Darkroom water supply, waste water disposal and climate control
I am conducting a spot of research for a project Iím doing for my BSc(Hons) Technology: Design and Innovation and wonder if you might be able to help?
Specifically I am looking into darkroom water supply, waste water disposal and environmental controls (temperature, humidty, ventilation etc.) and wonder what, if any, problems people suffer with these or have any ideas for improvement?
Look forward to your input.
My water supply is the city water (except for developing and photo-flo, for which I use distilled). Waste water disposal is the drain, no ventilation to speak of, and temperature is by home a/c and heat pump. In Florida, humidity is a given. I probably should save the chemicals instead of dumping them in the drain, but my area has no recycle/disposal place to take them, and at the amount of work that I do, I'm putting an insignificant amount of silver into the water supply. This reasoning is after I called my area water people and discussed what I'm doing w/ them. The fixer I use over and over until it's exhausted, then I dump it. Unless you're foolish when mixing powders, or keep your hands in the chemicals for a long time, there's no health risks. People in darkrooms would be dropping like flies if that were the case. Just read the MSDS info and use common sense. My painting/printing/etching/pastel work utilizes more toxic chemicals and health risks than the photography, by far.
Last edited by momus; 01-30-2014 at 10:10 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Hi Mick, I've worked a great deal with these sorts of things, but I'm not clear on what you're trying to do. Do you mean to address ALL of these, or perhaps to just pick one or two items for research? Are you intending to design techniques or equipment to handle a problem?
I can think of a couple items, offhand, that are troubling to a lot of folks here. One is related to disposal of their darkroom chemicals, with respect to silver. It is the issue of knowing how much silver is in their fixer, or effluent. It seems that many decide when their fixer is "exhausted" by using a "hypo-check solution;" but it would be better if they had a simple test to tell them in the general range of 1/2 to 2 grams per liter silver.
Another issue is the control of dust while printing with enlargers. This is related to both cleanliness and humidity of the darkroom air, but good methods are needed for removing tiny dust particles from the film.
Just a couple of possible starting points.
Access to water, temp control and disposal....this is the reality for most people.....the kitchen sink.
I used stored bottle tap water. I mix the room temperature water with stock paper developer for the working solution. When needed, a small floor heater keeps DR temps at 68. In late spring, the DR temps rise to near 75. DR activity stops when daylight extends to 7:30 or 8 pm and AC is used in the house......during a Oklahoma summer I'm not going to cool a house to 70 degrees.
I wipe down the DR located in the laundry. Key to dust control is run the HIVAC fan continuous, keep the air humidified, and have good technique to wipe dust from negs, inspect, and have a good carrier/enlarger system that keeps dust from migrating into the enlarger on carrier placement. LPL and Leitz 1c/Valoy enlargers resist dust migration back on top of the neg.
I use a 90s TF-4 two fix method using a slightly modified Ilford fix recommendation. Fix capacity (10) 8x10 fiber prints per L. Double capacity for a two fix tray line?
I don't test because my process is conservative per all the literature read. Plus, I'm not Ansel and my print value is is not a factor.
I use common sense, keep hands out of solutions, use as benign chems possible, and clean up after myself.
I ignore silver recover....my output does not warrent the trouble.
Last edited by Richard Jepsen; 01-30-2014 at 12:49 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Mr Bill, Thanks for your reply which has given me a couple of pointers. At this stage I'm required to take a broad brush approach and find a wide range of problems/opportunities so that I can later hone in on a particular angle. So any and all ideas would be much appreciated.
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Well, here's a few ideas.
The previous poster, Richard, says "I ignore silver recover....my output does not warrent the trouble." I think this is a pretty common view on this site. A few years back, one of the members did a survey to the effect of "what do you do with your used fixer?" I can't find the survey, but as I recall, the majority reported doing nothing to recover silver. It is my opinion that most of them will have NO IDEA of how much silver they are handling. So some way for the typical user to discover these quantities could be useful.
You mentioned darkroom water supply. Nowdays, most municipalites have (typical) water analyses available online, but probably most photographers don't know what to look for. It would be nice if there was a simple method for them to know if their water was ok for 1) mixing commercial developers, 2) mixing handmade developers with no sequestering agents, etc., or 3) for washing. It would be nice if there could be (cheap) test kits for various things, OR perhaps even a (cheap) analytical service where they simply mail a small plastic bottle of water to a test lab, and get back a report on "suitability for photographic use."
Regarding darkroom ventilation: I think most people have no idea what to do about this. It might be useful to have an on-line calculator where they could put in their darkroom dimensions, and perhaps layout, as well as the inlet air and possible exhaust locations. From this, various exhaust specs, or even specific blower suggestions could be made. Or, perhaps an inexpensive photo chemical "mixing hood" with integral blower and filter could be designed; just connect an exhaust duct. Such a device might be able to also serve as the darkroom's exhaust fan.
Hope this gives you a start. I have no idea if there is any longer enough darkroom-user market for any of these.
I have a semi-permanent darkroom. The room is physically a room on the back of a garage that was built as a workshop. It had no plumbing, no special ventilation other than a couple of big windows. I bring water into the darkroom through a plastic pipe (through the window) that is connected to a hose-bib outside the garage. I filter and heat the water in the darkroom, and waste water goes to a sump-pump in a box, where is it pumped out through the window through piping which brings it to the front of the house, where, when the darkroom is in use, I connect a hose to water the front garden. For mixing chemicals, I use distilled water, tap water for washing. Benign chemicals and wash water go down the drain and into the garden. Nasty chemicals (fixer, colour chemicals, toner, etc) go to a tray where they are evaporated off to make a slurry which is put in paint cans and given to our hazardous waste pickup center (they mostly collect old paint). For ventilation there is a louvered darkroom vent in one of the windows, and the other has a bathroom exhaust fan connected to it. I live in California where the climate is such that I rarely need to heat the darkroom, and never need to cool it. If I need to heat it, I turn on the dry mount press or an RC print dryer and it warms right up.
unfiltered tap water for all mixes ( coffee developer, regular fix, perma wash )
15 gallon roadside drum ( hauled away on occasion )
silver recovery for spent fix + wash water
( silvermagnet <cheap electrolytic recovery system> + trickle tank <ion transfer gets me down to below 5ppm> )
i don't run a lot of water, i do soaks to rid of chemistry and conserve water.
i'm the person who ran the "spent fixer poll" back in 2009
back then more than 70% couldn't be bothered with
any sort of "silver recovery", or "safe disposal" of any chemistry ...
i started selling silver magnets to help people
get their levels down at least for their spent fixer ...
if i ran another poll, it might be less than 70% now ... but membership is 3x as big so probably it is about the same
most people "can't be bothered" or "it's a hassle", or they see their waste as "benign" ... its too bad ...
you should read some of the things people write about photochemistry .. it goes the whole spectrum from it is extremely toxic and will give you rashes, ailments + troubles from contact to it is inert, nontoxic and some components can be found in over the counter meds, vitamins and foods ... to its a government conspiracy ... my laundry is more toxic (so why should i care) ...
good luck with your project.
Last edited by jnanian; 01-31-2014 at 08:49 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Let me add context. If I ran a lot of chemistry I would try to salvage silver along with my efforts to purchase fuel efficient cars, recycle, limit meat consumption, and care for the environment.
It's good to be aware.
I think I'm guilty of getting this thread off track. The original poster is looking for ideas for a school research project. He's looking for things that might be problems, or areas can be improved, whereupon he may investigate further, and possibly design some technological solutions.
I intended to make the point that many people, perphaps the great majority, don't use their fixer efficiently and don't recover their silver. I'm not saying that these things are significant, just that it's not generally done, and John's survey supports the part about not recovering silver.
So if someone can invent some simple, cheap technology to guide people in these areas, it would probably be useful.