Reusing C-41 Bleach

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Robert Ley, Sep 10, 2011.

  1. Robert Ley

    Robert Ley Subscriber

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    I find myself perilously low on C-41 bleach and was wondering what people think about reusing the bleach. I use Fuji-Hunt chemicals with the separate bleach and Fixer. I processed some film today and saved the bleach. I gave it a rinse between the developer and the bleach, then saved the bleach. I use a Jobo CPA-2 and can give it more or less time if need be.

    I have quite a bit of RA-4 bleach. Is it possible to use this bleach instead if I run out and haven't gotten the C-41 bleach yet?

    Thanks for any help you may be able to give on this issue.

    Robert
     
  2. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    Yes

    You can reuse c41 bleach almost infinitely. Its best if you regenerate it (kodak makes a product for doing so,) but even without regeneration it should be fine. I recently regenerated and reused a set of bleach for the third time and it was fine. It worked out to 144 rolls of 120 in 5L of bleach, and I will regenerate and use it again I think.
     
  3. mts

    mts Subscriber

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    You can also aerate the bleach to regenerate it. Shake the devil out of a partly filled bottle and let it settle awhile before using. Unlike developers, the Fe-EDTA bleaches thrive on aeration. You should definitely use a stop following the developer and/or a rinse to avoid contaminating your bleach and to prevent raising its pH. By the same token, it is probably not a good idea to reuse RA4 bleach beyond a single printing session, as it is considerably reduced in strength from film bleaches.
     
  4. Robert Ley

    Robert Ley Subscriber

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    Ed and MTS, thanks for the info and why the hell wasn't I told of this before?:wink:.

    When I bought my original chemistry about three years ago, I had to buy two 5lt bottles of concentrate and it has lasted this long. I recently checked out the price to replace this bleach and promptly feel out of my chair.

    I have about 1lt of used once bleach and about 3/4lt of of fresh working bleach.I think my plan will be to reuse this bleach two more times, aerate this bleach and try to regenerate the bleach with a volume of the fresh bleach.

    How will I know when the bleach is beat and is it possible to re-bleach film that has not been bleached properly.

    Thanks for your help and any other info that you might have.
     
  5. RPC

    RPC Member

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    I believe PE has written before that RA4 bleach-fix is most effective for color negative use when mixed at twice concentration and pH lowered to about 4.5, IIRC.

    Using ferricyanide bleach is a much cheaper alternative, but must be used properly or disaster can result.

    Search the archives to find more info on both of these alternatives.
     
  6. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Yes, reuse.

    I actually replenish at normally about 5ml per roll or so. A gallon jug goes a long way.
     
  7. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    I do find Flexicolor Bleach III drops in activity over time, I replenish it according to the manual. Although I am running low too.
     
  8. Photo Engineer

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    You can use the RA4 bleach fix as a bleach then fix by using 1/2 the amount of water with each part, so 1L of part A which might be used with 1L of part B to make 4 L of working solution would be mixed as follows:

    1 liter of part A + 500 ml of water to make 1.5 L of working strength
    1 liter of part B + 500 ml of water to make 1.5 L of working strength.

    This is 3L of solution not 4 which would be used for paper. Use extended times, and make no pH adjustment. Use a 1% stop bath if possible.

    Capacities of C41 bleaaches are posted on the Kodak web site and in the kit stuffers but here are some hints.

    All of the bleaches use up any halides present and so not only must you shake it to aerate it, but you must add some Bromide or Chloride. Also, the pH tends to drift up or down depending on whether you use no stop or use a stop, so the pH must be reset to its original value.

    Remember: Aerate, add some Ammonium Bromide or Ammonium Chloride and adjust the pH with Acetic Acid 28% or Ammonium Hydroxide 28% as needed.

    For the red bleaches, you should also add about 1 gram per liter of EDTA Acid, and neutralized with Ammonium Hydroxide. For Bleach III you should do the same but there is no real source for the NTA.

    This is the extended version of my previous shorter posts on this.

    PE
     
  9. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    Is this PE's Bleach Regenerator? :wink:
     
  10. Photo Engineer

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    Dan;

    I have, on a 3x5 index card, the original Blix formula for color paper dated 10-66! In fact, I have 2 formulas, one mixed from scratch and one mixed from premade Ammonium Ferric EDTA (hand made stuff by John Surash and Keith Stephen, the patent holders). I also have the complete draft of my report describing how it was designed, how it intersects with and avoids BP 991,412 and a copy of the letter of transmittal that went from me in KRL to KP for the first manufacturing trials. :wink:

    Now, if that ain't a bit of photographic history, nothing is. And, if it does not certify me as an expert (ex is a has been and spurt is a drip under pressure), I don't know what will. :D

    So, yeah, it is my own formulation and if I could get NTA I could whip up a bleach III formula! I do have a real working Blix for film as well. One that keeps!

    PE
     
  11. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    It's all good :smile:
     
  12. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    This is interesting.

    So, it looks to me like a single bleach could be purchased for use in all color work. Simply dilute it properly for the task at hand.

    Is that a fair thought?

    Given that thought, does the idea carry over to uses in B&W work?

    Along this line it's my understanding from rooting around here that C-41 fix stock can be used similarly, basically for everything in the darkroom, with the caveat that once a working solution is applied to color material it is not then applied to B&W.

    Is that a fair assessment?
     
  13. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    Well..I use E-6 fixer for everything.
     
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  15. Photo Engineer

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    The film bleach that I "designed" in the previous post is not a serious replacement for the true C41 bleach and fix due to a number of problems, but it can do the job if one is careful and one is in a bind. Remember that please.

    However, it is possible to design one blix for all color products and design it in such a way that the fix can be used for B&W products. I have done that! It is basically Super Fix VII + an extra, optional part. However, to do the job right it uses some expensive and exotic ingredients and therefore is basically impractical at this time.

    PE
     
  16. AlbertZeroK

    AlbertZeroK Member

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    I thought Afga's Universal Fix was good for B&W, E-6 and C-41 - atleast I've been using it for both C-41 and E-6.

    Nice to know about the RA4 chemistry, I have some 4-5 year old Agfa stuff sitting around in the basement, I'll have to give it a try, especially since I can't reuse fixer in my Phototherm.
     
  17. AlbertZeroK

    AlbertZeroK Member

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    Oh, I use a fish tank Air Pump to aireate my bleach, both E-6 and C-41, the pump runs for an hour at 2am every morning.
     
  18. Photo Engineer

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    You can use color fix for B&W but in some cases you cannot use B&W fix for color. This is due mainly to pH.

    PE
     
  19. RPC

    RPC Member

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    Can the bromides/chlorides be sodium/potassium instead of ammonium?
     
  20. Photo Engineer

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    If they could, I would have said so! :wink:

    The ammonium salts are essential to make them work with film.

    PE
     
  21. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    PE,

    Just to clarify, is the formula below for processing film in paper chemicals? I'm not misreading it? If so, it's a great news for me because I too am running out of C41 bleach, but I have a lot of RA4.
    Also, by extended times you mean how long? I know, I can test
    the fixer, but what about the bleach?

    Thanks!

    Eugene.

     
  22. Photo Engineer

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    In this case, I would use about 7 minutes in the bleach and fix. If the fix time must be adjusted upwards, then match the bleach time to it. Use it at 100F.

    This is a poor substitute for the real thing in view of the difficulty in removing all of the silver from C41 films. Frankly, I would not do it unless it was an emergency. Also, the capacity is going to be about 1/4th that of the real things.

    PE
     
  23. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    Thank you PE. Your advice is as always invaluable!
     
  24. iranzi

    iranzi Member

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    PE, thanks so much for this!
    Can you clarify a couple of things: if i understand correctly Bromide/Chloride can be added to both red and III bleaches, plus the EDTA acid to the red bleaches only (or to both bleach types as well?)
    What amounts of Bromide/Chloride should be used?
    Also, I didn't get the last bit about the NTA. Is it ok to do without it? Thanks
     
  25. Photo Engineer

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    You are correct in all of your comments.

    There is no hard and fast rule for the amount of halide to add due to the question of seasoning. The amount of film determines this. Usually it only takes a tiny amount though.

    NTA should be used (its full name is on the ingredient list of bleach III). It forms a different Iron III complex than EDTA which is stronger and has a lower COD and BOD in the effluent. Without a small excess, brown stain can begin to build up. This can be minimized by using a stop bath.

    PE
     
  26. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    Just to resurrect this topic, I have now used one 5L batch of Bleach III 5 or 6 times (225+ rolls of 120, give or take), regenerating it with Flexicolor bleach regenerator after the first time. How many more times can I get away with this? Indefinitely? The negs still look great, though I don't have a densitometer or control strips to test with, just by eye and by printing them on RA4 paper. Are there any visual indications of the bleach going bad or other simple way to test it after regeneration?

    It's nice that Bleach III can be regenerated at least 5 or 6 times, it saves a lot on the cost of C-41 at home, given that bleach is the hardest item to come by, and the most expensive to buy and ship.

    thanks,

    -Ed