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Thread: Borax Solution

  1. #1

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    Borax Solution

    This is my first posting on the APUG Forum, so please be gentle.

    I've had a darkroom for about the last 35 years, but been out of using it for probably 15 years. I decided to jump back in and I have to say I'm a bit surprised by a lot of what is no longer available.

    One of the first developers that I've purchased is Photographers' Formulary Divided D-76. Part "B" for 4 liters is 240 grams of borax and the balance distilled water. I've tried twice now, but the borax keeps coming out of solution. The second time reheating the mixture in a microwave well above the 125 degree temperature necessary (according to the instructions). I also filtered the mixture through a coffee filter to be sure no undissolved borax got into the storage container.

    I've emailed Photographers' Formulary for help, but received no response.

    The only thing that I am wondering about is the storage temperature. My darkroom is in the basement and it gets into the low to mid 60's this time of the year.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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    This site says that the Formulary's divided D-76 contains 60 g/L of borax, which agrees with your numbers.
    But my notes say that the solubility-limit of borax is 47 g/L (but I didn't record at what temperature).
    This site gives an even lower limit of 25.2 g/L.
    ChemicalBook here gives a limit of 26 g/L at 20 degrees C.
    Even adding in the weight of water of hydration (decahydrate), the solubility limit goes up to only around 47-50 (agreeing with my notes).
    Your results are consistent with exceeding the solubility-limit.
    I don't see how that formula can work. And the Formulary is selling it? I'm mystified.

    Mark Overton

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    Out of curiousity, I did weigh all of the components in the kit before mixing and all matched the weights indicated on the packaging.

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    Sometimes emails will get lost, or the Formulary may think it's spam. Try calling. Sherri (?) is very helpful.

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    The solubility of borax varies widely with temperature. As far as bath B being sufficiently alkaline there would only a small difference in pH whether 50 or 60 g/l were used. If the contrast of the negatives is too low for you then use sodium metaborate which is much more soluble and more alkaline.
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    Since Borax and Metaborate, at least when they are dissolved in water, are very similar in composition (same ions, just different ratio), yet have very different solubility limits, there is a good chance that the solubility of Borax strongly depends on pH of solution. Whatever else is in the D-76 formula might make the difference between 47 g/l and 60 g/l possible.

    There seem to be two factors at play here: first, you seem to store your stuff at very low temperatures, that's likely the reason the Borax recrystallizes. Second, dissolving Borax close to its solubility limit is slooooow, which means you needed to heat the dev way beyond room temperature to dissolve the precipitate.

    There seem to be two options available: Mark Overton aka albada posted in his D316 thread that Metaborate/Borax will dissolve in Propyleneglycol, which means you can make a concentrate that you add right before you mix your working solution. If that's too complicated, and it will require some research on your part, and lots of PG, the only remaining option seems to be storing your dev at or above 20°C/68°F.
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    Hello,
    since "divided D-76" is not an original Kodak formulation there are several formulations circulating. A concentration of 60 g/ltr. is too much. I use 30 g/ltr. In photographic formulations under the name "borax" if not otherwise stated, always the "decahydrate" (with 10moles crystal water) is used. In the U.S. the company "20 mules team" makes borax.

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    I just checked the data sheet for Formulary's Divided D-76 and indeed they list 60 g/l Borax for solution B with nothing else, so my previous statement "other compounds may impact solubility" may not hold. I did see an older APUG thread which covers the exact same topic with feedback both from Formulary and PE.
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

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    Rudeofus, thanks for the link to that older thread on this topic. That thread implies that the Formulary started getting another kind of Borax which caused problems. I just did some searching, and the only kind of Borax I see on the market is the decahydrate. Both borax.com and Spectrum Chemical (the Formulary's supplier) sells the decahydrate. I wondered if the formula wanted something with higher hydration, but I can find no such thing. Well, there's a pentahydrate, but that should have even lower solubility. And yet formulas call for over 50 g/L? I'm still mystified.

    dbuchheit:
    As a prior poster has said, your Bath B should work fine. My concern is that tiny particles of undissolved Borax might get embedded in the gelatin of the emulsion, creating tiny spots. I suggest cooling it to 12-15C, filtering well, and warming to 20C (the normal temp) which hopefully will cause any residual particles to go into solution.

    Mark Overton

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    Closing The Loop

    Quote Originally Posted by dbuchheit View Post
    This is my first posting on the APUG Forum, so please be gentle.

    I've had a darkroom for about the last 35 years, but been out of using it for probably 15 years. I decided to jump back in and I have to say I'm a bit surprised by a lot of what is no longer available.

    One of the first developers that I've purchased is Photographers' Formulary Divided D-76. Part "B" for 4 liters is 240 grams of borax and the balance distilled water. I've tried twice now, but the borax keeps coming out of solution. The second time reheating the mixture in a microwave well above the 125 degree temperature necessary (according to the instructions). I also filtered the mixture through a coffee filter to be sure no undissolved borax got into the storage container.

    I've emailed Photographers' Formulary for help, but received no response.

    The only thing that I am wondering about is the storage temperature. My darkroom is in the basement and it gets into the low to mid 60's this time of the year.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Hi All:

    I want to thank everyone for their responses and close the loop on this question.

    I did contact Sherry at PF and she was very courteous and helpful. She concurred that it could be temperature dependent and suggested that I try storing the mixture in a warmer area.

    I reheated and remixed the existing batch and have stored it at room temperature (upstairs) and this time the borax stayed in solution.

    Coincidently I ran into a chemist friend yesterday and he confirmed that solubility is absolutely temperature dependent.

    So thanks again and I'd say case closed.



 

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