Does rapid-fixer smell?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by BetterSense, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I started using Kodak fixer for no particular reason. My stock is almost gone and I will need to buy more soon, but I'm thinking about changing to a non-hardening rapid fixer.

    My reasoning is that some of my film has a longitudinal curl that is somewhat annoying, and I heard than non-hardening fixers helped with curl as well as being easier to wash (I do not use hypo-clearing agent). It would also be convenient to cut down on fixing times, because I am impatient.

    My main worry in switching fixers is odor. I think rapid fixers use an ammonium-thiosulfate chemistry compared to normal fixer which is sodium thiosulfate. Prices seem to be more or less reasonable for all fixers, but I develop paper in a small enclosed space, and Kodak fixer is not very smelly. I really wouldn't like a fixer that was smelly; something even less smelly than Kodak fixer would be better if anything. I could continue using kodak fixer for paper and use a rapid fixer for film, since I develop film outside the darkroom, but then I would have to stock two fixers.

    So, do rapid fixers smell different than Kodak fixer? I'm particularly looking at this Arista fixer, because it claims to be a non-hardening rapid fixer that is ideal for enclosed spaces. I just wonder if that is in comparison to other rapid fixers, and still actually smells worse than Kodak fixer.

    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/6200-...xer-32-oz.-concentrate-to-make-2.5?cat_id=303
     
  2. mts

    mts Subscriber

    Messages:
    361
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2004
    Location:
    Los Alamos,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As the fixer ages, especially for re-used film rapid fixer or for old stock there can be sulfurous odor. I personally don't find it any worse than 2% acid stop bath. Fresh fixer used once or for one printing session and then discarded does not have much of an objectionable odor, at least to my nose, but then isn't the smell of fixer on one's fingers is the signature of a photographer? Rapid fixer is easy to mix without the hardener. Just omit part B from the batch.
     
  3. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,234
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Location:
    NJ
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I just finished a session of film processing with Ilford rapid fixer mixed 1:4. Yes, it does smell a bit. It's not particularly pleasant but far less objectionable (to me anyway) than acid stop (which I discontinued using since the stench made me ill). I don't think it smells any better or worse than the Kodak fixer (of which I also have a bottle, that I haven't dipped into yet)

    Dan
     
  4. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I use Ilford indicator stop bath and I can't smell it at all. I can smell my Kodak fixer but it's not bad and I don't mind it. I generally reuse my fixer until it stops clearing film within a reasonable amount of time. It lasts a long time this way.

    I'm confused. Most rapid fixers seem to come as liquids.
     
  5. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

    Messages:
    1,279
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon and Austria
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    In my experience, the proprietary packaged "Kodak Fixer" (which I believe is F5 formula) smells more than the rapid fixers I have used.

    Kodak Rapid Fix is liquid and comes with a small bottle of hardener, which you leave out if you want a non-hardening fix. This is wasteful, and who needs a lot of little bottles of acid around the house... Ilford's Hypam or Rapid Fixer is non-hardening and does not come with the hardener (you can buy it extra if needed). There are other brands as well that do not have hardener. All "rapid" fixers are basically ammonium thiosulfate.

    If you are using your rapid fixer one-shot and find you are wasting a lot of fixer capacity, you can stretch it by diluting it to "paper strength" (1+9 or so depending on the product). You will need to do a clip test to find your fixing time in fresh fix. Note the time it takes your film to clear and TRIPLE this time (not double, as so often recommended) to arrive at your fixing time. The time will be different for conventional vs T-grain or Delta films. It will still be faster than the powdered fixer times. This works well and saves a bit of wasted chemicals. The method is used by many, and has been confirmed to me as a viable alternative to the factory recommendations by Ilford's technical department (I had a bit of correspondence with them about this some years ago).

    The good thing: the weaker rapid fix smells even less.

    To eliminate odors more, you can mix your stop bath at a weaker dilution as well. Stop bath gives off acetic acid fumes, which can be irritating. The weaker dilution gives off proportionally less. I use an indicator stop, and it still lasts several sessions before needing to be tossed, even at half strength.

    Best,

    Doremus Scudder
    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  6. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,416
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Location:
    NE U.S.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree with Doremus that Kodak rapid fix is more smelly than many. I don't buy it any more, because I don't like paying for the hardner too which I don't use.
    FWIW, I currently use Ilford Hypam which doesn't have much odor.
    Like others here, I'm not much bothered by the smell of fix, so I don't pay too much attention. I tried TF-4 alkaline fix for a while, but it sometimes smells of ammonia, which is more objectionable to me than the smell of acid type fixers.
    Sprint is pretty neutral smelling, as I recall.
    There is also the mix your own approach, which has the advantage of low cost and you don't pay for shipping a bunch of water. That will likely be my course of action once my stock of Hypam is gone.
    To avoid the odor of acetic stop some folks use a citric acid stop.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2009
  7. BobNewYork

    BobNewYork Member

    Messages:
    1,067
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I've used Champion fixer for years. It's just a plain ammonium thio. solution and comes in bulk for mini lab C-41 processors. I mix it 1+4 for films and prints, though I suspect a higher dilution would be fine for the prints. I get it from Unique Photo in New Jersey. There's a very slight fixer aroma - and I mean very slight. Nothing that bothers me though.

    Make sure you get the C-41 fixer replenisher though. I'd recomended this to someone else and they got the RA-4 blix - thought their shutter had packed in:tongue:

    Bob H
     
  8. Mike Richards

    Mike Richards Member

    Messages:
    101
    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2005
    Location:
    Preveza, Gre
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    If you can get Tetenal Superfix odourless, it's great. Use it all the time, and have no problems.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,999
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    you can buy sprint (systems of photography)
    developers, stop, fix and fix remove right from their website.
    their stop is buffered with vanilla so it doesn't have any smell at all
    (except one that makes you kind of hungry afterwards );
    their developer ( film ) is a metol free d-76ish kind of developer
    (so if you have a metol skin allergy you won't with this );
    their print developer good and will give you a good tonal scale
    their fixer is rapid, and very short times;
    their fix remover is as good as any on the market ...

    and it is a system .. so you know when to toss all your chemicals when
    the stop bath indicates ( purple ) ..

    sprint chemicals are all a liquid concentrate .. everything is 1:9(water)
    film fix or super concentrates print fix is 2:8 ...
    a lot of schools, and universities love their chemicals because they work well,
    they are universal, and easy to mix, and great to learn with.
    both my high school and college where i took photography classes used sprint-stuff
    and i really can't say anything bad about it ... (and still use it ... )

    as i said, you can order right from their website, they have a tech-support guy that answers
    all your questions, they are a small family-type business and an apug supporter :wink:
     
  10. wogster

    wogster Member

    Messages:
    1,267
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Location:
    Bruce Penins
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Once upon a time emulsions were quite soft, and needed to be hardened during processing so they could be handled when dry. This required a special chemical hardener, for the hardener to work, the fixer needed to be acidic. As both sodium and ammonium thiosulphate are neutral or slightly alkaline, they were mixed with acetic acid to make the fixer acidic so that the hardener could be added and work.

    Modern emulsions from Ilford, Kodak or Fuji are pre-hardened in the factory, some of the Eastern European films, based on older emulsion formulae are not. The pre-hardened emulsions don't need the hardener, in fact it's often not recommended, they also do not need the fixer to be acidic, as neither fixing agent needs the acid to work.

    Some fixers like Ilford's Hypam are acidic and hardener compatible, some lare not acidic and not hardener compatible. The non-acidic ones will smell less, as it's the acid that smells. There is a side benefit to this, if you try a staining developer, an acid fixer will remove the stain, a non acidic one will not.

    Generally the way to find out is to see if the Ph is posted, if it's less then 7 it's an acidic fixer, 7 or slightly above is alkaline.
     
  11. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

    Messages:
    3,267
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Hypam has an undiluted pH of 5.5 or so - it very mildly acidic. It is pretty low in smell, and it is relatively inexpensive.

    Rapid non-acidic fixers are just fine with pyro-stained films. I've tested pyro with acidic (pH 4.5) stop bath vs. a water bath, and I found no significant difference. Rapid fixer will not make any siginificant difference as well.
     
  12. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    What about Foma 400 and Agfa APX100? Would I need a hardening fixer for those?
     
  13. Anon Ymous

    Anon Ymous Member

    Messages:
    1,480
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2008
    Location:
    Greece
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Foma 400 might need hardener, I haven't used it and I can't say for sure. APX100 doesn't need hardener. It was quality film from a big western european manufacturer. But Agfa is kaput since 2005... :sad:

    EDIT: See this thread about Foma films & hardener.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2009
  14. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes, they smell...but it is a good smell.
     
  15. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    May 18, 2005
    Location:
    Woonsocket,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Something that's been alluded to in one or two previous posts but ignored by many others is the fact that there are several common fixer odors:

    • Fixers based on ammonium thiosulfate might smell of ammonia -- or they might not. In my experience, TF-3 has the strongest ammonia odor, TF-4 has a reduced but still distinctive ammonia odor, and Kodak Flexicolor fixer has the faintest hint of an ammonia odor.
    • Hardeners seem to have a distinctive odor -- or perhaps that's the smell of the acids used to make fixers hardener-compatible. (I'm not sure which is the case -- or maybe there are two different odors.) This is definitely true of Kodak's standard hardening sodium thiosulfate fixer.
    • Although not an odor per se, fixers can produce gases when used, and these can irritate nasal passages. I found this was a problem with Kodak's standard fixer, and was the reason I stopped using it. I always felt like I had a mild sore throat for a day or so after a darkroom session (especially printing sessions). I believe this effect is most pronounced with acid fixers.

    Depending on what one finds objectionable, the best solution for one person could be the worst solution for another. For instance, I'm not all that bothered by the ammonia odor, so I now use TF-3 for most B&W fixing. It lacks the nasal irritation problem that I find so objectionable, and TF-3 works fast.

    Since BetterSense specifically mentioned the ammonia odor in his original post, I'm guessing he'd find TF-3, and perhaps even TF-4, unacceptable. Of the fixers I've used, I'd therefore recommend he try Kodak Flexicolor fixer. (Presumably other C-41 fixers would have similar odors.) This is the rapid fixer with the least ammonium odor I've used. Note that Flexicolor fixer, although marketed for color film, works fine with B&W film and paper.
     
  16. fschifano

    fschifano Member

    Messages:
    3,216
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Valley Strea
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Kodak's Flexicolor fixer (see it here) has almost no odor, and works like a champ. It is far less smelly than Kodak's powdered sodium thiosulfate fixer. I know it is designed for the C-41 color process, but it is nothing more exotic than a standard, and well buffered, ammonium thiosulfate rapid fixer. There is no hardener and it is almost neutral ph. Best of all, it's cheaper than dirt and has fantastic capacity. I dilute it 1+9 for B&W films and prints, and have absolutely no complaints.
     
  17. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Wow, that IS really cheap. I wish freestyle carried it. I might have to transfer the contents of my freestyle cart over to Adorama and do some calculat'n.

    edit: Adorama doesn't have arista premium. doh.
     
  18. trexx

    trexx Member

    Messages:
    299
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Location:
    Tucson
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I love the smell of hypo in the morning.
     
  19. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    May 18, 2005
    Location:
    Woonsocket,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Although Freestyle doesn't carry Kodak Flexicolor fixer, they do carry Silver Pixel C-41 fixer. Unfortunately, the only quantity is "2x10 liter," so that might not be a good option if you're a light user.
     
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,830
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Isn't that the smell of victory?:wink:

    Matt
     
  21. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
  22. fschifano

    fschifano Member

    Messages:
    3,216
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Valley Strea
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It is not a good option, but for other reasons. That product is for the C-41RA process. I have read, and from no less a source than PE if I recall correctly, that this fixer is incompatible with B&W processes because it will cause longevity problems down the road.
     
  23. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,191
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2005
    Location:
    Los Alamos,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Being inanimate, it doesn't smell, but it stinks a bit. There is usually a bit of ammonia odor, worse in the alkaline versions. The acid versions may also have a bit of acetic acid odor. The odors are usually quite slight.