Ether in the house ... Wet Plate question

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Steve Karr, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. Steve Karr

    Steve Karr Member

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    Hi everyone,
    Well setting up my darkroom in a 2nd bedroom of the new apartment was going well ... Until now.

    As I place my sink in it's spot I look around and see many possible spark points. If I pour a plate in the sink can ignition come from the:

    1) air conditioner to the lower left ( I live in AZ where 10 months a year you run that sucker)
    2) film freezer under the sink to the right
    3) at the back right of the room a thru wall fan (can't see it in the pic)

    I won't be vacuuming or running the enlarger so no worries there. Ha!

    I may pour 10 8x10 plates in a shooting, is that enough ether in the air for problems? I do 50% ether 50% Everclear.

    The last place I was doing plates the owner was also a chemist and was super afraid of sparks from brush-type motors igniting the ether.

    So how true is this and what can I do in an apartment (no holes in the walls for a vapor hood) to prevent problems.

    Thanks for reading this far,
    Steve

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Galah

    Galah Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2010
  3. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    The wet plate practitioners may chime in here, hopefully, but I wouldn't consider using ether indoors with no ventilation.
    The stuff burns really really well, better than gasoline.
     
  4. 77seriesiii

    77seriesiii Member

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    Diethyl Ether is extremely flammable. The autoignition temperature of ether is only 170 °C (338°F), so it can be ignited by a hot surface without a flame or spark. A common practice in chemical labs is to use steam (thus limiting the temperature to 100 °C (212 °F) when ether must be heated or distilled. The diffusion of diethyl ether in air is 0.918·10−5 m2/s (298K 101.325 kPa). wikipedia

    The poster above gave the info for plain jane ether, not the stuff normally used in Wet plate collodion photography.

    You have a couple of issues with ether, flammable, and the fumes that sink which if in a room with no ventilation will cause you to get light headed or pass out from lack of oxygen. hence no pouring collodion in the darkbox makes for an awkward moment when you wake up covered in gooey stuff wrapped in cloth wearing the Darkbox as a hat covered in glass glitter with hopefully none of it sticking into you.

    Based on the picture you have multiple sources for possible whoosh noises and heat. Not sure what to tell you, cant pour the stuff w/o air flow, not smart. I think I would have a different room w/ a window and fans that dont have a surge or spark possibilities, if properly ventilated it will take alot of ether fumes to go 'whoosh' and the idea of the ventilation is to stop 'whoosh' from happening. I notice the window taped up, any way to open that or have a blackout curtain that would allow the window to be opened and still use your darkroom? Can the door to the room be opened and fan placed in the door opening? I've lived in TX and understand the issue but wasnt doing WP then. Garret on the Studio Q forum lives in that part of the world, he would be a good person to ask, goamules I think is his handle. The other possibility is to not pour in the house and then walk to your silver tank/tray. Again distance from pour location to silver increases chances of A) wearing the salted plate B) proving that collodion on glass has the same probability of landing face down as a piece of toast and jelly combo BUT the added fun of the glass shards rapidly cementing themselves to the floor and your wife yelling, the dog running around trying to figure out why you are chasing him away from what must be food...ahhh the fun of it all only thing missing is children.

    Open a door, window use a fan in the opening you'll be fine...I am not responsible if you follow my suggestion and you hear WHooooOSSh noises followed by heat. :smile: I am very accident prone and have hurt almost all joints, burned my self with fire, electricity, chemicals and other stupid crap so my level of risk acceptance is probably a bit higher than most since I havent killed myself yet, so I'm still pushing the envelope! ;-)

    Just enjoy the wetplate fun, read the MSDS sheets and follow good practices.

    Erick
     
  5. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    Besides the risk of fire/explosion, I'd be a bit concerned about fumes of ethanol and ether.. getting very sleepy.. sleeepy.. sleeeeeeeepy
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Have you carefully read through your tenant's insurance policy?
     
  7. 77seriesiii

    77seriesiii Member

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    I forgot one thing last night, you can always mix up collodion w/o the ether. In lieu of the additional ether use grain or ethanol alcohol, reduces the ether fumes to almost nothing.

    ./e
     
  8. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Also remember to not smoke while you are making the plates, although, if you do, you will get a lot of bang of the buck.

    Steve