Chemicals and septic tank
I'm going to develop a roll of 120 tomorrow and have a few questions. When I'm doing the stop bath (with water) is it OK to let that little bit of developer (Hc110) go down the drain? Same with the fixer, after I pour the used stuff back in the bottle is it alright to let the little amount still on the film rinse down the drain? I'm going to pour the used developer into an empty water bottle and will discard the fixer properly as well. I have a septic tank so that's why I'm worried.
I went through the same angst when I moved to this house with a septic tank. My biggest concern was silver saturated fixer, so I bought the silver recovery system that john nanian here sells. Spent fixer goes through a silver magnet, then through the trickle tank before heading down the septic. Film is washed per the Ilford method with wash water going through the trickle tank. Print holding water and hypo clear goes through the trickle tank as well. Hopefully so little silver is left when the prints go in the washer to not matter.
Just to be on the safe side, and because I like to be "green," I switched to LPD paper developer that I replenish and reuse, reducing those chemicals into the waste stream. My film developer is very dilute, and people tell me there is more of the same kinds of chemicals in the food I eat.
This is based on the assumption that you are developing no more than a few rolls each week.
Originally Posted by DSLR
Even with a septic tank, the quantities you are using will be harmless even if you should slip up and pour the tank full of recently used developer (HC-110) down the drain.
And as for the fixer, you should be re-using it anyways. The tiny amount that will go into the waste water with your wash water won't hurt anything.
After the fixer has been used to its capacity, the fixer itself is relatively harmless, but the silver in it can cause problems with septic tanks. So careful disposal techniques are more important.
There is very little concern with the quantities used in home darkrooms.
If you find yourself doing more film, it would be wise to investigate silver recovery solutions - jnanian, who is a long time member here sells a "Silver Magnet" which is a good small-scale example.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
I have the same concerns and have been developing film and printing. I think the above advice sounds reasonable, and I notice Dan is putting first rinse into his silver magnet, so he's erring at about the same level of caution that I am. Here's what I'm doing: HC-110 ( I use 1-shot ) and Dektol go into a jug after use. For film, I've been reusing the stop bath but when I use plain water as stop ( for Adox CHS 50 ) it also goes into the jug. When I'm through with the stop it will go into the jug. Fixer also reused and into a different jug when it's used up. For film I'm using Illford wash ( but extended: 10-20-40 inversions, then two good soaks, then a soak in photoflo ) the first 2 go into the jug. For paper I do a long first wash and it goes into the jug. After that I let the wash water go down the sink into the septic.
This subject has come up previously here and I intend to follow good advice from PE and buy resitual hypo and residual silver test kits and actually test to see if I can detect any silver at the point where I'm allowing it to go into the septic or residual hypo on the film after my wash method. I doubt I'll be able to because the dilution ought to be great at that point.
What to do with the jugs is an interesting question. I'm using 5 quart containers that I buy the oil for my truck in. All that's in the main ones is used developer, stop, and rinse water. I seem to be averaging about 10 quarts per month. I think it will be okay to take those to a place where they can go through the municipal sewer treatment. The used up fixer is separate and I will take that to the hazardous waste disposal site once it is full. I asked around and there is no way to recycle it any more in my area.
Anyway, that's what I'm doing and I don't know for certain if it's okay, but it seems like a fairly prudent and cautious approach. We've been on our septic for 12 years with no problems ( I've had it pumped once, as a matter of course and not for any specific reason. ) I just started developing a few months ago so there hasn't been enough time to notice a problem if it's wrong. I'm thinking about using a microbe enhancer just in case some extremely tiny amount of silver is getting in there and causing any problems, but that might be a good idea anyway and can't hurt. I think that my volume could easily go up to 20 quarts per month, now that I'm printing more and also I've started using dektol at 1:4, but really it's that first wash water that is the largest volume for both paper and film. I make an attempt to really drain all the fixer for both film and paper before it goes into the water bath, so the total amount of fixer with dissolved silver is what sticks to the paper or film. For paper, I've been using batches of 250ml and it's not noticeable that the level in the bottle goes down before the fixer is exhausted, so the amount of carry over must be very small, and by the time it gets to second wash it must be very dilute.
Good luck and have fun!!
contact me if you are interested in a silver magnet or trickle tank ..
i don't do the hard sell, so if you want one, great ... if not, whatever ... i'm not going to hound you or anything.
as mentioned by others, the magnet has to be used with well-spent fixer, not wash water.
if there is too LOW a silver concentration you will burn out the magnet.
the trickle tank if for low concentrations of silver ( wash water + fixer that has been through the magnet )
it works very well with the magnet.
i don't think a few dribbles here and there will do much to your leechfield ... but larger amounts might be trouble.
im not sure where you live, but it is usually best to find out locally what you should do when it comes to disposal
because different places have different laws.
Last edited by jnanian; 12-18-2012 at 07:33 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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Thie question of dark room and chemicals has been discussed in length on another thread. Under thee reducing conditions of a septic tank silver ions are converted to silver sulfide which is VERY insoluble so no silver gets into the evironment.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I made a mistake in my post: Dan says the wash goes through the trickle tank. I implied that he put it into the silver magnet. Apologies. I'd go back and edit it so nobody gets misled, but I don't see how.
Originally Posted by jnanian
I have no problems disposing of used developer and stop in my septic-tank equipped darkroom.
Fixer is collected and taken for silver recovery.
Read the Kodak J-300 tech pub. http://www.kodak.com/global/en/corp/.../pdfs/j300.pdf
Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder
they published that in 1999, and more recently
KODAK has put out other publications
saying NOT to dispose of anything down
the drain and to contact local authorities
to figure out a disposal plan that works
for whatever situation you might be in.
i wish i had a link to the newer pub ...
no worries nedL
Please don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to pick a fight or argue, but the tech pub you referenced says:
Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder
Kodak does not recommend the use of septic systems for disposal of photographic processing chemicals because the disposal of photographic processing solutions may affect the proper operation of the septic system. Other disposal options are available for septic system users, including household waste collection facilities, discharge to a nearby municipal treatment plant, or a licensed hazardous waste hauler.
When I was researching this, I also referred to the Kodak material, and found a similar statement in a different document about photo waste disposal. I can probably dig up a reference, but it said much the same.
Septic tank systems are designed and used for the disposal of domestic waste, primarily in areas where municipal sewers are unavailable. They operate with anaerobic (without oxygen) biological action to treat the wastes discharged. This also includes leach fields and cesspools. Septic systems do not have the ability to properly treat photographic processing solution waste.
Honestly, I suspect that small quantities of developer and stop and wash water ( with whatever amount of silver and emulsion residue they contain ) would not hurt a septic system. But I'm trying to err on the side of caution both with regard to the functioning of my septic and the environment. I admit I may be going overboard, but that same publication says that municipal waste treatment facilities are able to handle developer and stop, and really it's not hard to save them up so they can be processed in a treatment plant. I can imagine it would be more of a problem if you lived very far from a municipality or a hazardous waste disposal site. I guess if I was in that situation, I'd be looking for a way to dispose without involving the septic system, maybe via evaporation, not sure.
It's okay with me if people think I'm being overly cautious. I need to do what I think is safest and best and I'm not an expert by any means.