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Thread: Can deionised water be used instead of distilled?

  1. #1

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    Can deionised water be used instead of distilled?

    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.

  2. #2
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Can deionised water be used instead of distilled?

    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?
    .

  3. #3
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Can deionised water be used instead of distilled?

    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.

  4. #4
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Can deionised water be used instead of distilled?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    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?
    .

  5. #5

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    Re: Can deionised water be used instead of distilled?

    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

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    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Can deionised water be used instead of distilled?

    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.
    May tomorrow be a better day.

  7. #7
    IanG's Avatar
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    Re: Can deionised water be used instead of distilled?

    De-ionosed water is the better option, it's cheaper and will do what you need.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jac@stafford.net View Post
    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

  8. #8
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    Re: Can deionised water be used instead of distilled?

    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.
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  9. #9
    Pete Oakley
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    Re: Can deionised water be used instead of distilled?

    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.

  10. #10

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    Re: Can deionised water be used instead of distilled?

    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).

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