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  1. #11

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    Well, I don't think the wash water would be particularly harmful to your lawn or trees if the PH is near neutral. I wouldn't drain it into a garden plot as a general rule; just to be safe.

    If it bothers you enough and you can throw the resources at it, you could reclaim the water by building a solar still (google it). The water would evaporate from the bottom, leaving the chemicals behind and recondense on the inner liner to be used for anything.

    You could also build a sump and line in with charcoal, but it would have to be maintained and could be a pain...

    Just a few thoughts...

  2. #12
    david b's Avatar
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    If you are washing paper for 45 minutes, how harmful could it be after the first 5 minutes or so?

  3. #13
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    If you precipitate the silver from your fixer and wash water, the fixer, developer, and wash will all work fine to water and slightly fertilize plants. Only the silver will remain toxic after exposure to air for a while (and most of your process chemicals aren't terribly toxic to begin with); aside from silver, everything used in the straight B&W film and print process (except selenium and other toners) can go straight into the garden. Dichromate and permanganate reversal bleaches are the other exception (though permanganate is a lot less unfriendly than dichromate in that regard), but there aren't that many folks doing B&W reversal.

    Wash water shouldn't be a problem at all -- there'll be darned little fixer in that, and far less silver. Used fixer itself, after a few days reacting with steel wool, can be filtered off the silver precipitate and dumped on the garden, and used developer can go straight out there if you choose (though if you use pyro or pyrocat, I'd suggest letting the developer stand in an open tray for 24 hours before tossing it, to let the relatively toxic developing agent oxidize into an inactive product).
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  4. #14

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    Thanks everybody for the comments. Donald, can you tell me a little bit about putting steel wool in exhauted fixer? I've got a big ol'barrel that I need to take care of. Man david, we are in for quite a dry, fire-full summer,huh? You're right Jarold, I need some sort of wet surroundings for a bit. We're at about negative 6% humidity here!
    Thanks again for the comments,
    Todd

  5. #15
    david b's Avatar
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    We are gonna burn!!!

    I am prepared to help and to photograph what I can.

  6. #16

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    If you'd ever know what's in rivers in Belgium.

    A few months ago the water of the Zenne, flowing under and through Brussels was tested downstream from our capital.
    The tests pointed out that at least 1/20000 inhabitants (IIRC) of Brussels must be using heroin!

    G

  7. #17

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    And everybody in Italy is on the cocaine!

  8. #18
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    If you consider that sodium thiosulfate is put into fish tanks in very dilute concentrations to neutralise chlorine in the water I'd worry very little about using rinse water for watering the flowers.
    Gary Beasley

  9. #19
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toddstew
    Donald, can you tell me a little bit about putting steel wool in exhauted fixer? I've got a big ol'barrel that I need to take care of.
    Pretty simple -- go to the home improvement store and buy the steel wool they sell for wood finishing (comes stuffed in plastic packs about the size of a loaf of bread). For each gallon of spent fixer, drop in two steel wool balls, cover, and come back in a week. You'll find the interior of the container heavily plated in silver, and lots more silver sludge in the bottom of the container, while the steel wool will mostly have been eaten up by the reaction. Decant, or preferably filter the liquid through paper coffee filters or similar (slow going, give it time), and the clear or colored liquid that comes through the filter is effectively silver-free fixer with some iron added to the solution. That's the stuff that goes on the garden. Roses are said to love the stuff (they like sulfur, apparently, and iron doesn't hurt them a bit), but it should be good on tomatoes, squash, etc. as well; likely everything in a typical flower or vegetable garden will be okay with it if you dilute it a bit (say, with some of that wash water).

    The sludge in the container is impure silver; if you're the DIY sort it can be melted (outdoors!) in a foundry and cast into ingots for later resmelting, or it can be reacted with nitric acid to make silver nitrate solution that will work just fine for a number of alternative processes such as salt prints, kallitype, van Dyke, etc.

    VERY IMPORTANT that you do *not* do this with fixer that's been used after selenium toner!! That can be left in an open pan (where children and animals can't get into it) until all the liquid evaporates, and the residue treated as household hazardous waste (similar to old cans of paint, drain opening lye that's hardened, etc.); most communities have a means of safely disposing of the stuff, though they're almost certain to want to know what they're dealing with (you'd tell them "photographic fixer contaminated with selenium toner", which they will dutifully write down after asking you how to spell selenium).

    Quote Originally Posted by glbeas
    If you consider that sodium thiosulfate is put into fish tanks in very dilute concentrations to neutralise chlorine in the water I'd worry very little about using rinse water for watering the flowers.
    Even more so -- the same chemical is used in swimming pools for humans (as is sodium sulfite) for the same purpose. If you don't tone your prints or use exotic developers, silver is the most toxic material in the printing darkroom, and once reduced to metallic form, it's nothing to worry about.
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  10. #20

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    Thanks Donald. I'm going to the store today and do this.
    Todd

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