How to remove hardened fixer

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by RalphLambrecht, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I used the search engine, but did find the right thread.

    What is the latest opinion on how to remove the hardened fixer residue on storage bottles?

    I tried warm water and also 25% vinegar, but neither worked very well.

    What has worked for you?
     
  2. bill williams

    bill williams Member

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    I can look it up later if you can't find it, but I believe that the Kodak tray cleaner formula does a great job of cleaning everything. It has sulfuric acid and potassium permanganate in it I believe, and then finish off with a sodium sulfite solution.
     
  3. PeteZ8

    PeteZ8 Member

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    Interesting Bill. Must not be a strong mixture, as sulphuric acid and potassium permanganate can be highly unstable and explosive!
     
  4. bill williams

    bill williams Member

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    I know. It is a Kodak formula, it is very dilute. Potassium permanganate and a lot of things make for lots of heat. Pouring a little glycerin into a small pile of Potassium permanganate makes for a very neat hot lave experiment.

    The Kodak tray cleaner is what I use for b&w and color bottle and tray cleaning, and it works very well. You just need to take precautions and work carefully to mix it up, as with most anything photographic or otherwise. Common Sense. I usually buy a quart of battery acid from the NAPA store, the P.P. from Home Depot. Keep them both inside double zip lock freezer bags and in separate small plastic paint cans outside. I've done so for years and never had any misfortune of an accident. I think IIRC the battery acid is about 56% acid. I don't think you can find anything that cleans as well.
     
  5. bill williams

    bill williams Member

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    Kodak TC-3

    Tray Cleaner

    Solution A
    Water 1 liter
    Potassium Permanganate 2 grams or about 1/4 tsp
    Sulfuric Acid 4 ml (photo grade) or 10 ml of battery acid

    Solution B
    Water 750 ml
    Sodium Bisulfite 30 grams
    Sodium Sulfite 30 grams
    Water To Make 1 liter

    Use solution A first, and then rinse with B. Final rinse in
    Tap water. I actually dilute A and B further, about 4
    parts water to 1 part a or b.
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    If the white stain is sulfur from decomposed fix, there is little that will dissolve it. I have had some success using 50% Sodium Hydroxide solution as a bottle rinse followed by a good water wash and a scrub with a bottle brush.

    Take great care with the Sodium Hydroxide as it generates a lot of heat when mixed with water or diluted.

    I have heard that some have had success using Di Methyl Formamide.

    PE
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2009
  7. PeteZ8

    PeteZ8 Member

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    Someone gave me a small bottle of P.P.; I have yet to play with it. Looks like it could have lots of useful applications though. I did not realize it was sold at Home Depot. Where would I find it there? Is it sold as P.P. or under a brand name? I noticed they stopped selling muratic (hydrochloric) acid, or at least in the stores I have been in. I wonder how many other "dangerous" chemicals they have pulled.

    If you're brave enough, the sulphuric acid could easily be distilled back to a higher purity. That is, of course, if you wanted to use it for something "other" than cleaning things :wink: While I have yet to try it, brake fluid (polyethelyne glycol) is also supposed to have a rather, uh, strong exothermic reaction similar to the glycerine.

    Note to anyone wishing to mix sulphuric acid with P.P.; if mixed with enough purity, it is such a powerful oxidizer that it will literally explode on contact with any fuel source. It will also produce toxic ozone, not something you really want to be doing inside.
     
  8. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Nothing. I tried acetone, soap, laquer thinner. I got a little result from isopropyl alchohol, but probably just my rubbing did more good. I was trying to clean a large open-top container, so I was able to get my hands down in there and scrub. It never came completely clean.
     
  9. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The sulfuric acid we get here as battery acid is about 37% based on Specific Gravity.

    Permanganates react and explode or catch fire in contact with some chemicals such as glycerine.

    PE
     
  10. bill williams

    bill williams Member

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    Sold at Home Depot, "Filter-Mate Potassium Permanganate, Green Sand Iron Filter Regenerator". Absolutely be sure you read up on any chemical before you use it. As I said, P.P. will react with a large list of other items, generating lots of heat. A small pile of P.P., say maybe an ounce or so, and about a quarter of an ounce of glycerine poured into it will make a small lava flow, glowing, flaming, smoking. And of course battery acid is not to be treated carelessly either. HOWEVER, I've never had any problem mixing up the tray cleaner or using it. As always, mix the ingredients in the order they are in the formula. Wearing gloves and eye protection is highly recommended. Once its all mixed up, its not really that powerful, and in fact is pretty weak. It does clean trays very well.
     
  11. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    I have found that Soft Scrub does a decent job of getting fixer / developer stains removed.
     
  12. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Does the fixer residue hurt anything?

    I suppose if it is that hard to dissolve it shouldn't be a contaminate during processing. I do hate those spots though.
     
  13. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    To Date the Very Latest This Thread

    I believe Hydrogen Peroxide will convert the sulfured sulfite
    into sulfate and perhaps sulfur. Sulfite will convert sulfur
    into thiosulfate.

    You've likely both on hand. If you give the two a try be
    careful, there may be side effects. Ammonia and H2O2?
    Warming may be a big help.

    Not a problem for myself. Fresh, a sessions worth at
    time of processing. Dan
     
  14. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    It has to go, or I have to replace the bottles. The fixer has settled at the bottom of the bottle and does not come off with water alone. But frequently, small particles come lose when pouring. These particles are hard as rock and can cling to the soft emulsion.

    I've started a test to find out which suggestion works best. I placed several drops of fixer onto a glass plate and will try to remove them once they have dried. For some reason, the drying process seems to take forever. After 12 hours there is no sign of them drying yet.
     
  15. DolganoFF

    DolganoFF Member

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  16. RalphLambrecht

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    I don't think this will remove the hardened fixer. :smile:

    No, no, this is part of the experiment now. I always thought spilled fixer had to be cleaned up immediately, but it looks like there is plenty of time to do so.
     
  17. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    getting new bottles!
     
  18. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    It sounds like what you have is not hardened fixer as this would be soluble in hot water. I would guess that you have elemental sulfur which is insoluble in water. Sulfur will dissolve in a solution of sodium sulfide. What is formed is a soluble polysulfide.
     
  19. paul ron

    paul ron Member

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    I second the get new bottles. They are cheap enough considering how long it lasts.

    .
     
  20. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Never, never, NEVER mix potassium permangante with concentrated sulfuric acid. What you get is manganese heptoxide a very powerful oxidizer and unstable compound. I can't believe that there are websites telling people how to make this chemical. A professor at a school I attended accidently made a small amount in a 50 ml beaker. After it exploded no one could find any trace of the beaker. It was literally pulverized. Fortunately no one was injuted as the beaker was in a lab sink which acted as a blast shield.

    One of the first things taught to chemistry students is never mix any chemicals together unless you know what is going to happen. Even then you must use the upmost care.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 4, 2011
  21. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Definitly sounds like time for new bottles. I know, we all acquire attachments to our "favorite" items, but sometimes you just have to replace them.
     
  22. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Nothing!

    I recently cleaned my drum-style fixer container with spigot. I tired the following without success:

    70% isopropyl
    98% isopropyl
    Denatured ethanol
    Naptha
    Concentrated fresh fixer
    Acetic acid
    Laquer thinner
    Mineral spirits
    Soap and water

    I wound up just scraping most of the residue off with a "Chore Boy".
     
  23. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    I once had what I presumed was a silver compound from overused fixer, plating out on the surface of nalgeen bottles. physical scrubbing was the only solution to removing it. It came off in flakes.