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Thread: How to clean mould/fungus off a Cibachrome print

  1. #1

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    How to clean mould/fungus off a Cibachrome print

    Hi all, in a local charity shop I recently stumbled upon a large Cibachrome print from 20yrs ago by one of my favourite landscape photographers. I have a bit of work to do remounting it properly, and clean and refinish the frame and glass, but the print itself is in great condition EXCEPT for what appears to be a small patch of filament style mould/fungus (similar to what you see on old badly stored lenses), you can feel it on the surface of the print, although under the glass of the frame it's not immediately visible.

    My first thought would be to dip a cotton swab in isopropanol and gently see it it'll wipe off. However I don't want to put any sort of solvent on only to find it melts the emulsion or anything weird like that. So before I ruin a perfectly good print does anyone have any tips for what type of chemicals are safe for attempting this sort of thing on Ciba/Ilfochrome prints? All cautionary tales greatly received.

    Thanks
    Dave

  2. #2

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    Re: How to clean mould/fungus off a Cibachrome print

    When in doubt, try distilled water first, using a cotton pad or q-tip, or better: a lint-free cloth.

    I don't think isopropanol will melt the emulsion. It's gelatin; alcohols don't melt it.

  3. #3

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    Re: How to clean mould/fungus off a Cibachrome print

    Good point, thanks! I have some distilled water in so I will start with that and see how it goes.

  4. #4
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: How to clean mould/fungus off a Cibachrome print

    Ordinary film cleaner like PEC, and a very soft microfiber lens cloth. DON'T use water, which might soften the emulsion and make it more fragile. The gelatin is already under attack from fungus, and the surface of Cibachrome is especially sensitive to scuffing regardless.

  5. #5

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    Re: How to clean mould/fungus off a Cibachrome print

    Cibachrome prints, yikes. The gloss is so spectacular that any touch is tricky. I agree with Drew, try a film cleaner (maybe a old bottle of Kodak movie film cleaner?)
    I wonder if a final rinse for E6 with an anti-microbial agent would work?

  6. #6
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: How to clean mould/fungus off a Cibachrome print

    Fungus or mold is a symptom of improper storage or framing. Sometimes it's just superficial and doesn't eat deeply into the emulsion. Ciba does indeed have an especially fragile and electrostatic surface. But that's the color medium I worked with for almost three decades. Today's Fuji Supergloss is far more resistant to scratches, scuff marks, and crease kinking, and as an added bonus, isn't electrostatic either.

    Good ole Kodak movie film cleaner was basically 1:1:1 Trichloro. That was first developed as an anesthetic. It was also called "Safety Solvent" because it wasn't flammable. It found its way into janitorial cleaners because it wouldn't attack vinyl floor tile, and next became a predominant solvent in siding stains when the
    routine solvents were banned here in Calif due to smog formation characteristics. A seeming miracle product. ... But ... it's heavier than air, and being an anesthetic, a number janitors were found lying dead on the floor following mornings, asphyxiated. And despite being nonflammable, I've known of electricians becoming disoriented by being in proximity to its usage in stains, and themselves accidentally burning down houses, or painters falling off scaffolds or ladders, anesthetized. The final straw was when it was discovered that Dow, the manufacturer, hadn't gotten the by-product dioxins sufficiently out before distribution; and henceforward, it's been illegal to even make 1:1:1. Dioxin is a suspected carcinogen; so the manufacturers ironically replaced that with non-smog known carcinogens like benzene for awhile!

    Thankfully, there's PEC. But I'm careful not to get that on my skin. It can even be purchased in form of prepackaged wet wipes for convenience.

  7. #7

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    Re: How to clean mould/fungus off a Cibachrome print

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Fungus or mold is a symptom of improper storage or framing. Sometimes it's just superficial and doesn't eat deeply into the emulsion. Ciba does indeed have an especially fragile and electrostatic surface. But that's the color medium I worked with for almost three decades. Today's Fuji Supergloss is far more resistant to scratches, scuff marks, and crease kinking, and as an added bonus, isn't electrostatic either.

    Good ole Kodak movie film cleaner was basically 1:1:1 Trichloro. That was first developed as an anesthetic. It was also called "Safety Solvent" because it wasn't flammable. It found its way into janitorial cleaners because it wouldn't attack vinyl floor tile, and next became a predominant solvent in siding stains when the
    routine solvents were banned here in Calif due to smog formation characteristics. A seeming miracle product. ... But ... it's heavier than air, and being an anesthetic, a number janitors were found lying dead on the floor following mornings, asphyxiated. And despite being nonflammable, I've known of electricians becoming disoriented by being in proximity to its usage in stains, and themselves accidentally burning down houses, or painters falling off scaffolds or ladders, anesthetized. The final straw was when it was discovered that Dow, the manufacturer, hadn't gotten the by-product dioxins sufficiently out before distribution; and henceforward, it's been illegal to even make 1:1:1. Dioxin is a suspected carcinogen; so the manufacturers ironically replaced that with non-smog known carcinogens like benzene for awhile!

    Thankfully, there's PEC. But I'm careful not to get that on my skin. It can even be purchased in form of prepackaged wet wipes for convenience.
    There's CFC-113 in some of the movie film cleaner I have removed from willing camera stores. That's a ozone killing global warming chemical. Good old Dow spun off their specialty chemical business, now Chemours. These folks make the 4th generation auto air-conditioning refrigerant R-1234yf, Tetrafluoro propene and many other products.

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