Tri-X and aging XTOL... again

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by SchwinnParamount, Oct 7, 2005.

  1. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    I've read several claims that XTOL has a proclivity to work well for most of the life of a stock solution and then just die. I've been using XTOL with Tri-X, FP4+, Delta 100, and APX 400 for several years now. So far, I have not observed this behavior.

    I keep my XTOL in a collapsible bottle to minimize air contact and run through a couple gallons in about 3 months. Toward the end, my collapsable bottle cannnot eliminate all air as there is a limit to how much the bottle will collapse.

    At that stage (at least the last couple of batches I've made) my standard development times for Tri-X are not sufficient to give expected contrast. I will scan the film using my minolta scanner to make the equivalent of a contact sheet. The scanner produces muddy blotchy mid tones when the film is developed using this old developer.

    At this point I toss the developer and make a fresh batch. I suppose if I ignored the changed behavior and used it to the bitter end, I might see the 'sudden death' syndrome. Although to my mind, it is anything but sudden.

    I dilute my working solution to 1:1 and typically develop at 68 degrees using the times recommended by the Kodak XTOL datasheet.

    Has anyone else seen this contrast fall-off before their XTOL dies?
     
  2. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    I mix my own variant/substitute of XTOL called MYTOL - I also keep mine in a collapsable bottle and I use mine as one shot, usually at 1:1 or sometimes 1:3. I have used mine at 8 months with no decrease in performance. I don't know what the drop dead date is but at 8 months, the stock solution was beginning to brown a little. This is probably a good indication that the end is near. Mine is clear when fresh. I also scan my negs before going into the darkroom. I did not see any change with the old developer. I even push processed with it and it was fine.
     
  3. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I keep mine in 500ml PET bottles and have used some over a year old with no problems. I have heard bad things about the accordian bottles over the years and don't trust them for developer storage.
     
  4. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Collapsible bottles are probably not the best choice for storing developers. The reason is that the plastic, polypropylene, is permeable to oxygen. Polyethyleneterphthalate (PET) plastic is good but glass is better.

    The sudden death that ascorbate developers experience is just that, one day the developer is fine the next it will no longer develop at all.
     
  5. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I use plastic soda bottles (free!). My thinking is that if they can hold gas (Co2) under pressure inside for years, they ought to be able to keep passive air from permiating through the bottle walls over a few months. I top four bottles up to the cap, leaving no headroom and cap tightly and run a piece of electrical tape around the bottle neck and cap. Then I put the rest in the fifth liter bottle and use that first. I develop in Xtol stock solution so an open liter bottle doesn't have to last for any great length of time.
     
  6. Gim

    Gim Subscriber

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    I also have used XTOL stock that is a year or more old with no problem. I store mine in 22oz brown beer bottles with normal bottle caps and cheap hand bottle capper purchased at brew supply house. Lately I have been putting a piece of saran wrap under the cap for insurance. I will leave it in a half full bottle if I'm going to use it soon. But sometimes put it in smaller bottles, even smaller clear booze bottles, and have had no problem. I only use plastic bottles for short term storage of chemicals. Used beer bottles are also cheap with unlimited supply.
    Jim
     
  7. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    First, I've not seen the falloff of activity that SchwinnParamount reports, but I'm still on my first 5-liter batch of XTOL. I may not buy more, simply because I've started mixing my own developers.

    Anyhow, to expand on the issue of the plastic collapsible bottles, this site reports on some longevity tests in which those bottles produced quicker exhaustion of the developer than other bottles. Ryuji Suzuki's got a Web site in which he describes the characteristics of various plastics and their suitability for holding various darkroom chemicals. He says PET (recycling symbol #1) is best for developers because it's relatively impermeable to oxygen. HDPE (recycling symbol #2) is relatively permeable to oxygen, which makes it a poor choice for developers. The collapsible bottles I've seen are made from HDPE. Between all these things, I wouldn't use them for storing developers.

    FWIW, I use glass drink bottles, ranging from 1-quart IBC root beer bottles (which are brown) down to ~100ml hot sauce bottles (great for ultra-concentrated things like PC-Glycol). When I mix my own developer, I seldom make more than a liter, so I usually put it in a couple of 16 oz (~500ml) Snapple bottles, or perhaps in a ~650ml bottle and another ~350ml bottle. When I make more, I try to use multiple bottle sizes so that I can use the bigger bottles for long-term storage and then split their contents up across two or three smaller bottles when I need to begin using them.
     
  8. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    I agree that the accordian bottles are less than desirable - most of my chemistries now go in amber glass bottles and I am certain that the soda pop bottles PET are better for chemistries that can go through other kinds of plastic. I can say that in the case of MYTOL, the accordian bottle is working fine - I expect it to wear out after a year or so and will likely then go to amber glass for MYTOL as well but in the mean time - the accordian bottle for this chemistry is ok. I can say that pyro goes right through the accordian bottles - it discolors the plastic and the smell is obvious in it.
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Hot Sauce bottles

     
  10. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    May I ask why you make life miserable for yourself. Put the developer in small glass bottles, use it once or twice and pitch it.

    With the effort put into getting a decent neg, why fool around trying to save pennies on film developer, specially one which you can not deem still good by looking at it.

    At the very least, properly replenish it.
     
  11. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I'm with Flotsam on this one. Been using soda bottles and a technique similar to his for years and they have always worked well for me. Instead of leaving the bottle half full though, I top off the partially full bottle with propane gas from a soldering torch. Being heavier than air, it acts like a gaseous floating lid over the contents of the bottle and keeps the O2 out. There is a product available specifically for this purpose and I'm told that it is nothing more than butane. Problem is that a small can of the stuff goes for over $10, while you can get a small propane tank for about $3 to $4 US that will last for months.

    The accordion bottles are a waste of time and money. They don't seal well and are hard to handle when full.
     
  12. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I admit that I also displace the air in my partially full bottles. I used butane for awhile then ran across several cans of Beseler XDL, a product that was made for the purpose, out in my garage. I must have stocked up on the stuff when they stopped making it so I have at least a couple of years supply, then it'll be back to butane.

    My recent problem was the last time I mixed Xtol I filtered it into the liter bottles by putting a plug of cotton in a funnel. Very quickly, the flow would become a drip and as I watched each drop fall several inches and splash into the solution in the bottle, I thought, "You know? If you actually wanted to aerate a liquid, this would be a darned good way to do it". Of course that is exactly what you do _not_ want to do to your developer.
    I bought a real nice 40oz delta filter funnel with an extension tube that will extend to bottom of the bottle. That should solve the problem.
     
  13. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    Doesn't the fluid just drop to the bottom of the tube and splash?
     
  14. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    It definitely makes for a gentler transition. Additionally, the Delta's 2 inch filter keeps the solution flowing more freely preventing that drip, drip, drip scenario.
    Does anyone know if anyone makes a two-piece funnel like the one that Kodak used to make? Those things were great.
     
  15. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    I'm with you, Ronald. All of these gyrations are a bit like Roman augurs examining the livers of sheep for positive omens before seating the Senate.

    Mix fresh (Xtol, Mytol YourTol, ToeTol, whatever), store in single-use brown glass bottles, discard after using.

    Good lord.
     
  16. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    Not to be a party pooper, but I would like to put this thread back on track. The original question was not clear apparently

    For those of us who use admittedly sub-standard storage techniques, our XTOL will begin to show its age earlier than Kodak would like. For those of you who are properly storing your XTOL, you too will start to see the XTOL age. Since you stored it properly, you will not encounter this as soon as I do... but you will encounter it eventually. Now we've gotten the storage question out of the way.

    the actual question should have been: "When your XTOL finally starts to show its age (however long that may take), are you seeing the contrast drop off that I've seen?"
     
  17. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    ...Nope.
    Apparently I store it OK and use it quick enough.