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  1. #1
    DanielStone's Avatar
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    Putting B/W Chemistry down the toilet

    i know this is a weird question, but it is to satisfy my parents who think that by putting b/w chemistry down the toilet will ruin it.

    I want to start developing my b/w and maybe color negs at home, versus at school but have very limited space (may have to go outside).

    my main reason is because of quality control. my fam knows i am serious, but I don't want to risk my negs being screwed up by some idiot in the drying cabinet.

    ok,,, enough with the rant....

    we have a porcelain bowl in the bathroom where i would process the film (with pmk pyro, or WD2D+)

    basic question:

    have any of you had any bad experiences with putting chemistry down the toilet, then immediately flushing it?

    thanks
    Last edited by DanielStone; 04-16-2009 at 11:26 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: forgot to add something


  2. #2

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    A couple things. First, are you on septic or city sewer. If on septic, you could really upset the balance of the system, so I'd think twice.

    More importantly, DON'T dump used fixer down the drain. It has silver in it and is bad for everyone involved to dispose of it in that way. Save your used fixer in bottles, take it to school, and let them dispose of it for you.

    You are probably ok with dumping the developer down the drain, but it depends on the developer, the state you live in, etc. And if you are going to dump it down the drain, I'd personally dump it down the garage sink, the shower, somewhere other than the toilet. Your delicate bits go on the toilet, not in the garage sink

    You don't really need a stop bath for B&W negs, though even if you use it, its essentially vinegar, so that is fine. Photoflo is essentially detergent, so that is fine too.

    I don't know about color chems. The same is certainly true about the fixer, but I don't know about the developer. Color developer might be nastier stuff that you want to dispose of properly. If so, keep it in old jugs, and get rid of it at your school or your hazardous waste collection days. Most towns have these.

    However, you should really check on local rules and regulations regarding this stuff. Developer, maybe. Fixer, no. Stop + photoflo, probably fine.

  3. #3
    jnanian's Avatar
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    you are probably going to get a lot of different advice
    from " dump it, who cares" to " it is toxic have it hauled away"

    instead of relying on people here, who live a
    different city, town, state / country than you ... why don't you contact the
    folks where you live, so you know what the deal is.

    people on the internet tend to think they know everything about everything
    when they may or may not know a little about a lot ...

  4. #4

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    I agree with jnanian---you need to understand what your local regs on waste disposal are. (California tends to be restrictive about it, and in keeping with that tendency, a lot of towns have free hazmat disposal, meaning that it's pretty easy to save your dumped chemistry and just drop it off at the hazmat site every so often.)

    That said, I also think Tim Gray's summary is pretty good: developer maybe, fixer no, stop should be fine. Some developing agents are a lot more toxic than others (pyro is thought of as one of the nasties, though I don't know how much that relates to environmental toxicity, vs. hazards to the actual darkroom worker).

    All that said, I really don't think it will do the *toilet* any harm---I understand concerns about toxic-waste disposal, but it's not like photo chemistry eats porcelain! I guess it might stain, though. Really, if in doubt, take it to the hazmat folks.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  5. #5

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    Just as an aside FYI....

    I've decided to take ALL photo chemistry to my local (10 miles) hazmat site. So now I am recovering all spent fix, bleach, developer, toner, etc, saving in one gallon screw top milk/water jugs until it's time to go down there. Chems are stored in my garage in a secure place...

    I figure it's time to do my part by not messing up the environment any more than it already is...

  6. #6

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    FWIW, most of what I've seen written about photochemical disposal relates to environmental concerns and laws, not about what the stuff does to plumbing or fixtures. This thread mirrors that observation.

    Some photochemicals are mildly acidic or alkaline, and as such might conceivably damage plumbing -- especially metal plumbing. One piece of advice I've seen on this score is to mix together the acidic and alkaline items (such as developer and stop bath) to reach a more neutral point before disposal. Flushing well with water is also in order. I don't mean flushing a toilet, either -- I mean pouring it down a drain and then running the water for a while. When I work in my own darkroom, normal post-processing cleanup uses enough water that I expect most of what I dump is well out of my house and in the neighborhood sewage stream by the time I'm done -- but I'm not a plumber, so maybe my uneducated guess is wildly optimistic.

  7. #7
    McFortner's Avatar
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    I'm wondering what effect Caffenol would have on a septic tank. It's made from items harmless to a septic tank so I would think that it would be OK to flush it. As far as fixer, what harm would Sodium Thiosulfate have on either yard or tank? I would think that it being used in swimming pools as a chlorine reducer would make it relatively safe since you would swim in it. Or am I being too hopeful?

    These are going to be what I use soon to develop my b/w film at home, so I am curious myself.

    Michael

  8. #8
    trexx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by McFortner View Post
    As far as fixer, what harm would Sodium Thiosulfate have on either yard or tank? I would think that it being used in swimming pools as a chlorine reducer would make it relatively safe since you would swim in it. Or am I being too hopeful?

    These are going to be what I use soon to develop my b/w film at home, so I am curious myself.

    Michael
    By the time it is used it is no longer sodium thiosulfate , but silver thiosulfate. Silver is harmful to septic systems. See the sticky thread on silver recovery.

    TR
    D-76 is a standard developer, although not one I use.
    Ansel Adams - The Negative

  9. #9

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    Kodak has a data sheet with a nifty little checklist explaining what to do.

    The pdf of publication J-300: http://www.google.com/url?sa=U&start...eOsFOELDT4UMIA

    It basically works like this if you are connected to a sewer:

    - Developer can go down the drain by itself.
    - Stop bath should not go down the drain unless it has been mixed with developer
    - Used fixer should never be dumped down the drain unless the silver has been removed from it via steel wool filtration
    - Unused fixer can go down the drain
    - Photo Flo can go down the drain
    - Sepia Toner can go down the drain (thus I assume that plain ferricyanide bleach can as well, but not used Farmer's Reducer, as this also contains fixer)
    - Selenium should never go down the drain under any circumstances
    - Always contact your local authorities on such things for any questions before dumping anything

    It basically works like this if you are connected to a septic tank:

    - Don't dump anything
    - Have all your spent chemicals "processed off site"

    In all cases, chemicals can be disposed of at a household hazardous waste collection facility.
    You can't go wrong by taking your stuff to one of these places.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 04-16-2009 at 02:17 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  10. #10

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    Here we go again. Discussed this, argued that.

    Large users can screw up sewage systems. The guy doing a few rolls a week, hardly. Despite what some purists say, dilution is a solution. It's the flip side of ppm. Commercial sewage plants routinely handle far worse things that an amateur's chemicals.

    The rivers and streams coming out of the Rocky Mountains are loaded with silver. So much, that when Kodak started up their plant near Greeley, CO, they found the water coming into their plant was beyond EPA standards. They had to clean their effluent to standards tighter than nature's.

    To the poster who takes everything to the hazmat, if you have space and time, just let the water evaporate. Put those few ounces of dry residue in a ziplock and put it in the trash.

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