Least amount of water to wash fiber based prints

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Mainecoonmaniac, May 6, 2014.

  1. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    As you probably heard, California is going through a serious drought. Currently, I wash prints with 2 water wasting ways. first one is a Kodak tray siphon and my second method is my old Arkay tumbling print washer. I want to build a DIY, low water consumption print washer. What's the least amount of water a washer could use and still remain effective in washing prints? I print mostly 8x10. Right now, I do use hypo clear with all my fiber prints. Looks like this summer, not many folks here are going to water their lawns which I think it's a waste of water anyway. I don't think washing FB print is a waste of water, but I want to do it more efficiently.
     
  2. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    It is a diffusion process. You have to do some testing, but I recall reading some reports in Photo Techniques years ago which showed "archival" levels could be achieved with surprisingly small quantities of water. I'll try to find the articles.

    I'm assuming you are using fiber-based paper. To minimize washing requirements, there are additional processing steps to take before the washing step:

    1) Use a rapid fixer with short fixing times (no hardener)
    2) Be very conservative on fixer capacity
    3) Use a hypo clearing agent (see Ilford's archival sequence for example)
    4) Use a neutral-alkaline rapid fixer instead of a standard acidic fixer
     
  3. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    To minimize water use the trick is to do a series of still-water soaks rather than running the faucet continuously. Depending on the kind of tray or tank you are using, and on your chemistry sequence and water characteristics, you will have to experiment to find what mix of sitting in still water, agitation in still water, dumps and refills, and final brief rinse in running water is required to get a clean wash. But it can be done. The tradeoff is that you spend more of your time and labor in order to save the water.
     
  4. Double Negative

    Double Negative Member

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    A standing soak helps, as does the use of a hypo clear agent. The latter cuts wash times in half. I'm a big fan of Perma Wash (made by Heico).
     
  5. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    I soak in 1l of solution made up of 10g Sodium Sulfite, sometimes overnight, I have no idea what effect does it have. After I rinse and put it in a tray of water and change once in a hour.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
     
  6. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Thanks for looking for the article

    My method is to do a short fix with rapid fixer, then put the prints in a holding tray of water. After that, I use a second round fresh fix for a minute than a 5 minute wash. Then I soak the prints in hypo clear for 10 minutes than wash for another 5 minutes. Both print washers use tons of water though.
     
  7. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I just received notice that our water company is raising rates to home owners 112.4% as of June 1 this year. Commercial rates go up 46% and industrial rates by a mere 38%. Guess my already sparse conservative methods get even more stringent, and I may be forced to use RC paper exclusively.
     
  8. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I'll post tomorrow when I find the article but it was along the lines of the soaking advice you're been getting (again since it is a diffusion process you don't needs lots of moving water). However the minimal water soak may or may not be problematic when doing more than one print at a time. It may be more of a theoretical than practical approach. Either way though, you don't needs tons of water. That's one of the reasons I always liked the good old Kodak tray siphon, although it obviously works less efficiently with more prints in the tray, and required some manual work shuffling etc.
     
  9. Bob Carnie

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    It must be pointed out that a bunch of prints sitting on top of each other will need some type of shuffling for the fixer to go somewhere, I have heard the sit and dump method works very well and if I lived in California I would be thinking about this method of washing.


    I use a non hardening rapid two fixer bath, prints sit in a low volume water replacement tray with holes drilled into the bottom, I then hypo clear for five minutes making sure I shuffle the prints from bottom to top, then into the vertical washers for 20 minutes.
     
  10. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I do like tray siphons too, but it doesn't work if the flow of water is slow. The siphon needs a wasteful amount of water before it works properly. It is more efficient with more prints. You do have to keep the prints moving. Thanks again for posting the article.
     
  11. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    I like to read that article if publicly available.
     
  12. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    That depends on how many 10" X 8" prints you are washing?
     
  13. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    Use tray rinses in a little fresh water to dilute any carry over fixer right down - you only want to wash out the emulsion and base. After that it is wash aid and soaking with periodic flushing of the washer. My wash tank drain goes to the ornamental side of the garden where it will do some good - the fixer residue is minimal. The tray rinses are treated as fixer for disposal.

    By removing as much excess fixer as I can, I can wait until I have a full tank for washing. I am thinking of making a smaller set of dividers for my Versalab so I can put in a displacement box to reduce the volume for small batches.
     
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  15. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    My usual 12 per batch

    I usually make about a dozen or so.
     
  16. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Efficient washing depends on complete changes of water and water temperature and I would guess that for fibre based prints, something like 30 minutes in a Nova slot wash tank with water about 12C would do the trick.
     
  17. Maris

    Maris Member

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    Thrift has its place. I routinely wash about 40 fibre based 8x10s in two batches in a Paterson Major archival washer that features continuous flow and rocking agitation. Total water usage is about 150 litres which costs me about 40 cents. That's a bargain compared to the price of even one sheet of photographic paper not to mention test strips, failed proofs, etc.
     
  18. Simonh82

    Simonh82 Member

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    You should read mysteries of the vortex http://www.film-and-darkroom-user.org.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=296print (part 1) and http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&so...N&usg=AFQjCNGFfGycUjgzFySAq2vkixR9J8jKXQhoped (part 2). It was written by the owner of Silverprint and is a thorough investigation of FB print washing.

    Basic conclusion is you need surprisingly little water but you do need movement of water over the paper surface to aid defusion of fixer out of the paper.

    HCA and short fix times are your friend.

    I use fewer changes of water but regular manual agitation to wash my prints.
     
  19. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Drum and motor base?
     
  20. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    I recommend The Mysteries of the Vortex as well.

    If water is really at such a premium, it would be well worth doing a test. I'd think a slot washer, e.g., a standing, "archival" type would be the best for batches of 12 prints. Trays are just too much of a hassle with larger batches. One with a small volume would be best for water saving.

    Then, fill your washer, shut off the water flow but keep the washer full, and insert the prints to be tested (you could use regular prints with adequate borders for testing, or use fixed and HCAd white paper). Agitate by hand every, say, five minutes by lifting and dropping them. After 10 minutes, pull a print and test for adequate washing using a residual hypo test (e.g., Kodak HT-2). Change the water in the washer by draining and refilling. Pull a print and test again after another 10 minutes. Dump and refill again. Keep going in 10 minute intervals till you have a well-washed print then add a safety margin. I imagine you will come out at about two changes of water and at 25-30 minutes total wash time.

    Best,

    Doremus
     
  21. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Maincoonmaniac - Mysteries of the Vortex was the article I was referring to. I only have the original magazines (from 1996) and wasn't sure they would be available online but you've got links to it now from several others above.

    It is an interesting read highlighting the key variables I mentioned earlier.

    To be honest, I think it would be hard to beat the Ilford method you seem to already be using, but with manual shuffling/agitation in trays with fills/dumps or a siphon rather than in an archival washer.

    Also do not neglect temperature. Room temp water will wash more efficiently than cold water, although the hypo clearing agent mitigates this somewhat.
     
  22. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I use a slot washer. At first, I have water moving quite fast, maximum speed without overflowing which isn't actually much. Then I slow the water movement to bare minimum. Then wash for 30 minutes. Rationale is, I want to get rid of what's on surface quickly. Rest is diffusion anyway so it's going to be slow. I just want water moving.

    So far, no issues. I have no idea what the total water usage is, but it can't all that much looking at how much it flowed out.

    This reply doesn't establish anything in terms of minimum but this is what I do.
     
  23. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I agree with this as being a very good method if you are in an area with water shortages.

    QUOTE=Doremus Scudder;1645426]I recommend The Mysteries of the Vortex as well.

    If water is really at such a premium, it would be well worth doing a test. I'd think a slot washer, e.g., a standing, "archival" type would be the best for batches of 12 prints. Trays are just too much of a hassle with larger batches. One with a small volume would be best for water saving.

    Then, fill your washer, shut off the water flow but keep the washer full, and insert the prints to be tested (you could use regular prints with adequate borders for testing, or use fixed and HCAd white paper). Agitate by hand every, say, five minutes by lifting and dropping them. After 10 minutes, pull a print and test for adequate washing using a residual hypo test (e.g., Kodak HT-2). Change the water in the washer by draining and refilling. Pull a print and test again after another 10 minutes. Dump and refill again. Keep going in 10 minute intervals till you have a well-washed print then add a safety margin. I imagine you will come out at about two changes of water and at 25-30 minutes total wash time.

    Best,

    Doremus[/QUOTE]
     
  24. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Long ago I sometimes had to make many 8x10 prints on RC paper. With a washing aid and perhaps longer washes, the same technique would work with fiber paper. The prints were washed about 30 at a time in deep plastic dish trays with constant shuffling. After a few minutes they were transferred to a second tray and the process repeated, then to a final tray, again with constant shuffling. The first tray was then dumped and filled from the second tray. The second tray was filled from the third tray, which was filled with fresh water. The process was labor intensive, but otherwise efficient. It used only a few ounces of water per print. Those prints from 40 years ago have survived in good condition.
     
  25. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    Uqee

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
     
  26. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    That's the only part I understood.