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 Subscriber

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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 Member

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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. silveror0

    silveror0 Member

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    "The Print" by Ansel Adams says to use the selenium toner at 75-80F, not 68F as for the other baths.
     
  18. 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
     
  19. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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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.
     
  20. silveror0

    silveror0 Member

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    Doremus,
    It seems Kodak and Ilford could have some serious discussion over toning procedures, each presenting their backup data. They agree on using ambient temp, but differ on how to dilute the toner. The following is from Ilford's website:

    When optimum permanence is needed, perhaps for archival storage of prints, the following fixing and washing sequences at 18-24ºC/65-75ºF (including wash water) are recommended using ILFORD WASHAID (Ilford's version of Hypo Clearing Agent). Do not add a hardener to the fixer. Be careful not to exceed the capacity of the fixer and not to extend the fixing time as both these make washing more difficult.

    Optimum permanence sequence with selenium toner for fiberbase prints:

    Fixation, 1min:
    ILFORD RAPID FIXER (1+4)

    Toning, *min:
    Selenium toner diluted with
    working strength ILFORD
    WASHAID instead of water,
    intermittent agitation

    Rinse, 10min:
    ILFORD WASHAID (1+4)
    intermittent agitation

    Wash, 30min:
    Fresh, running water


    There's no mention of any step between fixing and toning, so presumably the print goes directly from fixer to toner, as recommended by AA. He used plain hypo w/ sodium sulfite (inhibits staining) as the second fixer, prior to toner, perhaps to mitigate the hardening from Kodak Fixer (1st fixer).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2013
  21. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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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.
     
  22. silveror0

    silveror0 Member

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    Roger,
    FWIW, for years I've used AA's method of going directly from the "plain hypo + sodium sulfite" into the "toner + HCA, and only once had staining due, I think, to my screw-up in mixing the chems. The whole print turned bright orange the instant it contacted the toner, UGHH. But I'm learning in this thread about the long life of the tray of toner, which I was not aware of. Ilford also claims a very long life, and I'll be changing my process as a result.
     
  23. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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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.
     
  24. 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


    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  25. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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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.
     
  26. silveror0

    silveror0 Member

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    Doremus,
    Just for the record, the Kodak Pub. G-23 you quoted from above also provides the following note (edited):

    Note: You can use a working solution of Hypo Clearing
    Agent to dilute Rapid Selenium Toner 1:20 or 1:40, and
    eliminate the wash step between fixing and toning. To avoid
    stains, don’t rinse the prints after fixing; immerse them
    directly into the combination bath, and tone for
    approximately 3 minutes for print protection or longer for a
    tone change. Do not reuse this Hypo Clearing Agent bath to
    treat untoned prints; it will contain traces of toner. After
    using this combination bath, wash the prints for at least
    30 minutes in running water at 18 to 20°C (65 to 75°F) with
    frequent agitation.


    In any case, I plan to do as you suggest and dilute the toner with water to extend its life. BTW, what dilution and time is your first and second fixer baths? Ilford recommends a single bath at 1+4 for 1 minute before toner, but they caution against over-fixing.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 27, 2013