How to know if mixed D-76 has expired?

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Lemur

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How do I know if mixed D-76 is still working fine, just looking at it? What are the signs that it has expired?

I have some D-76 in 150 ml glass bottles, just to the top. I mixed it like 2 years ago. In theory, it is good only for 6 months, but I know that it could last more if it is kept in good conditions, without air exposure.

I opened a bottle and it looks good, the same as before, as far as I remember, which is a bit yellowish.

If it looks good, does it work well? Or not necessarily?
 

Rick A

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I have some D-76 mix nearly 4 years ago, stored in 250ml plastic bottles, filed to the top and tightly sealed. I do what PE recommends, put some on a film chip; watch for development and time it. I store the bottles on the bottom shelf next to the floor in my DR, stays cool there, but not blocked from light. Still viable.
 
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How do I know if mixed D-76 is still working fine, just looking at it? What are the signs that it has expired?

I have some D-76 in 150 ml glass bottles, just to the top. I mixed it like 2 years ago. In theory, it is good only for 6 months, but I know that it could last more if it is kept in good conditions, without air exposure.

I opened a bottle and it looks good, the same as before, as far as I remember, which is a bit yellowish.

If it looks good, does it work well? Or not necessarily?
mix fresh; why risk it?
 

jim10219

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Test it is the best method. I often use D-76 that is over six months old. I store it in old soda bottles and always squeeze all of the air out, so I used D-76 that was over a year old before and gotten great results. I've found that often times as it ages, it will require more time to develop film, but it will still work. That's the advantage of using a test strip. It can tell you if it still works, and with a few test strips, you can figure out any time adjustments you need to make. My current batch is probably 8-10 months old, and I need to over develop it by about two degrees Fahrenheit (or use the time from my chart for about two degrees below what I'm actually using).

You can also tell if it's going bad or gone bad by how yellow it is. The problem with that is, you have to have a lot of experience to know what the degree of yellowing means to your process. D-76 is pretty cheap, so it might be best to just throw it out if you're unsure or don't want to mess with testing.
 

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Dektol is the developer that turns brown when it's bad. D-76 can be clear when it's bad. It's also clear when it's good so don't count on looks.

If I'm worried about a half-bottle I'll test by drop a leader of the film I just cut from the film I just spooled... into the beaker that's mixed and ready to pour in the tank.

You could wait for full black to prove the developer is really good as PE suggested, but I just look after a minute to see if it's glistening and turning gray.
 
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Lemur

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Thank you all.

Mixing new D-76 surely would be the safest way to go. But for me it is not as cheap as for some of you. Here the one gallon packet costs like 18 dollars, and the dollar rose a lot this year, more than 100%, so basically it is not so cheap to shoot film.

Anyway, I am interested in quality, but it would be a pity to throw away developer already mixed if it is as good as before, so that it is why I am interested in the facts.

@Photo Engineer I don’t have a densitometer, do you mean to just see when the leader is totally black (white in the copy) like our fellow posters said?

@jim10219 , @Rick A, @Bill Burk, @Photo Engineer : if this solid, one-tone white image without details turns black in the negative at a given time, is that enough to conclude the developer works normally? In this test we don’t have different tones, shadows, contrast, sharpness of photographed things… couldn’t they change also? Or an old developer, with the passing of time, only gets weaker in general, something that could be compensated increasing the time?
 
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Lemur

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You can also tell if it's going bad or gone bad by how yellow it is. The problem with that is, you have to have a lot of experience to know what the degree of yellowing means to your process.

Interesting. I didn't know that. To be honest, I just see the mix exactly as before, but I could be wrong.
 

MattKing

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Buy some new (expensive) D-76.
Expose a film with a lot of similar scenes on the first and second half.
Develop the first half in the old D-76, and the second half in the new D-76.
Compare the results. If they compare well, it is safe (for now) to use up the old developer.
 

Rick A

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Test it is the best method. I often use D-76 that is over six months old. I store it in old soda bottles and always squeeze all of the air out, so I used D-76 that was over a year old before and gotten great results. I've found that often times as it ages, it will require more time to develop film, but it will still work. That's the advantage of using a test strip. It can tell you if it still works, and with a few test strips, you can figure out any time adjustments you need to make. My current batch is probably 8-10 months old, and I need to over develop it by about two degrees Fahrenheit (or use the time from my chart for about two degrees below what I'm actually using).

You can also tell if it's going bad or gone bad by how yellow it is. The problem with that is, you have to have a lot of experience to know what the degree of yellowing means to your process. D-76 is pretty cheap, so it might be best to just throw it out if you're unsure or don't want to mess with testing.
I've never seen D-76 turn color, always clear, even when completely dead. Dektol (D-72) is another story, it isn't clear to start with, usually light straw or weak tea, turning darker as it oxidizes. As for testing D-76, if you are developing 35mm you always have the leader to test with. Just prior to developing, dip the film clip in the developer and see how fast it starts to turn black in room light. It should start fairly soon. If it takes more than a couple of minutes, be cautious about using it.
 

Bill Burk

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@Lemur The test is a quick verification that the chemical is going to work. It’s not a real comprehensive test that proves activity is up to standard. It’s like checking the oil in your car before taking a long trip.

D-76 has legendary keeping quality that makes this test good enough. Its activity varies over time when fresh but stabilizes after a few weeks to a point where it stays indefinitely.
 
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Why not shoot a small strip of say 5 frames in good lighting conditions, develop this strip as you would normally do using the developer you want to test, see if you like the results and then take a decision?
 
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Thank you all.

Mixing new D-76 surely would be the safest way to go. But for me it is not as cheap as for some of you. Here the one gallon packet costs like 18 dollars, and the dollar rose a lot this year, more than 100%, so basically it is not so cheap to shoot film.

Anyway, I am interested in quality, but it would be a pity to throw away developer already mixed if it is as good as before, so that it is why I am interested in the facts.

@Photo Engineer I don’t have a densitometer, do you mean to just see when the leader is totally black (white in the copy) like our fellow posters said?

@jim10219 , @Rick A, @Bill Burk, @Photo Engineer : if this solid, one-tone white image without details turns black in the negative at a given time, is that enough to conclude the developer works normally? In this test we don’t have different tones, shadows, contrast, sharpness of photographed things… couldn’t they change also? Or an old developer, with the passing of time, only gets weaker in general, something that could be compensated increasing the time?
still cheaper than losing good negatives.
 
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Lemur

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Well, I will do the test with the leader. If it turns out to be positive, maybe then I will develop four or five images I will shoot on another roll, just to be sure. And if I am satisfied with the results, I will proceed to develop a roll I shot last week.

Thanks for all the information. I will inform you how things turn out.
 

DREW WILEY

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Kinda like not washing your socks until they conspicuously stink. D76 is cheap. Why takes chances?
 

DREW WILEY

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Just common MQ ingredients. Dirt cheap if the chem were purchased or shipped in bulk. Kodak packaged 76 just adds a sequestering agent.
 

kevs

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How do I know if mixed D-76 is still working fine, just looking at it? What are the signs that it has expired?

It takes on oxygen, turns brown and doesn't develop film.

I have some D-76 in 150 ml glass bottles, just to the top. I mixed it like 2 years ago. In theory, it is good only for 6 months, but I know that it could last more if it is kept in good conditions, without air exposure.

I opened a bottle and it looks good, the same as before, as far as I remember, which is a bit yellowish.

If it looks good, does it work well? Or not necessarily?

Is it stock or diluted dev? Stock dev doesn't deteriorate as quickly as working strength dev.

It should be a light straw colour; like white wine. It sounds to me like yours is fine. Clip off a little film and drop it into a cupful of dev. If the film turns black you are good to go.

I've kept mixed ID-11 (same formula as D-76), both stock and working strength, for five years in sealed, plastic fizzy drink bottles and it's been fine.
 
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Lemur

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Hi, I did the tests.

1) The leader got gradually darker and at the time recommended for normal processing at 20ºC, it was black. How much black? I don’t know, I took the film and observed it closely, it was dark. Then I immersed it again for 2 minutes, to see if it went on getting darker. I don’t know for sure if that happened, probably not, cause I couldn’t see any difference.

2) Then I developed a strip of film with the same mix I used for the leader. And I think it came out just fine. As a matter of fact, I overdeveloped +1, because I exposed -1, something I usually do, and the roll I am going to process now will be “pushed” too. I compared the negative with others I processed this way and I don’t see any difference in density. Anyway, what I think is important is that the leader turned black at the normal time of developing.

I also used my 2 years-old mix of fixer (Ilford Rapid Fixer), which I previously tested watching the clearing time. It was just like before. And I know that it is possible to fix a lot of rolls with a mix. So, in my case, the six months recommended by Ilford for a solution of this fixer were also too cautious.

Next weekend, I am going to develop the other roll. If something goes unexpectedly wrong, I let you know.

Thanks again.
 
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Lemur

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I kept the stock D-76 in this bottles, just to the top. They are 24 bottles, for 24 1:1 developments, or 12 1:0 ones. So the liquid was never exposed to air.

d76 bottles.jpg


The bottles were kept in a box. And the box in a closet, against the floor. Temperatures were far from ideal. Well, in winter I guess it is okay. But in summers, even in the box in the closet, I think it is hot, at least 25ºC or more. But I read somewhere that the most important factors were air and light. And the liquid wasn’t exposed to any of these.

I also read somewhere that D-76 turns brown sometimes. Mine looks the same as before, as far as I remember. I mean, I don’t know if it is a tiny bit more yellowish or transparent, but it seems to be the same.
 
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Lemur

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I've never seen D-76 turn color, always clear, even when completely dead.

@Rick A So, just to see if I understood well. You say that D-76 could be dead but with the original color. Have you experienced yourself this situation?

I read that it is possible that D-76 turns brown, I don’t know in what circumstances.
 

Rick A

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@Rick A So, just to see if I understood well. You say that D-76 could be dead but with the original color. Have you experienced yourself this situation?

I read that it is possible that D-76 turns brown, I don’t know in what circumstances.
Yes, I speak with experience. It's always best to do a clip test with oldish D-76. I've never had any D-76 turn brown, only Dektol paper developer.
005.JPG Last bottle from this batch.
 
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