How Safe Is Potassium Ferricyanide?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by dancqu, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    I'm about to make up a solution of the chemical.
    I know that it is rather commonly used in darkroom.
    Have I missed any or some specific precaution one
    should be aware of? Also, what of it's solubility
    in water? Dan
     
  2. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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  3. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    As one can read from the MSDS, it is not very dangerous stuff, and when handled with normal care that one should have with all chemicals, safe to use. The cyanide is tied tightly with the iron, I believe, thus will not cause death like cyanide will. Beware of mixing with strong acids, and don't heat it up, and you'll be right. The MSDS said to keep it away from Ammonia, which I had not heard of before...interesting.

    I don't believe any formulas ask for it to be mixed in a saturated solution, so you will find that it mixes easily with water at any dilutions required. It will mix easily with cool water (one does not have to use warm water.)

    Vaughn
     
  4. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    Vaughn has pretty much covered it. I'll second the part about the cyanide being tightly complexed with the iron. I have tested more water samples than I want to remember for cyanides of various forms, and boiling ferricyanide at pH of 4.5 will not liberate the cyanide from the complex. Boiling it with a pH of about 2 or less will. So as long as you don't expose it to low pH it is very safe.

    Here's an anecdotal story I was told by a chemical engineer from Intel several years ago. Some guy decided to commit suicide and he figured ingesting potassium ferricyanide would be a good way to do it. Appearantly, he was not getting any reaction from the small amounts that he had initially ingested, and eventually swallowed nearly a pound of the ferricyanide. Well, of course, his stomach acid was not strong enough to liberate the cyanide, but the ferricyande overworked this kidneys and put such a tax on his system, that he did die. But it took days and was much more painful than he had hoped... At least that's what the engineer told me.
     
  5. aluk

    aluk Member

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    As noted above, it is unlikely that you will be harmed by it in the course of your photography work. That being said, the Kodak MSDS informs us that "contact with acids liberates hydrogen cyanide" a.k.a. Zykon B.....so use it, but with prudence (which of course is the case with most darkroom chemicals).
     
  6. OP
    OP
    dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Ferricyanide is a strong oxidizer. A reaction similar to that
    of chloride bleach + ammonium hydroxide may occur.
    With ammonium fixer there should be no problem.
    Thiosulfate itself is a mild reducing agent.

    I've no strong acids about. Will be careful. About to
    introduce myself to latent image bleaching. Dan
     
  7. Justin Maramba

    Justin Maramba Member

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    Don't mix with stop bath.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    As has been said Ferricyanide is only a mild poison, so normal darkroom precautions are sufficient, but it can be potentially fatal if it's accidentally mixed with a strong acid ans Hydrogen Cyanide gas can be liberated.

    Ian
     
  9. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    Most stop baths do not qualify as strong acid, unless you are using sulfuric acid solution at low pH - and why are you trying that anyway?
     
  10. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    It's quite safe when used for bleaches.
     
  11. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    well I would also, Mr keyes beware of glacial acetic acid.
     
  12. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    Glacial Acetic Acid is not a strong acid, as the term "strong acid" is used by chemists.
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Regardless of its strength I still wouldn't add Glacial Acetic acid to Ferricyanide. I worked extensively with Cyanides for about 20 years, personally I took greater precautions than most others because of my biological sciences training/background. A colleague had found his best friend dead in a toilet at work after he committing suicide by drinking cyanide, he said it was a horrific death.

    Despite knowing Ferricyanide is only mildly poisonous I still use double washing techniques after using it, out of habit I guess.

    Ian
     
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  15. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Glacial Acetic acid is an organic acid and as such can cause considerable burns quickly if not washed off. Admittedly, Sulfuric Acid is much worse, but I wouldn't dismiss Acetic acid and the harm it can do. A splash in the eye is particularly bad.

    Ferricyanide's toxicity is quite overblown. You just about have to boil it with strong acid to release HCN, but.... In strong daylight in ponds or other effluents, the HCN is released slowly as part of the COD and BOD and is toxic to fish and other aquatic life. We ran a study on this at Kodak and it is part of the reason we converted to Ferric EDTA in the late 60s.

    PE
     
  16. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Which exactly what could happens if you were to pour concentrated Sulphuric acid into a Ferricyanide solution . . . You wouldn't be posting on APUG again.

    Ian
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Then you would catch up to me in the number of posts. :sad:

    I don't use conc Sulfuric acid Ian. I have not for years for just that reason among a host of others.

    The strongest I use is about 35% Sulfuric and the same for alkali. I try to keep a series of balanced concentratins of acids and bases on the shelf for easy neutralization or pH shifting. AAMOF, I just finished making a new Tetra Aza Indene solution using dilute acid and base.

    PE
     
  18. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I saw the effect of this in a series of prints in Tim Rudman's book. Amazing and it sounded quite simple.

    Let us all know how it goes. Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  19. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I can confirm this -- I spilt some Kodak Indicator Stop Bath Concentrate over the back of my hand -- immediately I washed it off. Ended up what looked like a very mild sunburn on my hand. I'd hate to think what would happen if I got in my eyes!

    Vaughn
     
  20. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Heed the note about the strong acids. Hydrogen Cyanide, aka Zyklon B, was used to kill people in the Nazi gas chambers.
     
  21. Vaughn,

    Was this an accident or are you conducting experiments based on what you read in the APUG posts? :confused:

    Steve
     
  22. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    I worked with someone who had lost his sense of smell. After he returned from his service in the marines during the Korean War, he went to school on the GI bill. He dropped a glass gallon jug of glacial acetic acid in a light trap, and they made him clean it up. I asked him how he felt about losing his ability to not only just smell, but to enjoy the subtle flavors of sole with lemon sauce - we were having dinner when the conversation occurred.

    His answer: "Well, it was MY fault!"
     
  23. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Vaughn;

    Actually, a large part of the red color was probably the indicator dye in the Kodak Indicator Stop Bath. It is easily mordanted to skin and can stain it.

    PE
     
  24. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    When I was teaching Organic Chem Lab 301, a young gal was shaving sodium metal under benzene. She decided to pour the scraps down the sink and wash it away with water. I was running towards her screaming NONONONONONONO, when she turned the tap on. Boom! The flame reached the ceiling.

    We have all sorts of these things in the lab. I could spend a day just relating lab and AF stories here for APUG.

    :sad: :smile: :wink: whicever is applicable.

    PE
     
  25. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Member

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    How is the citric acid stop bath from Silvergrain? Is that a worthy substitute, and could one potentially use that in lieu of acetic acid?
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I have made up some Citric Acid stops and the results vary as a function of formulation.

    I would say that if it works, use it.

    PE