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  1. #1
    SteveR's Avatar
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    Powder fixers - Can they be mixed up in small batches?

    Hi all,

    Just a quick query, other than Hypam many years ago, I've always used Ilford Rapid Fixer. With a young family my printing (& film developing) is very sporadic, going through phases of great productivity, then a massive dry spell where I still shoot, but don't have the chance to get any wet-work done. The thought just crossed my mind the other day when I opened a new bottle of fixer, I realised I'd gone through a bit recently, and thought "Gee, it would have been more economical if I had gotten a 5L bottle last time...", that was very quickly followed by "Hmmm... we've got a lot coming up over the next couple months, I don't know when I'll next be using this bottle...?". I store my stock fixer in concertina bottles of course, but still, it got me thinking about other options.

    Of the powder fixers commercially available, is it practical for any of them to be mixed up in smaller (enough for a few uses) batches, or do they need to be made up in one big batch? I'm assuming, after opening, their storage life in powder form would be pretty long if they were kept in air-tight storage, am I right? Or would I be better looking at a diy fixer that I can mix up in batches to suit my needs?

    Thanks for the input, really appreciate it.
    ____________________________________________

    My goal in life, is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am.

  2. #2
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    The usual advice is no as you can't guarantee that you have an equal mix of ingredients in the divided parts. However, if you think you can mix the powder sufficiently to evenly distribute the ingredients then it should work.

    Probably less critical with fixer than with developer.


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  3. #3
    SMBooth's Avatar
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    Steve. why not just buy the chemicals for a plain fixer and mix as you need.

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    I thought about this earlier in my film processing habbit.

    When I used powder type (I now use Ilford rapid which is liquid), I always mixed the whole bag. It'll give me a gallon. I use it for 6 months or exhausted by number, then replace it. Sometimes it's wasteful but a bag costs something like 6 dollars and I can have it ready for 6 months. It's the smallest part of the entire expense.

    Paper costs much more. Gears cost much MUCH more.

    Now that I use liquid, I mix a gallon worth and divide it into 1/2 gallon bottles for fix1 and fix2. Then the remaining concentrate is used 6 months later.

    I don't worry too much about economy of chemicals anymore as in absolute terms, they are the smallest part of my expense.

    If you want to mix-for-use type thing, you might want to use liquid. Making partial bag is an often discussed topic on apug and there's no solid answer. It's always a "mixed bag". If you shake it well and use half of it, it should be reasonably close. Yet, I don't practice this method.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  5. #5
    Leigh B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tkamiya View Post
    If you shake it well and use half of it, it should be reasonably close.
    Sorry to disagree, but it's impossible to uniformly distribute any multi-element compound by physical means.
    The result is dependent on many factors, including grain size and density.
    All instructions for developers and such that address the question at all say not to mix partial quantities.

    As someone else suggested, if you really want small quantities, buy the constituent chemicals and mix from scratch.

    Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

    - Leigh
    “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” - Plato

  6. #6
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    I agree with this... Chemicals are your least expensive area of printing why take any chances.
    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh B View Post
    Sorry to disagree, but it's impossible to uniformly distribute any multi-element compound by physical means.
    The result is dependent on many factors, including grain size and density.
    All instructions for developers and such that address the question at all say not to mix partial quantities.

    As someone else suggested, if you really want small quantities, buy the constituent chemicals and mix from scratch.

    Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

    - Leigh

  7. #7

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    Even if some of the ingredients are not fully dispersed amongst the different batches it can hardly make a difference. I wouldn't hesitate to mix up small batches of powdered fixer.

    It's not like developer where, for example, tiny amounts of phenidone or bromide could be unequally dispersed, making different batches behave differently.

  8. #8
    wildbill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john_s View Post
    Even if some of the ingredients are not fully dispersed amongst the different batches it can hardly make a difference. I wouldn't hesitate to mix up small batches of powdered fixer.

    It's not like developer where, for example, tiny amounts of phenidone or bromide could be unequally dispersed, making different batches behave differently.
    I guess as long as you have a good return policy on the prints you're selling/giving away, then it's okay to use fixer that may or may not do the job from batch to batch.
    www.vinnywalsh.com

    I know what I want but I just don't know how to go about gettin' it.-Hendrix

  9. #9

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    Mix the whole package and store in smaller containers that suit your needs.
    Bob Walberg

    The fix is in!

  10. #10
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    I'm in the mix-up-the-whole-batch camp.

    Firstly fixers keep really well. The only stories I've heard about fixer death are from use, not storage.

    Second, as Bob pointed out, chemicals are pretty darn cheap compared to the rest of our photographic expenses.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

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