Do powdered developers really expire?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by farkle-mpls, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. I was buying some B&W chemistry today and picked up some powered developer (ID-11, D76). Kodak packaging had an expiration date on it (late 2011) and the Ilford has none. As both are sold in sealed packaging, do they REALLY expire or is this simply a way for Kodak (in this case) to get us to toss out perfectly good unopened developer and replace it with shiny new packages -- or does it really go bad (in storage)?
    I thought that perhaps it depends on the individual chemistry components ... does anyone know?
  2. The seal is not perfect.
    A smaller packet has more surface area to volume; thus the shelf life is less.
    Here I have used powdered D76 that is 15 or 20 years ol and it it worked great.
    I have also had a packet that got a nick or pinhole and it was in date and brown. If the powder is brown then it usually is bad.

    Lost of stuff has dates on it; Milk; Iodine for cuts too.
    Your question is like asking why milk has a date on it; or bread; or film; or medicine.
    D76 use to come in cans; it lasted longer then.

    Kodak has no control of how folks keep the packets. If it gets manhandled the seal can be poorer.

    I have not had any d76 that is white to be bad in my 50 years of using it.
    bgelfand likes this.
  3. I have used powdered developers from the 60s and 70s that were sealed in cans. I doubt the packets can last that long.
  4. if the powder is white, it's alright. if it's brown, throw it down.
  5. Someone gave the school a few packets of Dektol about 3 years out of date. In the old days, it would have been ok. but it had turned brown, and mixed, it was murky. you could hardly see the prints! yuck.
  6. I bought 7 bags of D76 from a yard sale, no stamped dates on the paper package, just the name and date of the store that it was purchased from, written by the original purchaser, Inkleys 9/17/1991. Works good. Packages where always stored flat in a box, they looked good with no creases in them so I bought a few, Dektol, Fixer and X-tol too. 20 packages in all for $20. I think it was a good deal. The Dektol mixed up nice too.
  7. Water and air destroy developer. Paper bags will go bad eventually because they are porous, but if it's in a can that hasn't rusted through it could last for 40+years.
  8. I was recently given a dozen or so little cans of ISODOL film developer. I mixed one up (they make a gallon of stock), and developed some 4x5 films, and they look fine. I was also given an old bottle of D-76, but I haven't made it up, yet. This stuff is from the '50s or '60s, I think.
  9. bottle of D-76? I never remember it in bottles until after you mix it from a can or envelope.
  10. Wow! Maybe I have a real relic? When I get home, I'll take a photo.
  11. Here's the jar of D-76.
  12. What is in the jar with the D76? Any ideas? A desiccant perhaps. Is that $.60 in grease marker? Better than my $1 bag! Thats cool.
  13. Way too cool any ideas the 50s?
  14. the package inside is to be dissolved first, and then the rest of the contents of the jar. I suspect it's sodium sulfite to help the metol dissolve quicker. Yes, the $0.60 is in grease marker. I don't know how old the jar is, but the Super XX film that came with it had a develop before date of 1958. There was also some Royal X Pan, and some Agfa Gaevert film. How cool would it be to have a really fast film, like TMZ, in sheets?
  15. The small canister in that jar are the developing agents of Metol and Hydroquinone, which are dissolved first. After mixing up the contents of that cardboard canister, you mix up the contents of the jar to make up the rest of the developer. D-76 used to come in two parts instead of one single mix powder.
  16. I have a "Kodak Direct Positive Film Developing Outfit" which is in cans.
    The first developer, according to the instructions, has a bottle inside the can,
    in addition to the powder.

    The Kodak packets are plastic and foil in addition to paper, but maybe
    not perfectly sealed forever.

    I once had a pouch developer where the powder came out brown, along with the
    mixed liquid. Very dark brown, so that went down the drain.

    But like foods, they likely last way beyond the date. Exactly how much longer,
    you have to figure out individually.
  17. AFAIK, all developers (hydroquinone, Metol/Elon etc.) are subject to oxidation. You want short storage life, try dry glycin, though it keeps better in solution. If the package is truly hermetic, they can last a long time, but almost no packaging is that good. D76 and Dektol should mix up clear, light pinkish or yellowish. If they're brown, they're degraded. XTOL had the "wonderful" property of remaining clear even when it was completely dead. No idea if it's improved. No data, but I'd expect 2-part developers to store better.

    Developers are easy to mix from scratch. It's hard to beat keeping the basic chemicals around to mix up what you need, when you need it. The raw components store well and you always know what you're getting.
  18. Many chemical reactions go faster in solution than in dry air.

    It is more interesting for developing agents, which change form in alkaline solutions.

    Two part developers like Diafine last a long time mixed, as the part with the developing agent isn't alkaline.

    There are also ones that come in separate parts, but are mixed for working solutions.
    I believe C41 and RA5 come in three parts to be mixed. I don't know at all about the keeping
    properties of the different parts.

    Years ago, I had Unicolor E6 kits, and never had problems keeping the unmixed solutions,
    though I always squeezed the air out of the bottles. I always used them working solutions
    right after mixing for the recommended number of rolls.

    I have some old Diafine, I believe in metal cans. Later it came in plastic cans, and
    I think now in pouches.
  19. Guys, this thread is 10 years old!
    I suspect the OP has either used or dumped those old packets of D-76/ID-11 by now.

    And if anyone's still in any doubt; the smaller packet contains the metol and hydroquinone, with maybe a pinch of sulphite, while the bigger sachet/bag/jar/whatever, is mainly sodium sulphite together with a small quantity of borax.

    Every ancient package of ID-11 or D-76 that I've seen, which is quite a few, has some telltale brown staining of the smaller packet. That's indicative of the developing agents having partially oxidised and lost some of their potency. Probably not to any great extent, but you should take such brown staining as a warning and do a clip test on the made up developer before using it on any important film.
  20. I do, barely, remember D-76 in cans, but I don't remember the inner container.

    As above, though I do have direct positive kits to make.

    I believe that the developer is D-67, which otherwise I have never heard about.
    As I noted, it is supposed to be a liquid containing bottle inside a metal, powder
    containing, can. I might try it as a negative developer first, before trying
    reversal processing with it.

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