Film Washing: What is the Best Method?

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Max Power

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OK, to put this in context; a couple of weeks back I caught a bit of flak because I usually use a film-washer to rinse my negatives. Apparently this is not the thing to do because it wastes water.

At the ripe old age of 36, however, it takes an act of Parliament to get me to change my methods unless someone can prove to me a better means of reaching an objective :wink: I have negatives that I made 20 years ago that were washed using a film washer and they are in perfect condition.

The article here: Ilford washing method test seems to indicate that washes of 5, 10, 20, and 40 seconds are just as good as constant flushing.

So, my questions:
1. Is there anyone out there who has been using the Ilford method for an appreciable amount of time who can attest to its archival properties?

2. Is there anyone who uses a similar method with archival properties and can demonstrate its effectiveness?

I do want to drop the film washer, because it is wasteful, but I'm worried about my negatives over the long haul.

Cheers,
Kent
 

Jeremy

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Max Power said:
So, my questions:
1. Is there anyone out there who has been using the Ilford method for an appreciable amount of time who can attest to its archival properties?


I've used Ilford's method since I started developing my own B&W negs ~8 years ago and those first negs still look as good (well, they are really bad photos, but you know what I mean :smile:) as the day I washed them.
 

Lee L

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Kent,

You don't have to wait years for a real time aging test to judge the efficacy of the Ilford washing method. All you have to do is measure the residual chemicals in the film and compare to the amount left by traditional, proven archival methods. That work was done by Ilford, so they know that their method is as good or better than the more wasteful long running water wash at removing unwanted chemicals from the film. So it's just as archival.

Lee
 

Claire Senft

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selenium tone first

prior to washing you can increase the archival quality of the negatives by toning 1:40 in selenium. You may want to shorten your development time slightly.
 
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Would five years be long enough? I use one reel in a two reel tank with an empty on top. Enough liquid to cover only the lower reel. This is easier than lifting the reel in and out and provides as complete a flush as possible.

Same procedure with all the other steps too.
 

Neal

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Dear Kent,

Why not just reduce the water flow on your film washer? After the first change of water, cut it to a trickle and come back much later. Personally, I follow the practice suggested by Kodak (which is pretty much the same sort of thing with the addition of a wash aid). The key is time and having enough solvent for the fixer to dissolve in. This way you don't use much water but keep your peace of mind.

Neal Wydra
 

Thomas Wagner

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I have had houses on wells, and have never run out of water cause I washed my negatives. I had an old yankee tank that I could put a hose on the top of and a rubber thingee that went on the tap. Now I just let the tap run into the tank. What I really miss is an old siphon thing that fitted on the side of a try for washing. An ugly S sort of thing. If anyone out there has one they are not using I would be more than glad to talk. Oh yea, I am still on a well. And still washing everything.

Tom
 

Daniel Lawton

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If you use hypo clearing agent in conjuntion with the Kodak method you dont really waste anymore water than the Ilford method. With the Ilford method you describe you use a total of 4 tankfuls of water to wash. With the Kodak method they suggest a 30 sec wash after fixing then hypo clear and then a 5 min wash in running water. The flow rate they recommend is the rate at which a complete change of water takes place every 5 minutes. So with a 5 minute rinse you would have used about one tankful if you adjusted accordingly as well as the small amount of water used during the 30 sec post fix rinse. Its actually less total water than the Ilford method. Of course most people don't bother adjusting the flow accordingly (I'm guilty) and probably let it run longer than 5 min. This is where waste comes into play.
 

Ole

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I've used the Ilford method for about 15 years, and negatives are still fine.

My reason for using this method is NOT water conservation (water is plentiful and free here), but water temeperature: Using about 2 liters of tempered water feels better than 10 liter of 5 C water! I have never measured the tapwater to more than 12 C...
 

Bob F.

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There is a shortage of water in Quebec???

As others said, Ilford have tested their method, and so can you if you get a hypo testing kit. Worry not, it works fine. I use a tube stuck down the centre of the tank and free flowing water for 15 minutes, but then London is not generally short of the couple of gallons of water that this uses up - I use more water flushing the lavatory....

Cheers, Bob.
 

Bruce Appel

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Intellectually I know the Ilford method to be sound, but I grew up washing the devil out of everything. So, I use the Ilford method, with two added steps.After going through the Ilford cycle, I fill the tank and let it soak for 5 minutes. I repeat this with a 10 min soak. Probably overkill, but it makes me feel better.
 

titrisol

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I do use the AGFA/Ilford method for 10+ years.
Not only for conservationof water, but because it makes sense. The removal of a solute that needs to be diffused/leached out is better in a batch system than in a continuous flow system.

I generally use 7 or 8 changes of water though.
 

BWGirl

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Hey Kent!
I also use the Ilford method. My last rinse is done with distilled water, but that has more to do with spot reduction. :smile:
 

GeorgesGiralt

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Max Power said:
So, my questions:
1. Is there anyone out there who has been using the Ilford method for an appreciable amount of time who can attest to its archival properties?


I do want to drop the film washer, because it is wasteful, but I'm worried about my negatives over the long haul.

Cheers,
Kent

Hi Kent !
First, think about machine processed color and transparencies... They are rinsed using the Ilford way. (it is impractical to stay too long in the wash, so the processor change water in a short period of time.) You may own some negs which are 20 years old and still fine.
Next, I process my film since the 70's (I've lost a major part of them, but this has nothing to do with washing, it was more waste due to moving and poor ordering...and voluntary destroying a lot of negs by fire...) and as I've been taught, rinse using the Ilford way (water tend to be scarse in my origin country).
Since the 90's I go to a camera club advertising Ilford wash since it is known and they can show you negs processed this way having a perfect condition and status.
Last but not least, bear in mind that we MUST save fresh water as mmuch as we can, it is a renewable resource, but it is really difficult to clean wasted water and so much people lack pure water that we MUST save the one we have got !
So go for the Ilford wash, and save water, time, and effort.
 

dancqu

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If any doubts of tap water quality, the first rinse also should be done
with distilled. Minerals in tap water may combine with the silver loaded
fixer and precipitate within the emulsion.
Sodium and ammonium argentothiosulfates are soluable and will wash out.
Some elements though will form less, and perhaps, insoluable compounds.

Or, put Calgon in the wash water. Dan
 

Wayne Olson

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Deionized Water Rinse

Hi Kent,

Many years ago when I worked for a high purity water company, we had many accounts with movie film and custom photo lab processing companies. They used deionized/demineralized or even distilled water as a final rinse for films and even some papers.

What was explained to me was that the fixer which you're trying to get out of the emulsion comes out the same way it got in - diffusion. You can't "blast" it out by flow rate. The long term of washing which is normally used simply allows a greater period of time for the fixer to diffuse out of the emulsion. What slows it down is the mineral compound resistivity of dissolved solids and ions in the city water supply. Deionized water has virturally none and thus acts as a premium medium for the fixer to diffuse out into without anything "blocking" the process chemically. Deionized water is often considered a solvent when in contact with certain materials, most notably non-ferrous metals such as copper and brass. However, that takes a considerable period of exposure with constant change of water. Deionized water (or any volume of water for that matter) will eventually saturate with whatever soluble material it is in contact with. The lab techs explained that the form of the silver on developed film is pretty resistant to the leaching action of the deionized water. However, the fixer solution, either type, readily diffuses back out.

Based on this, I began to use the Ilford method and used deionized water for the last set of agitations along with a short 1-2 minute stand time. Rinse in Photo-Flo (also mixed with deionized water) and hang to dry. I too have negatives over 15 years old which show no signs of residual chemical induced problems. Remember, this isn't fiber based paper which can hold an extraordinary amount of fixer. It is only the converted silver in the emulsion and a very small surface area and volume at that.

Wayne
 

gareth harper

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Well I use a combination of the two.
4 x 2 inversions, 3 x 4 inversions, 2 x 8 inversions. Then I give it a 20 minutes wash in the force washer with just s trickle of water. I don't thankfully have a water meter, and water shortages are not usually a problem in Scotland. Water temp usually varies from about 5 degrees to a wee bit over 20 degrees at times.
Then I go back to inversions 3x4 but with distilled water this time.
I figure it should be washed after that.
 

Tom Hoskinson

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titrisol said:
I do use the AGFA/Ilford method for 10+ years.
Not only for conservationof water, but because it makes sense. The removal of a solute that needs to be diffused/leached out is better in a batch system than in a continuous flow system.

I agree with titrisol (and thus with Ilford, Agfa et al). The fixer induced solutes are best removed by diffusion into water in a batch solution.

I have been successfully using the Ilford washing method for archival washing of negatives for about 35 years.
 
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Max Power

Max Power

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Wayne Olson said:
Hi Kent,

Based on this, I began to use the Ilford method and used deionized water for the last set of agitations along with a short 1-2 minute stand time. Rinse in Photo-Flo (also mixed with deionized water) and hang to dry. I too have negatives over 15 years old which show no signs of residual chemical induced problems.

Wayne

Thanks for the advice Wayne...That sounds like an excellent method and makes a lot of sense; I'll try it out for myself.

Cheers,
Kent
 
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I used an adaptation of the ilford method just incase!

fresh water 5 turns
fresh water 10 turns
fresh water 20 turns
fresh water 10 turns
fresh water 5 turns
done....

no problems on any negs using this method in the past year
 

Les McLean

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Christopher Colley said:
I used an adaptation of the ilford method just incase!

fresh water 5 turns
fresh water 10 turns
fresh water 20 turns
fresh water 10 turns
fresh water 5 turns
done....

no problems on any negs using this method in the past year

I've been using this exact method for nearly 20 years without any sign of deterioration in the negatives.
 

RAP

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All good advice. Personally, after standing at the darkroom sink for the duration of the process, I need a break. So for 4x5 sheet film, I use HP Combi tanks, I have one tank with a perforated rubber stopper in the bottom drain and run just enough water to make sure the film covered.

My roll film washer is even more high tech, a plastic half gallon milk jug with the top cut off so I can put the reels in, holes poked in the bottom on each side and run the water just enough to keep the film covered. The chemestry is heavier them water so it naturally just flows out the bottom darins, half hour, film is done, photo flowed and hung to dry.

I use the same methods for washing :rolleyes: digital too.
 

jim appleyard

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RAP said:
All good advice. Personally, after standing at the darkroom sink for the duration of the process, I need a break. So for 4x5 sheet film, I use HP Combi tanks, I have one tank with a perforated rubber stopper in the bottom drain and run just enough water to make sure the film covered.

My roll film washer is even more high tech, a plastic half gallon milk jug with the top cut off so I can put the reels in, holes poked in the bottom on each side and run the water just enough to keep the film covered. The chemestry is heavier them water so it naturally just flows out the bottom darins, half hour, film is done, photo flowed and hung to dry.

I use the same methods for washing :rolleyes: digital too.


I've been wondering how to wash digital.
 

Mike Kennedy

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Great Post Max,
Very applicable to my situation as our municipal rates (water + sewer) just went up.Every little bit counts.
Mike
 
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