Ilford washing method question

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by vanner, Jul 7, 2009.

  1. Ilfod describes the following film washing method, which I would like to use:

    "After fixing, fill the spiral tank with water at the same temperature, +/- 5ºC (9ºF), as the processing solutions and invert it five times. Drain the water away and refill. Invert the tank ten times. Once more drain the water away and refill. Finally, invert the tank twenty times and drain the water away."
    I would like to try this method, rather than a running water method, because I have trouble keeping a constant temperature out of my tap, but I can "jug" enough water at the correct temperature to use the above described method.
    Two questions: 1. Is this method really adequate? I would think that if Ilford publishes it, then it is . 2. Should I, or should I not, use a hypoclear agent as well. If using this technique without a hypoclear agent is good enough, I'd be happy. (btw - using non-hardening fixer).
    jan_vladimir likes this.
  2. Temp is not as important as crud in the water. The beauty of this method is you can use distilled water and not run out! Using distilled water is more effective on eliminating "spots" than washing with tap water longer. You can certainly still use the hypoclear.
  3. I've been using it since Ilford first published it in 1976-77, and it works fine for most films. A few years ago I added a one-minute bath in Perma Wash between the first five-inversion wash and the second, but it's not strictly necessary.
    I find that T-Max and Delta films require a running wash to get rid of the dyes in the emulsion, however. I think the T-Max emulsions have a hardener built in, and that would make for a longer wash.
    jan_vladimir likes this.
  4. The method is most definitely adequate, although I add an additonal change of water and a further 40 inversions because my wash water is usually on the chilly side by the end of the wash. I start with water at 15-20 C - I put a 2 litre jug in the microwave and give it a minute or so to bring it up to temperature. After the first cycle of 5 inversions I add cold water straight from the tap to the jug to lower the water temperature a couple of degrees. I do this after every stage so that by the last wash the water is below 15 C, hence I add the extra 40 inversions to allow for this. I don't use hypo clear.
    I have used this techinique for at least 15 years and my negs are as good as the day I processed them.
  5. I use it, both for final wash and for the stop after development. Never had a problem. I do prefer 8-16-32, though; it's neater. But then, I'm a geek...
  6. Why guess when you can know? Buy a residual hypo test kit from Photographers Formulary (Kodak no longer sells such a kit) and follow the instructions.
    What I've found is the old Ilford method does work for me. However with certain films there is more to washing that just hypo removal. The latest version of 400Tmax (aka TMY-2) retains it's sensitizing dyes with some tenacity. The hypo usually washes out before these dyes leaving a film that is more or less pink-purple. It takes me three water cycles to rid the film of hypo, but another two to get most of the remaining dye out. The final two rinses I find are more time dependent than agitation dependent -- don't be afraid to set the tank down and walk away for a few minutes. That said, TMY-2 is the only film I know of that has this problem.
  7. Thanks to all for the advice.
  8. The finished black-and-white film / print consist of metallic silver imbedded in gelatin. Gelatin is used because it is flexible but most of all porous; it allows chemicals to particulate in and out of the structure while locking metallic sliver in place. The porosity of gelatin is enhanced because gelatin swells when wet and shrinks back down when dry.
    To render silver based materials stable it is necessary to remove all undeveloped silver salts. (You need to know there is a big difference between silver which is opaque and appears black and silver salts that resemble table salt but the crystals are much smaller).
    If the silver salts are not removed they will self reduce (in time) to silver and a halogen. As the salts reduce they darken. This action causes the image to fades. The countermeasure is a bath in fixer (to render permanent). The nickname is hypo. The correct name is hyposulfite of soda.
    Two fixers are in common usage sodium or ammonium thiosulfate. These solution remove silver salts by converting them to soluble complexes. During the bath they dissolve in the fixer solution which is mainly water. With the undeveloped silver salts gone, the image that remains consist of metallic silver.
    Now metallic silver is stable however it is subject to attack by airborne and residual substances. The chief enemy is sulfur. In coal burning areas prints quickly stain due to airborne sulfur. Now both fixer contain sulfur so internal attack is a danger. How can we remove residual fixer and mitigate this peril?
    Soaking is stagnant water will suffice however the water becomes laden with dilute fixer. Frequent changes of the water is called for. Best is washing in running water for 30 minutes for film and 60 + minutes for fiber prints. Using distilled water promotes gelatin swelling but swelled gelatin is soft and thus in jeopardy due to the increased danger of abrading and scratching. Mysterious stains have been reported, the mechanism is unknown. Hard water moderates emulsion the swelling. In geographic areas where the water is too soft Epson Salts are added to artificially harden the water for machine processing.
    Washing with seawater accelerates removal of these residual chemicals. A common technique was seawater washing followed by a rinse or soak in fresh water. Hypo eliminator follows this scheme. Most hypo eliminator are salts however the most common one, is a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide and ammonia. This solution oxidizes residual fixer converting it to a harmless sulfate. Sulfate is inert and will not attack the silver of the image.
    Toning is another countermeasure. In some circles a toned print is most desirable. Most toners replace silver with other metals or chemically convert the silver into a sulfur compound. This conversion is controlled and uniform unlike the attach from airborne sulfur which is dappled. The result is a far more stable image with a brown (warm) tone.
  9. The recommended washing method works fine if you follow Ilford's recommendation to use a non-hardening fixer, such ad Ilford Rapid Fixer. Ilford makes no recommendations if a hardening fixer is used.
  10. Thirty minutes is way too long. If you're going to use a running water wash, 10 minutes is more than enough if you're not using a hardening fixer. Set the flow of water so that the container gets a complete change of water about once a minute.
    The dye in TMax films will diffuse out of the emulsion in a standing water bath. No doubt about it. I do it all the time. Works best if the water isn't too cold.
  11. For archrival washing I stand on 30 minutes with running water if no hypo clear is used. A hardener additive for the fix is a solution of salts of aluminum, chromium, iron, or zirconium or potassium alum. These bond the gelatin together and lower its solubility. Now the gelatin is better able to resist scratches and abrasions often encountered during printing and scanning. The hardened gelatin is less permeable and requires a longer wash. Why skip the hardener for shorter wash time?
  12. Not all manufacturers agree with the Ilford method.
    Agfa/Gevaert actually devised the method many years before Ilford began to promote it in the 1970s. Sometime in the 1980s, though, Agfa ceased to advocate it.
    I don't remember the exact reason why, but I believe it had something to do with surface tension effects leading to a locally-higher concentration of solute on the surface of the film. Since the diffusion rate across a boundary relies upon concentration gradients, this would suggest the rate of solute removal would slow.
  13. >I find that T-Max and Delta films require a running wash to get rid of the dyes in the emulsion, however. I think the T-Max emulsions have a hardener built in, and that would make for a longer wash.
    I think nearly every B&W film from Kodak, Fuji, and Ilford uses a hardener. Efke films do not, nor did the Forte films.
  14. The Ilford method works fine for me. With T-Max films I use a fourth tankful of water and agitate aggressively. This removes as much residual dye as possible, enough to suit my needs. I finish up with a tankful of distilled water and a drop or two of wetting agent. Has worked fine for the past 10 years with 35mm and MF films from Ilford, Kodak, Efke and a few others. I use ordinary rapid fixer from concentrate (Ilford Hypam or comparable types). No hardeners. I rarely bother with selenium, hypo clear or other unnecessary steps.
  15. Who of you has ever chemically tested their films for remaining fixer and/or silver salts?
    (All these "never had a problem in 15 years" just don't impress me.)
    Who has ever measured their negs for fog density and re-measured the same negs 15 years later with the same and newly calibrated densitometer?
    For the record: I wash my (unhardened) films in 6 stages: 20x, hypo wash, 10x, 20x, 40x, 1min in 1litre of Agepon solution in aq.dest. reused for 20 films, them dumped)
  16. I did it for more than 14 years and all is ok. The big advice is that always I used rapid fixer. Now I purchased hardener fixer I am in doubt.
  17. It works ok for me....
  18. Hey Peter. Did you mean that worked for you with hardener fixer?
  19. Yes. I use Kodak rapid fixer. The one that comes with the hardener in a separate bottle.
    I am curious. Why wouldn't you think it worked?
  20. Because the hardener makes more difficult the wash. I read that the Ilford method was created for non hardener fixers, only rapid fixers. Kodak professional fixer with hardener in powder is what I found now in the store here and I have some Adox old emulsions that are on the soft side, so use this fixer would be ok. What worried me is the washing time.

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