Dektol powder shelf life?

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Lee Shively

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This is along the same lines as the recent thread on preserving powdered Dektol.

I checked my chemicals a week or so ago and noticed the gallon jug of Dektol stock solution was dark brown. That seemed kind of odd, since it had only been mixed a week or so prior to that and the jug was 3/4 full. I poured it out and rinsed out the jug to mix some new Dektol but some things came up (as things always do) and I never got around to doing it--or printing either. Today, I tried to mix up a batch and the powder was brown coming out of the envelope and the solution went dark brown immediately. I tossed it out and tried another package and the same thing happened. Luckily I had just gotten some LPD so I mixed it instead.

I've mixed a lot of Dektol over the years but I've never had the powder to oxidize in the package. All the envelopes have the store date "08/03"--presumably meaning they were new in stock in August of 2003. I bought all three envelopes together about four months ago. I've never gotten outdated chemicals from the local photo store but this store has recently started to carry very little in the way of darkroom supplies.

How old is too old for Dektol powder?
 

Ian Grant

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Usually the Store date is use by that date.

I can't comment about how old is "too old for Dektol" as I've never used it. But MQ based devs should be stored in air tight containers when made up, or at least with very little air, as they do oxidise quite quickly.
 

Dean Williams

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Lee, I've used Dektol for many years, and every so often I get a batch of brown stuff. The color has never been a reliable indicator of strength with this developer. When I get a brown batch I use it. It's never caused any problems. As to the keeping qualities of mixed Dektol, I'd say it's very stout. I did my own test to see how long diluted Dektol would last, pretty much by accident. I had mixed some stock/water working solution in the standard 1:2 dilution and had just begun my darkroom session when I was called away from the house. I put the Dek in a jar, not quite full, with the intention of coming back in an hour to finish my printing. I never got back to it that day, and the next day I mixed up a new dilution to start over. I forgot about the old mix for two weeks before I came across it again. Just for the heck of it I ran a print through it and another print through some fresh dilution. I couldn't tell the difference between the two.
I don't know how long it's supposed to last in the package, but if you mix up some that comes out brown, I'd at least try it before tossing it out.
 

noseoil

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Ria, the friend who uses my darkroom brought over some old Dektol in containers which had rusty lids. She had gotten it as a gift from a friend who had gotten it from..... In any event, I didn't think it would be any good as it mixed to a brown color compared to what a fresh batch would usually look like from a new package. Wrong, even though it didn't look as good, came from rusty containers and was old as the hills to judge from packaging, it works well and has kept in solution very well.

I guess the biggest problem is just the looks. Try it and see. If it works, use it!
 

Dean Williams

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Lee Shively said:
I guess I shouldn't have tossed out the Dektol. :sad:

Well, theres always a next time Lee. I wouldn't worry about any paper developer going bad, 'cause the worse that can happen is you will ruin one piece of paper trying it out. I've had old paper developers that were questionable, but running one print through it will remove any doubt. Film developers are another matter, and I wouldn't trust to luck with an important roll (hey, they're all important, right?). For small amounts of iffy film developer, I usually just toss it. If I have a bunch of it though, I'll run a clip test.
 
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