Was my fixer expired?
Finished a printing session last night and this morning when the prints were dry I noticed that the edges of the last print I made/fixed shows a slight discoloring around the edges. About 1/4" all the way around the print, the edges are slightly creamy colored instead of white. I think I was pushing the limit on that batch of fixer. Does it sound like that is what happened on that last print that the fixer got used up? Used TF5 fixer and 130 developer with Ilford MFGB Warmtone paper.
If the fix was expired, can I just take that print and re-fix it?
Yes, you can and should refix it, but that may not remove the staining.
It's always a good idea to keep track of the number of prints or film run through a batch of fixer. Once you exceed the recommended amount discard the bath. You can also prevent problems by using a two bath fixing method. That way the second bath is always reasonably fresh.
I echo Jerry's comments above.
Two bath fixing is good policy in the darkroom. If it helps, my fixing routine is described below:
First fixer I keep in a gallon sized bottle, full to the brim, Ilford Hypam 1+4 concentration. I pour out as much as I need in the 1st fixer tray and use that throughout my printing session. I usually only make one or two prints, in two or more copies per printing session. 8x10" or larger.
2nd fixer I mix fresh every time, also Ilford Hypam 1+4 concentration. I mix one liter for 12x16" or smaller trays, or 1.5 liter for 16x20" or bigger trays and use that throughout the printing session.
At the end of the printing session, I pour what's left of the 2nd fixer into the 1st fixer bottle, and then top that up to completely full again with 1st fixer, just to fill the bottle, (and store the remaining leftover 1st fixer for silver recovery before I discard it).
I fix one minute in each bath, always above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, with constant agitation. No less. No more. Then the print goes into the washer.
The dangerous underfixed prints are the ones that look fine at first, but start to degrade a couple of years into it. It's even worse if that is work that you sell or give to someone, because you lose credibility as a craftsman. That exact thing happened to me, and I had to go back and print a couple of prints and do it right, along with trying to convince the person that they really wanted a properly fixed print, and not their money back... :) It's easier to do it right the first time.
Thanks guys. This normally isn't a problem and it's really the first time I've noticed this happen. You know what it's like when the last print you work on , you like it a lot and want to try just one or two other prints before you call it a night. I think I'll try the two fixer bath approach to eliminate any future problems.
By the way,
I think the term you were thinking is "exhausted" rather than "expired". Exhausted=use up. Expired=past expiration date (yes, somewhat circular definition)
People understood, but some readers might have skipped the post if they assumed "Expired=past date"