste disposal site once it is full. I asked around and there is no way to recycle it any more in my area.

    Anyway, that's what I'm doing and I don't know for certain if it's okay, but it seems like a fairly prudent and cautious approach. We've been on our septic for 12 years with no problems ( I've had it pumped once, as a matter of course and not for any specific reason. ) I just started developing a few months ago so there hasn't been enough time to notice a problem if it's wrong. I'm thinking about using a microbe enhancer just in case some extremely tiny amount of silver is getting in there and causing any problems, but that might be a good idea anyway and can't hurt. I think that my volume could easily go up to 20 quarts per month, now that I'm printing more and also I've started using dektol at 1:4, but really it's that first wash water that is the largest volume for both paper and film. I make an attempt to really drain all the fixer for both film and paper before it goes into the water bath, so the total amount of fixer with dissolved silver is what sticks to the paper or film. For paper, I've been using batches of 250ml and it's not noticeable that the level in the bottle goes down before the fixer is exhausted, so the amount of carry over must be very small, and by the time it gets to second wash it must be very dilute.

    Good luck and have fun!!
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi dlsr

    contact me if you are interested in a silver magnet or trickle tank ..
    i don't do the hard sell, so if you want one, great ... if not, whatever ... i'm not going to hound you or anything.

    as mentioned by others, the magnet has to be used with well-spent fixer, not wash water.
    if there is too LOW a silver concentration you will burn out the magnet.
    the trickle tank if for low concentrations of silver ( wash water + fixer that has been through the magnet )
    it works very well with the magnet.

    i don't think a few dribbles here and there will do much to your leechfield ... but larger amounts might be trouble.
    im not sure where you live, but it is usually best to find out locally what you should do when it comes to disposal
    because different places have different laws.

    goodluck !
    john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 18, 2012
  6. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Thie question of dark room and chemicals has been discussed in length on another thread. Under thee reducing conditions of a septic tank silver ions are converted to silver sulfide which is VERY insoluble so no silver gets into the evironment.
     
  7. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    I made a mistake in my post: Dan says the wash goes through the trickle tank. I implied that he put it into the silver magnet. Apologies. I'd go back and edit it so nobody gets misled, but I don't see how.
     
  8. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi doremus

    they published that in 1999, and more recently
    KODAK has put out other publications
    saying NOT to dispose of anything down
    the drain and to contact local authorities
    to figure out a disposal plan that works
    for whatever situation you might be in.

    i wish i had a link to the newer pub ...


    ====
    no worries nedL :smile:
     
  10. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    Please don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to pick a fight or argue, but the tech pub you referenced says:
    and also:
    When I was researching this, I also referred to the Kodak material, and found a similar statement in a different document about photo waste disposal. I can probably dig up a reference, but it said much the same.

    Honestly, I suspect that small quantities of developer and stop and wash water ( with whatever amount of silver and emulsion residue they contain ) would not hurt a septic system. But I'm trying to err on the side of caution both with regard to the functioning of my septic and the environment. I admit I may be going overboard, but that same publication says that municipal waste treatment facilities are able to handle developer and stop, and really it's not hard to save them up so they can be processed in a treatment plant. I can imagine it would be more of a problem if you lived very far from a municipality or a hazardous waste disposal site. I guess if I was in that situation, I'd be looking for a way to dispose without involving the septic system, maybe via evaporation, not sure.

    It's okay with me if people think I'm being overly cautious. I need to do what I think is safest and best and I'm not an expert by any means.

    Ned
     
  11. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Where it would presumably eventually settle out into the sludge at the bottom of the tank that is pumped out every 5-7 years for proper disposal? At least this is what I've read elsewhere.

    Ken
     
  12. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    For the small volume I've been doing where I have a septic tank, I empty depleted developer, the used fixer, and a first tank of wash water into a plastic jug. I have another place where I can discard it where it will be treated in a municipal treatment plant.

    Based on the research I did on APUG and other sites, I'm not concerned with putting a few rolls worth of developer a week into my septic tank, but would not put the used silver down the drain.
     
  13. DSLR

    DSLR Member

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    Once I set up a proper darkroom I'd be very interested in that. Right now, I'm just developing film. Could you pm me with more info?

    For now I think I'm probably going to store my used chemicals in water bottles and the bring them to the municipal treatment center. Just to be on the safe side, I'll probably pour the wash in the bottle as well. i didn't realize there is a hazardous materials place down the street from where I live, so it won't be too much of a hassle.

    Thanks for all the replies,.
     
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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    you might also look for schools or mini labs that might have a recycling plan in place
    they might not mind you just adding to their take-out ..

    good luck !
    john
     
  16. dr5chrome

    dr5chrome Member

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    I would agree with anyone that has said, DON'T.. DO NOT dump ANY of your photo waste in your septic, period.
    Go to a darkroom that is hooked to a sewer line. ..
     
  17. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Kodak in one of its publications states that there is no adverse effect on septic systems from the amateur darkroom. The professional darkroom is another matter.
     
  18. DSLR

    DSLR Member

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    Really? Which publication?
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Gerald:

    I'm afraid Kodak's publications no longer make this statement.

    Darkroom Design for Amateur Photographers • AK-3 explicitly states the opposite: http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/ak3/ak3.pdf

    Environmental Guidelines for Amateur Photographers • J-300 is the best Kodak reference I can find on the subject: http://www.kodak.de/ek/uploadedFile...nd_Environment/HSE_Support_Center/J300ENG.pdf

    That being said, I don't think the trace amounts the OP was asking about (in the rinse and wash solutions) are of concern.
     
  20. RPC

    RPC Member

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    Septic systems work in part by the soil filtering the effluent so by the time it gets to the groundwater it is fit enough to drink. If this didn't happen, there would be contaminated groundwater everywhere. Think of all the things people pour down their drains--soaps, detergents, household cleaning chemicals, and who knows what else. So I doubt if you need to worry about any harm to the environment. To reiterate what has been said before on this site, the only problem might be silver or silver compounds interfering with bacterial action that breaks down solid wastes. But again the small amount a typical home darkroom worker uses would likely not pose a problem compared to a big lab. I have been pouring all my chemistry down the drain for years and when my tank has been pumped I have never been told of any problems, nor have I heard of any cases where it has happened.
     
  21. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    one way to reduce the amount of chemicals used is to switch from inversion to rotary processing!This helps your walletand your septic tank or environment.
     
  22. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Another is to use a replenished developer scheme.
     
  23. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Two homes, 40 years later, no problem with septic system. Still, better to not do it.
     
  24. dr5chrome

    dr5chrome Member

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    ..this is just plain NOT responsible! ..even to give any amateur the idea.

    While photo waste is not the worst, you are putting it into the ground water by septic. If there was a reason to stop doing it, it would be now.. or sell your house and move where there is a hook-up to sewer. Sewer systems can handle the photo waste with ease.



     
  25. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    I'm doing this for prints, but not for film. It drastically reduces the waste output volume that I have to store, and has a side benefit of reducing fumes in my closet "darkroom".
     
  26. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    This is a point I was thinking of while reading this thread.

    Most (note, "most") developers are more innocuous than many of the household things people put down drains. Stop bath? Was someone really serious in including stop bath? Would you put salad dressing down the drain? If you would, then stop bath is even safer - the fats in the oil in the dressing are more likely to clog your pipes, and the vinegar is about the same concentration as stop bath.

    Fixer, yeah, I'd recover or at least remove the silver ion too before pour it into a septic system, but there are ways to do that like the silver magnet to recover it, and it's even easier if you don't want it in recoverable form (steel wool or aluminum foil.)