Complete failure - Xtol gone off?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Dr Croubie, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    So that was certainly a disaster, two rolls completely blank. But more than that, I don't actually know what went wrong.

    - I mixed up some Xtol no earlier than March (I know this because it was in a goonie-bag that had water in it I bought when travelling in feb-march). I've done quite a few rolls with it with no problems, the last maybe a month or two ago.
    - I had three rolls of film to do tonight, all tri-x pan from the same bulk-roll. First one I pushed to 800 in Microphen and it worked perfectly.
    - The next two I'd shot at ei400 so I thought I'd use up the last of my xtol.
    - only 450ml left, so I added water to 900ml at 1+1, for 7:15 at 24C (it was hot today).
    - I definitely did not accidentally fix first. Fixer was in the accordion bottle while dev and stop were in jugs to begin with. (I may have somehow done stop-dev-fix but that wouldn't have done anything too bad. Or even dev-fix-stop but again, that wouldn't have done anything bad).
    - Anyway, I got nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not even the print down the edges. Just two completely blank rolls.
    - The film is good (enough) because I already did one roll, and it can't be a faulty camera shutter because there's not even text down the sides. Not even grabbing an unshot roll out of the fridge by mistake could have happened.

    So all that I can think of is that the Xtol itself was bad. It's been sitting in an air-tight gooniebag since I mixed it in march or april or later. It worked perfectly last time I used it (the last I can find I scanned Oct 20th). It's been sitting in room temp (admittedly, that can be up to 28C sometimes, the aircon doesn't reach into my study). But there's a huge difference between foggy, thin, whatever, and complete nothingness.

    Can Xtol go off this badly? Any ideas? Am I completely losing my sanity?
     
  2. jernejk

    jernejk Member

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    Xtol stock lasts for 6 months in a tightly closed bottle.

    Many users report it behaves "digitally". It either works, or doesn't. There are also no warning signs - it just dies.
     
  3. Photo-gear

    Photo-gear Member

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    When i was an X-Tol user I managed to use it up within a period of 4 to 6 months, no more, for fear of such an accident as reported above.
     
  4. fotch

    fotch Member

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    So it could be 11 months old? That sounds old for any developer.
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I have used year-old Xtol successfully. I use it replenished and keep the working solution in a plastic Jobo bottle and my replenish stock is stored in glass.
    It does have that reputation for going bad suddenly though.
    Do you know what plastic is in the goonie-bag, it may not be as air-tight as you think.
     
  6. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    If I have understood the OP's thread he already had done one film perfectly then in the same evening so maybe an hour later or less he did another film and got nothing at all - not even any hint of the numbers etc that Kodak, Ilford etc put on the film.

    Xtol may suddenly die although I had thought we'd laid that one to bed but die totally in one evening after working perfectly on the first film???

    It surely has to be something else. I can only think of fix first but he is sure it wasn't this

    Totally puzzled

    pentaxuser
     
  7. jonasfj

    jonasfj Member

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    I think you misread. The first film was developed with a different developer.
     
  8. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    I gave up on Xtol when i had some go bad within days of purchase. It is not worth taking a chance when there are so many excelent developers available.
     
  9. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    The OP said that one of the three rolls was developed in Microphen. Then the other two were developed in the last of the Xtol. It certainly sounds like the Xtol had died. Xtol produces very nice negatives BUT I will never use it because of the danger of sudden failure.
     
  10. ath

    ath Member

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    Yes, most probably your XTOL was dead. XTOL can easily be stored 12 months or longer if stored properly and the water did not contain too much impurities (iron seems to be a problem with ascorbin developers).
    There's an easy sanity check: just place a drop of the developer on the film leader when preparing the solutions. It should turn the leader black in 10 minutes. The film leader is perfect to determine the clearing time in the fix.

    I had no XTOL failure in 13 years.
    If you tend to sloppy technique XTOL probably is not the best choice.

    Here's seven years old XTOL in action.
     
  11. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thanks all, my apologies. You are quite right I had failed to notice that the developer that had just worked was Microphen and not Xtol

    I have been using Xtol for at least 2-3 years now and in winebags have certainly got about a year out of it after which I had used it all up.

    I must admit that after seeing all the stuff on "sudden death" I did check on it after about 8 months with ath's test which is always sensible to do anyway.

    My condolences to the OP. It is a swine when this kind of thing happens

    pentaxuser
     
  12. mrred

    mrred Subscriber

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    This assumption is nieve at best. I've had crappy bottles keep xtol for over a year. I have had great storage and had it die after about 6 months. I've had it die after doing a strip test. You can even the odds, but not tame the beast.

    I did have success with replenished xtol. I used a 2l pool and actually used up 2 packets. I don't use xtol that much these days, so it is not that much of an option any more.

    My only objection with xtol is they sell it in 5l quantities. It wouldn't be an issue if I shot 8x10 and shot as much as I do with MF and SF. I now make my own in volumes I can use up. No more more problems.

    On the other side, it's fairly cheap. After 6 months or so, pitch it.
     
  13. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    Flogging elderly chemicals to death is probably not your best use of time. "Let's see, I've got Judy's phone number in my little black book. I was supposed to call her three years ago but I'll give her a buzz now.... Get the idea? When in doubt throw it out or at least test it with some negs that are not important.
     
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  15. ath

    ath Member

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    Which assumption? I stated my observations based on my experience over 15 years with XTOL. And what is nieve? Should that be a english word?
     
  16. mrred

    mrred Subscriber

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    When in defence, attack the language..... Nice call, real mature.

    It was my mistake to quote the entire message. It should have just been "f you tend to sloppy technique XTOL probably is not the best choice.".

    XTol usually fails for two reasons. 1 would be from oxygen and 2 would be from iron. Technique will not save you from the iron, sloppy or otherwise. Not using this otherwise perfect product would be silly. XTol is a great product. It's weakness should limit the amount made and unrealistic expectations for it lasting to completion of 5l. There are other suppliers of 1l versions of XTol.
     
  17. ath

    ath Member

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    And what exactly is naive (I assume that's what you wanted to write) in this sentence? And is calling others naive without reason mature?
    I think you got a few things mixed up.

    EOD for me.
     
  18. mrred

    mrred Subscriber

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    :smile:
     
  19. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    a) 11 months is pretty old for Xtol
    b) I hope you didn't mix it up using Adelaide tap water? The iron content will kill it.

    I've had xtol stock die at 1 day old when mixed from our tap water, whereas mixing it with the spring water from the goonbag I store it in has lasted me 9+ months with no worries. If you had a real marginal old batch and did the 1+1 thing with tap water, that could maybe have sent it over the edge.

    I also make mine up to 4L from a packet, i.e. 1.25x concentrated stock. Means that there's 20% less contamination from bad things in whatever water you mix it with. No idea if that's actually helped me or not.
     
  20. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    Iron in water kills xtol?

    Interesting... This might explain why my 3 days old Xtol got really flat the one and only time I used it.
     
  21. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    Xtol contains a powerful sequestering agent (DTPA) which inactivates Iron and thereby prevents the Fenton reaction, otherwise Xtol would last less than a week, but aerial Oxygen is an issue like with all other developers. The problem I see with Ascorbate developers is that they contain plenty of Ascorbate but only very little is needed to keep them active. The Ascorbate slowly decomposes over time and nobody notices it, and suddenly it's all gone and your negs come out blank.

    Since it is difficult to determine upfront whether Xtol still works or not, careful observation of its instructions is the only way to ensure proper results.
     
  22. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    Yeah, diluted with good old adelaide tap water, SAWater's finest. Can't remember if it went through the Puratap or not (or if it did, if that would remove the iron anyway?)
    When I made it I had half a gooniebag of the springwater, although I think I had to add in some normal tap water at the time.
    I've had a look through my scans, earliest scan I can find with Xtol on it (yes, I name my scans with the developer for reference) was at the end of May.
    So it definitely lasted May-Oct, which is 6 months, and died somewhere before yesterday, 8 1/2 months or so. Given that it was in the airtight gooniebag, and always used one-shot and tipped out (never replenished), I wouldn't have thought 9 months was out of the question.
    I didn't know about iron sensitivity, nor about the fact that it 'just stops' or I probably would have clip-tested (I shall in future).
    So I'll just take it as a very bullet-dodged lesson with no big loss (they were $2/roll expired, the film that worked in the microphen had some of my holiday to canberra, the two I lost were all shot at the cricket, I'm pretty sure there were no good shots in them which is why i'd been putting off developing them).
     
  23. mrred

    mrred Subscriber

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    The iron problem is stated here http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/24281-xtol-4.html . Look at post #34.

    I actually distil my own water. The stuff you buy in the drug stores is probably just filtered. Judging by the sludge left behind at the bottom of my distiller, I trust mine.

    When I make my xtol (mytol), it uses salicytic acid to combat the iron problem. There is stuff in the original xtol too, but time will usually kill the 5l of xtol. I think it was a big mistake when Kodak removed the 1l from the shelves.

    But like I said in a previous post, replenished did not spoil for me. It may be an option if throwing the unused stuff makes your blood curdle. I preferred the look of replenished anyway.
     
  24. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    While Xtol contains DTPA, Adelaide water contains so much iron it's not funny. Until a couple of decades ago, there used to be two ports that the Royal Navy wouldn't take on water: Aden and Adelaide.

    We now have new processing plants but in about half of Adelaide, the water tastes disgusting unless charcoal filtered and if there's been a lot of flow, I get little 0.3mm brown (iron oxide) chunks coming out of the tap.

    Happily, there are some very clean freshwater springs nearby with low iron content and we can buy 10L bags of good water for about $3.50 and that works fine for making up xtol.
     
  25. Photo-gear

    Photo-gear Member

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    I have been told that the format of 1L bag of X-Tol was not as tighly sealed - therefore not reliable enough - as it is the case with the 5L one. I don't believe much this explanation; I rather think the 5L is kept alive for industrial use, the regular amateur not being the target, marketing wise...
     
  26. mrred

    mrred Subscriber

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    Yes, but it is all about me.... :smile: