B&W Developing chemical storage methods and times.

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by matt_ricardson, Mar 19, 2010.

  1. Hi all
    Im new to film photography and i purchased some Developer fixer etc 12 months ago a havent had a chance to use them yet. they have been stored in a refrigerator, unopened.
    So i am wondering if they are still good or should i throw them out, and also what is the best way to store chemicals once they have been opened, i have been told to place marbles in the bottle to fill the bottle and remove air from the top, if this is done what storage times would be expected.
    Note: The chemicals i have are in liquid or pre-mixed not powder form.
    Matt Richardson
  2. What brand and type of developer, fixer, etc., specifically? Storage and shelf life varies depending on the type.
    Generally speaking, fixer in undiluted liquid concentrate will last for many years in storage. Ilford rapid fixer (I usually use Hypam) diluted to working strength for film or prints lasts me for up to a year in storage, altho' in actual practice it becomes exhausted from routine use much sooner, usually within a few months.
    Liquid concentrate developer shelf life varies. The manufacturers normally provide this information either on the label or on their websites. Ilfosol-S in an unopened container was good for something like 18-24 months. Rodinal and HC-110 may be good for many years in storage.
    When in doubt, run a test roll of exposures and try for yourself. Part of the pleasure of b&w photography and the darkroom is personal experimentation and exploration.
  3. Thanks Lex
    The Developer is Ilforsol 3 and the Fixer is Ilford Rapid fixer.
    The bottles are unopened and have been kept in a fridge the whole 12 months.
    On the topic of storing chemicals once open what is the best or general method, and am i correct about using marbles to fill space, hence removing air from the bottle and preventing oxidisation.
    Matt Richardson
  4. A simple clip test in day light will tell you if there's any activity left at all in the developer. [I don't know about that brand.] Here's how:
    Splash a sample of the developer in a container, like a graduated cylinder. You only need about 25mL. More than a few spoonfuls, not quite a cup.
    Clip a section of film, like off of a leader that's protruding from a film cassette (undeveloped film, of course). The section doesn't have to be very big. Give about 1/2 inch wide and an inch long. Enough area so that the thing is not a very tiny sliver.
    In daylight or regular white room lighting, drop that clip into the solution. Immerse it, get it wet with the developer all around and watch it for a while. If the developer is active, you should see it turn the emulsion black in about a minute. [There's a generous amount of energy that's hit the film by this point.] This would be because the emulsion's already been exposed to some light, just from being in the open, and it's also in the light and the developer at the same time.
    If the developer is not strong enough to make the emulsion react under those conditions, it's not going to be able to do much of anything. If it can't do anything at all in ten minutes, you'll never be able to get it to react.
    If you have one of those developers that comes concentrated, use the working strength equivalent for the test.
    This won't necessarily tell you if it's still in good shape or not, but it'll tell you if the solution is completely exhausted or not.
  5. john, i dont think that is necessary i think we can be 99.9% sure his solution is going to at least work just maybe slightly off time. I still think it will be fine and think you should just put a test roll in and see how it comes out.
    I personally just store my chemicals in old water bottles, the chemicals are usually worn out before i need to worry about air reacting with it. Stock solution stores for a long time and again i just keep it in a big water bottle, i use about 1litre of stock diluted at 1+2 every 2 months.
  6. I store my working solutions stop and fixer in old 2 litre domestic bleach bottles. These have air-tight, child-proof caps and are made of a dense plastic with handles moulded in to the bottle for ease of handling. Stop keeps until exhaustion and fixer can last twelve months. Fixer concentrate will keep for years in stoppered bottles in a cool, dark place. I'd be wary of refrigerating chemicals in case some components of the mix crystallise out.
    I keep my working solution of print developer in the same type of bottle, topping up with fresh developer at the end of each session to exclude air.
    I use Rodinal film developer, the concentrate being legendary for its keeping qualities. I've just opened a bottle of Rodinal which I bought five years ago and its perfect.
  7. Well, Rodinal is a real exeption (together with HC-110) in developers not getting oxidized and loose all strenght to develop.
    Ilfosol-S had a very bad reputation of oxidizing. It could be deactivated within 2 months. Ilfosol-3 is the replacement for it and seems to be much better.
    Refrigerating chemicals (4 degrees C) can be indeed sometimes a problem of crystals falling out and not or very difficult getting into the solution anymore. Best is a cool place 10-15 degrees C although for some chemicals putting into a fridge can be a good solution to prolong lifetime. Fixer (stock) will be good for several years. Only when particles are falling out it's finished.
    About storing chemicals in a type of bottle: Jobo wide bottles (600ml - 1000ml - 2000ml) are easy to use, to fill and refill without funnel and are made of H.D Polyethylene. The best without any diffusion are glass bottles but they can break.
  8. I use mt 2 liter soda bottles. I've found they work the best. The caps seal well over & over. I have used ID-11 developer 2yrs. old and works just fine. I keep the developer in green bottles. I keep stop bath & fixer in 2 liter plastic bottles. I keep the stuff under the bathroom sink. I found that the caps on glass bottles didn't last long as the gasket for sealing was made of coated paper.
    Try them & maybe you will have good results. Can't beat or even tie the price for the mt bottles!
  9. thank everyone
    Bill under the bathroom sink sounds like a good practical solution and would prevent the risk of crystallization, plastic soda bottles and bleach bottles sound good as well as they are easy to get a hold of, seal well and have the child proof lid.
    Im am unsure about the differences between Ilforsol-S and Ilforol-3 but if the 'new' developer has a longer life that would be a great.
    If anybody is able to explain the difference between the developer please go ahead.
    Matt Richardson
  10. There doesn't seem to be much of a difference. If you already have Ilfosol-S, then there's no need to throw it out. Use it until you're done and switch over to Ilfosol-3. Even then, everyone has their own particular type of developer they use. I've had nothing but good prints from my Bromophen developer, while my Kodak Selectol constantly darkens and fogs the prints, killing any type of highlights.
    As for helping get rid of oxygen, when I close up the lids I take a big breath and puff it into the bottle, closing it fast. I'd like to think it actually works... A lot less complicated than marbles, that's for sure.
  11. Where did you get those colored bleach bottles? Specific store or brand? Where I shop, everything is white.

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