Ilford Seleium Toner Life
3 weeks ago I mixed up 1 litre Ilford working solution of Selenium toner @ 1:5 when I started experimenting with Lith. I have pulled half a dozen prints onto mainly Slavich paper. The toner initially rapidly changed the colour of the print going fairly quickly to red/brown, but now seems to stall at almost no change/slightly dark brown.
I have washed the prints for a short period before toning but there is a good chance of a little fixer carry over. Toner solution is still clear with no deposits and has been bottled for storage between sessions.
What do I do now? Is the toner exhausted? - I would have thought capacity was more than this. Shall I start again with fresh mix or add some concentrate to this working solution as I saw someone suggesting somewhere?
As an aside, I experimented last night pulling a lith print from a colour 35mm neg, using the same (nearly 3 week old) working developer I started with, and it still seems just as active as day 1, and is still only the slightest of yellows in colour. I think I will make up a new mix next time, though!
Selenium toner has a great deal more capacity than half a dozen prints. The things that effect how the toner works is temperature and how much black and dark tones are in the print. Working solution should last up to six months. As you use the toner, it will get slower in producing a change in image colour (if using it strong for that purpose) or, when using for permanence reasons you should start with 4 minutes and increase this by 30 seconds per 6 prints (16 x 12) | per 10 prints (10 x 8).
I would recommend at least 10 minutes wash before toning (if using a rapid fixer) principally to avoid staining (if you use plain hypo you do not need to wash). Passing the toner through a coffee filter after each session will slow down the process of the toner getting darker with use.
Don't forget to always wear gloves and work with an open window.
Let us know how you get on.
I've had a 1000 ml Jug of Ilford Selenium for about 5 years now. I have a working solution jug Of 1:20 mixed for the same time. Every once in a while I top off the working solution jug with fresh mix of 1:20 and keep going. The stock bottle is still half full so I figure I'm good for another 5+ years. The working solution jug has toned 100's of prints and works just fine.
So i tone to the desired effect, brief wash ( 2 min), HCA for 5 and wash for 30 min, never had a problem.
I learned about "replenished" Selenium toner from a David Vestal article long ago. My Se toner is many months old. I pour it from the container into the tray, then add a very small amount of fresh toner, stir, and tone my prints that have, as J. Marks mentioned, been washed for 10 minutes. I tone mainly to strengthen the darkest tones, and to shift any green to a neutral color. Works for me.
Maybe it was a bit cold. Maybe the slavich paper toned to mid-brown takes a lot of selenium. Maybe Ilfords selenium toner has a lower capacity than others. I do note that Ilford suggest capacity is minimum 25 sheets 8 x 10 @ 1:3. Mine was at 1:5 so according to Ilfords tech sheet capacity should be 15 sheets 8x10
I'll keep experimenting and post the outcome when I find out what it is.
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When I first started advocating replenishing and re-using selenium toner indefinitely, there was almost no one doing it. Now it seems like the SOP. Good!
So, when your toning times get too long (for me longer than five or six minutes), or you are not achieving the tone you want, add a bit of stock toner to your toning solution. Add small quantities, a little goes a long way. Filter your toner through coffee filters before and after use. I have jugs that have been going for more than 6 or 7 years now (really more like 10 now that I think of it...)
Different papers and different batches of paper react differently to toner, giving more or less image change. There are other factors as well (temp. developer choice, etc.). If you are not getting the tone change you want and have tried stronger toner, you may want to try different materials.
A note on whether to rinse/wash or not between second fix and toner: If the fix is too acidic, you will get stains. That said, Ilford Rapid Fix and Hypam diluted 1+9 work just fine for me with no intermediate rinse. Plain hypo and any of the alkaline fixers will need no rinse either. Just transfer directly and don't worry about fixer carry-over. The fixer and dissolved silver will precipitate out after reacting with the selenium. That's why you need to filter it.
And, don't dump active selenium toner into the environment or down the drain! Replenish, reuse, enjoy photography with a clean conscience. If you do decide to discard toner, use it to exhaustion and then take it to the hazmat collection center.
I have to say that I have had the same situation with Ilford selenium. It seems to work rapidly for a few prints, and then becomes very slow. I will try replenishing next time. I had been making sure the toner was at 20c before use. That didn't seem to make much difference. I did notice that paper that had been put into the tray dry changed colour much more quickly than if it was wet. I had understood that prints should be wet to promote an even reaction in the toner, but I may have picked that up wrongly. Alex
I just posted a similar question here but using fotospeed ST-20. As that was my first time toning, I realized the first couple of prints worked fast and correctly, then starting dying, by the 4th print , the image would not come back again from the bleaching. I am starting to believe this is somehow the way it is , but it seems to fast dying that I thought something was wrong. I will try selenium next time with the replenishment suggestions.
lhalcong, what bleaching?
If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
Alfonso the Wise, 1221-1284
I may have to try the replinishing.
Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder
That makes sense about the precipitate. I have a jug I used to store it for a long time (working strength) that I have washed and rinsed over and over and over I still can't get all the precipitate out. Black flakes still come out with each rinse. I suppose since they're black that they are mainly oxidized silver.
As for discarding it, I completely agree about not putting selenium toner into the environment. I took a tip from Bruce Barnbaum's book. I have a bucket I use just for discarding spent selenium toner. I pour the working strength solution into the bucket and just let it evaporate leaving a purple sludge that gradually dries. Eventually I can take the bucket in for hazmat collection all at once, without tankering all that mostly water I'd have been taking every time I discarded toner.