Advantages/disadvantages of fixer w/o hardener

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by nicholas_f._jones, Jul 11, 2003.

  1. When fixing b&w double weight fiber base papers I discovered as have
    others that by using Kodak Rapid fixer and omitting the hardener
    (solution B) I could reduce significantly the amount of curl in the
    dried print. Later, however, when I started using an archival washer
    I experimented with Kodak Fixer again just to see if thoroughness of
    washing is a factor in determining curl, and sure enough the
    archivally washed prints curl so little when dried that I decided to
    skip the extra expense and inconvenience of working with Rapid Fixer.

    This result may of course be an artifact of my own casual not-very-
    scientific methods, but however that my be I'm now wondering if curl
    is all there is involved in the use or non-use of the hardener.

    Are other variables in play here? The paper's receptivity to
    toning? Ability to withstand the heat of dry-mount pressing?
    Longevity? Something else I haven't thought of? Thanks in advance
    for any replies.
  2. nicholas:

    i have been submitting archival work to federal and state clients in the form of habs/
    haer documentations for about 12 years. as part of the guidelines for the park
    service's standards ( usa) for archival prints and negatives, they require that fixer
    used not
    have hardener in it. from what i understand, the fixer traps contaminents in the
    emulsion of paper and film. hardener also makes it more difficult to retouch with
    leads. i remember a while back someone asked the same question ( maybe a year or
    2 ago) and i think someone stated that ilford and other makers have begun to shy
    people away from using fixer why ... i am don't remember ... maybe someone else

    personally i have never used hardener in any fixer that i have mixed, i haven't had
    problems with film or paper getting scratched or anything like that, and i think it is
    pretty much a waste of energy.
  3. The purpose of using a hardener is to prevent scratching. It makes some sense to use it on film (though I've personally never done so) since the negatives can't be replaced. It doesn't make much sense to use it on paper, IMHO, since if you scratch the print you can just reprint it and there supposedly are some adverse side effects (the ones I've read about, but have no experience with, are longer wash times and difficulty in toning). I'm not aware of any reason to use a hardener except as a deterrant to scratches. I've never before heard that it minimizes curling when drying the paper, though maybe it does and I just don't know about it. BTW, you can use Kodak Rapid Fix without using the hardener.
  4. I haven't used hardener in years , and i never scratched a print
    but maybe a few negatives .
    When i was using hardener , my prints just wouldn't tone , so i
    decided to go the other way .
    concerning paper curling , i am sorry to say that my prints curl a
    lot , but i am afraid that the major factor is the external umidity ,
    rather than non hardener fixer .
    I live in south California where is very dry , i am sure that in a
    cooler place that would me minimized .
    I can find difference from summer to winter .
  5. I also never use hardener in fixer...for film or paper.
  6. It may be worth using a hardening bath with Polaroid T-55 as I find they do scratch easily. But having said that, I have not done any with/without tests...
  7. Ilford states that their films no longer require hardening fixer.

    As for fiber paper, their pdf here:

    states, "The use of hardening fixer is not recommended as it reduces washing efficiency".

    Back in the 60's we used hardener to prevent fiber prints (before RC was available) from sticking to the blotter paper when drying. Without hardener, the prints had to be peeled off the blotters and would have a "flocked" surface.

    I have seen prints from that period (and earlier) which were processed with too much hardener. They have become brittle and have developed fine cracks in the emulsion similar to crazing in the glaze of old ceramics and china.
  8. I have heard that when using Ammonium Thiosulfate(rapid fixers), you should use Viagra. That will prevent curling and have the same effect as hardener!
  9. Our local government requires hardener; to reduce scratching of films. One can then use proper darkroom washing procedures; and hypo elimination chemicals; to yield a film that will last several hundred years................These procedures have been around for about 2/3's of a century; and are well documented in Kodak's processing for permanence literature books...........Print postives are also used with hardener; but less hardener is required..........These prints are then archivally washed; and checked for residual fixer.....Useage of two fixer baths is a requirement; to prevent the buildup of complex siver compounds; that cannot be washed out.............These lurking silver/fixer compounds will prints with time; and degrade negatives..............<BR><BR>It is far better to dwell on making an archival process; that removes the guilty compounds; that regrade films and prints; than dwell on one component; hardener; and never mention the mandatory useage of two fixer baths; clearing agents; and tests for washing; and residual fixer........<BR><BR>
  10. I find (as have some others, but not all others) that prints that are fixed in rapid fixer with hardener are significantly more of a pain in the butt to spot than prints fixed in rapid fixer without hardener.


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