Economical Blix (bleach) for C41 and RA4

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by tiberiustibz, Mar 30, 2008.

  1. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I've taken up film color photography and printing recently and process C41 and RA4 with some regularity. I found a great product for the Blix, it was a universal blix with two different dilutions for film and paper. However, it appears I have bought the last one in existence (Paterson Universal Bleach-fix if anyone can find it) from B&H.

    So now I'm looking for an economical solution for the blix. Kodak wants me to buy about a million different bottles to accomplish this. Bleach for C41, bleach starter for c41, fix, and blix kits for RA4 (all of which will cost me over $100 with shipping as opposed to the $6 I payed for the universal 1/2 liter concentrate bottle). I find this quite stupid since A its all the same stuff with different dilutions, and B I don't know why they want to separate the Blix.

    People have told me there's a problem with deterioration when you mix the bleach and fix but I have a liter I mixed from a tetenal c41 press kit in mid-January I kept in a plastic container that worked fine this week.

    If I do decide to seperate them, is there a way to get cheap bleach? Fix is fine because that's cheap, but can someone point me in the bleach direction? Should I mix it myself or can I find it for less than an arm and a leg? (would it be possible to just buy the C41 bleach and fix and then use those for the film but then take some of it, mix it together with different dilutions and use it as blix for the RA4 prints? my volume isn't very high, a few liters a month...)

    I will be mixing a non-rehalogenating (right word?) bleach with my high school to do a B&W reversal for super8 but I'm not sure on the economics of that...(try ordering sulfuric acid online)
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Last first. Sulfuric acid is battery acid isn't it? 31% IIRC. Wonder over to places that sell auto supplies then just dilute it to what you want. Wait for the others to correct me -)

    Colour bleach and fix is best bought in 5 litre mini-lab jugs. Fuji-hunt makes or at least did make stuff that didn't need a starter. I'm fairly sure Kodak does to. I don't think the bleaches are the same. See if you can find a local supplier for minilabs. Or a friendly mini-lab owner that will add to their order. No point ordering this stuf from normal consumer photo shops unless you've got no choice.
     
  3. edz

    edz Member

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    Forget BLIX. Go to dedicated bleach and fix. For fix just use the cheap "universal" stuff--- perfect for B&W, colour, film and paper.
    "Universal" (C-22) bleach is potassium ferricyanide based-- not possible for a blix since ferricyanide and thiosulfate salts don't mix well. Compared, however, to "modern" bleaches its more powerful but also less environmentally benign.
    Using modern bleaches there are some "minor" but significant differences between C-41 and RA-4. RA4 bleach is also "weaker" than C-41. Given that the bleach is the most expensive part but can be re-used (if not mixed into a BLIX), replenished and even rejuvenated its cheaper to use specific and separate bleaches (at most shared between C-41 and E-6) and fix.
    BLIX is not economical. The capacity of BLIX is defined by the fixer. Fixer has much less capacity than bleach but is also extremely cheap.
    You don't need starter.

    C-41 bleach is Fe-EDTA based and **can** be mixed with fixer. That's what BLIX is. From any modern bleach and a fixer one can make BLIX. Its the cheaper (and "obsolete") C-22 bleach (ferricyanide) that one can't mix (falls apart within hours).
    Since the shelf-life of bleach is measured in "epochs" there is no reason not to get some surplus from a mini-lab...
    Its a high-school (and this is a public forum) but the most economical (albeit not ecologically acceptable) is a bleach based upon potassium dichromate (the same stuff once used as glass cleaner in nearly every chemical lab on the planet). Its a Chrome-IV so absolutely NOT to bring into the high school. Its, however, re-usable and re-usable and re-usable.. and also works better ***if*** correctly handled (by a trained and qualified technician), re-used and correctly disposed of. Potassium permanganate based bleaches can work but its much trickier to get good results (more prone to damage emulsion) and since not reusable can more costly to use.
    Chemical sources? In almost every town there is a chemical supply company. Most high schools in the U.S. have established relationships with a source--- talk to the chemistry department. Most of the chemicals you might need here should already be part of the stock of any high school department. It might be wise to ask one of the chemistry teachers if they'd mind helping out.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Once Ferric EDTA is mixed with Hypo they begin to react. In fact, Hypo on its own is reacting with air and just speeds up when mixed with Ferriic EDTA. Therefore the mixture is not stable. This mixture is a weak oxidant and is not strong enough to fully bleach and fix film if mixed at the right concentrations. FeEDTA can only be made at about 60% solution to start with and the same is true for Ammonium Hypo. So, mixing the two dilutes them by 50% if you use 1 part of each. This decreases effectiveness.

    Also, films contain iodide and restrainers no present in paper, so films leave a residue in bleach, fix or blix solutions that can stain or harm papers. Reversal films have a huge load of silver and are much harder to bleach.

    All this tells us is that film bleaches must be very concentrated and do exhaust rather rapidly compared to paper bleaches. No manufacturer of color film has sold a film blix commercially, only 3rd party manufacturers.

    You do not need any starter with any bleach, blix or fix.

    PE
     
  5. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    Than I guess this is complete garbage? http://www.adorama.com/KKFCBSG.html

    The bleach I will be mixing with components from my highschool to process reversal movie film is a Potassium Dichromate bleach...I seem to have both my photo teacher and the chemistry department on board with this...

    Kodak sells an RA4 blix... http://www.adorama.com/KKRABFR10L.html This would be simpler because I'm fumbling with trays in the dark.

    I thought to make a blix (although I haven't) you used twice the concentration to mix them together so you had the same dilutions as before...I guess not.

    Since the dilutions for my blix were different, I wouldn't use it for blixing the paper after the film, I mixed seperate bottles for each.

    Ok. Looks like I'm going to have to stay with the mini-lab jugs.
     
  6. edz

    edz Member

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    Its not garbage. Its about starting for use in automatic replenishment. Its put simply a means to turn new bleach into something more like bleach after its been used. This way one can have consistent levels of activity over time.

    That's RA (Rapid Access) process stuff. Its about reducing the time from development start to finish.

    You wanted economy and that's the way.. and as a side effect. Its even the better solution--- just takes another step or two and a bit longer process time.
     
  7. Photo Engineer

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    RA4 blix is intended for color paper! It is not intended for color film at any concentration. Color paper is essentially a Chloride emulsion, which is easy to dissolve and the paper contains probably less than 1/3 of the silver that a color film does. The film has 10% iodide emulsions which are hard to bleach and fix.

    I was the lead engineer in blix development for color paper, and also worked on a film blix for which I have a patent. Kodak never implemented the latter, but they still use my original formula with tiny modificaitons for the RA4 blix.

    I repeat, you don't need a starter for bleaches, blixes and fixes.

    PE
     
  8. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I know. I'm doing RA4 printing as well. My highschool and most schools seem to avoid it due to "deadly toxicity" but I think it's quite cool and don't appear to have died yet. If you read my original post I was asking if there was some way to use one for another or vice versa because I'm using some universal blix right now.

    OK. Photo Engineer-what is this and what do I use it for? http://www.adorama.com/KKFCBSG.html

    So the starter is to take bleach and make it more like bleach? Perfect, since it wasn't bleach to begin with.

    Replenishment...wait, what? :confused: I'm completely lost. I'm being told that there is a starter (which I know for a fact there is as I have given a link to it) and also at the same time that you don't need it. It would be sort of silly to produce a starter if you don't need it.

    To me it looks like this: The bleach is an AB mix formula in which some components will degrade if mixed (like potassium dichromate and sulfuric acid) so they're stored seperately and mixed together during dilution before use to make the solution usable and to prevent needless degredation during storage. Am I missing anything?
     
  9. Photo Engineer

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    Dear Tiberius;

    I was a member of the original blix/bleach team at Kodak. Starter was only a consideration for seasoned deep tank processes. Starter is a salt solution made to mimic used blix. In single use situations, used solution is an oxymoron.

    You are missing a lot which includes a lifetime of process design work and many patents. But, OTOH, you do what you wish. You may contact me any time for information.

    PE
     
  10. CRhymer

    CRhymer Subscriber

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    Hello Tiberius,

    You don't say what system you are using for C-41 - small tank, drum, etc. Since Kodak does not have a "home" C-41 kit any more (as far as I know) it can be a bit confusing choosing the right size and type of individual chemistry. I suspect you are using single use rather than a replenished system. It would be well worth your time to do a search on APUG for blix, C-41 chemistry, and B&W reversal. Also Kodak has excellent technical information in .pdf format.
    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/business/retailPhoto/products/chemicals/chemicalsMain.jhtml

    for example.

    If you are determined to use blix, B&H has Tetenal Universal Bleach/Fix http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/444591-REG/Tetenal_T102046_Universal_Bleach_Fix_15.html

    Somewhere on APUG, PE gave a list of the Kodak chemicals to buy for C-41. Here is a link to Kodak's FAQ.

    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/service/faqs/faq0802.shtml

    I am presently using the Unicolor Kit CAT:10123 from Freestyle, because it is cheap, can be easily shipped to my location, and I am using it for non-critical negatives for immediate scanning. It is a stop-gap measure until I can haul back the Kodak chemicals in June (I live in a remote location). I don not recommend it for important negatives. These topics have been discussed extensively on APUG and elsewhere.

    Potassium dichromate and sulphuric acid are quite stable combined and the mix is re-usable (for B&W reversal). Permanganate is not

    If and when you have done your homework, and still have questions about the how's and why's of it all, PE is your best source of information.

    Good luck. Digging up the information is a bit of work, but it will pay off in the long (and short) run.


    Cheers,
    Clarence
     
  11. Hologram

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  12. Photo Engineer

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    Peracids work. They were devised many years ago and in fact a peracid blix was devised using a super strong silver ion complexing agent. They were not used until recently. The first bleach ever used for color film and paper was quinone + sulfuric acid.

    I should add, after getting a chance to check, that patent # appears to be incorrect. It is for making semiconductor wafers.

    PE
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2008
  13. Hologram

    Hologram Member

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    I am sorry. The correct # is US 6703192: Photographic peracid bleaching composition, processing kit, and method of use.
     
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  15. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I am using steel reels and tanks for processing 35mm and 120 color print film. I temper using a bath of water to which I add either hot or cold water to adjust the temperature. I usually run at about 101-102 F to compensate for the loss between the tub and the tank.

    I have been using a Tetenal powdered C41 kit, but that gets expensive if you process more than that quantity, which I was and sometimes do. Chemistry can last a long time if you bottle it without air.

    I ordered the kodak developer and stabalizer plus a universal blix (RA4 and C41). Since I ordered the last one in existence, I'm transitioning to kodak flexicolor chemistry entirely.

    The advantage I got from blix was that I found a cheap product which gave two different dilutions for C41 and RA4 (I do color printing too). I've seen that myself while I was looking, but that blix there is only for films (universal meaning print and slide), so it's a no-go. I don't want to really want to experiment for this. Now that that advantage is gone, there is no reason for me to use a blix in the C41 (kodak sells the blix for RA4 which I will use because too many trays in dark can = bad news bears)
     
  16. Photo Engineer

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    I use a WR13 safelight (actually 2 of them) and can see pretty well when I work on color paper. For film it is totally dark, of course.

    PE
     
  17. CRhymer

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    Hello Tiberius,

    It sounds like you now have a handle on the rather confusing array of chemistry out there for different C-41 processors. I had also forgotten that you may be on a tight budget (but who wants to spend extra anyway?). While I use a Jobo now, I have used stainless reels and tanks in a tempered bath in the past and it works well. The Kodak chemistry with separate bleach and fix will work well for you. Ilford is distributing Paterson products now, so maybe their chemistry will become available again (IIRC that was the universal blix you had). I am in the North of Canada, so my supply situation is rather different that yours. Have you thought of doing E-6? Kodak still has a 5 litre E-6 kit, http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/168849-REG/Kodak_1077643_E_6_Single_Use_Film_Processing.html
    although shipping could be a problem. If you can do C-41 you can do E-6. 120 transparencies will blow your socks off. Slide film may not be around all that much longer.

    Cheers,
    Clarence
     
  18. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I ran a test yesterday with a safelight (might have been red or red-orange) and left the paper by the enlarger for 45 seconds and then processed it. I now have a lovely cyan sheet of paper. I might try a dark amber one, but for now I'm in the dark.

    I am on a tight budget because I'm in highschool and if I run out of money I can't just decide to get a day job during the week :-(.

    E6 is just not worth it in terms of time and money. It's not that exciting because in the end you have slides (yay) but I'm not doing ilfochrome so I'm stuck with scanning and that would be traitor-esque. I just send them away in fuji mailers for now.
     
  19. Photo Engineer

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    A red or red-orange safelight will fog the red layer and produce a cyan fog.

    The amber light was designed specifically to fit a hole in the sensitivity of the paper and allow a safelight that caused no fog.

    PE
     
  20. CRhymer

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    The Delineascope GK is often available for about $30.00 if you can do local pick up. It projects up to lantern slide size or 4x5 cut down. B&W transparencies are pretty impressive too and not expensive to do. I think you said you were doing B&W reversal at school. Of course, if you don't like watching projected slides it is not for you.

    Cheers,
    Clarence
     
  21. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I'm not entirely sure that I'm holding the developer within .25 degrees. It's close, but if it's more like 1 degree am I wasting my time processing at home? I'm thinking of doing RA4 exclusively and skip the C41 to save on the $$$ for small volumes... Then again if I start shooting 4x5 I will continue processing. Good processing (better job than I do) gets more expensive than CVS.

    If i'm off by a degree am I screwed? My prints are looking great and if that's the determining factor I'm AOK. Color accuracy isn't an issue. I'm not shooting color charts.
     
  22. Photo Engineer

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    1/2 degree is good, and an 8 second drain is included in the development time so you don't have to worry. You can even start 1 degree high and drop to 1 degree low over the 3' 15" development time as the film is designed for that as long as the temperature averages the correct value.

    You can do RA at 68 degrees with RA-RT developer replenisher. I use 2' development.

    PE
     
  23. gbroadbridge

    gbroadbridge Member

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    All these years I've been working blind in the dark, and now I find out that there is a safe safelight for colour printing <sigh>

    Graham

     
  24. Photo Engineer

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    Yes, wratten series 13 will work just fine. They were designed to fit each other. IDK how well it works with Fuji paper though.

    PE
     
  25. pentaxuser

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    And a very good one in the form of the sodium DUKA 10 or 50 safelight in terms of good light. I have a DUKA 10 and run it at the recommended level which is low on its spectrum of light intensity but is nearly the same light level as my Ilford 902 B&W safelight.

    Given that the paper is out of the box and under the easel and exposed in a matters of seconds and then straight into the light safe Jobo drum I suspect that I could run the DUKA at a higher level and still not fog but that's an assumption which I haven't tested.

    pentaxuser
     
  26. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    If I may ask, why is crossover bad? Can't it be compensated for in the enlarger?