How to clean used chemical bottles

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by dave_cheng|1, Sep 26, 2004.

  1. I am trying to reuse quite a few chemical bottles that I once used
    many years ago. But I found some bottles have silver deposit inside
    that will not go no matter how I wash them. How should I clean them
    so that I can use them again for color processing (C-41 and E-6)?
    The bottles are brown liter sized bottles that are really good as
    far as I remember. I hate to have to throw them away. Any helpful info
    is greatly appreciated.

  2. I've always filled them with household bleach/water mix, let them sit a day, then rinse VERY THOROUGHLY!! Never had a problem with this method.
  3. If you're going to use a similar chemical in it, I think it's enough to rinse them out thoroughly with hot water rinses. I don't think silver deposits will affect your processes.
  4. Bottles are very inexpensive, even brown. Why take a chance, to save two or three dollars; and loose the best shot you ever took?
  5. Hi Dave:
    As always, my recommandations come from a chemist's point of view, fact which implies respect and knowledge about dangers in using chemicals.

    If you really love the bottles, Fisher Scientific sells Chromerge and 98% Sulfuric Acid, with which we make analytical cleaner for volumetry. I guess you don't have to go that far, but I wouldn't recommend bleach, an excessively chlorinated alkali, no matter what positive experience other people might have had, because it "photographically poisones" the glass silicate structure, and it is almost impossible to perfectly rinse it out (traces will affect color for paper and especially for film). To dissolve Silver Oxide and colloidal Silver, you may also use Hydrochloric Acid as it is sold at Home Depot as declogging agent containing Muriatic Acid.

    The stains you refer to are not entirely Silver though. You may first want to try to rinse your bottles with Acetone, IPA or Ethyl Alcohol. Any strong polar solvent will wash away the color developer stubborn residue formong reddish-purple washings. For fixer bottles, which get stained harder, it is infinitely more complicated. Sulfur in excess is formed in a highly adherent "plastic" polymeric form on the walls, and only Carbon Disulfide (very flammable) may solve the problem.

    As it was suggested, new bottles are not a big deal, but if, for any reasons, you'll want to start the cleaner's work, good luck!

    the rookie
  6. I have accumulated over 20 - 30 bottles that more or less need some cleaning.
    I could throw awayy 0.5 liter bottles. But the liter, 2 liters
    and gallon bottles are really wasteful to throw away. I will try to
    clean them to get rid of the black deposit first to look clean.
    Then I will pour in used, ready to dump chemical to prime them before
    using them again. For example, if I plan to use one bottle for color
    developer I will pour in used color developer and let it sit there for
    a day. I think the bottles should be useful afterwards.

    I found scrubing will really get the black stuff off. I might need
    to modify toilet scruber into a bottle scruber to clean the bottles.
    Some of the bottles are probably not cleanable. In that case I will
    dump them. Thanks for all the suggestions.


Share This Page