Lith Developer from Scratch; Dilution guidelines?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Marco Buonocore, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. Marco Buonocore

    Marco Buonocore Member

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    Hello,

    I'm about to start making lith developer from scratch. This will be for lith printing. I can't justify spending 50$ for 500ml of LD20 or Moersch chemistry; not when the raw chemicals are relatively inexpensive and used so sparingly.

    I'll be making formula with paraformaldehyde. I've found the paraformaldehyde free versions to be lacking on more than a few levels.

    I'd like to know people's thoughts on dilution for printing. Should I aim to have a certain amount of hydroquinone per litre of working solution? Should I aim for a specific alkalinity?

    I'll probably start with D-85, and try others like Ansco-79B.

    Any thoughts on the subject would be much appreciated!

    Thanks,
     
  2. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    A while back, I entered the formulas for Dupont LD-1, Dupont D-7, D-85 (both single and two part), Ansco 79, and Ansco 79B in to a spreadsheet to compare the chemical ratios. All five contain identical quantities of Boric Acid, Hydroquinone, and Paraformaldehyde. Potassium Bromide was either 1.5g or 1.6g, Sodium Sulphite varied between 29.4g and 30.25g - The only difference of note was the use of Sodium Bisulphite (2.2-2.6g) or Potassium Metabisulfite (2.5-2.625g). These numbers are based on mixing parts A & B in the ratios given over on the unblinkingeye lith developers page.

    Once you have mixed a batch of which ever formula you choose, there is scope to alter the ratio of parts A and B which may affect the final result - Last time I mixed a batch of D-85, I used it at a dilution of one part A+B (mixed 1A+3B) to 10-12 parts water. Tray life was good enough for a few hours, but capacity left a bit to be desired in my opinion - When things warm up a little and time allows, I have a couple of negs I want to lith print, so will mix another batch.
     
  3. Marco Buonocore

    Marco Buonocore Member

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    Hi Paul,

    I see what you mean about there being similarities between formula; they are all using the same components for the most part. I wouldn't say they have identical quantities, though. Dupont LD-1, for example, has less paraformaldehyde than Kodak D-85. That's going to have an effect on the working solution's alkalinity, won't it?

    I wish I could find the source - I dug through all my books in the darkroom - but I remember once reading that an optimal alkalinity for hydroquinone was ph 12. In one of the formaldehyde free formulas that Ryuji Suzuki posted ("Burning Lith Developer") he used a 1% solution of Trisodium Phosphate as the alkaline, giving it a ph of 11.3% (as per the darkroom cookbook - I don't have a ph meter). I assume that was a good working alkalinity for hydroquinone. I was hoping to determine an optimal dilution by keeping things like that in mind. Does that make sense? Maybe not!

    It's harder to understand that relationship between paraformaldehyde and alkalinity. I gather that it converts sodium sulfite to sodium hydroxide, which is pretty ingenious. To what extent, I don't know. Maybe a chemist can chime in.

    If you ever dig up that spreadsheet, I'd love to have a look at it! Formulas aren't that easy to come by. There's Rudman's 2nd book, the Unblinking Eye site, and this fellow as well. There are a lot of repetitions, for sure.

    Thanks!
     
  4. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I may be wrong here, but the best lith chemical formulations that I have used contained formaldeyde which when the a and b are mixed produced a milky look.
     
  5. Marco Buonocore

    Marco Buonocore Member

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    Oh I'm with you all the way, Bob. I've tried plenty of formaldehyde free formulas and they just don't cut it. They're not even close. I got a kilo of paraformaldehyde and will be doing some testing down at Gallery 44 - it'll be a good way to slog through February.
     
  6. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    If you get a good scratch mix formula I would love to hear about it.. I like the Moresch 5 and the fotospeed stuff, if you can equal the pop of those then your on to something.


     
  7. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    D-85 calls for 37.5g of paraformaldehyde in part B. LD-1 uses 7.5g and is a single solution mix. D-85 is mixed at a ratio of four parts A to one part B, so for every litre of working solution*, it contains (37.5/5)=7.5g of paraformaldehyde. If you do the same calculation on the other ingredients, you'll find the quantities very similar.

    *) "working solution" is a little misleading as it requires further dilution with water before use as a lith paper developer.
     
  8. Marco Buonocore

    Marco Buonocore Member

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    Oh I see; you're right, Paul.

    As an aside: I guess once you start to factor in the further dilution that takes place for use in printing, any of the other small differences in these formulas become pretty insignificant.
     
  9. WHof

    WHof Subscriber

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    My Tim Rudman workshop notes for Kodak D-85 say "82.5 millilitres of acetone may be substituted for the paraformaldehyde." Anyone ever try it?
     
  10. Marco Buonocore

    Marco Buonocore Member

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  11. WHof

    WHof Subscriber

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    That was great. Thanks. I believe I will leave the acetone in the garage.
     
  12. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Marco

    I would be interested in your results from scratch mix... Has Osheen seen this I would be interested in trying a litre or two with my papers to see how it works.

    Bob
     
  13. Marco Buonocore

    Marco Buonocore Member

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    Hey Bob,

    Osheen, as well as a few other members, are going to be Guinea pigs. We've got a lot of paper to throw at it. Let me make some progress, and if I get something decent, I'll drop off a couple of litres at Elevator. I'll keep you posted.
     
  14. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    The purpose of the paraformaldehyde is a reaction with the (bi)sulphite in what is known as a "clock reaction" to increase the PH. There is anecdotal evidence on the web that suggests acetone may be substituted at a ratio of 2.2ml per gramme of Paraformaldehyde - Most lith formulas call for 7.5g which equates to 16.5ml Acetone per litre, so on the face of it, Tim Rudman is out by a long way...

    Just carried out a little experiment with a solution containing 30g Sodium Sulphite, 2.5g Sodium Metabisulphite in 1000ml water. The PH was measured at 7.4, a fairly neutral value. Dividing the solution in to two equal parts, one had ~3.75g of Paraformaldehyde added. The other half had increasing amounts of Acetone added, starting with ~8ml.

    On adding the Paraformaldehyde, the PH climbed to 11.5 within seconds indicating a reaction had taken place.

    With 8ml Acetone, the PH climbed to 9.1 within seconds and further additions of Acetone saw little increase. With ~40ml, the PH only went up to 9.5. Some 30 minutes later, this had risen to ~PH10.

    Lith developers are typically around PH11, so on the face of it, whilst the Acetone substition looks plausible, additional chemicals would need to be added to get the PH up - This would typically be Sodium Hydroxide as used in the Ansco 70 formula. The figure of 82.5ml is certainly wrong if the purpose is to raise the PH over 11. If a PH of 9 is the target, then around 16ml (based on 7.5g Paraformaldehyde per litre) is sufficient.

    If you have Paraformaldehyde (or a Formalin solution) to hand, I would suggest using it and thus avoid any need to increase the PH with Sodium Hydroxide.

    Note: I am not a chemist and can not comment on "clock reactions", only report on my (limited) observations using cheap Chinese scales & PH meter.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2013
  15. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Thanks.. getting good lith dev at a decent price is hard , I would appreciate it.
    I have a bunch of old paper to donate to the cause if you want . Let me know.
     
  16. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I've been thinking about trying to formulate a lith developer also. My favorite is Rollei/Maco/Labor Partner with Moersch coming in a close second. They are both expensive (Moersch) and/or supply is spotty (R/M/LP). I'm nearly positive that the Moersch is formaldehyde-free so it is possible to formulate a good, stable non-formaldehyde developer. I'm using Arista and some Nacco I have around for now.

    Also, I tried the acetone route and it is definitely not a 1:1 replacement. It didn't work all that well.
     
  17. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    <slap to forehead> My mistake - D-85 calls for 37.5g of Paraformaldehyde, which of course comes out as 82.5ml of Acetone.