Ilford Seleium Toner Life

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by mr rusty, May 20, 2013.

  1. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    3 weeks ago I mixed up 1 litre Ilford working solution of Selenium toner @ 1:5 when I started experimenting with Lith. I have pulled half a dozen prints onto mainly Slavich paper. The toner initially rapidly changed the colour of the print going fairly quickly to red/brown, but now seems to stall at almost no change/slightly dark brown.

    I have washed the prints for a short period before toning but there is a good chance of a little fixer carry over. Toner solution is still clear with no deposits and has been bottled for storage between sessions.

    What do I do now? Is the toner exhausted? - I would have thought capacity was more than this. Shall I start again with fresh mix or add some concentrate to this working solution as I saw someone suggesting somewhere?

    As an aside, I experimented last night pulling a lith print from a colour 35mm neg, using the same (nearly 3 week old) working developer I started with, and it still seems just as active as day 1, and is still only the slightest of yellows in colour. I think I will make up a new mix next time, though!
     
  2. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    Selenium toner has a great deal more capacity than half a dozen prints. The things that effect how the toner works is temperature and how much black and dark tones are in the print. Working solution should last up to six months. As you use the toner, it will get slower in producing a change in image colour (if using it strong for that purpose) or, when using for permanence reasons you should start with 4 minutes and increase this by 30 seconds per 6 prints (16 x 12) | per 10 prints (10 x 8).

    I would recommend at least 10 minutes wash before toning (if using a rapid fixer) principally to avoid staining (if you use plain hypo you do not need to wash). Passing the toner through a coffee filter after each session will slow down the process of the toner getting darker with use.

    Don't forget to always wear gloves and work with an open window.

    Let us know how you get on.

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  3. J.Marks

    J.Marks Member

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    I've had a 1000 ml Jug of Ilford Selenium for about 5 years now. I have a working solution jug Of 1:20 mixed for the same time. Every once in a while I top off the working solution jug with fresh mix of 1:20 and keep going. The stock bottle is still half full so I figure I'm good for another 5+ years. The working solution jug has toned 100's of prints and works just fine.
    So i tone to the desired effect, brief wash ( 2 min), HCA for 5 and wash for 30 min, never had a problem.
    Marks
    mjculverphotography.wordpress.com
     
  4. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I learned about "replenished" Selenium toner from a David Vestal article long ago. My Se toner is many months old. I pour it from the container into the tray, then add a very small amount of fresh toner, stir, and tone my prints that have, as J. Marks mentioned, been washed for 10 minutes. I tone mainly to strengthen the darkest tones, and to shift any green to a neutral color. Works for me.
     
  5. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Thanks all.

    Maybe it was a bit cold. Maybe the slavich paper toned to mid-brown takes a lot of selenium. Maybe Ilfords selenium toner has a lower capacity than others. I do note that Ilford suggest capacity is minimum 25 sheets 8 x 10 @ 1:3. Mine was at 1:5 so according to Ilfords tech sheet capacity should be 15 sheets 8x10

    I'll keep experimenting and post the outcome when I find out what it is.
     
  6. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    When I first started advocating replenishing and re-using selenium toner indefinitely, there was almost no one doing it. Now it seems like the SOP. Good!

    So, when your toning times get too long (for me longer than five or six minutes), or you are not achieving the tone you want, add a bit of stock toner to your toning solution. Add small quantities, a little goes a long way. Filter your toner through coffee filters before and after use. I have jugs that have been going for more than 6 or 7 years now (really more like 10 now that I think of it...)

    Different papers and different batches of paper react differently to toner, giving more or less image change. There are other factors as well (temp. developer choice, etc.). If you are not getting the tone change you want and have tried stronger toner, you may want to try different materials.

    A note on whether to rinse/wash or not between second fix and toner: If the fix is too acidic, you will get stains. That said, Ilford Rapid Fix and Hypam diluted 1+9 work just fine for me with no intermediate rinse. Plain hypo and any of the alkaline fixers will need no rinse either. Just transfer directly and don't worry about fixer carry-over. The fixer and dissolved silver will precipitate out after reacting with the selenium. That's why you need to filter it.

    And, don't dump active selenium toner into the environment or down the drain! Replenish, reuse, enjoy photography with a clean conscience. If you do decide to discard toner, use it to exhaustion and then take it to the hazmat collection center.

    Best,

    Doremus
     
  7. Alex Muir

    Alex Muir Member

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    I have to say that I have had the same situation with Ilford selenium. It seems to work rapidly for a few prints, and then becomes very slow. I will try replenishing next time. I had been making sure the toner was at 20c before use. That didn't seem to make much difference. I did notice that paper that had been put into the tray dry changed colour much more quickly than if it was wet. I had understood that prints should be wet to promote an even reaction in the toner, but I may have picked that up wrongly. Alex
     
  8. lhalcong

    lhalcong Member

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    I just posted a similar question here but using fotospeed ST-20. As that was my first time toning, I realized the first couple of prints worked fast and correctly, then starting dying, by the 4th print , the image would not come back again from the bleaching. I am starting to believe this is somehow the way it is , but it seems to fast dying that I thought something was wrong. I will try selenium next time with the replenishment suggestions.
     
  9. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    lhalcong, what bleaching?
     
  10. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I may have to try the replinishing.

    That makes sense about the precipitate. I have a jug I used to store it for a long time (working strength) that I have washed and rinsed over and over and over I still can't get all the precipitate out. Black flakes still come out with each rinse. I suppose since they're black that they are mainly oxidized silver.

    As for discarding it, I completely agree about not putting selenium toner into the environment. I took a tip from Bruce Barnbaum's book. I have a bucket I use just for discarding spent selenium toner. I pour the working strength solution into the bucket and just let it evaporate leaving a purple sludge that gradually dries. Eventually I can take the bucket in for hazmat collection all at once, without tankering all that mostly water I'd have been taking every time I discarded toner.
     
  11. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I've been using replenished Selenium toner for over 25 years, I've never used it any other way. It keeps indefinately, I just filter mine when needed.

    The environmental impact of selenium is exaggerated as it's used as a fertiliser supplement,ome plants/vegetables need it as do humans (in our diet) far more goes down the drains from people taking tablets to counter Selenium deficiency.

    Ian
     
  12. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I think that he is talking about the two stage sepia process and not about selenium toning and was drawing a parallel in terms of his problem of rapid exhaustion with the Fotospeed sepia process

    pentaxuser
     
  13. Andre Noble

    Andre Noble Subscriber

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    Temperature is very important. Makes sures its luke warm or you'll be waiting forever.
     
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  15. lhalcong

    lhalcong Member

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    Pentaxuser.

    that is correct !
     
  16. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Thanks guys, I'm too easily confused these days!
     
  17. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Adams got a few things about toning wrong. He also advocated mixing the toner with hypo-clearing agent and then tossing it way before capacity was reached, both bad practice now.

    From the Kodak Technical Publication on Toning Black-and-White Papers:

    ...Selenium toner:

    "1. Dilute the toner with water according to the tone change
    you want.
    2. Immerse a thoroughly washed print in the toner solution
    at 20°C (68°F) and agitate the print. Complete toning
    occurs in 2 to 8 minutes, depending on the paper type
    and weight.
    3. When the print has almost the required tone, remove it
    from the toning bath; toning will continue to some
    extent in the wash."

    I tone all the time with fix, toner and wash-aid all at the same temperature (I usually work at ambient temperature when printing) and the toner works just fine. Heating it up, and keeping it warm during an hours-long session is just too much of a PITA.

    Best,

    Doremus


    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  18. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    It does work fine but the timing changes considerable. This can make it hard to attain a consistent look by time alone, and with the relatively subtle changes of dilute selenium on neutral paper that many of us use, just to remove the green and cool it slightly, it's hard to judge visually too while it's wet and considering it continues in the wash. I like to remove the green tinge but stop short of a detectable purple one.
     
  19. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I have had staining in going from fix to tone without a wash. To be more accurate, I've transferred to a holding bath after fixing and then, some time later, toned, so that's probably equal to a brief wash. That was with Adox MCC110 though, not Ilford paper.
     
  20. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Well I'm not using plain hypo. I'm using the Ilford fix (with Kodak or Legacy Pro Rapid Fixer) fix and wash sequence but I tried going directly from my post fix holding bath to selenium toner. Most of the time it's worked fine but I did get a small mottled pinkish stain on one print do I stopped doing that.
     
  21. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    The problem with mixing selenium toner with a wash aid, which is primarily a sodium sulfite solution, is that the sulfite will oxidize long before the capacity of the toner is reached. This does not mean that you can't keep using the toner, however. And, since Ilford advocates using a wash aid after toning, I don't see what the point is of using more sulfite in the toning bath, unless, of course, the toning bath is incompletely formulated to begin with and needs more sulfite (which I doubt). I imagine that this recommendation is a hold-over from earlier times when this was more common practice, and has simply not been reviewed for a long time. (It also sells more wash-aid, and toner too, if you are tossing toner after the capacity of the wash aid has been reached...).

    In any case, my use of KRST without any wash aid mixed in has proved to work just fine.

    As for transferring directly from fixer to toner: As long as the fixer is not too acidic, then there is no problem as long as the prints have been adequately fixed. Inadequate fixing (read not-completely fixed silver compounds remaining in the print) and/or a too acid fixer will cause staining in the toning bath. I use Ilford Hypam or Rapid Fix at 1+9 for my second fixing bath and have had no problems transferring directly from fix to toner. Maybe the 1+4 dilution would be to acidic; I've not tried that. Plain hypo+sulfite or any of the alkaline fixers work fine for this as well.

    I imagine that if you wash between fix and toner then you need to wash completely before toning. Then, of course, you need to wash again after toning. I find it easier to use a fixer from which I can transfer prints directly to the toner.

    Best,

    Doremus


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  22. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Yeah, I use it 1+4. I did briefly use two bath fixing but I just don't get to print enough. It was just too much trouble for the amount of printing I do, though it saves a lot of fixer.
     
  23. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Yeah, Kodak, Ilford and Ansel Adams all recommend(ed) this procedure. It is not only unnecessary, but wasteful if you base your toning solution lifespan on the capacity of the wash aid, since the toner will still be active and tone many more prints. If you don't toss it, then you need to mix and use a separate wash aid after the "wash aid" component of the toning bath has been exhausted. Again, Kodak has likely not reviewed and changed this publication for years (even though mine bears the date 2006). This practice does eliminate a step, but wastes a lot of toner.

    BTW, I only quoted the Kodak document to show that the toner does not have to be warmer than the fixer and wash for it to work well.

    In any case, if you want economy and an environmentally clean conscience, replenish and reuse your toner, filtering before and after use. Mix a separate wash aid for use after the toner.

    Best,

    Doremus


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    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2013
  24. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    silveror0,

    I wasn't trying to be evasive. I use Ilford Rapid Fix or Hypam (similar products; ammonium thiosulfate slightly acidic rapid fixers) at "print strength," i.e., 1+9, for both first and second fixing baths. I fix 1.5-2 minutes in each bath. I am familiar with the Ilford "archival sequence," but have reservations about using one fixing bath at 1+4 for one minute.

    First, using that method and fixing to even Ilfords "optimum permanence" standards, the capacity of the fixer falls to 10 8x10-inch prints per liter; kind of wasteful in my estimation. Secondly, there is some doubt about whether the Ilford sequence is adequate for other papers, especially those that have more silver halides in the emulsion.

    The idea of the Ilford sequence is to use a strong fixer so that fixation occurs completely before the fixer has had a chance to soak into the paper base itself. This latter happens at about 1.5-2 minutes. Keeping the fixing time short and not saturating the paper base is supposed to speed up washing. I don't mind fixing longer and washing appropriately longer, so I use a more traditional and more economical two-bath fixing regime. For me, one minute total in the fix seems just too short. Heck, I have a hard time keeping it to 2 minutes per bath...

    Other fixing regimes and other fixers work just fine. Mine is tried and tested, and I trust it, so I stick with it.

    One advantage of using the weaker dilution is that is seems to be neutral enough in pH to allow me to transfer prints directly from the second bath to the toning bath without any staining. If this were not the case, I'd likely use one of the alkaline fixers for the second bath.

    Hope this answers your question.

    Best,

    Doremus
     
  25. Jonathan R

    Jonathan R Member

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    I'm quite amazed by the experience indicated by most replies in this thread. I don't know what I am doing that's different, but my selenium toner diluted 1+9 lasts only 2 or 3 printing sessions (in total about 16 prints size 20x16) even though stored in abottle between sessions. On starting the second session, I find it has a heavy black precipitate and is often a murky grey colour with suspended sediment. If I filter it out of the bottle the suspended sediment clogs up even a Paterson filter.

    Any thoughts?
     
  26. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Sure.

    Filter your toner and replenish it with a bit of stock solution when the activity becomes too slow for your workflow. I use paper coffee filters. If the toner seems especially cruddy, I'll filter through a paper towel first and then a coffee filter. Sometimes a bit of the finest sediment remains in suspension, but this has not adversely affected my toning.

    Keep in mind that toner loses its strength gradually. Basically, you are removing some of the active ingredient with each print you tone, which means that, if you tone by timing, you should be increasing toning times slightly for each subsequent print.

    I tone visually and pull the print just before it reaches a tone that I like (toning continues for a bit in the wash aid and wash). This automatically compensates for the change in toning time. When the toning time is just too slow for me, I replenish with a bit of the stock; a small amount is usually all I need (I usually just pour in a bit from the bottle instead of measuring, maybe 30ml/l to start with. If that doesn't work, I'll add a bit more).

    At any rate, it's all about how the prints look for me, so I don't pay too much attention to exact dilution (since it is really only "exact" for the first print toned). Rather, I watch carefully and pull the prints when they look the way I want them to.

    Your exhausted toner should come back to life by just adding a bit of stock to the solution.

    Hope this helps.

    Doremus


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