FACT OR URBAN LEGEND? #1: Wetting agents contaminate reels.

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by lex_jenkins, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. In the interest of gathering information as well as encouraging lively and constructive debate, I'm launching a series of discussions about specific topics where either no consensus exists or where misinformation, disinformation or conflicting information frequently occurs.
    This week's topic: Do wetting agents like Kodak Photo Flo or equivalents from other manufacturers contaminate reels and tanks?
    Specifically, over the years I've heard numerous claims that wetting agents can contaminate or leave a tenacious residue on plastic reels. Personally, I'm skeptical of the claim. I've even begun to delete unsubstantiated claims of this type, in the interest of avoiding confusion for those who are new to the b&w darkroom.
    But I could be wrong.
    While I welcome your opinions and anecdotal observations, I'm hoping as well to see some substantiation, some hard evidence that has isolated the problem to wetting agents. I suspect that contaminated, stained or gummy reels are due to other factors. But for the sake of gathering information, let's open this topic to discussion.
    And if I've chastised anyone before on the forum or deleted your claims, please rest assured that your constructively worded and relevant comments are welcome on this discussion. My only request is to keep remarks strictly relevant to this specific topic. If you have suggestions for other topics in this series, please e-mail me off-forum by clicking on my name and following the prompts.
    Thanks. I'm hoping this will be a welcome relief to those who tolerated the recent off-topic digressions and unpleasantness.
  2. I use both plastic and metal reels and have used photo flo for years processing hundreds of 35 and 120 rolls. It may leave some residue on the reels I really have no way to tell. But, if that is the case it has never been an issue for me. I only use photo flo and never have used any other brand. If there is an issue with residue or melting of plastic reels etc. whose to say that it isn't a combination of any or all the various chemistry used over time and not a particular individual chemical or wetting agent that is the problem? Maybe it is a particular chemical when used in combination with a particular plastic tank/reel made of "x" composites? Or maybe it's that solvent I use to clean my tanks after so many uses! :) Never had the problem.
  3. Lex, I have a plastic tank, which I once forgot to wash out after completing my final rinse. Final rinse was
    done in DI water and Edwal's LFN wetting agent (1 drop per 16 oz H2O). I had dumped out the rinse water, but
    never washed out the tank with tap water afterward. I left the tank standing upright, which allowed the residual
    rinse water to puddle on the bottom of the tank. When it dried, it left behind a fairly stubborn residue that
    was in the shape of the small puddle. I did thoroughly rinse my reels, caps, and other containers that day - no
    residue. The residue in the bottom of the tank, has not been removed after about a year of use. I haven't done
    anything like scrubbing to remove it.

    In three years with this tank, I haven't experienced any problems with residues other than this one time. The
    rinse water that day poured out of the tank clear, so I am fairly sure that it was not due to significant
    quantities of dissolved anti-halation layer.

    I do believe that the residue was due to the wetting agent. Perhaps the wetting agent does combine with some
    small amount of dissolved anti-halation dye (which is not great enough on it's own to cause a residue), and this
    allows the wetting agent to form a compound with the dye molecules. These are amphiphiles afterall which will
    interact with both polar and non-polar species. I also believe that it is possible to avoid residue problems
    with thorough washing/rinsing of equipment immediately after use.

    Photo of residue to follow if I remember it when I get home.
  4. Interesting observations, Dave and Evan. I've long suspected that it's a combination of ingredients that occasionally leads to the residues some folks have observed.
  5. I develop, stop, and fix a roll or two of film in a Jobo plastic tank with plastic reels, then wash in an Aquawasher. After wash I then drop the reels in another Jobo tank filled with Kentmere wetting agent. I immediately clean my reels and the tank that contained the wetting agent when I'm done for the night. I picked this workflow long before I heard about possible issues with the wetting agent.

    In any case, there's not much room here for residue issues so my experience has no bearing either way.
  6. Yes, and no on the wetting agent & plastic reels.

    For many years, I used to not worry about it, but after about 5 years (and after reading about the issue here), I noticed that some (minor) gunk had built up on the reels. Nothing that would affect loading or any other functionality of the reels, but nonethless...

    Hence, rather than a quick rinse of the reels after finishing a roll, I now soak them in clear water for the duration of the post-development clean-up (washing the measuring cups, pouring the fixer and stop-bath back into their containers etc.), and wash them last. That seems to elimiate the issue...
  7. I've heard of people scrubbing their reels to solve this "problem". Sometimes the right cleaning agent obviates the need for scrubbing, so can anyone suggest a solvent for the deposit? Would caustic soda (sodium hydroxide, or "lye") do it, or would an organic solvent be better? And would such cleaning damage the plastic reels (which are not all the same as each other)?

    When I used to use Photo-Flo in my Jobo tanks, after use I soaked them in hot water with a bit of alkaline cleaner (not dishwashing detergent). The brand is "Nifti" and I don't know if it's a world wide brand or a local one here (Australia). Did this ensure that I had no problems with my reels? Don't know.

    Time for an experiment along the lines of Evan's experience.
  8. I don't know about reels because I'm a sheet film guy. I've been using a Jobo CPP-2 and Jobo 3010 tank for 5x4
    sheets for about six years now. I bought the CPP-2 second hand. First run through when I opened the tank it was
    absolutely full of suds. But I hadn't put anything through the machine that would cause suds -- just HC-110H,
    indicator stop, rapid fix, and water. No wetting agent. The 3010 tank was also brand new.

    So I wrote the previous owner who told me that he'd used the machine almost exclusively for e-6 work with roll
    films. And that on occasion he ran B&W and did run photoflow pour photoflow through the lift just like all the
    other chemistry. So it was either the stabilizer for the E-6 or the photoflow.

    What was contaminated was a few inches of plastic channel in the Jobo lift.

    I called Kodak and they said it happens all the time and doesn't cause any problems with any of the normal
    chemistry. They said not to worry about it and that eventually it would go away.

    I tried scrubbing it out which is impossible. I spent hours with a brush designed for a french horn which was the
    only thing I could find that was small enough and flexible enough. Couldn't even dent this stuff.

    In the end, Kodak was right. It took years and many hundreds of sheets of film but the foaming action has slowly
    gone down until it's hard to notice anymore.

    But yeah. It does stick to plastics fairly well. And it's darn near impossible to get off once it's on there.
  9. I have used Kodak's Photo Flo for years, (wouldn't process film without it, - really eliminates spotting and other problems) using plastic 120 and 35mm reels, and never encountered contamination or residue issues.....thanks
  10. I've got several Jobo 1501 reels, the oldest of which have developed a sticky feel and slight discoloration after about five years of use. I also have a Durst reel which I have been using for 15 years. The Durst reel is a hard, clear plastic, (maybe polycarbonate) compared to the soft white plastic of the Jobos, and it has no trace of stickiness. This could mean either that the stickiness is related to the plastic, or that it's just a lot easier to clean it off of the hard plastic. Perhaps there is someone who has the older clear hard plastic Jobo reels for the 2500 tanks that might be able to chime in whether they have developed stickiness? I just got some used, and they seem clean, but I have no way to know whether the previous owner was subjecting them to Photo-Flo or not.
  11. P.S. - BTW, it is VERY IMPORTANT that AFTER you are done is to thoroughly wash your reels under warm (not hot) water......
  12. I have been developing film for well over 30 years and have used both plastic and metal -- indeed, two of the reels I have were purchased in the early 1980's are still used regularly. For the vast majority of the time, I have used Photo-Flo to wet the films prior to drying. I have never encountered such a problem -- but with some caveats. First, it does happen, but it never happened to me. It could be because after each use, I wash all gear with hot water and regular dish detergent. Further, as I am very "old school," I have also used Photo-Flo as an ingredient when I make my own window washing spray (a lot cheaper and just as effective, if not more so, than commercial products). My windows and mirors remain very clean and show no build up of any sort of residue.

    But there is another caveat that may be a factor. I live in New York City and the water supply is one of the cleanest, purest and tastiest around. It is also not very hard so I tend to use a bit less Photo-Flo than what is recommended. Even then, I have never experienced the slightest drying spots (when using NYC water). On the other hand, when I had the atelier in Jersey City, right across the river from my home, I found the water desperately needed filtering. Once filtered, I never experienced any problem whatsoever. Before filtering, I would get some sort of gunk (this is the caveat) IF and ONLY IF the Photo-Flo solution was left for more than a couple of weeks, but, again, this was only when I did not filter that water and if it was left for some weeks. For me to leave the wetting agent for such a long time was exceedingly rare.

    Also, being "Old School," I learned early on to always inspect the solutions before use. So, all solutions are visually inspected (by definition, a solution is clear, a mixture need not necessarily be clear). I use glass flasks, so it is very easy. After a visual inspection, I would then test the pH of the developer and the fixer using pH strips just to make sure one was alkaline and the other was acid (unless I was using an alkaline fix). It was not as important to make sure that pH was exact, but rather that the solution was acid or alkaline.

    When I would visit other darkrooms to cure a problem, I would know very easily if the person was careful and attentive. I would just have to take a look at their reels. If they were plastic and they were discolored, I would know the person was not doing their post-processing due diligence. I would ask them to show me their procedure, from loading to drying, that is, to go through the process as if I were not there. More times than not, they did not wash the gear properly after use. It was then real easy to find and cure whatever issue they were having. Rinsing is not enough. Washing is better.

    Basically, it was being careful that prevented a lot of problems. But, yes, a gunk can form under the proper conditions but those conditions are very easy to avoid. I hope this helps.
  13. I mostly use SS reels and tanks. Yankee made a set where the tank was plastic but the reel SS. I have two of these in 1 roll 35mm size and one in 120 size. I find they leak less than SS tanks but still allow me to use SS reels which I prefer. My plastic tanks and reels are mostly Paterson products. I have found that plastic reels are more difficult to rinse properly. A soft brush isn't a bad idea for cleaning them. Even with the cleaning issue there are probably more problems loading film into plastic reels because the cornners are not rounded off than for any other reason. I found loading the old Ilford 220 films into a Peterson reel nearly impossible. The film base was too thin and I didn't round off the corners. As long as I used hot water and rinsed the Photo Flo off right away I didn't have a problem. I would avoid using an abrasive cleaner like Bon Ami on plastic reels. Once the surface is roughed up the film will not glide in they way it should.
  14. Some years ago I bought used sheetfilm hangers. The film done in these had a gradual, very pictorial softness at the edges. I discovered that it was the result of photoflo deposits left on the hangers. Since then I have removed film from the hanger or reel before using a wetting agent. I hold the roll film by both ends and run it through a beaker of photoflo without the reel.
  15. Kodak's Photo Flo's formula was changed awhile back; this adds to "do you believe"/legends
  16. I used Kodak Photo Flo for thirty years, and washed my reels in a simple solution of dish soap with complete rinsing.
    Never had any problems with residue on reels or negatives.
  17. Lex,

    I am skeptical too. I am using JOBO plastic reels and until a few month ago I used photo flo. There are always black stains
    building up over time. I stopped using photo flo because I did not needed since I use distilled water only. But the dark
    stains are still coming back. I use Ilford chemicals (DD-X/Rapid Fix). At least I did find a solution to get easily rid of the
    stains. I just put the reels in hot water with 'Jobo Processor Clean II' over night and they are clean as a whistle.

  18. I definitely had a problem with Photo-Flo residue left on my plastic reels before I learnt to rinse them very
    carefully after each use. Once you let the residue dry onto the plastic reels it's almost impossible to get it
    off. I used Kodak Photo-Flo and Paterson type plastic reels, with the small tabs at the film's entry point. And
    the amt of Photo-Flo I used was very small, just a tiny drop per 2-reel tank.

    In places with very high humidity ( I used to live in Singapore, RH 90% most days), the residue will be sticky
    and will cause your film to catch and wrinkle in the reel as they are being loaded. Extremely frustrating.
  19. I find that if the film is removed from the reel (separate the reel into halves - if possible) and dropped into a container of distilled water and a few drops of wetting agent, the reels and tanks are not exposed to possible contamination. Swirling the film in the container of water and wetting agent periodically during about a two minute period is desirable to thoroughly coat the film. The film is then hung to dry. The container must be rinsed immediately for the next usage. A container such as/similar to those used as ice buckets in motels works beautifully.
  20. I've used photo flo for 4 years and i never say any residue on the tanks, but then again, i rinse the tanks after i pull the film out.
  21. Over 25 years of using Paterson plastic reels and tanks I have never had any problem with accumulations of residue on the reels. I am still using the same reels that I bought back then.That said, I am meticulous about rinsing the reels immediately after use, though I never scrub them. I am also particular about the wetting agents I use, preferring either Paterson wetting agent or Tetenal Mirasol, both used at the lowest concentration that fully disperses the water.
  22. I have a bunch of Paterson reels, most of which I got from a famous auction site over time so I have no idea
    about their history, and I use the Ilfotol wetting agent. (Hey, it's what the local guy carriers - not Photo-flo,
    and I'm doing all I can afford to support the local guy's store.) Regardless, I never have any trouble with the
    wetting agent building up, but I do rinse the equipment reasonably well after a run and put it up to dry. I'm not
    on the verge of need medicine for obsessive compulsive behavior about the rising, just about the same as I do
    when hand washing the dinner dishes.

    I suspect that you're local water composition may have something to do with whether it all rinses out or not. So
    far as I know the "surfactant" in the wetting agents is just a variation of plain old soap. If there's enough
    "stuff" in your local water to bind up the alkaline in the soap chains then it will probably wash off pretty
    clean. If not, like if you use distilled water exclusively perhaps, the wetting agent residue may adhere to the
    plastic reel better than the water stream to wash away. This is just a theory I made up in the last 10 seconds,
    BTW. And since I'm giving it away for free, it may only be worth what you're paying for it, nothing. Any laundry
    or dish washing liquid industrial chemists reading who can clue me in?

  23. http://www.tedpella.com/msds_html/26950msds.htm

    Msds indicates solubility of photo-flo 200 in water is complete,hazardous polymerization will not occur,no data on hazardous decomposition products. I am afraid ,regarding the question of this thread, the msds does not give much clue.
  24. Maybe it's because I used to smoke a pipe which wasn't any good until it had built up a cake. It might also be because I have not used a wetting agent in at least 20 years. I have never had a problem and if I did I'm not sure I would know it, as long as it is not on my developed and dried film. Come to think of it, it couldn't very well be on my film. I always wipe the excess water off with a soft cloth. If it's good enough for a baby's bottom, it's good enough for my film.

    Anything that will not get on my film, whether it comes off my reels or not, is welcome to stay there. If neither developer nor cleaning stuff will remove it, what choice do I have?

    I hope a reminder of a funny story will not be inappropriate. Remember the emperor's mice? He got cats to get rid of the mice. When they got to be pests, he got dogs. Then he got tigers to get rid of the dogs. He had to get tigers to get rid of the dogs, and elephants to get rid of the tigers. You know what elephants fear? Mice, of course. Did anyone try using the wetting agent to remove the wetting agent? Just a thought.
  25. I thought I got rid of that double dose of tigers!
  26. Hi Lex,

    Yes and no. Photo Flo, etc., is a detergent with a relatively high pH, and if the reels and tanks aren't usually rinsed off, it is possible with a small tank to get a bit of streaking. However, if the reels and tanks are "usually" rinsed off, especially with warm or hot water this never happens. I have seen it a few times when diagnosing processing problems and it usually is withone 36 exposure reel of film in a long used reel and tank.

    There is a potentially worse problem, especially with SS reels and tanks. Over time, the hardware will "plate on" and you won't notice it because everything has the dull metallic look. I have always put my reels and tanks into a solution of 10% sodium bisulfite when they no longer look shiny. Boy, do you ever see the roiling, and boiling, and bubbling with foam and greenish color rolling up. DO NOT INHALE SOD BI SULFITE, IT IS A TREMENDOUS IRRITANT AND CAN CAUSE IRRITATIVE PNEUMONIA IT IS AN ACID SALT ! After this treatment, rinse with warm water and you won't believe the difference.

    I used to be GM of a professional motion picture lab and we acid cleaned our tanks, after which we soaked them in dilute original solutions, re rinsed them and then re-filled them.

  27. I was unaware of the gradual increase in difficulty in loading my patterson plastic reel, blaming my technique. It was only when I bought a yellowed old second hand reel, and noticed that it loaded so much easier, that I started to think about photo-flo residue. I do remember having in the past being unable to find my eye-dropper and pouring about 5 mls of photoflo in. No wonder it gunked up! My camera tech friend suggests cleaning the reel with vinegar. Yes I do believe reels can get sticky from photoflo residue.
  28. The only thing I put in the wetting agent is the reels.

    After developing, stop, fix and wash, what I do is I put the reel with the film in a beaker with clean water and
    wetting agent, that way my tank stays clean.

    Further more Every 5 or 6 months I hijack the home dish washer and put all stuff in there to give it a good
    washing. After that I rinse everything with clear water and dry it of with a lint free clean kitchen towel.

    No problems so far.

    As for the fact vs legend : Since photoflo is the last product in the sequence I think it is possible that there
    is a residue build up because one tends to forget the rinsing and just dries of the reels and container.
  29. A long time ago, I had heard from a pro photographer that photo flo would have a detrimental effect on Diafine, if the wetting agent was not thoroughly removed. Other than that, I have noticed a slight buid-up of scum over a long period of time. Can't say for sure that it is the wetting agent though.
  30. I've used both Diafine and wetting agents (Photo Flo and others) for years. Not in the same step, of course. Never had any problems. But because I use the Ilford in-tank washing method, and include a drop of wetting agent in the final wash, I always rinse the reels and tanks in plain warm water after every session. No indications of residue buildup on my plastic or stainless systems.

    If anything the tiny bit of wetting agent probably helps clean any residual developer, stop bath or fixer from the reels and tanks. Pretty much the same as using a mild soap or detergent.

    I have plastic reels from at least three manufacturers: Jobo, a set that came with a Spanish made system (can't recall the name at the moment), and a set with no obvious markings. All three are of slightly different designs and appear to be made of slightly different types of plastics. The Jobos seem a bit more flexible and resilient. The Spanish made reels feel slightly more brittle. The unknown set feel soft, springy and have become discolored with age like many plastics will do, especially when in contact with chemicals.

    I suspect that unpredictable aging and deterioration of some types of plastics is a factor. There are too many variables to pinpoint any single cause, since we use different chemicals, have different types of water, and various other potential contaminants in the home. For example, I've seen a bizarre incident in which the plastic housing of a neighbor's television set literally crumbled in my hands as I was disposing of it for her. She's a heavy smoker and the smoke residue had gummed up the electrical and electronic components inside the set. The wall behind the set was covered in a sticky residue. Apparently the TV set had begun behaving like a crude ionizing device and the ozone had destroyed the plastic! I recall seeing similar deterioration of plastics near the ionizing air cleaners my grandparents once used throughout their home.
  31. I have been using the same Patterson System 4 tank and adjustable reels for over 30 years. As part of regular lab routine, after processing, I wash with clean water, cap the tank with reels inside and shake like hell for a minute, dump, rinse, dump dry. No residue.
  32. 40 years of developing with mostly nylon and plastic tanks, from the old Paterson Major tanks to the latest ones,
    some silver deposits on the reels, and with wetting agents, began using them when I got drying spots on my first
    35mm films, the city adds CaCO3 to protect pipes, distilled water rinses negate much need for wetting agents, but
    less is more in any event.

    Finally, have heard for processors and tanks, that some of the toilet cleaners work rather well in removing
    accumulated stains.

    As to the high ph of photoflo, while it may be above neutral, I doubt it is "high" as it would have some warning labels,
    and might eat the skin off your fingers, but perhaps my idea of high is drain cleaners, etc.though I have yet to titrate
    it. ;-) I have been led to believe the active ingredient is ethylene gylcol, so do not drink it which is a double alcohol
    and as I recall two carbons with some double bonds as well, etc, I think it would cause kidney damage.

    It will make the water run off faster, and anti freeze is slipery, but it seems to wash away when it leaks from the car.
    If you are concerned, use distilled water as a final rinse.

  33. I certainly wouldn't guess that it has ethylene glycol in it, but I'm neither a chemist not clairvoyant, so it's
    hard for me to tell. But the description of "anionic surfactant" leads me to believe it's nothing more than some
    sort of mild soap. Soap is nothing more than a long chain fat and an alkaline binder, which would give the
    slightly high pH. Try mixing lard and box lye sometimes; makes a pretty good, if kind of harsh, soap.

    As for the soap theory, witness that Jet-Dry works pretty well, too. And that's nothing more than very dilute
    soap and bit of perfume and dye to make it attractive to the consumer. On whole I've found that a 1 liter bottle
    of Ilfotol is cheaper than the equivalent 30 or so consumer targeted bottles of Jet-Dry, and there's no worry
    about the perfume or dye like I always have with Jet-Dry.

    Of course, I could be wrong. It might very well be ethylene glycol based. Anybody want to spend the time running
    an analysis?

  34. Michael, I am pretty sure I have seen it on the label at one time or another, and yes, all soaps are made from fats
    and lye, and the bitter taste of soap from my generation's moms tells me it was still basic, but again, not what I
    would call a strong base. I think in any case it is obviously mostly water.
    ;-) It may contain a small amount of each, but I do not think of soaps as easily clean draining without a further

    "Box Lye" we may be closer in age, my grandmother made soap from cheese and lye once, and it was pretty wicked
    looking stuff, I did not use it in the darkroom. ;-)

    I liked the European bottles, they were dropper bottles.

    If I find some ph paper I will give it a dip sooner or later.

    I do not see much downside to using distilled water as a final rinse.

    Strong base in a chemistry lab might be carry a different meaning from strong base in a darkroom lab.

    I once added a bit of NaOH to Neutol in the tray, and it vastly increased the activity, to the point of developing some
    areas of the print that were very lightly exposed, and creating sand like grain. It did not take much, and I caution
    anyone experimenting to be very careful with NaOH crystals, not allowing it to touch any skin at all. It was an
    interesting effect.

    I tend to think of things that remove a few layers of skin as being strong.

    The Post Office does not like the larger bottles of some of the Agfa concentrates, but I have spilled almost every
    type of developer on my hands at one time or another, and just rinsed them off.

    Lye, draino, caustic soda, NaOH, are all pretty serious stuff we sometimes have handled less carefully than we
    should have. They are basically the same and will take skin off and do serious damage in concentration.

    Regards, John
  35. Let's stay focused on the original topic of this thread. I'm hoping it will be useful as reference for future questions about wetting agents and residue. If the thread drifts I'll begin editing comments to keep it on track.
  36. Since there are some many types of plastics;and they age with time its good that many folks mentioned the brand names of the plastic reels they use.<BR><BR>With ozone exposure many plastics degrade; one can get micro cracking. Cracks are caused by the strain in the plastics when exposed to ozone. The cracks grow with time.<BR><BR> Thus two of the same type plastic reels might have one in Los Angeles with a high ozone level; and another in PoDunk with a low ozone level. The LA reel might tend to be harder to load just due to degradation to due micro cracks too; with nothing to do with Photoflo.
  37. I am a beginner and I have been using Photo-Flo with stainless steel reels. I have not noticed any problem with build up but I have only developed 10 rolls, 35mm, so far. I wash the reels in plain hot tap water. I would like to eliminate the Photo-Flo step altogether because often the Photo-Flo itself forms bubbles that cling to the film no matter how careful I am in pouring it into the tank. Because I dry my film in a warm air film dryer (Senrac Roll Film Dryer: takes about 3 to 5 min), I don't think I should have any trouble with bubbles. I am going to do my next roll w/o the Photo-Flo. (I would also like to eliminate the stop-bath step too but that would be for another discussion.)
  38. Ethylene Glycol is on the label of my photoflo purchased in Europe, and many of my early Patterson reels seem to
    be nylon, and the more recent ones a more normal plastic as I have broken some, and the early nylon reels seem
    more durable, I do not know how either react with any chemistry, but there are a number of cleaners for what
    remains on them.

    I have never seen any data that shows a reaction with the residue of washing agents and future processing. I have
    seen what appears to be silver deposits, but obviously not from washing agents.

    If Ozone is a factor, then keep the reels away from motors, hot tubs, and copy machines.

    Regards, John
  39. Let me know when it is time to vote, I vote Urban Legend, but if someone wants to perhaps soak their reels in a
    number of wetting agents, perhaps undiluted, I would look further at the data.
  40. Bruce; whether one has to use a wetting agent like photoflo; or the amount of laundry detergent one requires depends on the hardness on ones water supply. In Southern Indiana or Southern California I have had hard water; I use distilled water and photoflo to avoid streaks. In the Deep South at the summer home the water is super soft; photoflo is helpfull but not so much as the other places. The first bottle of photoflo I bought was about 65 cents; but a cocacola cost 5 cents then. If one gets spots on negatives by avoiding a wetting agent; it might be false economy since they are often ruined forever. As a *cost* Photoflo for me is probably between shoelaces and lenscaps; probably closer to shoelaces. Experimentt with a dont care roll before dropping a wetting agent.
  41. Kelly, municipal water supply often add minerals to protect pipes. If you just let the water boil dry in the kitchen you might get an idea of how hard the water is. I think across the country you are going to get a pretty broad range of minerals before the Photo Flo. When I use distilled water as a rinse, it does not not seem to drain or dry as fast as using a wetting agent.

    Probably the water supply people could tell exactly what is in municipal drinking water as they are required to test it.

    Well water (most of the liquid fresh water in the world is ground water) can have a number of chemicals.

    Still have that first bottle? It does last, shoelaces wear out. The original question is not so simple.

    Regards, John
  42. Distilled water cannot drain as well as water with an added wetting agent because the wetting agent's *JOB* is to knock the water's surface tension down so the water can't bead. Distilled water, by obvious inference, must have about the same surface tension as water.

    Of course, if the distilled water is truly pure, and there's nothing else left in the tank and no impurities at all, the pure water will simply evaporate without leaving a trace (or a spot as it happens). I'm sure some people's set up is good enough that this is true, i.e. distilled water dries completely spot free for them.

    My own experience, however, especially with some of the cheaper film out there, is that distilled water dries with a few spots occasionally. This may be because there's some gunk migrating out of the emulsion on the foreign made film (I found this to be a problem with Fomapan) that shrinks in the water droplet as it dries and then deposits in the end on the surface. Or it might just be because I'm too lackadaisical in my washing. But with the wetting agent in distilled water the water droplets cannot form, so the waters sheets off better in my experience.

    Now, does this have any effect on how the residue builds up on reels? Beats me. My personal experience is that I do not have the problem with gunk on the reels. Ergo, the wetting agent solves one of my problems without creating another one for me, so I use it faithfully. But clearly there's enough people out there who *DO* have the problem with gunk on the reels that it must be real. I can't imagine people from all over the world hallucinate the same problem. I *CAN* imagine people from all over the world who do have the gunk problem also have similar water properties.

  43. Micheal, sounds perfectly reasonable, plus I have the dropper bottle of Photo Flo and am conservative in its

    Long ago, for some reason, I did not get spots on MF film and did on the base of 35mm, so began with photo flo.

    I also use a Cepap machine, and found the water in Puerto Vallarta did not leave any deposit, and at home tap water
    leaves a deposit of CaCO3, which easly disolves in dilute acid, and I know the city really does not want low pH water
    disolving metal pipes.

    I have seen some various silver deposits, but I have never first hand confirmed any sort of "gunk" on reels of any
    kinds, including when I was running up to 30 rolls a week at the university darkroom.

    I have seen these discussions from time to time, and can only surmise the causes, but it seems a bit of good house
    cleaning takes care of it.

    If I am lucky enough to keep my reels long enough for some atmospheric chemical weathering to occur, I would
    simply chalk them up to a useful long life, which I hope everyone in this thread can aspire to personally in a
    porportional manner. I think I get my money's worth out of them. ;-)

    BTW, I used to sell Foma, they had a long standing problem with their MF films, hope they fixed it.

    If a serious problem occurs, and a solution is not obvious, then by all means, post a sample to the quality control
    people with the film company, they have always given me a well thought out answer.

    Regards, John
  44. I remember when I was back in highschool. Our Journalism teacher had been teaching for many years. She never bought plastic reels for the department (even though a dropped metal reel is a contact error waiting to happen). Her reason, plastic reels were prone to contamination in a high throughput (10-20 rolls/day) environment where the most cleaning the equipment was likely to get was a quick water wash. At college most shooters coming from a highschool journalism background had heard that plastic reels were given to contamination.

    Plastic reels becoming contamination is a well known "fact". Part of this probably is that with time the reels become discolored from developer (much like old [plastic measuring cups will become discolored). That being said I'll stick to metal where I don't have such worries.
  45. I can't find or remember where I read it, but recall that it was stated that Photo-Flo is made with Triton X-100, a surfactant (octylphenol ethoxylate). Often used in cleaning products.
  46. Michael Batchelor wrote: "I can't imagine people from all over the world hallucinate the same problem."
    That would explain Bigfoot, chupacabras and "gray" aliens. Alas, repetition isn't always an indicator of credibility.
    Stephen Delear wrote: "At college most shooters coming from a highschool journalism background had heard that plastic reels were given to contamination."
    "Plastic reels becoming contamination is a well known 'fact'."
    Since you put the word "fact" in quotes, I'm not sure whether this was intended as irony or simple emphasis. But it does appear to be another example of iteration being substituted for information.
  47. Plastic trays become discolored, as do the plastic parts of commercial processors. A friend owns a good processor
    and they break down the unit and clean the rollers every day, they will still show some discoloration, but appearance
    does not seem to affect results. Some processors swap out the rollers on a regular basis with new rollers arriving
    with the chemistry. More to prevent scratches I believe.

    I doubt if you could see silver contamination on metal reels, but if everything is loaded and working properly, I could
    estimate less physical contact with the film, but most of the mess ups in processing from students seem to involve
    SS reels, and with MF I feel you will see more of the dark marks from excess cupping or creasing of the film as it is
    handled more during loading, which might out weigh any potential contamination from stains.

    If you are processing that much film, you surely can afford to buy neplacement reels, and as mentioned, students
    drop metal reels and they never get aligned again. Any silver solvent or, as I recall there are published formulae for
    tray cleaners, and either should spruce up the reels, but it very well may be unnecessary.

    If I am changing to E6 from B&W, I might use new reels and tanks and keep them for one process or the other.

    Does any major film or chemistry producer have any published data on contamination of plastic/ nylon / stainless
    reels specifically?

  48. if not ansewered already, a bleach/water solution will remove all residue
  49. I've got a plastic Ansco tank that I got around 1960 and it still works fine even tho I've used Photo Flo for years, can't
    remember when I started.

    Maybe I need to go to a Photo Flow class, I will stand up and admit, "I use photo Flow." Cheers. Then I can take the
    appropriate steps to get off of using it! Just kidding. I still will use it!

    Nice idea to have these topic Lex and you do a great job as moderator. Thanks!
  50. Mark, have mentioned toilet cleaners that have been recommended with a brush for RA4 processors, and bleach will
    actually disolve the emulsion from film, giving you a clear base, which is how we used to recycle X Rays to use the
    base for other things. If you have a spoiled roll of film and a film strip projector, the kids can have some fun with
    some markers and the cleared film.

    William, remember those steps-- ;-)

    I think I had the same tank, you could load the plastic reels from the inside and outside, and generally you punctured
    your thumb in the process-- may have been the FR tanks.

    I think I bought the 16 oz. size, and it has moved with me several times.


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