DIY Chemical Disposal

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by laroygreen, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    Good day,

    Does anyone know of a good and relatively easy and inexpensive way of safely (for the environment) disposing of C-41 chemistry yourself?

    Thanks!
     
  2. AgX

    AgX Member

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  3. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    I read a few guides online, with most guides keep saying you need to neutralize the chemicals and recover the silver (and even after doing that, some still suggest that the chemical is hazardous waste), but the methods listed vary also. Who do you trust!
     
  4. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Some say so, some say so...

    At one hand you could try to establish the affect your chemistries will have (a lot has been written on that matter), on the other you could just follow the authorities' rules that apply whereever you are located.

    Over here the county effluent water engineer/officer takes the view that all photographic effluent independant ogf size of lab has to be considered chemical waste and must not enter the sewage system.
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    how about finding a local lab and asking them to dispose of your tailings ?

    the blix + wash water can have the silver removed using a ion transfer device
    otherwise the ph has to be between 5 + 6 to use an electrolytic system .. ( with a higher than 50 ppm of silver )
     
  6. cepwin

    cepwin Member

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    I looked up the regs in my area and they specifically state that prepared/dilute photographic chemicals can be poured down the drain. However this discussion has made me think again about the silver collector I looked into some time ago.
     
  7. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    Unfortunately I don't live near any active film photo labs (they sell "amateur" film from old stock, but no longer develop - I live on a very small island). So far the recommendations online suggest:

    - Mixing your developer and blix between PH 5 - 7 to kill it (sounds suspect)
    - Putting steel wool in a plastic paint can, maybe introduce a small electrical charge, and basically perform some electrolysis to remove the silver from the liquid.

    Seems very doable but does that sound like good advice (I use my chemicals to the max, and store chemistry in the freezer for months until I am sure I can't get anything more out of it - and it has worked well so far)?
     
  8. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The intersting thing about silver is that generally it is considered harmful in photographic affluent and the same time more and more new products containing "nano-silver" are marketed.
     
  9. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    Oh wait! My friends wife has a PhD in Chemistry, I can ask her what to do with hazardous waste :D
     
  10. cepwin

    cepwin Member

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    I just found "silver magnet" which has been discussed on APUG before appears to be available from porters.com. That would be better than steel wool. I'm going to call it.

     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i didn't recommend mixing the developer and blix together. the devices i mentioned ( electrolytic and ion transfer ) do not work
    with developers but fixers ... you would still have to find a way to dispose of the spent desilvered blix, as well as your developers.


    how about calling your local authorities and finding out what they suggest you do with them?

    i sell silver magnet (and i explain how to use them) i also sell test strips, trickle tanks &c

    feel free to contact me if you have any questions about them ...
     
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  12. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    I have a Silver Magnet. I have recovered nearly two troy ounces of silver with it. That almost pays for the device already. It's not even 1/4 of the way full! By the time the collector fills with silver, I will have several ounces. When I send that silver in to be reclaimed I will have more than enough money to pay for the device, buy a case of beer or a bottle of wine and still have money left over to buy some film.

    Yes! Silver Magnet basically gives you some free film! :wink: :wink: :wink:

    For disposing the chemistry:
    Developer, stop and hypo clear go down the drain with lots of water to dilute it.
    After taking out the silver, I bottle the fixer in old milk jugs and save it in my garage until I have enough to turn in to the Household Haz-Mat recycling center.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    great to hear it is still working for you randy :smile:

    the OP is using color chemistry ... and i have a feeling disposal is a little different ...
     
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  15. AgX

    AgX Member

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    But the question remains, aside of your wallet, what would best environmentally: extracting silver partially and dump the rest of fixer, or give it to recovery service that retracts silver more efficiently?

    However this needs the availability of such recovery service locally. And this is not what this thread is about.






    Maybe we could reanimate the thoughts brought up in this old thread (especially post #57) and come up with workable ideas (even kits?) that allow at least splitting of effluent beyond silver recovery.
     
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  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hi AgX

    i think part of the problem is that even after you remove the silver or whatever it might be that is in the chemistry
    you still have to find a way to safely dispose of the stuff. i think that is why many communities have household waste disposal sites ...
    and that is why i suggested a local mini lab ( even if it isn't local ) because mini labs already have a safe disposal plan in place.

    i don't do color work and have no idea what is in the developers ... and i don't do toning ( except for reed dye type toners )
    so i never have to deal with selenium or sepia or ?, and i don't do wet plate so i don't have to deal with whatever is in their developer or the cyanide in the fixer
    or uranium prints or whatever other crazy stuff people love to use...

    the "stuff" i use is removed by a hauler but he no longer sends me a check for the silver so i remove the silver first :smile:
    i really can't see the point in him making $$ off of taking my stuff away, and giving me my paperwork saying he did so .. and then
    making $$ off of my silver. ( sounds like a good racket to be in ! )
    like randy said it ends up being a slush fund when i get enough harvested :smile:

    i wonder about the filters PE mentioned in the thread #57 ... once they get gummed up with whatever gunk they filter out
    THEN what happens to them ... waste hauler? or land fill? what's the difference between just tossing the stuff down the drain at that point
    since in a landfill it either gets incinerated and ends up in the atmosphere, + / or seeps into the groundwater, and down the drain
    in a sewer plant ... or in the septic system, it might cause havoc on the microbiologic atmosphere that needs to be maintained to work ...
     
  17. AgX

    AgX Member

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    John,

    If you look at post #56 of that thread you'll see that I hinted at inceneration of those filters (at least the charcoal ones). I don't see another solution. But then again one needs a (municipal?) service that takes care of such, but at least that stuff is off the sewage system. And with incineration I had in mind hazardous waste inceneration. This takes place at higher temperature (better cracking up of molecules) and better filtration.

    So that term "disposal" as indicated in the title of this thread may be ambiguous.


    Concerning that silver, you are right claiming the money for that silver out of your fixer. My remark was directed at the effeciancy of home de-silvering compared to a commercial business under the aspect of being most ecological.
     
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  18. henry finley

    henry finley Member

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    If I may be allowed to speak a heresy, but I just go pour it out in the driveway. The little bit of photography I do, and living on my 18 acres in the middle of of nowhere, it would take me 269,347 years to pollute my property or the water table. OR I could burn 35 dollars of gasoline to carry it to a company to dispose of it. Heresy or not--that's my choices. I COULD pour it all in a plastic barrel out on the property till it's full for a trip to town, but the barrel would become brittle from exposure, and would break open. Now THAT would be a mess.
    Just humor, folks, but for me, it's true.
     
  19. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    The OP didn't mention the total quantities s/he is dealing with. That makes a difference from the point of view of local effluent regulations. Whatever treatment those regs suggest should be followed - not because they are the most factually or chemically correct, but because one therebye avoids a fine or imprisonment.

    The oft quoted idea of mixing the blix and developer probably comes from the home-use version of the Cibachrome chemicals where this was designed in to the chemistry. It was not the same for the commercial version of the "same" process, from what I remember. In any case, unless instructions for the chemical products one is using specifically recommend this, it's probably wise to not try it out randomly.

    The liquids are mostly water so, after de-silvering the blix if possible, can an animal and pet-safe evaporation of the water take place? Probably outdoors, away from home ventilation, not drinkable by passing creatures. That leaves you with a very small amount of solid(-ish) residue to deal with.
     
  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i think you might be onto something there AgX ...

    maybe filtering out the bad stuff would be useful, if the tailings were held on site,
    so the "good stuff" in the fluid is separate from the "bad stuff" in the fluid
    so maybe the ph was neutralized a bit or so if the bad stuff and the good stuff were mixed together,
    there wouldn't be "problems" but i think in the end, both things ( the good and the bad )
    or the one thing ( goodbad ) would both have to be disposed of in a sensible manner ...
    i remember reading years ago about a magical powder that people sprinkle in their photochemicals
    and it somehow absorbed all the liquids and turned everything into a benign powder
    ( or at least a powder that could be collected and disposed of easier than a fluid )
    i wish i could remember what it was ...

    unfortunately henry ( a few posts up ) touches upon something a lot of people who use goodbad stuff often think
    ... ( antifreeze, used motor oil, lubricants solvents &c ) that just dumping it is sensible ...
    because it is their property and their little bit doesn't matter and the laws are dumb and too "green"
    ( freaking liberals ! ) and it really doesn't matter anyways because it will take sooo long for me to pollute my own land ...
    or the sewer system ( or my septic ) can handle the goodbad ( or just bad ) stuff i might dump down the drain ...
    mainly, because it is a pain in the neck to deal with any of this stuff ...

    its too bad we can't just take this stuff right back to the places we bought it from !
    or that magical powder would make things much easier ...
     
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  21. AgX

    AgX Member

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    You are refering to what is called superabsorber.

    It only fixes a fluid. The volume even rises (by the compact-volume of the absober). Furthermore it hampers recycling compared to the original fluid. The advantage would only be in cases a fluid could not be stored and handled safely in a container.
     
  22. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    One of the pitfalls, here, is that we need to consider the amount of chemicals that are being dumped.

    Even when I am in full production mode, I rarely use more than a gallon of stock developer in a week. I often replenish and reuse XTOL until it's exhausted. I recycle fixer until it's used up. Then I get the silver out before turning it in. The only things I am really dumping down the drain are stop bath, hypo clearing agent and Photo-Flo. For printing, the only other thing I use is Dektol. Again, I use it all up before disposing.

    Even in busy times, I probably dump less than five gallons of working strength chemical solutions down the drain during a week. Compared to the crap that goes down the drain on a daily basis, that's like spit in the ocean. But for the silver, most well managed municipal sewer treatment plants are well able to destroy most photo chemicals that get flushed down the drain, even at 100 times the quantities that I dispose.

    I occasionally develop color film. Except for fixer, I have zero worries about dumping all my used chemistry down the drain at working dilution. (Plus plenty of water to dilute and wash it down.) In the amounts I use, I don't even think it would be noticed, much less cause a problem.

    Now, if you are a commercial photo lab dumping 100 gallons of chemicals down the sewer ever week, THAT could be a problem! You had better have a plan to dispose of your chemicals properly!

    But, in the quantities we usually dispose of, the average home photographer has nothing to worry about unless there are special circumstances.
     
  23. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The legal situation might be different though. (Whether there would be a practical risk to get into legal trouble is something else.)

    But you hinted at a important point: replenishing.
     
  24. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    At the amounts most home photographers use, except for silver, by the time the diluted effluent reaches the sewer treatment plant, those chemicals would be virtually undetectable unless somebody was doing some very sensitive testing and analysis, probably using a mass spectrometer. Even then, the levels would probably be barely detectable. Even at 100 times that amount, it wouldn't amount to spit in the ocean. The chemicals and machinery at any good sewer treatment facility would easily destroy most photographic chemicals in the quantities that most of us dispose of them.

    Refer to Kodak Publication J-300: "Environmental Guidelines for Amateur Photographers"
    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/corp/environment/kes/pubs/pdfs/j300.pdf

    Specifically, Page 3 and Page 5, Table I.

    This document tells exactly what to do with your photographic effluent. Basically, with a few important exceptions, it says, "Get the silver out and dump the rest down the sewer."
     
  25. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Kodak is not to decide over local law.
     
  26. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Quote from publication J-300:
    Kodak does not claim to override local law but they still give good information on how to manage photographic waste.