View Full Version : Alkaline Fixers

15-May-2004, 15:00
The film developing cookbook recommends alkaline fixers for both film and paper.

Some questions for those who have made the switch:

1) When developing paper, should a water bath be used between developer and fixer?

2) Does anyone mix their own alkaline fixer? The cookbook gives the formula for TF-3. Photographic formulary sells ammonium thiosulfate in solution but doesn't give a shelf life for it. They list 1 year as the shelf life for their pre-mixed TF4 which is much more expensive than the unmixed chemicals.

Any comments would be welcome.

Annie M.
15-May-2004, 15:39

I use Agfa's neutral pH ammonium thiosulphate fixer - FX-Universal for B&W (dirt cheap in Canada... about $9 for 5 litres). Diluted 1:7 for paper 1:5 for film.... Water rinse after development.

Cheers, Annie

Jonathan Borden
15-May-2004, 16:36
I just use a water bath between dev and fixer. I use my fixer one shot so it works fine.

I sometimes mix up TF-3 properly (Am Thio + Sodium Sulfite) ... on the other hand, I sometimes just mix 160 ml of ammionium thio in a liter of h20 (working stength for film).

You can also mix up TF-3 and add a bit of Citric Acid to quell the smell.

Ammonium Thiosulfate lasts a good long time at the 60% concentration.

L.V. Smith
15-May-2004, 17:56
Jeremy: I presently use Formulary's TF-4. It is expensive but last a long time. I recommend you store it in a Brown Glass bottle. Use as directed. You can stop 2 different ways: 1. With an acidic stop bath and then about a 30 second to 1 minute water bath. This helps the fixing bath last longer. I use this method with paper. With film I have switched to an all water stop bath, and then into the fixer. I have mixed and used TF-3 for a fixer. It does a good job but I don't believe it last as long so therefore I went to the TF-4. I use a partial film leader to check my clearing time. When TF-4 is fresh the clearing time should be around 20 to 25 seconds. I triple that for important prints (Paper). I use 5 minutes to fix film. Occasional agitation. I keep the film fixer and the paper fixer separate. When the film fixer starts to clear a leader in about 50 to 1 minute, I toss it. You can use just a water bath between developer and fixer for paper also. Try a running water bath for about 30 seconds or so. I still use the acidic stop for paper but water for film. After acidic stop for paper I go to a water bath for about 30 to 45 seconds. Smitty

15-May-2004, 19:09
That's also something I wondered:

With an acidic fixer, stop is necessary to neutralize the alkaline developer in order to extent the life of the acidic fixer.

If both the fixer and developer are alkaline, is there an issue of the developer exhausting the fixer?

David A. Goldfarb
15-May-2004, 20:44
Do use a water bath between the dev and fix. I rinse 30 sec. for films and RC prints, 1 minute for FB prints before TF-4, and if it's a lengthy printing session, be sure to change the water occasionally, or you may get some print staining, particularly with certain developers like Dektol. Also, even though the dilution is the same for prints and film, I keep separate batches to keep things that come out in the film fixer (pyro stain, antihalation and sensitizing dyes) from staining my prints.

Ole Tjugen
16-May-2004, 10:19
I use alkaline fixer for nearly all my work, except lith printing. I don't use an acid stop, except (again) for lith printing. I use just a quick dip in water instead, to remove most of the developer carry-over.

My fixer is cheap, I mix it myself to my own recipe. It works, and is less smelly than TF-4, at a fraction of the price. It's a basic alkaline sodium thiosulfate fixer with some added ammonium chloride. This gives the same activity as using ammonium thiosulfate, and reduces the number of chemicals in my cupboard (I need sodium thiosulfate for other processes anyway).

Film and paper may continue to develop in the alkaline fixer if a stop (or long wash) isn't used. It doesn't matter as long as you're consistent.