I recently bought a bottle of HT-2 Hypo Estimator, and my initial results have been puzzling. I have always washed for what I thought was an excessive length of time, and my motivation for introducing this test step was hopefully to cut down on water wastage.

I am using the estimator chart that came with the solution, and it says I should be matching the spot colour to the estimator. The thing is, I'm getting a pinky hue in places that are close(ish) to patch 2 in colour, but the density can vary from one spot to another, and seemingly with the amount of solution I use having a direct effect. I understand that the paper could be clearer from one spot to another, but quite often the results are massively different.

The guide also seems slightly contradictory, or at least unclear. For black and white processed paper 'the spot should have very little or no discolouration; that is, less than on patch one', and for Photographic Print Washing 'a stain that matches patch 2' is ok for all but 'longterm storage'.

I am wondering what long term storage refers to in this instance (5 years, fifty years?) and whether a black and white fibre based print falls under the black and white processed paper, or photographic print washing category?

I am also after some advice on reading the results, as a simple comparison to the estimator seems a little subjective - to me at least.

As I said before, the quantity of solution effects the colour, and the time it is left on seems also to have a real effect. It seems I would have to wash forever to get a completely clear patch?!

What sort of life expectancy might I expect from each patch, and what might a worst case deterioration look like if the spot matches patch 3. I have some untested prints that look good after 3 years... should I be concerned?

This is a bit long winded and imprecise, but any observations or suggestions ( and hopefully reasurance )would be much appreciated.