Someone above questioned whether there was a misprint or error in Ilford's method of washing. I'm going to try to clear this up a bit.
The Ilford method, as posted, is correct for film. It represents a methodology devised during water shortages in Britain many years ago and represents the low end of washing. It also represents only one type of water, that used at the Ilford site and a limited combinations of film and fixers.
In this article: http://www.largeformatphotography.in...or/ilfwash.pdf posted above, it shows exactly what I describe, and that is that the level of hypo approaches a low level and then the rate of change during washing slows down and finally stops, leaving some residual hypo and silver behind. This always takes place, and as Ctein has shown, some hypo is needed for optimum stability.
Mason shows mathematically that this whole scenario is to be expected by laws of diffusion, and that the most efficient wash is in running water with agitation. So, he describes the high end and recommends it. He is generalizing for all films, fixers and water supplies - which I might mention is what I'm doing as well.
Why do I do this?
Since water differs all over the world, and many films and fixers are in use, it is impossible to tell whether the low end is sufficient for any given condition and that is why I err (if I am indeed erring) on the side of caution and give you the high end condition. Mason, knowing all of these variables has suggested the high end as well. Besides, this high end method works for film and paper both with the appropriate times being used!
In any event, I always say "use what works for you". I also say "test". So, if you are determined to use a given set of conditions and it includes the Ilford method, then I suggest that you test your photo material for retained hypo and retained silver both. If it fails the test, then your conditions are not proper.
So, if any of you are using the Ilford method, and have not tested your film or paper for residuals, then you may (may) be in for a surprise. Actually, I used that method when I was a teen, and today (over 50 years later), I have prints and film that are beginning to stain. I was taught at some point along this line to use the long wash in running water and those negatives and prints that were washed better survive without stain. That has made me sensitive to this problem.
You see, when I started doing photography, I was told to stop wasting water, so I used the 3 short wash method which was known even in the 40s. This is nothing new, just the times and numbers of soaks vary over the ages. So, when I went to work at Kodak I had the chance to talk to some of the experts there about wash and learned how to do it their way and how to test for it. I also learned the reasons which were related to the types of film, water and fixers being used by the customers.
I hope this helps a bit to explain things from my POV a bit better.
The publisher of the article would prefer THIS link with some corrections and additional information:
Current Version: 1.07 from 12 FEB 05, including now advice for print washing as below.
Wouldn't the use of hypo clearing agent or a similar treatment largely compensate for the differences in water? If it would, you could determine a minimum sufficient wash using hypo clearing agent that would pretty well work everywhere.
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
HCA or the equivalent would help, but you would still need to test. Also, you are faced with the need to wash the HCA out entirely anyhow. If you add the two washes together it comes close to the process without HCA and with one less chemical to dispose of. It has always seemed to me to be a tossup.
So, the question is "what works for you"?
Hi PE !
My negatives, treated in a lot of different fixes and water (from highly carbonated south of France to pure water of the mountains(you know the water making your hands still feeling soapy even after an hour rinse) ) are still fine with no stain after a not so fine storage since the early 70's...
So I trust the original Ilford washing sequence. And I tend to trust the Ilford processing sequence for papers asking for a short fix and an as short as possible wash. This was, indirectly, I must admit, confirmed by chemical analysis from a French lab.
So, I stick to the 5/10/20 method to wash the so thin gelatin layer of my films and, for now they're fine !
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I've used the Ilford wash method for the last 2 years, being in rural Australia on rain water. My negatives are fine, but I was always a bit suspicious of the whole thing and exactly how archival it is.
I might run my own tests later this year, when I can abuse the university darkroom facilities - it sounds like a fun project, really.
I didn't use the ilford method till I print some neg for a photographer who use it till 30 years and his 30 years negative show really good conservation, by the way no marks of degradation ( by comparing vintage to recent print). I use to add 2 step more Just to keep it on the safe side.
I've never trusted the gentle running water technique as it has seemed to be washing film or paper in a dilute bath of unwanted byproducts. Long ago I started using a fill and dump wash, but with more changes than the Illford process. Regardless, it sounds like PE has a point - that to be sure - test.
I have been re-reading Haist, Volume #1, page 664 ff. He states nearly the same thing as Mason, but leaves out the math.
Interesting article supplied by Robert from Fotohuis. The author attempted to test the Ilford method of 5/10/20 rinse and dumps.I had some difficulty folowing it all but it seems as if the author's recommendations based on tests he carried out get close to Les' additional rinse and dumps. Interestingly he regards carryover as being the thing to avoid and recommends that on each rinse sequence the top of the tank is taken off and the reel is then shaken to remove even residual drops and , I think, the tank is wiped on the first dump so carryover is minimised.
If you have two reels in the tank then the rinse and dump sequence is increased to achieve the same level of fixer elimination which seems reasonable based on film area.On the other hand most tanks taking two films are bigger anyway and need twice as much water to fill so the water per film remains the same.
As far as the Ilford method being the product of a U.K. "drought" I can only think of 1976 which in most of the U.K. was probably the longest period without rain we have had since records began. I think that in the Midlands and South East there was no rain from about the end of the first week in June until about the first week in September. Water conservation was almost a crusade and one Labour Minister was made the Minister for Drought. About a week after he was appointed it rained and that was the end of the problem. It was a standing political joke for years afterwards.
So I wonder if Simon Galley and the good folk from Ilford can cast any light on the year of the birth of the Ilford wash method and what prompted it?