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Thread: how much water for soak washing fb prints?

  1. #1

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    how much water for soak washing fb prints?

    I'm about to try soak washing for the first time, with distilled water in trays, and I'm curious as to the minimum volume of water needed for an adequate bath. I was initially thinking two gallons per tray should serve but would like to hear from others with experience in this method.

    I will use two deep trays for fb prints and and I've no residue fixer tester nor silver iodine to make my own, on hand. Does anyone have an alternative formula for a residue fixer test?

    I plan to use the one hour-fifteen minute split time I've read elsewhere as a guide. What sort of capacity should I expect per gallon of water?

  2. #2

    Re: how much water for soak washing fb prints?

    You really need to test. Too much depends on your water and your processing workflow for anyone else to be able to give you definitive recommendations.

    If you can't lay your hands on the ingredients, order the residual hypo test kit from the Photographers' Formulary.

    http://www.photoformulary.com/uploads/03-0150.pdf

  3. #3

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    Re: how much water for soak washing fb prints?

    I'll order up the materials as soon as I'm able, however, I'm printing latter today and am 'stuck' with this method for the time being. I won't use household water here for anything other than rapid washing RC prints because of mineral content.

    I might add a third tray and a third more time to the line, but with half as much water as the deep trays.

  4. #4
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    Re: how much water for soak washing fb prints?

    eli,

    It would really help to dip the prints in hypo clearing agent before you soak them in water in order to neutralize the fixer.

    Look for Heico Permawash, Orbit Bath, Kodak HCA, etc., and follow the instructions for use.

    It's not the volume of water, but the frequency of changing the water that has the most effect.

  5. #5
    Louie Powell's Avatar
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    Re: how much water for soak washing fb prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by eli View Post
    I'm about to try soak washing for the first time, with distilled water in trays, and I'm curious as to the minimum volume of water needed for an adequate bath. I was initially thinking two gallons per tray - - -

    I plan to use the one hour-fifteen minute split time I've read elsewhere as a guide. What sort of capacity should I expect per gallon of water?
    I'm not sure what you have been reading, or where - - -

    There are two major factors here - the number of prints, and the agitation cycle. As the number of prints increases, the need for agitation also increases, as do the minimum amount of water in the tray, and the required number of wash cycles. I'm not aware of any hard rules that you can follow.

    I was printing this morning - a typical session that lasted four hours, and produced perhaps a couple dozen prints. After fixing, the prints go into a holding bath. When I am done ('done' is defined by exhaustion - of either the developer or the photographer), I mix a fresh batch of fixer and refix the prints, and then put them in a tray of water (and save the fixer for the next printing session). Prints soak in a hypoclear bath for a while (anything from five minutes to the time required to have lunch), and then go into a selenium toner. After toning, they go back to the hypoclear for a couple of minutes. Finally, they go into the wash cycle that consists of five to six soaking cycles in trays of fresh water. For a typical session, I usually use two quarts of water per cycle.

    I use ordinary tap water for washing prints. Keep in mind that the US Navy promotes washing in sea water, and modern hypoclear solutions are derived from Navy experiences. I follow a similar process when washing film, only in that instance I do use either distilled or RO-filtered water and PhotoFlo as the last step in the wash.

  6. #6

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    Re: how much water for soak washing fb prints?

    I've been looking at the Ilford forums, as well as APUG and other sites on this topic and it seems that agitation or water flow is not needed to wash fb prints to an archival standard. The method generally discussed involves a two bath standing water set-up with the time generally divided into two equal periods.

    The 'critical' requirment seems to be simply keeping the prints separate while the fixer 'diffuses' into the water.

    One contributer in the APUG thread I have linked, points out that the fixer, once it separates into the water, will not be reabsorbed by the paper, which if correct, is reassuring to some degree.

    How much water to a standing bath is the question, as I don't want to be wasteful of water I buy by the gallon and store in a limited space.

    This is not to say that I am willing to undercut good archival practices but simple want to try a valid method that is new to me.

    By-the-way, I do use a wash-aid in my line, either Permawash or sodium sulfite and I do tone in Kodak rapid selenium, 1:9. Even after I can fit an in-line water filter into my darkroom water line, I will continue to use distilled water for compounding chemistries, film and fb paper processing.

  7. #7
    Louie Powell's Avatar
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    Re: how much water for soak washing fb prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by eli View Post
    One contributer in the APUG thread I have linked, points out that the fixer, once it separates into the water, will not be reabsorbed by the paper, which if correct, is reassuring to some degree.
    I don't think so. Its a matter of equilibrium.

    There is fixer in the emulsion of the paper. When you soak it in water, that fixer migrates into the water. But that diffusion process stops when the concentration of fixer in the water equals the concentration in the emulsion. At that point, you need fresh water.

    So you continue this process for several cycles, each time reducing the concentration of fixer in the emulsion by a significant amount.

    As a practical matter, you can't remove 100% of the fixer from the emulsion - that would take an infinite number of soaking cycles. And you don't want to - there is research that shows that prints with a trace amount of fixer are more archival that prints with no fixer in the emulsion. Instead, its a matter of getting most of it.

    If you place a print into a tray of water where concentration of fixer in the water is greater than the concentration of fixer in the emulsion, fixer will migration back into the emulsion.

  8. #8

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    Re: how much water for soak washing fb prints?

    Your right Louie, I stated that badly, knowing that the water would have been tossed long before enough fixer would be transfered to the bath to reverse the process.

    I should have said that it's reassuring that given the action of diffusion, the lack of agitation and the volumes involved, once the fixer is out, it won't be reabsorbed by the paper, in a normal printing session, if the method is in fact archival.

  9. #9

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    Re: how much water for soak washing fb prints?

    I don't understand the need for distilled water for washing. Is your water that bad, that it cannot be used? Is it potable? Have you had it tested? I'm just curious...

  10. #10

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    Re: how much water for soak washing fb prints?

    Every now and again, my tap water will be clouded and I don't know if it is something from the pipes, old steel stuff, or something in the water supply, perhaps a break in the supply line.

    Last winter when we had many nights in the teens, unusual for this area, I left facets dripping and in the bathroom by my bedroom, I attached a paper towel to the facet with a rubber-band, trailing to the drain, to eliminate the dripping noise.

    This towel stained fairly quickly over 24-48 hours, enough so that I decided not to chance washing fb and films until I had a good filter set-up in place; I have not been able to afford this yet so I continue to use distilled water. RC prints wash quickly enough that this is not a concern but I won't chance less stain/particle resilient material.

    I hope to have filters in place latter this summer, however I may still use distilled water if the standing bath method works, simple because it appeals to me. All the other solutions are mixed with distilled so this is simply to keep things uniform. The same for films. Another 'advantage' is that my chemistry and water are always exactly the same temperature because they are stored in the same area.

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