View Full Version : Can you re-use photo chemicals and other ??'s

Ellen Stoune Duralia
1-Feb-2005, 07:53
Hi everyone! How's the world treatin' ya?

I am interested in processing my own film, especially b&w but maybe color too as reading some of the other threads has inspired me. I did a search but didn't really find the specific answers I was looking for. If there is a good book on this subject I'd love to know the title as so far I've found lots of books about building your own darkroom but I'm not interested in going that route. Daylight processing in tanks is what I'm after.

My first question is how long will chemicals last once they are mixed? And what do you do with them after developing? Do you pour them down the drain, back in their bottles? Are there major differences in the shelf life of E-6 chemicals vs. b&w chemicals?

2nd question is who are your favorite online vendors for chemicals?

And finally, is it okay to use the same tank for both b&w and E-6 (not at the same time of course)?

Thanks in advance - words cannot express how grateful I am to have found this wonderful resource :-D

1-Feb-2005, 08:05
Building a darkroom doesn't always mean building a dark room. You'll find a lot of daylight tanks being used in darkrooms. I wouldn't ignore those sources on building darkrooms.

But to answer the questions. Best source I know of for info on E-6 processing is the Kodak website. Look for document Z-119

http://www.kodak.com/global/en/service/Zmanuals/z119.shtml (http://www.kodak.com/global/en/service/Zmanuals/z119.shtml)

How you handle chemicals depends on how your darkroom is setup. I use my film developers one shot. So it gets used once and then dumped. My fixer and stops get reused so they get stored. Some people reuse developer. It's common with colour chemicals to have a seasoned set of chemicals. This is easier if you're doing a large amount of film. One shot is easier for low volume users.

I use the same tanks for B&W,C-41 and even RA-4.


http://www.colba.net/~fotochem/ (http://www.colba.net/~fotochem/)

They're under new ownership and I think have a new website.

B&W chemicals tend to last longer then colour ones.

Louie Powell
1-Feb-2005, 08:59
Ellen -

So many questions - - -

First, B&W -

Chemicals can be purchased either as liquid concentrates or powders. Powdered developers mixed with water to form "stock solutions" that are further diluted for use. In small darkrooms, it is customary for developers to be treated as "one shot" - use and dispose - although commercial darkrooms that see a lot of volume may replenish developers for limited reuse. Concentrates have a very long shelf life; the shelf life of stock solutions is typically months to not much more than a year depending on whether the bottle is full, whether it is glass or plastic, clear or brown, etc. Other b/w solutions will have a much longer shelf life and can be reused to exhaustion. Exhaustion depends on the amount of film tha is processed.

There is a debate about how these chemicals should be disposed of. The main environmental hazard is the silver content, especially in fixer. In small (home) labs, they are often just dumped. Commercial labs often have silver recovery systems to remove the silver for recycling before they are dumped.

E-6 -

These tend to come as a combination of liquid and powder, and have a reasonably long shelf life as they are supplied by the manufacturer. Once mixed, however, the life expectancy is very limited - typically less than a month. They can be reused to a limited degreee, and should be to gain maximum economics from the process, and partial reuse causes a further reduction in remaining life expectancy.

Most commercial E-6 kits are designed with the intention that the three solutions (first developer, second developer, and fix) will be mixed at the point when they are depleted. When mixed, the solutions neutralize each other so that with the exception of some residual silver content, they are environmentally benign. High volume commercial labs will typically recover the silver for recycling before disposing of the mixture, while home users will often just dump the mixure down the drain.

Gem Singer
1-Feb-2005, 09:28
Hi Ellen,

One of the best books I can recommend that contains the basic information you are seeking is: "The Ansel Adams Guide - Basic Techniques of Photography, Book I", by John P. Schaefer. Published by Little, Brown and Company.

I have been purchasing my film, paper, and chemicals from Calumet, in Chicago and B&H, in New York for a good many years. Both of those vendors have excellent availability, price, and service. I recommend using as many of the pre-mixed liquid chemical solutions as possible. Even though they may seem to be more expensive at the beginning, in the long run, highly concentrated liquid solutions will resist oxidation for a longer period of time than solutions that are mixed from powder.

Neal Wydra
1-Feb-2005, 10:55
Dear Ellen,

Purchase the Kodak Black & White Darkroom Dataguide and the Kodak Color Darkroom Dataguide. The latter is out of print, but you should be able to find a copy at the local camera shop. If not, Amazon.com can point you to some sources.

Neal Wydra

domenico Foschi
1-Feb-2005, 11:18
A great source of info is also the book " build your own home darkroom" by Lista Duren and Will Mc Donald.
Nothing to do with Chemicals , but your job will get easier once you'll have a proper darkroom , and the projects are also easy to follow.
I would also attend a class ,given they still teach traditional darkroom techniques; somewhere i know they do.Have fun.

Jim Rhoades
1-Feb-2005, 11:26
Ah, This is Ellen from Brooklyn right ? Just pour it down the drain. Any silver content will be poisoned by all the lead and mercury from Newark.

Ralph Barker
1-Feb-2005, 11:35
Others have given good references for books and such, Ellen, so I won't add to that list. Even though you plan to use a daylight tank, there are parts of the process (e.g. loading the tank) that need to be done in total darkness. It is far more convenient to do that in a "room" that is dark (and has a counter to work on) than with a film-changing bag or "tent".

So, while you may not want or need a fully-dedicated "darkroom", you'll likely want at least a room that has been made dark. Bathrooms are good candidates for this. You'll find several previous threads about how to make a room dark here.

Calamity Jane
1-Feb-2005, 12:28

#1 - All the chemistry makers (that I know of) have data sheets available online, usually in .pdf format. They cover mixing for different processing methods ("one shot", "stock solution", etc.), shelf life, etc. They will indicate any hazards associated with the handling or waste.

#2 - B&W chemicals last almost forever (well, almost) - just keep track of the amount of film processed and adjust the development time accordingly. I'm currently using B&W paper and stop bath that is nearly 25 years old! (The fixer turned to a stone and I wasn't even going to try the old dveloper!)

E-6 will last WAY longer than the book value if stored in FULL, stoppered, GLASS bottles. I have been running my E-6 beyond 90 days with no ill effects (book shelf life is given as 30 days).

#3 - I use my Combi-Plan tank for everything!

Ellen Stoune Duralia
1-Feb-2005, 13:57
Brooklyn?! Heck no! I'm a southern girl :-)

Thanks for all the info :-) I've processed my own 35mm b&w film before but it's been years and I've never done E6... thus all the questions. I appreciate ya'll heading me in the right direction. I can get my E6 processed in Charlotte but it seems that labs are dropping like flies and perhaps I'd best learn how to do this, eh?

tor kviljo
2-Feb-2005, 01:49
In europe, Tetenal & JOBO both sell E6 3-bath kits in 1/2, 5 and 15 litres size (is it sold as beseler or unicolor in US?). These 3-bath kits is very much the standard for personal E6 processing these days. The 15 litre jobo kit can be bought in deflatable plastic containers so that no air enters the container when you tap the needed amount - that way, the concentrates remains "fresh" until you have used it up - could be no simpler..... The best way of doing E6 is to use fresh chemsitry all the time, i.e. let the consentrates stay as consentrates until the day you do the processing: being very easy to make up: Using Tetenal, 1 litre first-developer is 200ccm developer &800ccm water, color dev. & bleach-fix is two liquids each (200 + 120 ccm and 200 + 200ccm respectively - water to 1L) . Takes 5 -10 min to prepare all chemistry, so I see no reason to store any amounts of mixed but unused chemistry, only exception is if You chose to go for a processor/tank where you will use the chemistry several times. Then, collapsible bottles or better, Tetenal Protectan gas on top of liquid will let you store partially used chemistry for a few weeks. I use protectan on partially empetied bottles of concentrate, and have used more than one year old consentrate protected this way with no percievablechange of dev. activity.
For advice on developing & dark-room routine You have had plenty of info, but I advice You also to have a look at JOBO USA's pages and : http://www.jobo-usa.com/faq/faqfrontpage.htm (http://www.jobo-usa.com/faq/faqfrontpage.htm) You find a lot of info about E6 and other processing (useful also if You are using other than JOBO equipment), FAQ's and tetenal-info as well as an archive of the now discontinued Jobo Quaterly, where selected themes & user profiles (photographers/printers) is presented.