Does rapid-fixer smell?
I started using Kodak fixer for no particular reason. My stock is almost gone and I will need to buy more soon, but I'm thinking about changing to a non-hardening rapid fixer.
My reasoning is that some of my film has a longitudinal curl that is somewhat annoying, and I heard than non-hardening fixers helped with curl as well as being easier to wash (I do not use hypo-clearing agent). It would also be convenient to cut down on fixing times, because I am impatient.
My main worry in switching fixers is odor. I think rapid fixers use an ammonium-thiosulfate chemistry compared to normal fixer which is sodium thiosulfate. Prices seem to be more or less reasonable for all fixers, but I develop paper in a small enclosed space, and Kodak fixer is not very smelly. I really wouldn't like a fixer that was smelly; something even less smelly than Kodak fixer would be better if anything. I could continue using kodak fixer for paper and use a rapid fixer for film, since I develop film outside the darkroom, but then I would have to stock two fixers.
So, do rapid fixers smell different than Kodak fixer? I'm particularly looking at this Arista fixer, because it claims to be a non-hardening rapid fixer that is ideal for enclosed spaces. I just wonder if that is in comparison to other rapid fixers, and still actually smells worse than Kodak fixer.
As the fixer ages, especially for re-used film rapid fixer or for old stock there can be sulfurous odor. I personally don't find it any worse than 2% acid stop bath. Fresh fixer used once or for one printing session and then discarded does not have much of an objectionable odor, at least to my nose, but then isn't the smell of fixer on one's fingers is the signature of a photographer? Rapid fixer is easy to mix without the hardener. Just omit part B from the batch.
By denying the facts, any paradox can be sustained--Galileo
I just finished a session of film processing with Ilford rapid fixer mixed 1:4. Yes, it does smell a bit. It's not particularly pleasant but far less objectionable (to me anyway) than acid stop (which I discontinued using since the stench made me ill). I don't think it smells any better or worse than the Kodak fixer (of which I also have a bottle, that I haven't dipped into yet)
I use Ilford indicator stop bath and I can't smell it at all. I can smell my Kodak fixer but it's not bad and I don't mind it. I generally reuse my fixer until it stops clearing film within a reasonable amount of time. It lasts a long time this way.
I'm confused. Most rapid fixers seem to come as liquids.
Rapid fixer is easy to mix without the hardener. Just omit part B from the batch.
In my experience, the proprietary packaged "Kodak Fixer" (which I believe is F5 formula) smells more than the rapid fixers I have used.
Kodak Rapid Fix is liquid and comes with a small bottle of hardener, which you leave out if you want a non-hardening fix. This is wasteful, and who needs a lot of little bottles of acid around the house... Ilford's Hypam or Rapid Fixer is non-hardening and does not come with the hardener (you can buy it extra if needed). There are other brands as well that do not have hardener. All "rapid" fixers are basically ammonium thiosulfate.
If you are using your rapid fixer one-shot and find you are wasting a lot of fixer capacity, you can stretch it by diluting it to "paper strength" (1+9 or so depending on the product). You will need to do a clip test to find your fixing time in fresh fix. Note the time it takes your film to clear and TRIPLE this time (not double, as so often recommended) to arrive at your fixing time. The time will be different for conventional vs T-grain or Delta films. It will still be faster than the powdered fixer times. This works well and saves a bit of wasted chemicals. The method is used by many, and has been confirmed to me as a viable alternative to the factory recommendations by Ilford's technical department (I had a bit of correspondence with them about this some years ago).
The good thing: the weaker rapid fix smells even less.
To eliminate odors more, you can mix your stop bath at a weaker dilution as well. Stop bath gives off acetic acid fumes, which can be irritating. The weaker dilution gives off proportionally less. I use an indicator stop, and it still lasts several sessions before needing to be tossed, even at half strength.
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I agree with Doremus that Kodak rapid fix is more smelly than many. I don't buy it any more, because I don't like paying for the hardner too which I don't use.
FWIW, I currently use Ilford Hypam which doesn't have much odor.
Like others here, I'm not much bothered by the smell of fix, so I don't pay too much attention. I tried TF-4 alkaline fix for a while, but it sometimes smells of ammonia, which is more objectionable to me than the smell of acid type fixers.
Sprint is pretty neutral smelling, as I recall.
There is also the mix your own approach, which has the advantage of low cost and you don't pay for shipping a bunch of water. That will likely be my course of action once my stock of Hypam is gone.
To avoid the odor of acetic stop some folks use a citric acid stop.
Last edited by bdial; 03-28-2009 at 06:28 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I've used Champion fixer for years. It's just a plain ammonium thio. solution and comes in bulk for mini lab C-41 processors. I mix it 1+4 for films and prints, though I suspect a higher dilution would be fine for the prints. I get it from Unique Photo in New Jersey. There's a very slight fixer aroma - and I mean very slight. Nothing that bothers me though.
Make sure you get the C-41 fixer replenisher though. I'd recomended this to someone else and they got the RA-4 blix - thought their shutter had packed in
"Why is there always a better way?"
If you can get Tetenal Superfix odourless, it's great. Use it all the time, and have no problems.
you can buy sprint (systems of photography)
developers, stop, fix and fix remove right from their website.
their stop is buffered with vanilla so it doesn't have any smell at all
(except one that makes you kind of hungry afterwards );
their developer ( film ) is a metol free d-76ish kind of developer
(so if you have a metol skin allergy you won't with this );
their print developer good and will give you a good tonal scale
their fixer is rapid, and very short times;
their fix remover is as good as any on the market ...
and it is a system .. so you know when to toss all your chemicals when
the stop bath indicates ( purple ) ..
sprint chemicals are all a liquid concentrate .. everything is 1:9(water)
film fix or super concentrates print fix is 2:8 ...
a lot of schools, and universities love their chemicals because they work well,
they are universal, and easy to mix, and great to learn with.
both my high school and college where i took photography classes used sprint-stuff
and i really can't say anything bad about it ... (and still use it ... )
as i said, you can order right from their website, they have a tech-support guy that answers
all your questions, they are a small family-type business and an apug supporter
Once upon a time emulsions were quite soft, and needed to be hardened during processing so they could be handled when dry. This required a special chemical hardener, for the hardener to work, the fixer needed to be acidic. As both sodium and ammonium thiosulphate are neutral or slightly alkaline, they were mixed with acetic acid to make the fixer acidic so that the hardener could be added and work.
Originally Posted by BetterSense
Modern emulsions from Ilford, Kodak or Fuji are pre-hardened in the factory, some of the Eastern European films, based on older emulsion formulae are not. The pre-hardened emulsions don't need the hardener, in fact it's often not recommended, they also do not need the fixer to be acidic, as neither fixing agent needs the acid to work.
Some fixers like Ilford's Hypam are acidic and hardener compatible, some lare not acidic and not hardener compatible. The non-acidic ones will smell less, as it's the acid that smells. There is a side benefit to this, if you try a staining developer, an acid fixer will remove the stain, a non acidic one will not.
Generally the way to find out is to see if the Ph is posted, if it's less then 7 it's an acidic fixer, 7 or slightly above is alkaline.
See my Blog at http://clickandspin.blogspot.com
The greatest advance in photography in the last 100 years is not digital, it's odourless stop bath....