Rodinal Gone Bad

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by vladsoare, May 2, 2008.

  1. Actually, it's not Rodinal, it's R09, but it's supposed to be the same formula
    as the original Rodinal, isn't it? :)<br>
    So, here goes: I stored the developer in four 125 ml glass bottles, full to the
    brim. Well, actually three of them were full to the brim, while the fourth one
    was getting emptier with every developed film. Knowing that Rodinal-type
    developers last for ages even in partially full containers, I didn't bother
    using glass marbles, or butane, or anything like that. Over the course of about
    four months, the first bottle has got from full to almost empty, the developer
    working perfectly all this time. <br>
    But yesterday I was in for a big surprise. The film turned out completely clear,
    with just an extremely faint trace of images in the areas of the strongest
    highlights. :-(<br>
    I then did a test: I prepared two solutions, one from this bottle and one from a
    full bottle, and developed and fixed a piece of a 35mm film leader, in full
    light. This proved that the developer in the almost empty bottle was dead. :-(<br>
    The color was unchanged. It looked the same as the one from the unopened bottle.
    What happened? Is the longevity of the Rodinal overrated? I don't think it's the
    "R09 versus real Rodinal" thing, because the legend of its longevity was born
    long before Agfa changed the formula. What went wrong? And why was there no
    warning, no change in color, nothing? Why was the death so sudden, like one film
    turns out perfectly and the next one, a couple of days later, completely
  2. R09 comes in a plastic bottle which is made of a different material than what Rodinal bottles are made of. There have been many threads of the differences between old and new Rodinal and R09. Rodinal type developers can indeed last a long time but not forever. If you want an economical developer which can last a very long time, try mixing up a batch of PC-TEA. PC-TEA is also a lot safer to handle than Rodinal type developers. If you are not sure whether your developer is still good you should develop a short test strip first. If you know hat you will not use a developer for quite a long time then powdered developer would be better. It lasts much longer before being mixed than any liquid concentrate.
  3. Were there any crystals in the bottom of the bottle? It is my understanding that if there are crystals in the bottle the developer should resist deterioration of functionality, although I admit to now knowing the chemical process this represents so take it for what it's worth. I can say that I have a bottle of Agfa version Rodinal that is quite dark now, yet still works fine. It is approximately 4 years old now, in the factory bottle, with perhaps 100ml left in which a good number of crystals can be heard sloshing about on the bottom.

    I've never used R09, but given the storage solution you settled on and the information I've read (again, beware the lack of references here) it could be that the concentrate was not strong enough in small volumes to be able to retain the shelf life because it did not have sufficient volume of the constituent ingredients needed to form the crystals. Just a thought, not a fact...

    - R
  4. I can be very short on this:

    R09 (Calbe/Adox) or Fomadon R09 (Foma) is based on para-amino phenol but is NOT the same like Agfa/A&O Rodinal.
    Agfa/A&O Rodinal will not go bad after years and years but R09 or Fomadon R09 has a life time of about 1 1/2 year depending on the amount of air in the bottle. Then it's going out. The color will stay the same (dark coke brown).

    Rodinal (Agfa/A&O) will go from light yellow (new) to dark brown (almost black after > 5 years) but will still work.

    Apart from the packing (Fomadon R09 in H.D. polyethylene) is Rodinal packed in Silar (TM) plastic bottles.

    By the way: Fomadon R09 is very recently renewed to match more the Rodinal Agfa times and dilution and the storage time should be better now.

    Best regards,


    (Dutch Foma and Rodinal (Agfa/A&O) distributor)
  5. I know that R09 is not the same as what is being sold today as Agfa Rodinal. However, the legend of its longevity was born decades ago, when Agfa had not yet introduced the "new" formula.<br>
    Besides, it went bad in approximately four months, which seems too short even by Foma's standards. And what strikes me is that it happened so suddenly, in a matter of days, going straight from perfect to completely useless, with no intermediate steps.
    Randall, I don't know what to say about crystals. In the original bottle there were no crystals, just a straight liquid. But as time went by, in the opened bottle the liquid started to form small patches of something insoluble floating at the surface, and when I thrown it away this morning and wanted to wash the bottle, I saw that the bottom of the bottle was covered in a hard crust. I don't know if these are the crystals you're talking about, as I have no idea how they should look like. But somehow I did't like the look of that crust and don't think it was normal.
    Jeff, thanks for the suggestion. I don't know what PC-TEA is, but I'll search the archives. The main problem would be to find a place that delivers chemicals abroad. The R09 has the advantage of being available locally. Anyway, for the time being I'll probably go back to HC-110. That never goes bad. :)
  6. If it's a Fomadon R09 bottle there is an expiration date on it.

    Together with the batch number it's easy to search out what happened.
    I think you have a locally old bottle R09 for over some years. Only then these kind of things can happened.

    Foma guarantees after opening a year. I know from experience somewhere between 1 1/2 and 2 years the developer is going bad. Also the crust in the bottom of your R09 developer is far from normal.

    Anyhow if you are searching for a fool proof liquid developer concentrate for over more years, Agfa Rodinal or indeed HC-110 can be your choice.

    Best regards,


    Here a link to a test of 4 1/2 years old Rodinal:
  7. A reference for Randall Ellis' theory: According to Anchell & Troop's film developing cookbook, Rodinal and homemade clones of it require the crystals. It's a supersaturated solution.
    I don't understand the part in the original post about four bottles. Did you buy four bottles? Or did you buy one bottle and then separated the original one big bottle into four parts? If the latter, I'd expect the life to be short, because it's unlikely you would have split the crystals into four equal parts to go with the liquid. Some chemicals might have a longer life when separated into individual small bottles, to reduce exposure to air. But not Rodinal. Always keep Rodinal in its original bottle.
  8. Robert, the developer was almost new. Our local Foma dealer always delivers film, paper and chemicals together with a copy of a quality certificate. I don't have the original bottle anymore, but I found the certificate, and it states the respective batch was produced in September 2007 and would expire in September 2009.<br>
    Richard, I separated the original bottle in smaller parts. I did it because the original plastic bottle was tall and thin, and with a small neck. It was very difficult to insert a syringe to extract the developer, and it would become downright impossible once the liquid level decreased below a certain point. So I poured it into shorter and wider bottles. I didn't know about those crystals. <br>
    OK, I'll give it another chance. I'll buy a new batch, and this time I'll keep the concentrate in the original bottle.
  9. I think indeed your problem is the non homogenious split over the four bottles. Both Rodinal and R09 are in a supersaturated solution and will form some crystals very soon which is not a problem as long the crystals are not in the working solution because they can mechanically damage the emulsion.

    The HD polyetheylene packing of Fomadon R09 is a practical shipping weight/cost solution, the Silar packing of Rodinal is even better for preventing diffusion by air.

    However something went wrong here. But keep in mind R09 has a limited lifetime which is much shorter then Rodinal.
    Maybe THIS thread is an interesting comparision for you between Rodinal and R09:

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