Household replacement for Photoflo?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Dave Krueger, Dec 3, 2007.

  1. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Just wondering of anyone knows of a replacement for Photo-Flo that can be found around the house. When I was a kid, I think I used to put a drop of dish washing soap in the water to get the water to sheet off the film.

    I always dip my film in distilled water with a couple drops of photo-flo in it, but sometimes I wonder if a wetting agent is needed at all. Maybe I should just dip it in distilled water and leave the photo-flo out?
     
  2. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I still do. Don't tell anyone though!

    I also use it as a plasticiser when mixing mortar.



    Steve.
     
  3. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    You can do this, but do we know what's in the soap? Ivory is "99 & 44/100's pure". What is the other 56/100's? PE had quite a bit to say on this subject either here or on Photo.net and I agree with his reasons not to use household soap. Photo-Flo, IMHO, is much better.
     
  4. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    How about Jet-Dri????..EC
     
  5. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I also recall PE's comments on the subject on this site, but I don't have an exact pointer. Given the cost of real Photo Flo (or other brands' equivalent products), I don't see much point in using anything else except in unusual circumstances (say, you've run out).

    I have seen posts from people who use distilled water with no wetting agent at all as the final rinse. I've never tried this myself, though, so I can't comment on how well it works from personal experience.
     
  6. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Hmmm... Good question. I assume this is the stuff one uses in the dish washer. I don't know what we use, but it has a pretty blue color. :smile:

    And, it presumably serves only the wetting function, separate from the possibly harmful detergents.
     
  7. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Some folks have written here that they do use this stuff, but again, what's in it?
     
  8. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    One of PE's major points was that Photo-Flo adds, I'll call them preservatives for lack of more knowledge about the stuff, to the film and these "preservatives" help protect the film for quite some time.

    Yes, given Photo-Flo's very low cost and the fact that I went out and took the time to create what I hope are beautiful images, lovingly processed them in a darkroom, I'm not going to "just use soap" on my negs! For me, it's not worth it to go to all that trouble to save $.01 by using soap.
     
  9. Schlapp

    Schlapp Member

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    I have some Fotospeed rinse aid - only today it took the emulsion off my glass plate !
     
  10. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    I agree that photo-flo probably isn't even going to register as a blip on the photography expenses radar, but I'm still curious.

    I would like to hear from more people who use only distilled water. I've always been afraid that the water drops would make the emulsion dry unevenly which could cause stress. But, I could be completely off base.
     
  11. eric

    eric Member

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    I mix photo-flo and rubbing alchohol together (about a few capfuls per gallon). It keeps critters from growing in the container and helps it dry. Not sure if this method is for everyone but its fine for me.
     
  12. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    I think something should be clarified about using dishwashing detergent. The only thing that will work is the liquid that is sold for HAND WASHING of dishes in the SINK. Under no circumstances should you use the gel that is sold for using in a dishwasher. This is a very caustic substance.

    Photoflo contains a surfactant, which lowers the surface tension of water, thus causing it to sheet off, rather than puddle into droplets. Dishwashing liquid contains a surfactant as well as detergents. So, they are not the same, but they do exhibit the same qualities in regards to lowering the surface tension of water. Whether the minute traces of detergent left on the film are detrimental, I don't know. But I DO KNOW that you could only possibly use the liquid "soaps" designed for HAND WASHING of dishes.
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    If it was that easy, Kodak and others would not have bothered to manufacture it.

    Steve
     
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  15. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Sigh, ok, here goes again.

    Dishwashing fluids are most often alkaline, have dyes in them and scents along with skin oils to prevent dishwasher hands. And, lots of other stuff. The surfactant in them is often ionic such as di-nonlyl napthalene sulfonic acid sodium salt.

    Ever see the sink type dishwasher fluid that is yellow? Thats dye. Does it smell good? Thats the scent, and if you wash your hands with it, it leaves them silky smooth, that is the oil.

    Go ahead, use it on your film. I don't care. But you can get lots of good surfactants out there such as Tween, Alkanol, TritonX 100 and others, but Kodak, Ilford and Fuji all supply good surfactants that are guaranteed to be harmless when used on film. The best surfactant is nonionic with a neutral pH.

    PE
     
  16. kevs

    kevs Member

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    Hi Dave,

    As orhers have said, it is possible - but not advisable - to use washing-up liquid (Fairy Liquid is a popular UK brand) as a replacement for wetting agent. Having done so a couple of times in an 'emergency' (some clown of a student had contaminated the college's diluted wetting agent with fixer) I'd add that you should make sure it's very dilute.

    How dilute? Put a tiny drop onto a finger, wash this almost off under a tap and then add the rest to the final rinse water. Then discard 75% of this water and top up with fresh. You need it so that when you agitate the water with a finger only a small number of bubbles appear. Anything more will leave a nasty deposit on your film.

    But as others have rightly said, a proper wetting agent is way preferable to using liquid soap. Your precious negs are worth the few pounds or dollars for the real stuff.
     
  17. dslater

    dslater Member

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    Hi Eric,
    are you saying a few capfuls of photo-flo in a gallon of rubbing alcohol, or do you mean photo-flo + a few capfuls of rubbing alcohol in a gallon of water?

    Dan
     
  18. eric

    eric Member

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    This one Dan. I'm not very scientific, it just works for me. I often use a little more flo than normal and eyball the amount of rubbing alchohol. The less stuff I do before a printing or processing session, the better (like mixing flo).
     
  19. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    If the rubbing alcohol you have is denatured, the denaturant may have unwanted effects.

    Pour some of the denatured alcohol into water. If it turns cloudy, then it has the 'bad' ingredient and should NOT be used in any photographic situation.

    PE
     
  20. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I find that it works better if I put ethanol [not denatured] directly in to me.

    Steve
     
  21. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    I wouldn't want anybody but photographers to know this, but I have been known to misuse some of their liquid detergent. It's a bit like my pink pajamas. The ones I wear in the summer when it's hot, in the winter when it's not, and sometimes in the springtime, and sometimes in the fall, I jump right in between the sheets with nothing on at all.

    Does PE or any of you know exactly what is in Photoflo? How do we know it is in fact not the same as the stuff you put in that little dispenser in your dishwasbher to prevent water spots?

    Actually, I have not used anything but a fresh paper towel or a soft cloth, like an old fashioned diaper, with which I gently remove the surface water film. I have not had any problem with scratches or water marks, or even the mineral content of my well water. If this be treason, make the most of it!
     
  22. dslater

    dslater Member

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    Thanks Eric,
    one other thing - is it ethanol or isopropol alcohol? Also, how much difference does it make in your drying times?

    Dan
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i've been using the same small bottle of photo flo since 1981.
    it only takes a few drops, and a bottle will last a lifetime, why go through
    the hassle of re-inventing the wheel ?

    john
     
  24. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Thanks to everyone for the responses.

    I think I'll just stick to the photo-flo. I didn't know anything about its preservative properties, so I'm glad that was mentioned.

    My bottle is getting low. I'm guessing it'll run out in three or four years. :D To be honest, I did think it was getting low, but I didn't stop to think how little of it I use and how long the remaining solution will last...
     
  25. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    I think that might be more than we needed to know... :tongue:

    I have 35 year old negatives that were rinsed in dishwashing liquid in tap water that have no apparent degradation. Still, I'm less inclined to take risks these days, especially since after so many years, I've convinced myself that the pictures I take now are worth more than the ones I took when I first started.

    For about 15 years I wiped down my negatives with a cellulose sponge after the Photo-Flo dip. I quit doing that just because it seemed like a good way to wind up with particles rubbed into the emulsion.
     
  26. patrickjames

    patrickjames Member

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    Edwal LFN for me. Photo-Flo always left streaks on my negs. Don't know why. LFN leaves the film pristine.

    Patrick