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  1. #1

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    Kodak Ektonol: Reverse Engineering The Formula Help

    Kodak Ektonol was a favorite of mine to use for warm-toned printing for years. After Kodak stopped making it I stocked up with a full case but soon after I switched to mixing my own from established formulas. Last year I needed to do a quick printing session and was short/low on a few standard chems from Photographers Formulary, and I spied the case of Ektonol in my darkroom, and mixed up a gallon. It worked just as I remembered; a standard warm-toned developer with good capacity and keeping qualities, and the finished fiber prints were quite lovely. I mixed one more gallon size and have used that up, and now I would like to reverse engineer this formula but have not found a formula that is close enough as a starting point. I do have a few more packets to use as a control, and I have a good idea of the components they are pretty standard based on the package: Sodium Sulfite, Metol, Hydroquinone, Sodium Tetraborate (as per the package info), Potassium Bromide and here's the kicker, Sodium Hydroxide separately packed in Part B. Part A package states total weight as 227g, no weight given for Part B but a quick weigh with packaging is 31.5g ( I will be weighing the packaging of both A and B after I mix up this next batch to see what the weight of the chemicals is.)

    SO, how can I go about devising either the formula or a close approximate? Anyone know of a warm-toned paper developer that used Sodium Hydroxide and no carbonate with lots of Potassium Bromide that I can use as a starting point?

    I'd be willing to part with one of my treasured 1 gallon package to someone who wants to help figure this out, many thanks in advance.

  2. #2

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    Commercial developers like Ektanol are trade secrets you are not going to find the formula. You may be able to find something that yields similar results.
    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

  3. #3

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    Yes thank you Mr Koch, I am looking to make my own version, and so far I've not come across a MQ non-carbonate Sodium Hydroxide formula to start from, hence my post.

    I just mixed 2 packages, the first one the Metol went off and was unusably black and the 2nd was good.

    The weight of the Part B was 26.8g and 26.7, both measured separately and with packaging and packaging weighed after.

    The weight of Part A was 225g and 228g so pretty close to what Kodak states.

    What I am thinking is to start with D-72 and replace the Sodium Carbonate with Sodium Hydroxide and a bit of Sodium Metaborate and lots of Potassium Bromide.

  4. #4

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    The Ektanol formula is a trade secret, and you will not find out the exact composition. Some minor ingredients (<1%) may not even be listed. These could be important, but that is unlikely. The ingredients list gives some hints as to what makes this developer special. It looks like an ordinary MQ warm tone developer except for the alkali, which is borax and sodium hydroxide. These will combine to form a buffer somewhat like Kodalk but maybe with a higher pH. You can measure the pH of a working solution to find out. Then you can try to figure out a formula that is at least a little like Ektanol, experimenting with known warm tone formulas but with a borate alkali that you concoct to give the same pH as Ektanol. It will take time and involve frustration. You will never get Ektanol. But you will have fun and you may learn something. A lot of people think Kodalk (sodium metaborate) influences image tone, so you may be onto something.

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    Be careful trying to determine the pH and use only pHydrion paper to do so. The developer will destroy a AgCl electrode if your pH meter uses one.
    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

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    I applaud your confidence trying to reverse engineer Ektonol but it is not an easy task. How's your knowledge of photographic chemistry? Do you have a fully equipped analytical laboratory at your disposal? It might be better to use one of Kodak's warm tone developer formulas such as D-52, D-155, D-163 or D-166. There are also many Ilford and Agfa formulas available. Who knows you may like one of these even more. BTW, starting with D-72 is not the best choice.
    Last edited by Gerald C Koch; 04-13-2014 at 11:57 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    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

  7. #7
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    I don't see anything particularly special about the developer composition. It is well known that Metol won't dissolve well in caustic solution, so they put Borax into part A and then raise pH with Sodium Hydroxide in part B. I doubt that pH will be much above 10 because such a high pH would give fog and an unstable developer. Also note that contrast and gradation are builtin into modern papers, and regardless of developer composition you will get more or less the same results, except for maybe warm vs. cold tone.

    I would recommend you get the Darkroom Cookbook and read up on some warm tone formulas, or use the ones Gerald suggested. You should have all the required compounds already, there are few paper developers with unusual ingredients and most are not worth the effort with today's papers.
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

  8. #8
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    the attached file contains a formula for Ilford's warm-tone developer ID78, given to us by Ian Grant,and it may give you a good starting point. I tried it with good success on MGIVfiber
    Attached Files
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  9. #9

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    It's interesting that sodium hydroxide is listed. The only time I've seen it as a paper developer ingredient is for cold tones, and often a warning that the mixed developer doesn't last long in the tray.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by john_s View Post
    It's interesting that sodium hydroxide is listed. The only time I've seen it as a paper developer ingredient is for cold tones, and often a warning that the mixed developer doesn't last long in the tray.
    The problems you list would only occur with developers that use NaOH as their sole alkali. In this case there is Borax in part A, and together with NaOH this will form Metaborate, which has about the same pH as Carbonate. See my previous post in this thread.
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

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