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  1. #1
    SchwinnParamount's Avatar
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    Tri-X and aging XTOL... again

    I've read several claims that XTOL has a proclivity to work well for most of the life of a stock solution and then just die. I've been using XTOL with Tri-X, FP4+, Delta 100, and APX 400 for several years now. So far, I have not observed this behavior.

    I keep my XTOL in a collapsible bottle to minimize air contact and run through a couple gallons in about 3 months. Toward the end, my collapsable bottle cannnot eliminate all air as there is a limit to how much the bottle will collapse.

    At that stage (at least the last couple of batches I've made) my standard development times for Tri-X are not sufficient to give expected contrast. I will scan the film using my minolta scanner to make the equivalent of a contact sheet. The scanner produces muddy blotchy mid tones when the film is developed using this old developer.

    At this point I toss the developer and make a fresh batch. I suppose if I ignored the changed behavior and used it to the bitter end, I might see the 'sudden death' syndrome. Although to my mind, it is anything but sudden.

    I dilute my working solution to 1:1 and typically develop at 68 degrees using the times recommended by the Kodak XTOL datasheet.

    Has anyone else seen this contrast fall-off before their XTOL dies?

  2. #2
    fhovie's Avatar
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    I mix my own variant/substitute of XTOL called MYTOL - I also keep mine in a collapsable bottle and I use mine as one shot, usually at 1:1 or sometimes 1:3. I have used mine at 8 months with no decrease in performance. I don't know what the drop dead date is but at 8 months, the stock solution was beginning to brown a little. This is probably a good indication that the end is near. Mine is clear when fresh. I also scan my negs before going into the darkroom. I did not see any change with the old developer. I even push processed with it and it was fine.
    My photos are always without all that distracting color ...

  3. #3
    L Gebhardt's Avatar
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    I keep mine in 500ml PET bottles and have used some over a year old with no problems. I have heard bad things about the accordian bottles over the years and don't trust them for developer storage.

  4. #4

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    Collapsible bottles are probably not the best choice for storing developers. The reason is that the plastic, polypropylene, is permeable to oxygen. Polyethyleneterphthalate (PET) plastic is good but glass is better.

    The sudden death that ascorbate developers experience is just that, one day the developer is fine the next it will no longer develop at all.

  5. #5
    Flotsam's Avatar
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    I use plastic soda bottles (free!). My thinking is that if they can hold gas (Co2) under pressure inside for years, they ought to be able to keep passive air from permiating through the bottle walls over a few months. I top four bottles up to the cap, leaving no headroom and cap tightly and run a piece of electrical tape around the bottle neck and cap. Then I put the rest in the fifth liter bottle and use that first. I develop in Xtol stock solution so an open liter bottle doesn't have to last for any great length of time.
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

  6. #6
    Gim
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    I also have used XTOL stock that is a year or more old with no problem. I store mine in 22oz brown beer bottles with normal bottle caps and cheap hand bottle capper purchased at brew supply house. Lately I have been putting a piece of saran wrap under the cap for insurance. I will leave it in a half full bottle if I'm going to use it soon. But sometimes put it in smaller bottles, even smaller clear booze bottles, and have had no problem. I only use plastic bottles for short term storage of chemicals. Used beer bottles are also cheap with unlimited supply.
    Jim

  7. #7

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    First, I've not seen the falloff of activity that SchwinnParamount reports, but I'm still on my first 5-liter batch of XTOL. I may not buy more, simply because I've started mixing my own developers.

    Anyhow, to expand on the issue of the plastic collapsible bottles, this site reports on some longevity tests in which those bottles produced quicker exhaustion of the developer than other bottles. Ryuji Suzuki's got a Web site in which he describes the characteristics of various plastics and their suitability for holding various darkroom chemicals. He says PET (recycling symbol #1) is best for developers because it's relatively impermeable to oxygen. HDPE (recycling symbol #2) is relatively permeable to oxygen, which makes it a poor choice for developers. The collapsible bottles I've seen are made from HDPE. Between all these things, I wouldn't use them for storing developers.

    FWIW, I use glass drink bottles, ranging from 1-quart IBC root beer bottles (which are brown) down to ~100ml hot sauce bottles (great for ultra-concentrated things like PC-Glycol). When I mix my own developer, I seldom make more than a liter, so I usually put it in a couple of 16 oz (~500ml) Snapple bottles, or perhaps in a ~650ml bottle and another ~350ml bottle. When I make more, I try to use multiple bottle sizes so that I can use the bigger bottles for long-term storage and then split their contents up across two or three smaller bottles when I need to begin using them.

  8. #8
    fhovie's Avatar
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    I agree that the accordian bottles are less than desirable - most of my chemistries now go in amber glass bottles and I am certain that the soda pop bottles PET are better for chemistries that can go through other kinds of plastic. I can say that in the case of MYTOL, the accordian bottle is working fine - I expect it to wear out after a year or so and will likely then go to amber glass for MYTOL as well but in the mean time - the accordian bottle for this chemistry is ok. I can say that pyro goes right through the accordian bottles - it discolors the plastic and the smell is obvious in it.
    My photos are always without all that distracting color ...

  9. #9
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Hot Sauce bottles

    [QUOTE=srs5694]I use glass drink bottles, ranging from 1-quart IBC root beer bottles (which are brown) down to ~100ml hot sauce bottles (great for ultra-concentrated things like PC-Glycol)/QUOTE]

    I recently picked up 8 hot sauce bottles, each with a 2 oz capacity, from a $1.00 store accross the border in Washington State.

    I intend to use them each time I open a new bottle of HC110 - 16 oz bottle of HC110 concentrate divided into 8 portions.

    The only downsides that I can see to this are:

    1) the strange looks I got from the store staff (I think most of the bulk sales made of this stuff are not to visitors from Canada); and
    2) the difficulty of disposing of the contents - that stuff is strong! (the sauce, not HC110) and if you get a wiff of it at the back of your throat ...

  10. #10

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    May I ask why you make life miserable for yourself. Put the developer in small glass bottles, use it once or twice and pitch it.

    With the effort put into getting a decent neg, why fool around trying to save pennies on film developer, specially one which you can not deem still good by looking at it.

    At the very least, properly replenish it.

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