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  1. #1
    Ektagraphic's Avatar
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    Chemical disposal by evaporation?

    Hi Guys-
    I have been looking into better methods of chemical disposal rather than just dumping chemicals. My town does not have a hazardous waste day that would allow me to drop the stuff off and I don't know anyone well enough that lives in any town around me that would allow me to go with them to drop the stuff off. I could get a 55 gallon drum and have it picked up and processed when it is filled for $250. I would two. One for develop, one for fix. I still have most of the fixer I have ever used stored in bottles, so I'm going to pick up a silver magnet. I was wondering if anyone knows of any contraption that I could buy or make that would allow me to evaporate the water off of the chemicals and be left with the concentrated chemical whether it was back to solid for or even in a sludge.

    Thanks,

    Patrick
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

  2. #2

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    patrick

    years ago i worked for a company that sold evaporation units.
    it looked like a shop vac and had a heat element at the bottom and a thick
    liner and a fan
    you ran it, and it slowly heated off the liquid leaving a dense sludge.
    the problems ...
    it takes a while to run it and evaporate the stuff, so $$ ( for electricity )
    and the fumes it gave off from heated chemistry ( probably not a good thing )
    and what do you do with the sludge ?

    if you decide you want a magnet, feel free to contact me, i will be happy to help you with your recovery efforts.

    john
    im empty, good luck

  3. #3
    Ektagraphic's Avatar
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    I think that I would take the sludge and put it in the garbage with my trash. I feel as if that may be a better option that just straight dumping, no?
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

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    Jim Noel's Avatar
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    Straight dumping of sludge in the trash is going to contaminate the ground and water for years to come.
    To begin with, mix the developer and fixer, they will counteract each other. Remember that is the job of the fixer. If you are using standard B&W chemicals, the by-product of this mixture is urea - a major component of chemical fertilizers. A well known photographer, who shall remain nameless, used to have an apple orchard. The effluent from his darkroom sink flowed through a garden hose to the base of a different tree each day. He grew wonderful apples.
    If you put the fixer b itself in a bucket or barrel with zinc, or iron filings, the silver will soon replace the other metal and produce a silver rich sludge. There are reclaimers around the country who will buy such sludge.
    [FONT=Comic Sans MS]Films NOT Dead - Just getting fixed![/FONT]

  5. #5
    cdholden's Avatar
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    I've been tossing my spent fixer in a 5 gallon bucket, with the lid slightly ajar, but with it covered to keep most of the dust out. It sits in a shaded, but warm location. As it has been evaporating, I've just been adding more spent fixer. I'm not so productive that it overflows, so no problems there... at least not yet.
    I got a silver magnet from John some time back. I'm planning to fire it up and extract some of the silver soon and just do it about every 6 months. With my current production, that seems to be a good plan, but I may need a second bucket for temporary "overflow" usage.

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    You've found that you really don't have hazardous chemical waste. Except for the silver salts dissolved in the fixer, everything else is fine going into the local sewage treatment plant.

    Does your household wash dishes and laundry? Use prescription drugs, toilet bowl cleaners, apply fertilizer or weed killers to your lawn and garden? All of those are worse than the very small quantities of photo chemicals you dump.

    Prescription drugs inc birth control products, being the worst as the human body usually discharges 50% of them as waste and no sewage treatment plants break them down. If you want to keep those out of the environment, collect all human liquid and solid waste, dry it and burn the sludge in a high temp oxidizing incinerator.
    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Noel View Post
    To begin with, mix the developer and fixer, they will counteract each other. Remember that is the job of the fixer. If you are using standard B&W chemicals, the by-product of this mixture is urea
    They do not counteract each other and the mix will still pollute. I don't know where the idea that they produce urea came from but it is not true!
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

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  8. #8
    resummerfield's Avatar
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    I mix developers, stop and fix together and dump it in open 5 gallon buckets that I store in an outside shed. After the water evaporates, not much remains.
    —Eric

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald C Koch View Post
    They do not counteract each other and the mix will still pollute. I don't know where the idea that they produce urea came from but it is not true!
    thank you !

    it's amazing how much confusion there is about photochemicals.

    it all depends where one lives
    but in some places it is OK to mix everything BUT fixer together, with a WHOLE SINK of water
    to dilute it and drain it .... it is the PH that matters sometimes.
    but FIXER is something different.

    there used to be someone here on APUG that insisted selenium was harmless because it was found in the ocean and in vitamins ... selenium poisoning can kill you ...


    thanks for being the voice of reason gerald !
    john
    Last edited by jnanian; 06-15-2012 at 08:06 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    im empty, good luck

  10. #10
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Noel View Post
    Straight dumping of sludge in the trash is going to contaminate the ground and water for years to come.
    This is true; don't do it. All you're doing is putting the problem someplace else.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Noel View Post
    To begin with, mix the developer and fixer, they will counteract each other. Remember that is the job of the fixer. If you are using standard B&W chemicals, the by-product of this mixture is urea - a major component of chemical fertilizers. A well known photographer, who shall remain nameless, used to have an apple orchard. The effluent from his darkroom sink flowed through a garden hose to the base of a different tree each day. He grew wonderful apples.
    This is wrong and dangerous advice. It arises, I think, from the neutralisation instructions from Cibachrome where the chemicals are mixed together and indeed do neutralise, however that has no meaningful silver content compared to spent fixer. Cibachrome is not chromogenic, it's nothing like the B&W, C41 or RA4 processes, and its chemistry is quite different.

    Fixer will inactivate developer, but the developer WILL NOT remove the dissolved silver from the fixer - I mean, where would it go? There is silver in there and it's not coming out just because you mixed something else in there. Barring advances in alchemy and the transmutation of elements, that silver element is still there, and silver is significantly biocidal. It will kill weeds and stunt the growth of trees (a long-term photographer friend of mine has a dip in the row of pines past his darkroom because he was dumping fixer for a couple of years). The dumping of silver into the waste stream is regulated in most places for this reason: it will kill the bacteria used in the sewerage processing plant.

    You can dump diluted (at least 1+10 from working strength) developer down the drain in most jurisdictions because it's just not that toxic (it's a reducing agent and less harmful than most household bleaches). You should never dump spent fixer because of the silver content.

    If you can't be bothered (I can't!) to do silver reclamation, you can find a local friendly photo lab who will be doing reclamation both because it saves them money and they will be required to by law. Take your fixer to them and they will probably thank you for it. Problem solved.

    Bleach I don't have a good solution for. Good if you can get the photo lab to take it, otherwise it's wait-for-HAZMAT-day or pay a collector. Some garbage dumps will allow you to pay and drop off quantities of chemicals if they're properly labelled, identified and not in industrial quantities.
    Last edited by polyglot; 06-15-2012 at 08:34 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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