How to know if my Fixer is still Oke, is there a quick and dirty method.

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by wietsedejong, May 6, 2012.

  1. wietsedejong

    wietsedejong Member

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    Hello,

    I have a question which I hope some of you can help me with.
    Once a month or so I like to work in my darkroom.
    It's a basic set up with the basic tools.
    I use 3 baths and 90 percent of my work I print on PE paper from Ilford with Ilford chemicals.

    What I would like to know is if there is a 'Quick and dirty method' whit the basic darkroom tools to see up front if my fixer is still usable/reasonable quality.
    (I don't require the highest standard of archival quality)

    Hope you can help.

    Greetings Wietse
     
  2. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    hypo-check, its a small bottle, you only use a drop or two so it goes a long way. cloudy precipitate forms when fixer is exhausted.

    There are also formulas for diy version as well, you can do a search for it, but at $4-5 a bottle its not much of an expense if you compare it to the amount of film or paper that potentially may be wasted with bad fixer.

    You can also do a clip test with a bit of film, and time it. for paper its a bit different as fixer is more dilute.
     
  3. Brook Hill

    Brook Hill Subscriber

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    Machery-Nagel make Ag-Fix test sticks, it looks as if they have taken over from Tetnal who used to make them. You dip one in the fixer for a second then wait 30secs then compare colour change to a scale chart. You check the silver content and ph. Very simple and quick but they are quite expensive but they come in tubes of a 100 which at one a month will last you eight years.

    Tony
     
  4. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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    tetenal test stripsor a clip test.
     
  5. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Subscriber

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    Question for the experts: would a clip test with film work or are the chemistries of film and paper too different for this to be a good indication?
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    A clip test with a small bit of film will work as a crude guide, even dilute the film will need to clear quite quickly under 30 seconds if it's a Rapid fixer, a bit longer if Sodium Thiosulphate based.

    If in doubt use two bath fixing the old bath as the first and fresh for the second.

    Ian
     
  7. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Here's what I do when I need to do a quick test.

    I have ends of exposed and undeveloped film saved up. These are "clips" of leaders from 35mm films I developed in the past.

    Take this film and dip it into a solution of fixer and leave it there. I also have a timer going when I do this.
    Keep watching and pull it out when the film becomes transparent. It may not be obvious as the transition is gradual so pull it out every now and then.
    I know fresh rapid fixer will 'clear' the film in 30 to 45 seconds and regular fixer will do the same in about 2 to 3 minutes.

    When it takes twice as long to clear, I declare the fixer exhausted.

    Just as an added note, my fixer lasts 6 months or even longer. I keep tabs on how many sheets of 8x10 paper or rolls of film I processed. I've NEVER had fixer go bad before 6 months or number of sheets/rolls exceeds manufacturer's specifications. Unless you have a reason to doubt your fixer or you have a history of issues, I don't think you'll need to worry about it that much.
     
  8. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    It depends on what (film or paper) you're using the fixer for in terms of what is good enough.

    For film, the fixer is permitted to contain a very high level of silver ions as long as it has plenty of activity left in the thiosulphate; you can test this yourself just by measuring clearing time of a piece of exposed & undeveloped film.

    For paper, you need to have activity but also a low level of silver in solution. Even if the fixer is active, having silver in solution means you'll deposit it in the paper backing (for FB) and get poor print longevity. This is the reason for the 2-bath fixing recommendations and if you want a test for this, you need a "residual silver test".
     
  9. LJH

    LJH Member

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    Chemicals are (relatively) cheap. IMO, using fresh chemicals for each developing session is a small price to pay to guarantee the greatest chance of good negatives.

    I'd hate to risk images for small $$ savings… At once a month, you're not going to be too far out of pocket if you mix fresh chemicals for every session.
     
  10. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    What tkamiya said. Good fixer lasts a long time.
     
  11. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    I'm using the same rapid fixer @ 1:4 (as Ilfords data sheet) for both film and paper. I use the same working mix and keep track of the usage. At 50% of what Ilford say it will do I am dumping it and starting again. Comments??
     
  12. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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    hypo ckeck is a quick and dirty method, but this iodide-based test is too unreliable for archival processing.the indicator tabs are more expensive and more reliable. the clip test is quick and dirty and can be trusted for film.
     
  13. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Hypo check solutions are not very accurate. Therefore

    1. Keep track of the number of rolls or prints that have been fixed. Do not exceed the manufacturer's rated capacity.
    2. Use the fixer within the manufacturer's estimated life for the solution.
     
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  15. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Does anybody use the two bath fixing system for archival fixing for prints?
     
  16. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Always. Fresh second fixer every time, Hypam at film strength, 1liter, which becomes first fixer next session. If I print a lot I mix 2 liters fresh.
    One minute in each, and then on to washing.
     
  17. FiatluX

    FiatluX Member

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    If in doubt, mix some new! :wink: :smile:
     
  18. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    I also always use 2-bath fixing.

    A drop of fixer test in the first bath will tell you when it is time to rotate the baths - you chuck the 1st, rotate the 2nd bath into the 1st position and make up a new 2nd bath.

    The fixer test solution is just P. Iodide. I put a drop in the fixer tray, if a little yellow-white puff appears and then dissipates I rotate the solutions. A ha'penny's worth of P. Iodide from the chemists is all you need: 5g in 25ml of distilled water is enough for 500+ tests.
     
  19. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    It's best to use two solutions for film
    And paper and keep them separate. Film should be 1:4, paper 1:9. I think paper is like 40 8x10 sheets a liter or something along those lines. If you are dumping at half capacity you may be wasting a bit. Film should be like 24 rolls per liter or so. The indicated amounts I think are on the safe side so it's best to check however you like before you use the fixer. You should look into hypam if you use a fair bit of rapid fix $25 for 5L concentrate.
     
  20. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    You can use fixer at film strength, and it helps too because since you fix for a shorter duration, the fix washes out faster.
     
  21. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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    well. yes, of course
     
  22. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    And I meant for prints.
     
  23. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Potassium Iodine?

    Is it potassium iodine? The stuff you take if the bomb goes of and you want to prevent thyroid cancer? Also, does the fixer test affect film or prints or is it inert?
     
  24. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    A potassium iodide solution can be used as a very crude test. The problem with this solution is that it only gives a positive test LONG AFTER the fixer is effectively exhausted.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 9, 2012
  25. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Thanks Gerald for the clarification. So if potassium iodide gets cloudy, the fixer is beyond exhaustion. As for fixing film, I double the time it takes to clear. Is that still a good method? For fixing prints, I use a 2 bath fixing technique where I fix my print in rapid fix for a minute then hold the print in a water bath for a second fix with fresh fixer for 5 minutes. Both seem to work for me.
     
  26. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Silver iodide is the least soluble of the silver halides. So when a precipitate forms, and remains even after shaking, the fixer is saturated with silver and should be discarded. However it is really not useable before this point. The best method is to record how many sg in of film or paper has been through the bath to determine when to discard it.