View Full Version : Chemical Disposal

30-Sep-2009, 07:28
Since I live on a ranch with household water coming from a well and the drains all dumping into a septic, I know I'll need to address what to do with chemicals after they become depleted.

Source water will need to be produced or purchased distilled, this is easy to solve.

What is the best, least damaging, while affordable means for chemical disposal ?

I'm not looking forward to the kind of bill I'd get from hiring a chemical/hazmat waste company to send a truck 100+ miles for a few liters of spent E6 or B&W.

One thought was to get an open top 55 gallon drum where the chemicals could be dumped and allowed to desiccate. Once the drum is getting close to being full of chemical solids, then see about who could safely cart it off.

Has anyone played with Silver recovery and, for a small in home lab, does it pay ?

30-Sep-2009, 08:11
Your biggest issue will be silver in the fixer. I am on a well and septic just like you. I don't do E6 but I do lots of B&W. I dump the used fixer into a container filled with steel wool. The silver ions swap out for iron in the steel wool and they accumulate in the bottom as a sludge. After a few days to a week I just flush the spent liquid. I try to do it when I am going to put a lot of water down the system anyway such as draining the bath tub or taking a shower.

I have done this for some time with no issues. My guess is that doing a load of laundry causes more harm than dumping used photo chemicals

30-Sep-2009, 09:38
you might check the regulations where you live to learn what you can or can not put into
your waste-stream. where i live it is very strict, so i use a waste hauler to remove my spent chemicals.
i don't do e6, just black and white .. and it is not very expensive to have it hauled away.
you might look into something called a silver magnet, it is a small electrolytic device that will
remove a lot of the silver from your spent fixer. at can hold upto 30-32troy oz before
it is sent back and a check is sent to you ..
a magnet together with a trickle tank will get most of the silver out your waste stream. (the tanks are usually iron core.)

good luck finding a solution to you situation!


ps. in a month or so i may be distributing these sort of things, feel free to email me for more information ...

Brian Ellis
30-Sep-2009, 09:51
Depends in large part on how much darkroom work you do. If you're a home amateur and average using the darkroom say 2 or 3 times a month for 4-5 hours at a time I don't think you need to worry about it. At that kind of volume you wouldn't be disposing of working solution fix more than once a month and depending on the size of your prints and trays probably no more than a couple quarts to maybe a gallon each time, which IMHO isn't enough to worry about. If you do a lot more than that then maybe it's a problem. But there's a big difference between being a pro wet lab and being a home amateur in terms of potential harm from darkroom chemicals.

30-Sep-2009, 20:36
Thanks for the info

Eric Woodbury
30-Sep-2009, 22:15
Consider using low tox chemicals to begin with. Check out Silvergrain products. I use their paper developer and have mixed my own with good results.


2-Oct-2009, 21:50
I'm finishing out my darkroom in a recently built lake home with a septic system. While silver laden fixer is the biggest issue, what I plan to do is dump used developer and fixer into 1 or 2 5 gal containers than drop off at the "local" municipal recycling center. If volume was an issue, I'd just do with the fixer.

Feasibility for you will depend on volume and how often you "get into town".


2-Oct-2009, 22:24
B&W fix and color bleach/fix are the ones to be concerned about...
I take mine to a friendly one hr lab, I give them a lot of business, so for a few $ they take my spent fix.
A mom & pop lab would be more receptive than a corporate chain store.
Or try a newspaper print shop or school that still has a lab.

Unless you want an unpleasant visit from the EPA.... I wouldn't tell any local disposal agencies that you have a darkroom.

Jim Ewins
3-Oct-2009, 13:36
Depending on your soils, proximity to source water etc, you could consider a deep french drain.