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  1. #1

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    Chemicals? how to dispose and other questions....

    Hi! I had a couple questions regarding the darkroom. I'm planning on turning my bathroom into a part-time darkroom. I've been taking black and white photos for the past 5 years. I would like to have access to a darkroom so i can complete the other 50% of photography. I live in a rural area and there arn't any public/rental darkrooms. So, my first question would be (for those who know what the basics are needed for a darkroom) is a bathroom and reasonable place to have a part-time darkroom?? And secondly-- how do i dispose of the chemicals? I have no clue--- so any information will be a great deal of help. I appreciate this site because i can learn so much from you guys!! Thank you.

    Hanaa

  2. #2

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    Many people use bathrooms as part time darkroom, a small 35mm or 6X6 enlarger, trays and small print washer can easly be broken down and set up for printing. Do you have public services or do you use a septic tank?

  3. #3

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    hanaa, I have a darkroom in my bathroom. I have it set up with a pvc sink on a saw horse with a hose that drains into the shower drain. I get the water from a hose off the shower head. It works like a charm. I have a ventilation fan installed in the bathroom window above the sink. You can do work in your bathroom as good as anyone with an elaborate darkroom, all you need is a little ingenuity. You can use the bathroom counter for your enlarger. You need to check with your local waste management people to find out what the regs are for dumping the chemicals. I believe most people just dump them down the drain. I'm not sure what people do that have septic tanks. So, to be sure, check with the department of public works or the bureau of sanitation etc...

    Go for it!

  4. #4
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    The chemicals used in convention black and white processing are not especially unpleasant. So as a practical matter, disposing of a SMALL quantity of depleted chemicals in either a public sanitary system or a residential septic system should not be a problem. If there is a concern, it probably would be associated with release of heavy metals (eg, silver). In high volume situations (eg, a gang teaching darkroom), you might want to consider making an attempt to capture some of the silver in fixer. That's relatively easy to do using either steel wool or an electrolytic silver recovery unit.

    As to using a bathroom - that's possible. There are challenges with making the room light tight, dealing with ventillation, providing adequate working space, etc, but those problems can all be addressed with a little creativity. The important considerations, however, are whether there are other members of the household, and is there another bathroom? It's not cool to have to quickly switch from darkroom mode to bathroom mode when someone's gotta go - - -

  5. #5
    Craig's Avatar
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    Here is what Ilford has to say on the matter:
    http://www.ilford.com/html/us_englis...te/waste2.html

  6. #6
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Generally, the only chemicals that are of concern are fixer and selenium toner. Developers break down rapidly once diluted to the point their preservatives are ineffective. Stop bath is vinegar with a pH sensitive dye added (some don't have the dye, some are citric acid instead of acetic -- all more harmless than pickle juice).

    The silver in fixer is the rub. If you use fixer one-shot and don't exhaust it, and are on public sewer, it's probably not a problem to dump it. If you use it to exhaustion and/or are on a septic tank, you should collect it and either periodically take it to a mini-lab (who are generally happy to add yours to what they dispose of, via silver recovery) or put it in a bucket with steel wool for a few days, then filter off the liquid and pour it on the ground (where the thiosulfate will act as a fertilizer). The silver sludge that remains can be collected and might be salable as scrap silver, or recyclable by dissolving with nitric acid to make a feedstock for alternate process printing.

    Whatever you do, don't put exhausted fixer into a septic system -- the silver can kill the bacteria that make those systems work, and you *don't* want to go there...
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  7. #7

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    I get 5 gallon pails with lids from the local restaurant and use them to collect used chemicals. I dont worry about dumping a pint or two down the drain occasionally, but I prefer to avoid it. I take my used chems (except fix) to the nearest small town's sewage facility, they let me dump them right into their tanks. Fix goes to a photolab that will desilver it, or to hazardous waste disposal. Some people just dump everything but Over 50% of septics in my area fail eventually, and I'd rather play it safe than be sorry. If you were my neighbor I'd hope that you do likewise.

  8. #8

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    i have a 30 gallon drum taken away by a waste hauler when it gets filled up. he mails me a check 2 weeks after the pick-up. it runs about 30-40$ / pick-up and the check is for about the same amount.

    if you live anywhere near the west coast or nevada you might want to contact a company called itronics ( http://www.itronics.com/index.shtml )
    they will take your photochemicals, and convert it into gold'n grow fertalizer.

    good luck!
    john

  9. #9
    Calamity Jane's Avatar
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    In my 35 years dabbling in photography I have lived mostly in rural areas and a bathroom darkroom is usually the easiest and most versitile.

    Being on a septic field and, considering the costs of replacing a septic field, I have always avoided putting darkroom waste down the septic drain. Almost all rural homes in this part of the world have a "grey water" system and/or a sump to dispose of ground water that is not connected to the septic system. To keep the bacteria healthy in the septic system (which in turn keeps the field healthy), I don't put photo chems in the septic system - I use the grey water or sump.

    I have owned my present home since 1997 and been using the sump for darkroom waste. The sump pumps into a roadside ditch. In 8 years, I see no problems with the flora and fauna in the ditch.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Qualls
    If you use it to exhaustion and/or are on a septic tank, you should collect it and either periodically take it to a mini-lab (who are generally happy to add yours to what they dispose of, via silver recovery)
    I work in a lab that does color only, can I use their silver recovery??

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