Leaving the chemicals in their trays . . .

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Huram, Sep 9, 2004.

  1. Huram

    Huram Member

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    Alright, more basic questions from another newbie. Sorry to all you pros out there, but I got to start somewhere!

    I went ahead and permanently set up my darkroom in the pantry over labor day weekend, and have been having a blast printing away (only B & W). Thanks to all of those who helped give me direction on this topic in a previous thread (See "Help w/ darkroom decision & safelight" in darkroom disussion board).

    Got some new questions. My chemicals are still good (and they are currently sitting in their respective trays with tin foil over the top). I am hoping to do some more printing over this next weekend and don't have enough storage jugs at the moment for these used chemicals.

    Here are my questions:

    Is it ok to leave the developer, stop, and fixer in their trays for days, weeks, (or even months?) -- having simply covered them with tin foil?

    Will they "spoil" sitting like this? (The pantry stays between 60-80 degrees (F) depending on the day).

    Of course I am concerned about these chemicals hanging out in the pantry where we keep the Cheerios, cooking ingrediants, etc. as I can smell the vinegary stop bath. Is having them sit out in these trays a hazard to my health?

    Should I never do this and always put them in my storage jugs (most likely well-cleaned plastic milk jugs as I am still poor)?

    All thoughts would be highly appreciated as I want to have children someday and don't want my expensive chemicals going bad.

    On a second topic, how much use do you typically get from a fresh batch of developer, stop bath, and fixer (your run-of-the-mill Kodak stuff) in an 8x10 tray?

    About how many 8x10 prints could these chemicals handle if you were using 8 x 10 trays filled with 1/2 gallon?

    Is 1/2 gallon too much to fill your 8x10 trays with?

    Do chemicals get weaker over time in storage?

    Told you they were basic questions, but any thoughts or direction to other sources would be greatly appreciated!

    Huram
     
  2. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Here are my questions:

    Is it ok to leave the developer, stop, and fixer in their trays for days, weeks, (or even months?) -- having simply covered them with tin foil?

    Probably not. aside from the danger of having open trays around the house, the chemicals will most likely oxidize and lose their spunk.


    Will they "spoil" sitting like this? (The pantry stays between 60-80 degrees (F) depending on the day).

    Over time, yes. And the dev and stop will probably stain your trays.


    Of course I am concerned about these chemicals hanging out in the pantry where we keep the Cheerios, cooking ingrediants, etc. as I can smell the vinegary stop bath. Is having them sit out in these trays a hazard to my health?

    This is really a bad idea. Don't use or leave chemicals around food unless you like getting sick.

    Should I never do this and always put them in my storage jugs (most likely well-cleaned plastic milk jugs as I am still poor)?

    Most people I know use developer as a one shot, and save the stop and fix in jugs. I use everything one shot because I am lazy.

    All thoughts would be highly appreciated as I want to have children someday and don't want my expensive chemicals going bad.

    Not to sound overly harsh, but expensive chemicals are the least of your worries. Chemicals in trays around food + kids is really really bad.

    On a second topic, how much use do you typically get from a fresh batch of developer, stop bath, and fixer (your run-of-the-mill Kodak stuff) in an 8x10 tray?

    More than I can print in one session.

    About how many 8x10 prints could these chemicals handle if you were using 8 x 10 trays filled with 1/2 gallon?


    See above.

    Is 1/2 gallon too much to fill your 8x10 trays with?

    I use one liter per 8x10 tray.

    Do chemicals get weaker over time in storage?

    Yes

    Told you they were basic questions, but any thoughts or direction to other sources would be greatly appreciated!

    No worries.

    Huram[/QUOTE]
     
  3. Silverpixels5

    Silverpixels5 Member

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    Huram:

    Depending on what developer you are using, its probably gonna die in about a day or two. The stop bath should be good, although its smelly and it may actually get stronger if it dehydrates. Your fixer may not be as good either in a few days...it'll probably turn yellow. So basically, your best bet is to find some containers to store your chemicals in. Most anything that is air tight will do...used jars, bottles, etc. No need to really spend $10 on a container thats 'designated' for photo use. The tin foil covered trays really just let too much air in, not to mention the exposed surface area is much greater in the tray. The only developer that I know of which would probably be fine for a few weeks in an open uncovered tray is Anso 130. If there was a nuclear fallout then the only things that would still be active are roaches and Ansco 130.
     
  4. 127

    127 Member

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    I'd put the chemicals in bottles when they're not being used - I noticed recently that bottled water comes in nice dark green screwtop glass bottles. They look perfect for storing chemicals in - but MARK THEM CLEARLY!!! It only takes a few seconds to pour chemicals away, and wash everything out. It's definaly good practice.

    Dev keeps surprisingly well - I didn't expect it to but have had no problems keeping it from session to session. I'd always use fresh for film, and probably for doing fine prints, but for work prints part used dev can keep for weeks or even month an air tight bottle. You'll notice when it gets used up as the dev times get longer and you have to agitate to avoid blotches on the print. It's not a problem, as you can actually see it happen so you know to mix some fresh.

    Stop is easy, as most stop contains an indicator - it turns red/purple when it's used up.

    Fix is a bit more tricky - the prints look fine, but turn funny colours the next day. It does change colour from clear to straw, but how long that takes, and the exact point at which to chuck it is a judgement call. It's tempting to try and keep using it a little longer, but err on the sooner rather than later, as some wasted fix is less important than trashed photo's.

    I'd usually put 1 litre of Dev and Fix in 8x10 trays. It keeps well enough that there's no point in using less. I use a half litre of stop as it doesn't get used up as much, and it's the most noxious of the three chemicals. There's no point in having more of it around than you need.

    One of the dangers of not clearing up after each session is that spills will be left on surfaces. The problem with this is that spills dry leaving powder. These powders are massivly concentrated versions of the original chemicals, and can get picked up and transfered by touch or even carried in the air.

    Ian
     
  5. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I use 800ml in 8x10 trays and keep developer for future sessions although if the next time I'm in the darkroom is a few days/weeks them I make some new stuff up. Stop bath reused unitl it starts to change colour (not until it's grape purple!) and fixer I tend to make up new every 2nd batch of developer. None of these process near there manufacturer recommended quantities so I guess I err on the cautious side of the capacities.

    I would bottle your chems in anything you can wash out (I'd avoid plastic milk containers as they never seem to wash well - I think anything with a #2 recycle label is ok), just remove any labels, mark appropiately and store somewhere away from any food and drinks (maybe a different room/cupboard)
     
  6. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    I'm with Brian, Huram!

    I mix what I need for one session, use it & dispose of it. I do store used fixer in two different bottles...one for used (ie depleted) fixer and the other for fixer used once. If I've done a lot of printing, I do not re-use that fixer.

    I'd say that because your darkroom is also a food storage area, it will be very important for you to keep things in there clean. Also, make sure that your work surfaces (especially where the chemicals are used) are non-porous! You do not want chemicals soaking into wood shelves! That was why I suggested a plastic table cloth for that area.

    One of the things I do in my darkroom is keep a container of Lysol cleaning cloths. They come in one of those plastic cylinders like window cleaning cloths. I clean everything after each session and wipe down the 'wet area' surface with those cloths.

    I keep a sponge 'scrubby' just for cleaning out my trays...and to show you what kind of a freaky sort of person I am.... I have separate measuring cups marked "D" and "F"...AND (as if that wasn't odd enough)... I ALWAYS wash my trays from developer through fixer! haha :D Geez....I sound like a bit of a nut case, here! haha
    So, buy yourself an apron, and get cleaning! haha
    Jeanette
     
  7. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I always dump my stop and fix back into their bottles. If I have some fairly fresh developer and I plan to get back to printing the next day, I'll float a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent oxidation and let it stand.
     
  8. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    I know you said "run of the mill Kodak". I use Ilford stuff (for now) and the info on the containers reads
    1 liter @20 C (68F) is: 8x10" RC - 60 prints, 8x10" FB - 30 prints, 15 rolls of 135-36 film. (stop bath at 1+19 dilution)
    1 liter @20 C (68F) is: 8x10" RC - 80 prints, 8x10" FB - 50 prints (PQ developer at 1+9 or 1+14 dilution). I don't have the original contanier for the Fixer (rapid fix) but it usually reflects the developer.
    For storage I recommend glass. If you use plastic, make sure the lids seal tight. The less air in the top means less oxidization (longer life). In the 8x10 trays I use 1 liter (easier to figure out the dilutions).
    As for the food, remove anything not in a can (cereal). Put it all in a box and set it in the hall while printing. When I print, I remove the toothbrushes and paste, and floss. Why take a chance, when5 minutes is no time at all. Besides developer tastes really lousy...
    Happy printing!
     
  9. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    In my opinion, throw the stuff out after every use. You are then guaranteed that you aren't having bad prints because of depleted and dead chemistry.

    When I print small prints (8x10) I use

    Dev 9oz LPD 1:6 --1/5 of a bottle $9.50 or $1.90 worth

    Stop Ilfostop 1/16 of a bottle @ $5.50 or worth $.35cents

    Fix Hypam 250 of 5000ml @ $17.55 or worth $.87cents

    Therefore I use $3.12 per session.

    I hope the math is right but you can see saving this stuff is not really a great idea or savings, when you consider that with the developer the stuff seems to deteriorate overnight and with fix you have to be careful that you don't deplete the effectiveness. To me it is a false economy.

    My opinion, throw it out and start fresh everytime.


    Michael McBlane
     
  10. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    I agree with Michael et al. When in doubt, throw it out.

    However, being of mostly Scottish heritage (with a smiggin of Native American), I tend to be conservative. I usually save the stop bath and the two-bath fixer for paper development. For film, I save nothing.

    When I an faced with doing a multiple enlargement assignment, like recently, I cover the paper trays with Saran wrap between sessions. This helps preserve the chemicals and prevents accidents like dropping dried prints or other "foreign material" into the trays. Developer will not last more than a day's operations the way I perform - s l o w l y....
     
  11. eric

    eric Member

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    I worked in a commercial B&W lab and the only thing we kept is the Fixer. It was the last tray and it was the biggest. We put a cover on it at the end of the day. All the printers needed to make a big batch of developer when they come in the morning and pass it along the other printing rooms to dilute 1:2. Stop was plain H20.

    I did what you did at a home garage darkroom but I put plastic right on top of the chemicals. Oxidization occurs...when chems hit oxygen. So minimize the oxygen by covering right on top.

    Well, that got messy and it was okay for a month or 2. So I bit the bullet and got an Nova vertical. They are worth every penny and the darkroom footprint comes out so much smaller.
     
  12. Huram

    Huram Member

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    Thanks all for your insights, help, and guidance. It was exactly what I needed!!

    I am finding with each new realm of the B&W world I explore, I come up with new questions. My newest questions concern the best places online to purchase b&w films, papers, and chemicals. I will start a new thread in this category. Any thoughts would greatly be appreciated! Thanks again for all the help!

    Huram