My fried contaminated my C-41 fixer - Is it still good?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by 2F/2F, Apr 29, 2008.

  1. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Apr 29, 2008
    Los Angeles,
    Multi Format

    This is my first post here, though I sometimes lurk and enjoy the discussions.

    I let a few friends at school use my Jobo Expert tank and hand roller base to develop their color sheet film. I also let them use my C-41 chemicals. At $2.50 a sheet to process, plus two drives to Hollywood to get to the lab, this has saved us a bundle on fees and gasoline, not to mention sitting in traffic.

    I have instructed everybody using the tank to dump the 250mL of used developer down the drain after each batch, and to pour the bleach and fixer back into their original one-gallon bottles.

    This morning one of my friends accidentally poured the 250mL of used bleach into the big fixer bottle.

    She also could not get a hold of me before I had run my own 10-sheet batch through the process.

    My negs look fine, though I have not proofed them. I am fairly certain that my film I processed today will print fine, as I know some people actually combine the bleach and fixer into blix. However, my question regards the shelf life of the fixer that is contaminated with 250mL of bleach. I have read (here) that mixing the two causes the fixer to oxidize much more quickly. (Please correct me if "oxidize" is the wrong term.)

    My concerns are: 1. What effect will this have on the fixer's ability to do its job? Will it still be able to fix the film? If so, for how long? 2. Will this contamination affect the color balance, archival properties, etc. of my negs?

    We are only 60 sheets and four weeks into this batch of chemicals, so if it is still usable without ill effects, I would like to go ahead and keep using it.

    This is what I do normally with C-41: I use the Kodak Flexicolor chemicals, which I purchase separately. For 4x5, I use developer one shot. I keep it for six weeks max after mixing, but it is usually gone before then between the four of us. I have a separate gallon of developer for roll film that I keep in four quart bottles. I save this after use and time compensate after each 4x roll 135/120 (or 2x roll 220). I get 16x roll per quart (or 8 rolls 220) this way with fine printed results. I use the other three chemicals for both sheets and rolls. I keep bleach for 480x 4x5 sheets or 120x roll 135/120 or 60x roll 220, and keep fixer and stabilizer for eight weeks max., or the same number of sheets/rolls as the bleach; whichever comes first (usually the eight weeks unless I happen to be doing a ton of 220 film at once in addition to my sheet film). I have never thrown away any bleach as it is expensive and I keep hearing that you can regenerate it, although I have no idea how, nor does anyone else I have asked. I have several "spent" bottles just sitting around waiting for the day when I finally do the research to find out how to make it ready to use it again.

    Thanks for the help in advance.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 29, 2008
  2. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

    Aug 10, 2006
    Multi Format
    my thoughts

    Snoop around for posts by Ron Mowray (Photo Engineer is his handle on this site) about c-41 blixes. What you have (accidentlaly) done is to creat a blix. For paper - ok. For film - not a great idea. I would safely dispose of this mix (household hazardous waste where i live), and re-fix the neg atives done in this blix just to be sure.

    You can re-actvate bleach a few ways - the simplest is to aerate it. Get a fish tank aeration stone and a matching air pump and length of hose. Stick the stone into the bottle of spent bleach, and leave it to bubble away for a few days. Test with flim leaders to see how fast it bleaches the silver away. It is sort of like b&w fixing - when my bleach time gets long I know it is time for fresh stuff or to aerate it.

    Actually, usually I replenish mine, and only toss it when too many cruddies start to turn up when I occasionally filter it with a coffee filter before putting it back in the storage jug. After that I retire it by dehydrating it in a pan in the sun for a few days. One liter of waste becomes a small baby food jar of well labelled sludge to drop off the next time that I need to make a trip to the transfer station.
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Apr 19, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    Multi Format
    By mixing the two, you have diluted the bleach and fix by the volume of each. So, if you had 1 L of bleach and 1 L of fix, you have 2 L of 1/2 strength blix. It is not only weaker, it has much shorter life time. It probably will not convert all silver metal to silver salts and it probably will not remove all of the silver salts.

    I would use about 35% more time in the mix as in the combined times of both, that is, if the mix is 50:50 as in my example. If it is not 50:50, then I have no suggestion. So, if you have a 50:50 mix and the time is to be 6' in each, use 12' + 4' or 16' in the combination and wash as normal.

    You will get contrasty negatives and dull colors if silver is retained.

    If it is cloudy or a deposit is forming on the container walls, don't use it.

    Good luck.