Noob Chemical Help

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by cara_christina, Oct 14, 2014.

  1. So I am a little confused about mixing and storing chemicals. I have bought all ilford products (500ml bottles) and I am unsure if I need to make up the whole bottles (which I would prefer not to do) or if I can do just a bit at a time? I don't really know what I should be storing chemicals in, what do people normally use. I don't really have anything on hand, and the photo store does not selling any chemical storage bottles.
    This was all done for me when I was in school so I have never mixed myself and I feel nervous and I don't want to do the wrong thing and waste my money!
    Thanks! I am anxious to get started but I want to do things right!
  2. may I add I am working on prints (not film) currently.
  3. From liquid concentrate, it is usual to mix less than the whole bottle.
    Powders usually you mix the whole package, but you might dilute it from that. (It is hard to be sure that the powder hasn't separated, though it can be done.)
    It is nice to get official (brown) bottles. If you use other bottles, be sure that they seal tightly.
    Nalgene bottles as supplied for chemistry labs are a good choice, but are sometimes harder to find and more expensive than the brown bottles from photography stores.
    You can also use left over bottles from juice or soda, if you clean them well. Be extra sure to store them where kids won't get to them.
    For developer, you want to keep air out of the bottle. You can squeeze some air out before putting the lid on. If that won't do, the favorite trick is to put marbles in the bottle. Marbles also work in glass bottles.
    I use the Ilford Rapid Fixer, but not the other Ilford chemicals. That is 1:4 for film and 1:9 for prints. I usually make about 500ml at a time.
    I presume Ilford has a fine print developer. While there are a lot of film developers, and a lot of reasons for choosing one over another, Dektol (from Kodak) is a very popular print developer.
  4. is there a website that can tell me measurements and the math for smaller quantities?
  5. Liquid concentrates can be diluted to make working solutions as needed. However, the working solutions can be stored. I use old 2 litre bleach bottles which have been thoroughly washed out. The bottles have air-tight caps (so OK for storing developer) which are also child-proof. The bottles are high-density polypropylene. I replenish the developer after each session by adding a little freshly made up developer to fill the bottle to the top and exclude air. The bleach bottles also have the advantage of being in different colours so I can 'colour code' the solutions.
  6. Just a couple of points:
    1) With liquid concentrates you can take any quantity and mix this with water to make a working solution.
    2) You will certainly need some graduated beakers (marked with ml and fluid ounces on the side). Useful sizes for prints chemicals are 100 ml and 1 liter. For measuring very concentrated film developer such as Rodinal, a 20 ml beaker is good too. With these, the math should not be a problem - for example, print developer 1+10 is 100 ml concentrate and 1 liter water.
    3) You will never normally store used print chemicals.
  7. Does Ilford have an indicator stop bath? With the indicator, you can use it as long as it is yellow.
    I usually keep print fixer for a little while, but not too long. Rapid fixer doesn't keep as well as regular fixer, but if kept in sealed bottles it isn't so bad.
    I may or may not keep diluted print developer. It is pretty easy to see from the color when it is too old.
  8. Developer is the only one you have to worry about spoiling if not stored or used up quickly. The stop and fixed are quite resistant to damage. But do be careful not to store any of them on cold concrete floors or in a cold environment as the chemicals can separate out and form crystals on the bottom of the bottle that are difficult, if not impossible, to mix back into solution properly. The concentrates should also not be stored in a cold environment for the same reason. This lesson I learned from personal experience when my darkroom was in my basement.
    Also a word of caution about replenishment of developer. If you're developing your prints by sight in an open tray then replenishment is not a problem, but if you're processing in a rotating drum, such as a Beseler system, using a fixed time, then replenishment should not be used as it's impossible to get it "right" so each developer batch is a perfect duplicate of the previous one. In fact if you are using a rotating drum system then the developer should just be thrown away after each use as it oxidizes too fast to be safely reused.
  9. If you are mixing from powdered chemicals you have to mix the whole batch, for the reasons stated above about the chemicals within the powder not mixing evenly otherwise. Proper darkroom chemical bottles are preferred. But when I was a poor teenager just starting off I used plastic milk jugs that had been thoroughly washed and they worked just fine.
    "replenishment of developer"
    As a beginner, don't even think about replenishment. Learn to walk before you learn to run.
  10. When I wasn't yet a teenager, I remember using glass milk bottles.
    I had real darkroom bottles for Diafine that I inherited from my grandfather, but everything else was in reused bottles.
    When I was in college, I used Nalgene laboratory bottles that I could buy from the school. They aren't brown, but are high quality plastic. Polyethelene is pretty resistant to chemicals, so is a favorite for labs.
    I don't see 8 ounce (250ml) bottles in photography stores anymore, though. I would like some more of those.
  11. Developers will last their longest in glass bottles. Oxygen is the enemy of developers, and glass is impermeable to it, unlike most plastics. Keep the bottles as full as you can to avoid air. I use canning jars which come in different sizes and have lids that seal well. I never mix partial amounts from packages, just mix the whole thing and developers last many months stored this way.

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