Homebrew wetting agent?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by kwmullet, Jan 4, 2005.

  1. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    My crystal ball tells me that I'll eventually be using chems mixed from bulk ingredients exclusively. I'd like to wean myself off Photoflo. The whole "pouring formaldihyde down the drain" thing, not to mention covering my negs with something after they're all "clean" from the wash is something to which I'd like to explore alternatives.

    Is there a homebrew wetting agent out there? I think I remember there's some folks who just give their film a distilled water rinse, then hang it to dry. What are the procedural and chemical alternatives to photoflo?

    -KwM-

    [added later]
    Should have done a search first. Found this interesting thread, where non photoflo folks seem to use a combo of distilled/filtered water, isopropal alchohol and something called LFN. What's LFN?
     
  2. GeorgesGiralt

    GeorgesGiralt Member

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    Hi !
    May I suggest not using Photoflo at all ?
    For all my roll film, being it 120 or 135 size, I use a salad spinner instead...
    I've bought a device used to remove the water from the salad by spinning it in a bowl. On the bowl, I've installed two diametrally opposed rubber bands I use to hold the spiral on which the film is in, ensuring that the spiral side is up. I put two spirals at a time for equilibrium, and gently spin the whole thing using the cord provided. It drives the water droplets out, leaving only the enclosed water in the gelatin. After a few spins, I hang my films to dry in my shower (least dusty part of the house) and let them dry (it takes only an hour or so to dry). This way, no water marks, no squegee marks, no Photoflo, etc... And a fast drying....
    Of course this is unpractical for sheet film....
    Oh, I _do not use_ the film spinner for the salad anymore, it is high tech photographic equipment now, and priced as such.....
     
  3. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    LFN is a wetting agent produced by Edwal. Some usurious price of ~US$5 for a little bottle .. that fortunately lasts for years at one drop per liter of water.
    Does a great job ... unlike Kodak's Photo-Flo, which has a tendency to leave brown, rock-hard, bullet-proof solidified drops on the film.

    Calgon is used as a wetting agent in photography.... possibly the same stuff used in dishwashers. I've never tried the Supermarket stuff. Has anyone else here given it a go?
     
  4. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    I don't see why replacing LFN/Photflo is cheap and does the job well.
    I doubt it si formaldehyde, but some sort of alcohol.

    I have used JetDry as a test, and it works OK.

    May I suggest just using 3 changes of distilled water at the end of the wash cycle?
    Or the use of a single wash into propyl alcohol (Rubbing alcohol in the US)?
     
  5. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Iv'e got good clean soft water here, so I use - nothing at all. I had a lot of problems with drying streaks and such before, but they went away when I stopped using PhotoFlo or similar. Now I just hang the films to dry straight out of the wash. If that didn't work, I'd use distilled water (or bottled drinking water) for the final rinse.
     
  6. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    I've been using Ilford's version of photoflo and have no complaints or problems. Stuff lasts forever as it dilutes around 1+500 or so.
    Forgot to put it in the final rinse once and the only real difference was the film took a little longer to dry. Had a small water mark at the end of the film. Washed it with some bottled water and a light rub with a cotton swab and mark was gone.
     
  7. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    PhotoFlo contains formaldehyde? I'm surprised. That's pretty harsh stuff.

    A few years ago I bought a bottle of "Forma-Flo" from Photographer's Formulary. You can get it there when you order your bulk chemicals. At the current rate I'm using it up, the bottle will literally outlive me (and I'm a pretty young guy).

    The primary constituents of wetting agents are IIRC water, some alcohol (isopropyl, most likely) and a non-ionic surfactant like Triton X-100.
     
  8. BruceN

    BruceN Member

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    I just use a couple of changes of distilled water and hang it up. An added benefit is that I just set the tanks and reels, etc. aside on a towel and they dry without water spots, too.
     
  9. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I'd be surpised if it contains formaldehyde. My homebrew stablizer for C-41 requires me to add formaldehyde to photo-flo.
     
  10. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    The best of all possible worlds:

    DISTILLED Water...................750 mL
    Isopropyl rubbing alcohol (70%)...30 mL
    Photo Flo .................................2.5 mL
    Distilled Water to make.............1000 mL
     
  11. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    according to the photflo MSDS this is what it has:
    Concentrate: 30-40
    Water (007732-18-5) 35-40
    Ethylene glycol (000107-21-1) 25-30
    p-tert-octylphenoxy polyethoxyethyl alcohol (009002-93-1)


    The PTO alcohol should be the main active ingredient, also known as Octoxynol-9, or Triton X-100, used in Hair products (rinse) and other houselhold items.
    The Chemical Info of it is here:
    http://chem.sis.nlm.nih.gov/chemidplus/jsp/chemidlite/ChemFull.jsp
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I use Agfa Sistan (25ml per litre of water), which does contain formaldehyde I believe. It is a milder wetting agent than PhotoFlo, but it also acts as a preservative for B&W films and RC prints. Ctein recommends Sistan or selenium toning to get the most life out of RC prints. In general I prefer FB papers, but for prints that are going to be handled and that someone might want to put into an album or a desk frame (i.e.--no fancy conservation framing), then RC paper and Sistan isn't a bad compromise.
     
  13. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    I have used a few drops of dishwashing soap in distilled water.
     
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  15. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Ditto. Worked fine. If I remember my schooldays correctly wetting agents just lower (or increase, like I said it was a long time ago!) the surface tension of the water enebling it to 'run off' more efficiently. You can buy wetting agents as a 'finisher' for washing cars too. Anything that lowers (or increases?) surface tension should suffice as a wetting agent.
     
  16. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Try adding about 25ml of Isopropal Alchohol to your wetting agent, it helps eliminate drying marks. I don't buy the pure alchohol from the chemist I use rubbing compound that I get when I visit the US it's 98% alchohol and costs a fraction the price of the pure stuff in the UK. I used to have real problems with drying marks until I started doing this several years ago. Never had a problem since.
     
  17. eheldreth

    eheldreth Member

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    I dry my prints in a home made Senrac(AKA a plastic tube with a hair dryer and filter attatched) and have never had problems with water drops.
     
  18. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    Fuji-Hunt has this great stuff called Banstatic. It is used in color processing for a final rinse. I put a few drops in at the end of the wash. It not only prevents any watermarks it also makes the film attact less dust. It makes a really big difference in the darkroom.
     
  19. hortense

    hortense Member

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    Any chemical that reduces surface tension but does not contaminate such as commercial surfactants; also Calgon. Even 1-drop of dish detergent works well.
     
  20. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Agfa Sistan

    David,

    Sistan contains no formaldehyde - but a wetting agent (probably Triton-X) and Rhodanid/Thiocyanate, which acts in a kind of suicide mission. It protects the colloid silver by reacting with any harmful substance in the air (usually sulphur dioxide).
     
  21. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Ed,

    do you mean www.calgon.com with "the stuff in the supermarket"? This is not the Calgon used in photographic chemistry, which is Sodiumhexametaphosphat or "Fotoplex lll".

    BTW, I believe that the "Supermarket Calgon" is snake oil, the Zeoliths in washing detergent will take care of any "hard water minerals" (as they say on their website) in the water.

    I have not that much problem with Formaldehyde, but IIRC all current photographic wetting agent are formaline free. I know for sure that Tetenal Mirasol is... Actually I prefer stabilizer over the wetting agent (hardening the emulsion, biozide, cleaner films), I take care of the formaldehyde in it by appropriate handling and there are formaline free stabis out there, either.

    The rinse aid used in dishwashers isn´t that different from most commercial wetting agents and -unlike dish wash fluid- they contain no perfume, no colors. I remember a friend using it in the rare occasions when his 1l "life time stock" Mirasol bottle was empty. ,-)
     
  22. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    If you look at the MSDS for Photo-Flo you will find that it does not contain formaldehyde but only propylene glycol, Triton X-100, and Anti-Foam B. While the anti-foam does prevent foaming it also tends to leave a residue on the film especially if you use the amount of Photo-Flo that Kodak recomends. I make my own wetting agent without the anti-foam and really don't have any problem with foaming.

    Propylene glycol ....................... 250 ml
    Triton X-100 ............................ 75 ml
    Distilled water to make .............. 1.0 l

    Jerry
     
  23. Randolph Bracey

    Randolph Bracey Member

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    I agree with hortense: all you are doing is reducing the surface tension of water so that it will sheet off instead of forming droplets. Wetting agents do not add anything to the film or emulsion.

    Photoflo is nothing more than a mild, low sudsing detergent. A drop or two of any mild detergent, such as dish washing liquid, in a gallon of water will do the job nicely. If it foams on top, you used too much. Add more water until foam subsides.

    Real soaps (rare today) can leave a residue in some waters, especially hard water. Avoid them.
     
  24. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    The usual abundance of spot-on (pun intended) information, y'all.

    WRT formaldehyde -- that was one of those urban legends acquired through oral tradition that apparently, either had no basis in fact or has changed since the mid-seventies when I think I first heard it. neat to know.

    In the spirit of keeping the number of pollutants to an absolute minimum in or on my negs, I'm thinking that either a double bath of distilled water and isopropyl rubbing alcohol mixed 19:1 or a generous soaking with a spray bottle as I hang up the film will be a next step in refining my process.

    Are there "grades" or "qualities" of distilled water like there is drinking water, or is all distilled water the same? If the latter, I think I'll just get one of those 5-gallon cubes of distilled water with the spigot on the bottom, mix in 34oz of isopropyl alcohol and give it a shake before I pour. Then I'll setup two tanks, put film in one for a time, pull and shake it off, then put it in the other.

    Assuming that there's slightly more than the normal amount of contaminants in my tap/wash water, how long should the film sit in bath one before the quality of the water in the bath and that which saturates the emulsion equalizes?

    I'm thinking if I'm genuinely concerned about not only eliminating water spots but not leaving any contaminants in my negs which could have anti-archival effects, I shouldn't use the first bath over on successive runs of film in the same run, right? I should just shift bath two to be bath one, and pour a new bath two, etc?

    Also -- I'm thinking that any archival regime must include selenium toning, and any rinse after the KRST should follow the precautions above, right?

    -KwM-
     
  25. paul ron

    paul ron Member

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    I have the PhotoFlo MSDS and it is not formaldehyde at all. instead it is.......


    2. COMPOSITION/INFORMATION ON INGREDIENTS
    Weight % - Component - (CAS Registry No.)
    60-70 Water (007732-18-5)
    25-30 Propylene glycol (000057-55-6)
    5-10 p-tert-octylphenoxy polyethoxyethyl alcohol (009002-93-1)

    I am sure the stuff is just as toxic.
     
  26. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Not as toxic as formaldehyde by a long shot - but don't drink it!