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View Full Version : Can deionised water be used instead of distilled?



DannyTreacy
18-Aug-2016, 14:57
Hi,

I want to eliminate drying marks as much as possible and have read a good way to do this is to use distilled water with wetting agent as a final wash.

I can get a good deal on deionised water so wanted to know if it's safe to use this?

Thanks,
Danny.

Jac@stafford.net
18-Aug-2016, 15:07
Distilled water is just fine for our needs. Deionised water is unstable and exposure to the air we live in degrades it. The point is that even if you can get deionised water it is not likely to remain in its state. It is entirely unnecessary for photographic use.

If it helps, I have a little regime. In our home we have a dehumidifier which feeds a water distiller. It is overkill, but comforting. :)

Drying marks have nothing to do with the water. Photo-Flow 200 is to be diluted 1:200. Duh. Surprise?
.

Drew Wiley
18-Aug-2016, 15:24
Try the water at Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley. There's a reason Boraxo Soap was mined nearby. And there's a reason why real distilled water is used for final
film rinse.

Jac@stafford.net
18-Aug-2016, 15:29
Try the water at Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley.

I'm sure our world-wide constituency will run right out there. Ya big silly. Do you think you have the only source?
.

LabRat
18-Aug-2016, 16:35
The issue is mineral content... Steam distilled has no/low minerals, de-ionized is run through a very fine filter which removes most all the minerals but be stripped of them, so "empty" of what humans need when they drink, and has no taste... So minerals are re-introduced so it's better for human consumption... The tap water has more minerals, and in some locales a massive amount, and usually this time of year worse... So if you are using it for a final rinse, the amount of minerals in a water drop on your film will dry leaving it's mineral content on your film... Some may be OK, but if high (and the larger the drop), it will leave the mineral "footprint" there if excessive... So as little minerals as possible are good, but also consider that the film just went through the washing process with tap water and is loaded with it, so just a final dip with PF, even in distilled means that the film is still loaded with the wash water + minerals... A final soak bath for 10ish minutes before final dip will diffuse a lot of the tap water out of it...

But don't look at minerals as a bad thing... There was an old photo rep's story about Ansel adding a distilled line to his print washer, but started to get strange fading/staining on his prints, so he yelled (very,very, angry) at the photo paper mfg that the paper was bad... They finally sent a photo rep to Ansel's place when they couldn't find anything wrong with the paper, but the rep noticed that distilled water line, and said that was the problem, as the missing minerals were needed for the thiosulfate diffusion removal process, so just use tap water again... But he could use the distilled for the final soak... Problem solved...

But the de-ionizing removes everything else too (algae, dirt, etc), so a good thing... I use the stuff from the SoCal water machines at the supermarket for chem mixing, and the solutions tend to sludge-up much less... If I wipe roll film with a sponge after a de-ionized final/PF dip, it's fine, but just hanging sheets with an excess of drops can leave a very slight mineral trace on them... But a final soak in a 10min de-ionized, then a distilled PF 30sec dip, and they dry very clean, hanging in still, shower stall (pre-steamed) air... (But we have a bit of an excess of minerals in the water here... If you wash glassware in the sink, and not dry them, you will see what I mean...)

Steve K

Peter De Smidt
18-Aug-2016, 18:29
I used to run a salt water reef tank system. As a result, I have a multistage reverse osmosis and de-ionizing filter setup. Since I have it, that's what I use for mixing chemicals and rinsing film. It seems to work fine. I wouldn't go out of the way to buy such a system just for photography, though.

IanG
19-Aug-2016, 01:06
De-ionosed water is the better option, it's cheaper and will do what you need.


Distilled water is just fine for our needs. Deionised water is unstable and exposure to the air we live in degrades it. The point is that even if you can get deionised water it is not likely to remain in its state. It is entirely unnecessary for photographic use.
.

Both de-ionised and distilled water will degrade if left exposed to air. In fact it's not neccessay to use distilled water for photographic use.

Ian

BetterSense
19-Aug-2016, 04:38
Actual deionzed water, such as laboratories use, can be as good as it gets. It's what we use to make microchips. But you can distill or deionize water and it can later become contaminated. And you can deionize water poorly. Just because it was once deionized doesn't mean it is forever clean.

With water we care about solid particles, dissolved solids ("minerals" and also metals), and dissolved gases. The first is only problem for photography if the particles are "big" (say over 10-100um). A simple filter is sufficient to remove particles. The second is a problem for photography only if mineral content is "high" (far beyond what would be acceptable for semiconductor mfg.). Some tap water has mineral content low enough for final rinsing film, but no tap water anywhere is good enough for chips. The third is really not a problem for photography.

Actually neither deionization nor distillation are required for good photography water. Good RO water should be fine for final rinse and for chemistry.

Both distilled and deionized water absorb CO2 and oxygen from the atmosphere over time. Neither is a problem for drying marks. If you really want the oxygen out, such as for mixing developer, I hear you can boil the water.

Neither DI nor distilled water is dangerous to drink. It is a wives' tale perpetuated by lab managers to keep people from drinking water in the lab. The absolute mineral content of even very hard tap water is minuscule and not enough to make a difference in ion depletion of the human body. In other words if drinking large amount of DI water causes ion depletion, drinking the same amount of tap water would have too. This is why sports medicine knows you need to add sugar and salt (on the order of entire teaspoons/tablespoons per gallon) to water intended for fluid replacement for heavy exertion.

Pete Oakley
19-Aug-2016, 04:40
I agree with Ian. Remember that we are in the UK. I've used de-ionised for years, it's a lot cheaper than distilled and I get it from an auto spares supplier in 25 litre containers which are non returnable but make nice fermenting vessels for the home made wine and cider.
Pete.

Michael R
19-Aug-2016, 04:44
Deionized and distilled are equivalent for photographic use. Use either for the final rinse (with a wetting agent) if you are getting spots with tap water.

For other parts of the process, as Ian says, distilled/deionized water usually isn't necessary in photographic processing. Exceptions are scratch-mixed solutions (which lack sequestering agents), and if your tap water is exceptionally bad. For the wash stage, as LabRat pointed out, distilled/deionized water is a relatively poor washing medium since it lacks dissolved salts (carbonates in particular).

Randy Moe
19-Aug-2016, 06:56
Timely and I believe this answer more than the old thread http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?90688-Does-anyone-else-here-drink-distilled-water-only&p=886851&viewfull=1#post886851 which I read in early dawn.

I mix TF5 with distilled water AND drink it chilled, for 4 years and found no health issue. It also tastes better to me.

Photograghy Formulary suggests less odor from TF5 with distilled. I agree.

But I wash film in Chicago tap at 68 degrees, use no Photoflo, no squeegee and my film is spot free. I dry hanging over sink which is still wet. My dust level is low. Not perfect but I am fine with 'good enough' in many things.

Coffee is fantastic made with distilled. I cook with Chicago tap as I prefer to not live forever. Which is a very bad idea. :)




Actual deionzed water, such as laboratories use, can be as good as it gets. It's what we use to make microchips. But you can distill or deionize water and it can later become contaminated. And you can deionize water poorly. Just because it was once deionized doesn't mean it is forever clean.

With water we care about solid particles, dissolved solids ("minerals" and also metals), and dissolved gases. The first is only problem for photography if the particles are "big" (say over 10-100um). A simple filter is sufficient to remove particles. The second is a problem for photography only if mineral content is "high" (far beyond what would be acceptable for semiconductor mfg.). Some tap water has mineral content low enough for final rinsing film, but no tap water anywhere is good enough for chips. The third is really not a problem for photography.

Actually neither deionization nor distillation are required for good photography water. Good RO water should be fine for final rinse and for chemistry.

Both distilled and deionized water absorb CO2 and oxygen from the atmosphere over time. Neither is a problem for drying marks. If you really want the oxygen out, such as for mixing developer, I hear you can boil the water.

Neither DI nor distilled water is dangerous to drink. It is a wives' tale perpetuated by lab managers to keep people from drinking water in the lab. The absolute mineral content of even very hard tap water is minuscule and not enough to make a difference in ion depletion of the human body. In other words if drinking large amount of DI water causes ion depletion, drinking the same amount of tap water would have too. This is why sports medicine knows you need to add sugar and salt (on the order of entire teaspoons/tablespoons per gallon) to water intended for fluid replacement for heavy exertion.

Drew Wiley
19-Aug-2016, 15:39
Our tap water here is purer than bottled water, and certainly good enough for ordinary film developer usage. I generally used distilled only for final rinse or some
critical application, like matched color separation negs. What we get is snowmelt piped in from the Sierra. By comparison, many of the smaller coastal cities rely
on minor local reservoirs; and I'm convinced that those get filled by someone dumping Clorox right out of the bottle into them, and then full-strength Clorox right
out of the tap, plus some natural flavor enhancement, like essence of cow pie.

Jac@stafford.net
19-Aug-2016, 15:57
Our tap water here is purer than bottled water

May we nail your reputation and veracity upon that statement?

(I have intelligent family in SF. Wait for it. Wait...)

Drew Wiley
19-Aug-2016, 16:13
It's fact. SF gets their water from the infamous Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which broke John Muir's heart, then parks it in a few big local reservoirs; but its primarily direct snowmelt. EBMUD has a similar Sierra source, with extra storage locally. No river water. By contrast, one of the big bottled water companies simply filters its own non-melt tap water, adds some minerals back for taste. Another prominently displays a logo of the mountains and "bottled at the source". Much of it is actually bottled at a superfund site. The water does come downhill to the bottling plant, but...if the site of that is considered to unhealthy to even live at.... not saying it gets into the water, but ??? Our water quality if very well known. That's why there's such a squabble with the burbs, who want to get ahold of some of our water. Theirs is more a river cocktail containing trace amounts of all kinds of insecticides, fertilizers, natural contamination such as selenium, mercury. Sure it treated, but even if all the weird things were 100% removed, it would still taste like swimming pool water. Ours has no chlorine taste
at all. Along with the compromised air quality from all the refinery exhaust pulled by the air currents upriver, many of those satellite cities are nicknamed "Cancer Alley".

Jac@stafford.net
19-Aug-2016, 16:33
Drew, contrasting your water to the worst you can find is not a comparison.

Kirk Gittings
19-Aug-2016, 17:40
Hilarious. It's Drew's normal MO. Just as he contrasts the best traditional photography to the worst digital.

Willie
19-Aug-2016, 20:41
Water from the dehumidifier? Is it OK if filtered for dust and whatnot?
How does it compare with distilled for mixing chemistry?

Willie
19-Aug-2016, 20:42
Drew?
No fish poop in it?

Fr. Mark
19-Aug-2016, 22:05
Water from a dehumidifier ought to be good enough if filtered. It's basically rain water, which I'm surprised no one has brought up in this thread. Dehumidifiers have metal parts like the condenser coils, perhaps metal ions could leach in from those.

Mainly, I use filtered tap water except for developer concentrates. My problem lately is the crazy temp high of the "cold" water coming into the house and worse when I bottle it and it sits in the relatively untempered air in the basement. No running water in my darkroom yet.

I could imagine water with lower mineral content would be a good thing for final rinse for film. How you get there is up to you. I did not realize the big distinction between deionized and distilled. I also don't get how they degrade on exposure to air. Sure, they will pick up gasses, but no one said they were degassed in the first place (though elevating temperature does greatly decrease gas solubility in water) and they are sold in gas permeable polyethylene containers, usually. How are minerals going to get into the distilled/deionized water bottle if the lid is off? If the minerals are volatile enough to end up in the bottle, the temperature would be high enough to compete with a welding torch or better so I don't get that.

Deionized water is probably run through an ion exchange column which is not exactly a filter. Filter is a mechanical sort of thing for particles. Dissolved minerals are not particles by definition.

Another thought, my local tap water is chlorinated and to get rid of that and other chemical contaminants, we have a Carbon Block filter system at the kitchen sink. I get my photography water from that tap. it gets rid of particulates and chlorine, etc., but does NOT remove dissolved minerals much at all.

Chlorine is a gas and will eventually find its way out of the water if I were willing to have a bunch of open buckets sitting around, but I'm not and that would pick up dust. I used to use this method to dechlorinate water for goldfish in a fish tank to stop having to put the chlorine removal chemicals (reducing agents) in the fish water. I'd still be doing it but I don't have the fish anymore.

blue4130
20-Aug-2016, 01:24
Timely and I believe this answer more than the old thread http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?90688-Does-anyone-else-here-drink-distilled-water-only&p=886851&viewfull=1#post886851 which I read in early dawn.

I mix TF5 with distilled water AND drink it chilled, for 4 years and found no health issue. It also tastes better to me.



You drink TF5? Wow. Gin is as hard as I'll go. ;)

Michael Cienfuegos
21-Aug-2016, 11:58
You drink TF5? Wow. Gin is as hard as I'll go. ;)

He must be tough, have to be to survive those winters.

m

Randy Moe
21-Aug-2016, 12:04
He must be tough, have to be to survive those winters.

m

I keep warm dodging hot lead...

Jac@stafford.net
21-Aug-2016, 15:00
I keep warm dodging hot lead...

Randy Moe, if you outlive me I'll kill ya! :)

NedL
21-Aug-2016, 16:56
It's fact. SF gets their water from the infamous Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which broke John Muir's heart, then parks it in a few big local reservoirs; but its primarily direct snowmelt. EBMUD has a similar Sierra source, with extra storage locally.....
That last part used to be true, and the water in the East Bay was fabulous. It comes from the Mokelumne. But in the 1990's there was a lot of development....and the demand exceeded what could be supplied by EBMUD. They began mixing in Delta water from the Contra Costa water district to meet demand and adding a lot of chloramine. Open a faucet in El Cerrito or Berkeley now, and the fumes are enough to make your eyes sting and it tastes awful -- at least relative to what it used to be -- still not like San Diego. That's the price everyone pays for having more people live there. I was living in El Cerrito at the time it changed and amazed that there was not more of out outcry about it.

Fr. Mark
21-Aug-2016, 18:25
We had a few weeks without much rain but last few weeks we've probably had more than CA gets all year. Twice I've had to be out driving in serious downpours. There are many good things about California from what I can tell from a few visits but water available per person is not one of the blessings there or in most of the SW. I would not mind more LF Photogs out here. Plenty of water.

Axelwik
21-Aug-2016, 19:05
There's no difference between deionized water and properly distilled water.

Deionized means it has close to zero ions other than hydrogen and oxygen (the components of water). Distillation is a process by which deionized water is made. Another process is filtering. The bottom line is that no process can result in completely deionized water. Even the water a laboratory uses to processes water samples is going to have impurities - however small. That's part of the reason analytical laboratories have a lower limit to what they can report in their results. When I analyzed water samples for heavy metals in college, the deionized water that we used to make up the dilutions was rated at 18 mega-ohms, which is certainly a lot more pure than anything you can find on the grocery shelf. Our reporting limits were just a few micrograms per liter (a few parts per billion).

What do I use in my home photo lab? Tap water. It has a specific conductance of around 250 microSiemens per centimeter with most of it calcium carbonate. I'm pretty sure that most commercially-made photo chemicals are formulated to work best with average tap water.

Unless you have unusually hard water, in my opinion you're wasting your time and money using deionized water (and probably getting worse results).

unityofsaints
23-Aug-2016, 22:49
While we're on the topic, what's the verdict on demineralised water? It's available at reasonable prices in DIY stores here.