When mixing B&W chems: distilled/rev osmosis water or not? Other rants too.

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by ronobvious, Mar 14, 2008.

  1. ronobvious

    ronobvious Member

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    I had a simple question about water when mixing your own chems. Do you need to use distilled/reverse osmosis water when mixing any and all chems? It seems to me that you do, since pH can vary widely from one city to another and you're dealing with acids & bases here. The directions for the chems don't mention anything specific.

    Other rants below, optional reading:

    Anyway, about me if you want to read on and comment. ~20 years ago I had photo I & II, so I know my way around a darkroom. Basically I haven't done any darkroom work since then. Despite the convenience of digital, I prefer to shoot film. Don't know why, but I've decided that forking over ~$10 -12 for 12 exposures on 120 film is excessive so I'm developing my own film and scanning it. I have a changing bag, but I've taken a 1/2 bath and plugged up all the light to have a place to load/unload my film. Since I'm starting again, I'm keeping it simple. Here's what I'm using:

    Ilford DD-X
    Ilford Ifostop
    Ilford Rapid Fixer
    Ilford Ilfotol

    Paterson System4 3 reel tank (2 rolls of 120/220)

    My bathroom kinda stays around 68 so I don't need too much in the way of temp control (I think). Last time I had to bring the temp up for the developer so I rinsed a silverware knife under warm water and stirred the developer in the graduated tube until 68F. I like the Paterson since it's plastic and there's little chance of that problem I sometimes have with the metal reels (film touching) and I *hope* the plastic means there's little temp variation. So far I haven't used a tempering bath.

    I've only developed 3 rolls of 120 so far and seem to have good results.

    Thanks!
     
  2. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    no, you can use regular water for the basic chemical. Only with toners do i use distilled water, and with photo -flo or LPN

    i wouldn't worry about the plastic tanks shifting temperature during the development process.

    if the water temp changes drastically; i.e. during the summer, just mix the tap with some cold water and bring it to 68. we have to do it all the time here in the south.
     
  3. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Rono,

    Ditto the above. Most tap water is ok except for special cases. Myself (being frugal) I collect the run off water from my AC unit during our humid summers and store it. I use that, filtered, then heated in a large pyrex measure in the microwave for mixing my film developer chemistry. I use it filtered for my final rinse in Photo-Flo. My african violets like that water, too.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
     
  4. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    I use water filtered through a Brita filter since we use it for drinking water anyway. I have used tap water for anything and everything and never had a problem I was aware of, but then the water quality is very high here.
     
  5. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    I use distilled water for mixing my developer and I've had less "mysterious problems" with finicky developers. It may be black magic, but it's cheap black magic. I also mix my photo-flo in distilled water to avoid any mineral deposits on my film--the water is pretty hard around here.
     
  6. pnance

    pnance Member

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    Most prepared developers, include a water conditioner, like calgon (Sodium Hexametaphosphate). If you mixed your own, there might be more concern, but most don't worry about it. I use distilled when mixing stock solutions.
     
  7. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    I just use my tap for mixing solutions. It works fine. I just take a drink before I get started to see if there's too much chlorine in the water (city). If so, I wait a couple of days.
     
  8. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Most film chems you can use tap water, but the pyro's specify distilled. For all paper chems, tap will do.
     
  9. Bobby Ironsights

    Bobby Ironsights Member

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    I get all sorts of crap embedded in my film, so now I use distilled water exclusively. It used to be cheap but a hassle:sad:, but now it's expensive :mad:and easy!!!:D

    What happened was I used to use jugs of distilled from the grocery store. It had a nasty plastic taste when I drank a bit to taste it, but I finally stopped getting sediment spots on my negatives.

    Then, I found out the local water guy sells 23 liter jugs delivered for 7 bucks (northern canada, no competition) so that was actually cheaper per liter. My GF picked up a cool little water cooler at walmart, even has a little fridge in it, for about 125 bucks it has a boiled water spigot and a cold water spigot too! Problem is, the water cooler distilled doesn't taste like plastic at all. In fact, it tastes fantastic! No more chlorine taste! It even tastes a hell of alot better than the spring water.

    So we drink alot more water, and I've completely given up on coffee and it's rare that we buy soda.....but we go through about 5 jugs of distilled a month, mostly as beverage.:rolleyes:

    The really good thing is that I don't have to wipe my negatives, or use photoflo anymore. I just fill the tank with distilled after the rinse, wait five minutes, and pour that out, and the negatives dry with no water spots.

    ***note*** I did still get some occasional crud on my negatives from the rinse water, until I started using a brita mounted on the tap for the rinse water.
     
  10. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I use filtered tap water.

    If you are worried about hard water, use prepacked chemistry which has addenda to get around the problem.

    The pH of your water supply is totally unimportant, as it is unbuffered and has no buffer capacity. Developers and fixers are highly buffered and are not affected by the pH of the water in which they are mixed provided it is normal city water.

    PE
     
  11. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

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    I use distilled water make stock solution for my developers and HCA, and working for my fixer, TF4, and selenium toner. A 5 micron carbon filter is to filter sand, silt, rust particles and other sediments particles my tap water.
     
  12. stillsilver

    stillsilver Member

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    I use purified water for my chemicals and tap(well) water for my washes. I use the bottled water for consistency. I do need to put on a filter for my washes though. There is some crud from the well at times. I have to clean out the clothes washer fill line about once every two months.

    Mike
     
  13. walter23

    walter23 Member

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    I think any minor buffering or pH altering impurities in your water would be vastly overwhelmed / saturated by the compounds in your photographic chemistry. I've never had any problems using tap water; I just use a wetting agent at the very end of my rinse (right before pulling my paper/film out) to keep calcium deposits from appearing on stuff.
     
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  15. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I use filtered tap water for everything and have never had a problem from it. Once in a while I need to mix up some Diafine, and the instructions call for distilled water. I follow the directions. I'd be annoyed if I wasted a good batch of Diafine because I was too pig headed to follow the manufacturer's recommendation.
     
  16. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Like many others I use tap water for all but two items, which are: mixing staining developer, and my final film wash; for these I use filtered tap water.

    I agree with you that developing monochrome film is so simple that there is little reason not to do it yourself. Your choice of chemicals and equipment will give good results. I also work in a temperature controlled environment so don’t use a tempering bath. I think consistency is much more important than using any particular developing temperature.

    You may not have noticed that there is a sister site – Hybridphoto.com – where scanning issues are discussed, it may be of help; link at the top of the page.
     
  17. markbb

    markbb Member

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    PE, we have hard water here in London (108 mg Ca per litre) and I always get drying marks on film if I don't use distilled water. What (simple) adaptive could I add to B&W, E6 and C41 chemicals to counter-act this?
     
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  18. Bobby Ironsights

    Bobby Ironsights Member

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    I think you mean additive mark, and it's a lost cause. Adding more crap to your water will not make beads of water dry without leaving the mineral deposits behind.

    Those compounds just don't evaporate.

    You could use photoflo (a wetting agent) and then just squeegee them off, but it's not really all that different from just squeegee'ing them off in the first place and you can damage delicate emulsions.

    30 pence worth of distilled water might serve you better. (distilled, not spring)
     
  19. markbb

    markbb Member

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    Bobby,
    I rather thought so. I don't always use distilled water for all steps, especially E6 with all those washes, but I always use it for the finals step.
     
  20. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I don't follow your reasoning. Photo-flo is not "crap", it is a surfactant or tenside which reduces the surface tension holding water droplets to vertically-hanging film to the degree that the water is able to run off completely and not be left behind to evaporate, leaving mineral deposits. The effect is the same as mechanical removal using a squeegee but obviously since there is no physical contact between the film and any removal device, there is also no risk of scratching.

    Regards,

    David
     
  21. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    If you don't get drying marks when using distilled water, then why change?
     
  22. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    If you have very hard water, then the ideal solution is to use tap water to mix everything but the final solution that will contact the film. That may be photo flo, any other wetting agent, stabilzer or whatever. If it is any of these or just a wash step only, then a use distilled water for mixing or as a final dip. Never dip color film into plain DW though, it must always be a stabilzer or final rinse.

    You do not need to use DW to mix any of the developers, fixers, bleaches or blixes though as they have plenty of sequestrants in them, but even so, if they form a precipitate just filter the solution and that will fix the problem.

    If you mix your own solutions from scratch in hard water, use about 10 g/l of Disodium EDTA and make sure you adjust the pH to where the solution should be. Na2EDTA should not change it, but don't take a chance.

    Hope this is enough to start you on the road.

    BTW, what do you do to keep your tea from forming scum in London? Or your beer? :D Actually, I enjoy a warm pint at the White Harte on Drury Lane and a good cuppa. :D

    PE
     
  23. Stoo Batchelor

    Stoo Batchelor Member

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    I live about 30 miles north of the city of London and my water is the most discusting stuff you could ever drink. I had a Brita water filter kettle and I even had to descale that once a week :mad:. You really could not let this stuff touch your film, let alone make a cup of tea with it. It forced me to get a Reverse Osmosis filter system fitted and I have never looked back. Not only do I get squeeky clean film time after time, it makes the perfect cup of tea and my kettle still looks like new inside :smile:.

    Best

    Stoo
     
  24. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The RO unit must look pretty bad though! How often do you have to change filters?

    PE
     
  25. markbb

    markbb Member

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    Mainly because the only reasonable source of distilled water I've found is Halfords (car parts shop for non UK people) in 5 litre bottles & they don't always have it.
     
  26. Stoo Batchelor

    Stoo Batchelor Member

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    Yes, the three main filters do look pretty discoloured at the end of their life. There are five filters. Three of them are recommended to be changed every six months. The sediment filters should be changed every two years. These are more like capsules, so the content can not be seen. Mine must be overdue for a change.

    I must admit, I change my filters after one years use though, as I think the company do their maths assuming that the unit is being used by a family, whereas I live on my own.

    Best

    Stoo