Used Sodium Thiosulfate disposal

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by NedL, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,809
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    Location:
    Sonoma County, California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I save all my used fixer to go to my county hazardous waste disposal site. Is it safe to add used plain hypo fixer with used rapid fixer? Or do I need to keep them in separate containers?

    In Alan Greene's book, discussing development of calotype paper negatives, he makes a point of saying to keep used sodium thiosulfate fixer exhaust separate from the other silver nitrate exhausts which consist of used gallic acid developer and the first rinse after development. He says if they are mixed it can produce sulfur dioxide, but not what causes that reaction. I know ammonium sulfate rapid fixer is acidic, but not if that could be what causes sulfur dioxide to be formed.

    Advice appreciated!
     
  2. noacronym

    noacronym Member

    Messages:
    245
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For pete's sake. Photography is nearly dead. Not EVERYBODY is pouring 5 gallons a day down the sink Your little gallon is a drop in the ocean. A molecule in the universe I can't believe the micro-managed political correctness. Just get rid of it. I really do think some kind of PC insanity has taken root in this country. Like kudzu. Quit worrying about it.
     
  3. noacronym

    noacronym Member

    Messages:
    245
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Pardon me for that, my photographic friend. I see you're from California. When I think of California, it's not beautiful redwoods and lush valleys that come to mind. Immediately I think of several women riding brooms. And that leads me to wonder who keeps voting them back in. Believe me friend, your little gallon of used fixer is NOT a dirty bomb. It's not anthrax, and it won't heat up the earth and kill everthing. Enjoy your photography. Don't let those screwballs fill you with ideas you're destroying god's creation.
     
  4. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Recover the silver before you dump or otherwise dispose. Depending on how much you use your fixer and what kind of film you use, you could get as much as 2 or 3 ounces of silver out of a five gallon bucket full of spent fixer. At current prices, that means, you'd be dumping $80 down the drain.
     
  5. noacronym

    noacronym Member

    Messages:
    245
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Now you're talking sense.
     
  6. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,103
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2002
    Location:
    Melbourne, A
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Sodium thiosulfate is used in water purification plants for town water. Don't worry about it. The silver in it will become silver sulfide (no shortage of available sulfur compounds in the sewer!) which is stable and won't bother any living thing (so stable that sulfided prints last longest).

    Recover the silver if it's convenient, of course.
     
  7. MartinP

    MartinP Member

    Messages:
    1,458
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    35mm
    It's probably a good idea to obey, to the letter, local disposal regulations. Not because they are chemically or biologically correct but - more practically - to avoid fines, imprisonment and having your darkroom confiscated.

    If you can reclaim the silver then that is a very good plan. In any case the majority of the container consists of water, and this evaporates very nicely leaving minimal residue. Obviously, arrange things so that animals cannot drink the stuff (or drown in it) while you are evaporating the water.
     
  8. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

    Messages:
    5,479
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I got in quite a row saying pretty much this same thing on here before. You are, of course, absolutely right.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,975
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    i'm always amazed that people condone dumping stuff down the drain ...
    it reminds me of someone who suggested it was just fine to dump cyanide down the drain
    because there aren't many people doing it, or the guy down the road who was dumping fluorescent green
    machine shop solvent down the storm drain .... because he paid taxes and could do whatever he wanted ...
     
  10. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,413
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto-Onta
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    PLUS 1
     
  11. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,413
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto-Onta
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    All photo Labs, private darkrooms, schools in the GTA of Toronto that dump fixer down the drain can and will be shut down.
    Therefore each one has a silver recovery plan for the fix. If not they can come to my lab and dump the used fix into the unit.

    RA4 bleach fix, rapid fix, regular fix does not matter .
    Not to mention backflow regulators at the point of entry of each building .
     
  12. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

    Messages:
    5,479
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Fixer is not cyanide nor machine shop solvent. Of course comply with local laws. But you probably dump worse things than fixer down your drain all the time, previously stored right under the sink.
     
  13. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    Oregon and Austria
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    While I don't condone dumping just anything down the drain, dumping small amounts of used fixer may sometimes be the best solution.

    Ideally, of course, performing silver recovery before dumping fixing into the municipal sewer is a good idea. For some of us, that is no longer practical.

    I used to take my used fixer to a local photo finisher for silver recovery. They were happy to get it (they made money from the recovered silver) and took it off my hands for free. They have longs since gone out of business. There are no longer any photo finishers around to take my fixer.

    Another alternative is to take the fixer to the local hazmat facility. I tried that a couple of times. The goons working at the facility had no idea what I was trying to give them, seemed to be unfamiliar with silver recovery and handled the used fixer like it was toxic waste from Fukushima. The used fix just got labeled "photo chemicals" and I'm reasonably sure that it never got to any kind of silver recovery unit. So much for the hazmat people.

    That leaves do-it-yourself silver recovery, which is a great idea and something I will initiate as soon as I have my own, and not a rental, darkroom. In my present situation, I will simply dump the five to ten gallons a year of used fixer down the drain. A less-than-ideal but still fairly responsible solution.

    FWIW, Kodak in the tech pub J-300 states:

    "Although the form of silver (silver thiosulfate) found in photographic processing effluent is not harmful and is removed during secondary treatment at the POTW, it is a good practice to recover silver before discharging the effluent."

    I interpret this as "recover if you can, but go ahead and dump if you must." Especially for low-volume users, a few gallons a year of used fixer down the drain is not an environmental concern.

    Best,

    Doremus
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

    Messages:
    5,479
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    And don't dump ANYTHING down a storm drain - unlike your drain that generally bypasses all treatment.
     
  16. MartinP

    MartinP Member

    Messages:
    1,458
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    35mm
    There seem to be two views here. It doesn't matter which is actually correct - the laws in some places will close you down and fine you for putting anything (almost) except detergent and toilet-waste down the drain. On the other hand, you will not receive a free darkroom or a cash sum if you go to court and prove the rules are not scientifically correct. It is not about the science.
     
  17. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

    Messages:
    5,479
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Totally agree Martin - but people get worked up about silver ion even where there is no regulatory need to. There ARE a few things used in black and white darkrooms that are worth being very careful with even in the absence of regulations - many toners, for one category - but silver ion isn't one of them.

    Granted the OP lives in CA where it is almost certainly more like you describe than not, maybe worse.
     
  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,975
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    roger

    if you read what i said, i didn't say they were the same ... i said the thinking was the same.

    what i did say was that i was amazed that people would suggest it was OK to pour the stuff down the drain.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 8, 2013
  19. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,809
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    Location:
    Sonoma County, California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Folks, I didn't ask for advice about disposal. I don't want to hash through why or how I decided to take it to the waste disposal site. That decision has been made and I'm not pouring the stuff into my septic tank, thanks anyway.

    I want to know if it is okay to mix used sodium thiosulfate with used acidic ammonium thiosulfate while awaiting disposal. It is a chemistry question: will I produce sulfur dioxide or is it fine?

    Sorry... didn't mean to touch off a firestorm of disposal opinions.. I actually thought it was a simple question! I'll try to ignore the stereotyping based on where I live. Wow.

    Ned
     
  20. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    5,888
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2004
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Indeed, let's keep the politics out of it, and if anyone can answer the question to keep the thread on topic, that would be appreciated.
     
  21. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,413
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto-Onta
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    I thought I did , all fixes can be lumped into our silver recovery unit, including blfx.
     
  22. MartinP

    MartinP Member

    Messages:
    1,458
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Mix them, let the water evaporate and dispose of the remainder with the normal refuse. Everyone's happy. (Unless you can get the silver back, in which case do that obviously).
     
  23. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,809
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    Location:
    Sonoma County, California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Bob,

    Yes you did, thank you. I missed the signal for the noise! So the "blix" and rapid fix and regular fix all go together into the same unit, with no problems. Just what I wanted to know. Cheers!

     
  24. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,413
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    Location:
    Toronto-Onta
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    Yes , I have been doing this for over thirty five years now. All labs I worked at before I started my company had these programs in place.


     
  25. Toffle

    Toffle Member

    Messages:
    1,848
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2007
    Location:
    Point Pelee,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've got a bucket with an inch or two of black sludge from spent fixer. How much more will I need to buy the new Alfa Romeo 4C that's coming out this year? :smile:
     
  26. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,809
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    Location:
    Sonoma County, California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes, looking at the price of silver nitrate, it's a shame to throw any away! Now if it was gold or platinum, it might be worth going to more extremes!