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  1. #1
    marsbars's Avatar
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    Do Photo Chem. odors linger?

    Was wondering if the odors that most development chems. give off have a tendency to "stain"? For lack of a better word, do they stick to furniture, walls etc? I want to start developing my own negatives, and we will be moving to a new apartment from our house and I could do it in the bathroom. But I don't want to run the risk of making the whole place reek of chemicals even long after I have developed a batch. Does it leave a smell on stuff like cigarette smoke, or cooking a bunch of smelly fish?
    I have most of what I need to give it a start, but haven't gone the full mile yet since I don't want to spend a bunch on chems to not use them.
    "There is something about the mystery
    of what is on a roll of film that keeps
    me shooting, none of that digital
    instant gratification for me."

  2. #2
    MattKing's Avatar
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    If you are speaking about standard B&W chemistry (developer, stop bath, fixer, hypo eliminator) the answer is no, unless you spill something, and don't clean it up.

    Matt

  3. #3

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    Short answer, no. Caveat. Clean up thoroughly after each session and make sure you have some ventilation. The worst chemicals for stink are acetic acid stop baths, acid based hardening fixers, and sulfide toners.

    Fixer smell is not a problem with non-hardening rapid fixers. They smell only faintly of ammonia. The best of the bunch is Kodak's C-41 Flexicolor Fixer and Replenisher. Not only does it not stink, it is very inexpensive and works as well as or even better and faster than any other B&W fixer.

    There are some stop baths formulated with citric acid that have absolutely no smell at all. No need to buy the stop bath. It is simple to make and is very inexpensive. Go to the supermarket and pick up some citric acid powder. Add 15 grams of citric acid to 1 litre of water and you're done. It's a one-shot stop bath and should be discarded after a session. Alternately, you can look for odorless indicator stop baths. These will signal when they are exhausted by changing color from yellow to violet. Expect to spend a lot more money for one of these than if you'd just bought some citric acid. Whatever you do, please don't skip to the stop bath. You'll hear a lot of opinions on the subject, many of them making a case for eliminating an acid stop in favor of a plain water stop. Just let me tell you that carrying any active developer over into the fixer can cause staining. An acid stop bath eliminates the possibility.

    Selenium toner smells of ammonia. This isn't a real problem when you dilute it down to working strength. Sulfide toners are the worst. Basically they smell like rotten eggs and there isn't much you can do about it. Fortunately, both these toning procedures can be carried out in full room light, and near an open window. Problem solved.
    Frank Schifano

  4. #4
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Frank laid it out nicely. Good advice.

    I actually do all my toning outdoors when it's warm enough (55*F or higher). As mentioned, especially sepia and other sulfide toners have a wretched stench to them that my wife can detect on second floor when I'm in the basement toning. The house rabbits also freak out by the smell and go bananas. Most of all, I don't think it's healthy to breathe the fumes, and that really should be your main concern. You breathe this crap, and whatever is in the chemistry will take the highway to your brain once you breathe it. In split seconds. A good fume hood or similar, wherever you work, is important. If you have a window in your bathroom that you can open, you can create, out of plywood, flex duct, a fan, and lots of duct tape, a ventilation system with enough suction to draw the bad odors outside, or most of them at least. If the window opens, just make a sheet of plywood the same size as the section of the window that opens, paint it matte black, and tape it to the window frame. Attach your fan to the plywood, drill a large hole and hook up flex duct. Then run the flex duct to wherever you need the suction to be and hook it up to a hood there. It works really well, and it's a way that you can tone in the winter too (if you have winter, that is).

    - Thomas
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  5. #5
    marsbars's Avatar
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    That is the thought that was going through my mind but never having used any of them some seasoned answers is helpful. Guess I will have to start saving my pennies and get the last of the gear I need and some chemicals and have a go at it.
    "There is something about the mystery
    of what is on a roll of film that keeps
    me shooting, none of that digital
    instant gratification for me."

  6. #6

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    One other thing to think about is not the smell left in the room, but on your hands and clothes.

    I've got some quite sensitive noses in the family, so I try to minimize getting my fingers into the chemsitry (why wash your hands 10 times afterwards?) or splashing it onto my clothes (to the point that I've got 'darkroom clothes' now - nothing special, really, and though I haven't tried it, I don't recommend wearing a feather boa in the darkroom). Seems obvious, I know, especially about the boa.
    The Kiev 88: Mamiya's key to success in Ukraine.

    Photography without film is like Macroeconomics without reading goat entrails, and look at the mess that got us into.

  7. #7
    36cm2's Avatar
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    Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry8330/4.3.0 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/105)

    You get that boa caught in the Jobo and you got big problems.
    "There is a time and place for all things, the difficulty is to use them only in their proper time and places." -- Robert Henri

  8. #8
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    Think about making an extension snorkel out of collapsible plastic duct with a springy spiral iwre reinforcer, that you hook over the bathroom exhuast fan, if that is where you print. Mine i a past temporary darkrrom dangled behind the stop bath and fixer trays, as they sat on a board over the bathtub. No smell lingered. The board was epoxy painted, and once the trays were drained, the board got stood on end in the bathtub, the empty trays added in to the tub, and then it was a quick closing of the shower cutain and a brief shower spray and all was rinsed clean. Use tongs to keep you hands smelling clean. I found a rub down of artificial vanilla extract helps if they are still smelly after you have washed with soap and water.
    my real name, imagine that.

  9. #9
    wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Wilde View Post
    Think about making an extension snorkel out of collapsible plastic duct with a springy spiral iwre reinforcer, that you hook over the bathroom exhuast fan, if that is where you print. Mine i a past temporary darkrrom dangled behind the stop bath and fixer trays, as they sat on a board over the bathtub. No smell lingered. The board was epoxy painted, and once the trays were drained, the board got stood on end in the bathtub, the empty trays added in to the tub, and then it was a quick closing of the shower cutain and a brief shower spray and all was rinsed clean. Use tongs to keep you hands smelling clean. I found a rub down of artificial vanilla extract helps if they are still smelly after you have washed with soap and water.
    One thing with bathroom fans, you need to make sure the fan actually vents to the outdoors, if you can get access to the back of the fan, it should be connected to a duct, and that duct should go to the outside. It was common at one time for bathroom fans to simply vent into an attic space, with the hopes that normal attic airflow would get rid of the moisture. It was discovered later that
    attic air flow wasn't efficient enough for this, building codes were amended so that fans needed to be ducted to the outside. However like any other building code amendment, existing improperly vented fans were grandfathered in. Some handyman installed fans, and fans installed by unscrupulous contractors may still be installed that way.

    If your using the fan to extract chemical fumes, then if it's not directly vented to the outside, the fumes simply end up in the attic where they can seep back into the house. You can always fix this, connect the fan to a piece of flexible ducting and run that to the outside wall, then install a cover plate in the soffit, if your attic uses continuous venting in the soffit, block this for a quarter metre (about a foot) on either side of your cover plate, so that the exhausted air isn't drawn back into the house.
    Paul Schmidt
    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....

  10. #10

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    You should also be aware that the common bathroom vent fans are NOT light tight. I went through this exercise when I set up my current darkroom. Looked at all the bathroom vent fans I could find at Home Depot, Lowes, etc. Not one of them was light tight. In the end I put in a Doran darkroom fan. It was more spendy, but worth it for me. My darkroom is small and it can get stuffy in there pretty quickly.
    Frank Schifano

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