P-C-TEA vs. 2 part vit.c developer

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Bruce Appel

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OK, here is my question. I am getting ready to order chemicals to make some vitamin c developer per Pat Gainers' article in the march/april issue of Photo techniques. In the article, he first outlines a developer made with vitamin c and phenodine in anti freeze, used as stock, and then mixed with an activator solution prior to use. He also describes P-C-TEA, using phenodine and ascorbic acid in Triethanolamine, used as a single solution.
How different are the characteristics between the two? Any great advantage to using one over the other? This will be for shooting 35mm and 120 hp5+ if that makes a difference.
 

gainer

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Yes, I was having phantasms when I dreamed it up.
 

arkoshkobash

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PC-TEA is so simple and fool-proof, I don't know why anyone would use anything else.
 

Maine-iac

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arkoshkobash said:
PC-TEA is so simple and fool-proof, I don't know why anyone would use anything else.

Because I have not found TEA to be a better activator than, e.g. sodium metaborate. I have found it a lot easier to throw a teaspoon of metaborate (or 5 ml of a stock liquid solution if you use Gainer's recipe for creating metaborate from borax and lye) into a liter of water containing some Phenidone-ascorbic acid stock than to go through the mess (and smell!) of heating TEA in order to dissolve the chemicals.

In PC-TEA, the only difference is the TEA itself as the activator. The amounts of Phenidone and Vitamin C remain the same. I can't tell the difference in my negs at 11 X14 enlargements in terms of grain or tonality. So for me, the teaspoon of Kodalk is quicker and easier than making up the TEA solution.

Larry
 
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Bruce Appel

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I guess my thought is that if the image quality is the same, why spend the money to order something (TEA) I can't get locally? A quart of TEA is $ 15, plus 4 pounds shipping, whereas I can get propolyne and ehtyline glycol locally for 1/4 of that, with no shipping. Mixing a separate activator does not seem like much of a big deal to me.
 

eumenius

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Maine-iac said:
Because I have not found TEA to be a better activator than, e.g. sodium metaborate. /~/ In PC-TEA, the only difference is the TEA itself as the activator. The amounts of Phenidone and Vitamin C remain the same. I can't tell the difference in my negs at 11 X14 enlargements in terms of grain or tonality. So for me, the teaspoon of Kodalk is quicker and easier than making up the TEA solution.

That's very interesting... maybe the stock solution in TEA just keeps better than in water? What would be the approximate shelf life of PC-Kodalk water developer concentrate? Do you add Kodalk right before usage of a diluted stock? I will be very glad if you would put here your recipe, so I can try it on FOMA films.

Zhenya
 

Maine-iac

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That's very interesting... maybe the stock solution in TEA just keeps better than in water? What would be the approximate shelf life of PC-Kodalk water developer concentrate? Do you add Kodalk right before usage of a diluted stock? I will be very glad if you would put here your recipe, so I can try it on FOMA films.


Maybe I did overheat the TEA. It worked fine, but it sure did, and still does, stink up the whole darkroom with a sweet-ish, unpleasant smell that persists for a couple of days. I bought it from the Formulary.


1 tsp. (5g.) Kodalk (metaborate) OR 1 tsp. (6g) carbonate (Arm & Hammer Washing Soda or PH Plus) See note below.

1/2 tsp. (4 g.) Vitamin C powder (ascorbic acid)

4 ml 1% Phenidone stock solution (1g dissolved in 100ml either Propylene glycol or 90% alcohol)

1 liter water at 70F (22C)

I use metaborate for Delta 400; carbonate for Delta 100, Fuji ACROS, and Neopan 400

6 minutes for Delta 400
6:30 for Delta 100
7 minutes for Neopan 400
7:15 for ACROS

You may need to adjust times, but these will get you close.


jdef said:
A two-solution formula, with the ascorbic acid and phenidone dissolved in glycol, and the alkali added to the working solution seems the best alternative to TEA. I've made up many different TEA solutions, and have never noticed a bad smell, and there is no more of a mess than mixing in glycol. Maybe you're overheating your TEA?

Jay

As you can see from above. I'm not talking about a two-solution formula. I make only one stock solution containing the Phenidone, either in Propylene Glycol or 90% alcohol. It's a 1% solution--1 g. Phenidone (1/2 teaspoon) to 100 ml of the liquid.

When I'm ready to develop, I fill a beaker with 1 liter of water at 70 F. (22C.), then stir in either Kodalk (s. metaborate) OR s. carbonate and the Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Sticking a measuring spoon into a jar of chemical and stirring it into the water takes no longer on average than measuring two pre-mixed stock solutions. (These chemicals dissolve very rapidly.) Finally, I add 4 ml of the Phenidone stock using a cheap medicine dropper from the pharmacy. All this takes less than three minutes to mix, and I'm ready to pour it into the tank.

Result: lovely negs, very fine grain, very full shadow and highlight detail.


Some say that the Propylene glycol will preserve the Phenidone longer without loss of potency than the 90% alcohol, and theoretically that may be true. But a 100 ml bottle of the alcohol-Phen stock will make 25 liters of developer (in my two-reel tank (I shoot medium format mostly, and use a stainless steel Omega tank with 2 reels), that's 50 rolls of film. Since I'm only shooting for my own pleasure, and still holding down a day job, that's about 6 months worth of film on average for me. Maybe I also shoot a box of sheet film in that time too, and I use the same developer in 8X10 trays for my sheet film. I've never noticed any loss of potency with my alcohol-Phen. stock in a six-month period. So as far as my own working is concerned, it's longevity is a moot point.

If I wanted to not buy metaborate from a photo store or chemical company, I'd use Pat's formula mixing borax and lye into a stock solution, and then use 5 ml of that in place of the 1 tsp. of the metaborate powder. But at only a teaspoon per liter, a regular-sized jar of Kodalk lasts a long time.

Larry
 

Peter Schrager

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Dilutions?

Maine-iac- Hello-you got my interest perked up to try your one solution formula. I do alot of processing with 4x5 so your developer has the ability to save me quite a bit of money; but time is money too.Mixing up the 5 Liter packages of Xtol in a pail is very quick and easy for me and it will do a good amount of 4x5 mixed 1:1. Since I'm trying this to replace Xtol my question is as follows:
1. I use the Xtol at a 1:1 dilution
2. Will my negatives fairly replicate in your formula as a stock?
3. Have you ever tried to dilute the developer or is it not neccessary AND OR are the results that good there is no reson to bother diluting?
4. How many negatives/4x5/ per liter of working solution?
I realize I need to do my own experimenting and come to my own conclusions. Your input is appreciated. Thanks beforehand and thanks for an interesting thread
Regards Peter
 

gainer

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Peter:
5 liters of Xtol can be replaced by 200 ml of PC-TEA stock solution. It is diluted 1+50 to give about the equivalent of the Main-iac's version. It is very good stuff by all reports including mine.

In case you missed it somewhere along the line, get some triethanolamine (TEA), some ascorbic acid (erythorbic acid is as good) and some phenidone. Mix 200 ml of TEA with 18 grams of ascorbic acid and 0.5 grams of phenidone and heat the mixture until it dissolves. It may have to go to 180 F or so. This will make 10 liters of 1+50 working solution that should give fairly close to the developing times you are using, but please make a throwaway test first.
 

fhovie

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I am pretty sure that on some films (like the APX 400 roll I just did), XTOL is a little finer grain than PC-TEA - I may have to keep using them both - They push the same and times seem very similar - it must be the sulfite
 

dancqu

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jdef said:
PC-TEA represents excellent economy, ease of
use, and consistency of results, because it is a single solution, and
with a given dilution, every working solution is identical to
every other working solution, within a batch of concentrate.
I make it up in 1 liter batches ...

How much concentrate do you mix at one time? How do you
store and meter it out? Do you use glass bottles and an eye
dropper? Is A large bottle containing the total of the
concentrate "good to the last drop" Dan
 

Peter Schrager

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PC-Tea

Thanks to Mr. Gainer and everyone else here on this thread. On Monday I'l go and get the chemicals to try this out for myself. Will be happy to report back on this. Thanks!
Peter
 

Maine-iac

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peters said:
Maine-iac- Hello-you got my interest perked up to try your one solution formula. I do alot of processing with 4x5 so your developer has the ability to save me quite a bit of money; but time is money too.Mixing up the 5 Liter packages of Xtol in a pail is very quick and easy for me and it will do a good amount of 4x5 mixed 1:1. Since I'm trying this to replace Xtol my question is as follows:
1. I use the Xtol at a 1:1 dilution
2. Will my negatives fairly replicate in your formula as a stock?
3. Have you ever tried to dilute the developer or is it not neccessary AND OR are the results that good there is no reson to bother diluting?
4. How many negatives/4x5/ per liter of working solution?
I realize I need to do my own experimenting and come to my own conclusions. Your input is appreciated. Thanks beforehand and thanks for an interesting thread
Regards Peter


Hi Peter,

Sorry I wasn't online for the past day or so; since I'm a clergyman, Sunday is a heavy workday for me.

RE: your questions.

1. My formula above is a full strength solution; no need to dilute.

2. Not sure exactly what you mean by "will my negs fairly replicate in your formula as a stock." If you mean, will this formula give comparable results as Xtol, I can only say that since I've never used Xtol, I can't compare the two.

3. See #1

4. I've done as many as six 4X5 negs or four rolls of 120 in a liter of developer without exhausting it. I'd guess you might get 8 sheets or 6 rolls of 120 if you tried, but I've never tried, so can only vouch for 6 sheets.

The PC-TEA formula recommended by Gainer and others works very well. It's just a lot more bother to mix up since you have to heat the TEA to get the Phenidone and Vitamin C to dissolve. I have nothing against it, except that I'm lazy enough to want something that mixes quickly, easily, and doesn't have me running up and down the stairs from my darkroom to the kitchen. Making a stock solution of just the Phenidone in either 90% alcohol or Propylene Glycol, and then throwing in the Vitamin C and activator at the time I'm ready to develop is just easier in my opinion, and the results are equally good.

I just shot a couple rolls of 6X7 Fuji Neopan on Friday, developed and made a few prints Friday afternoon and the grain was so fine I had trouble focusing with my 25X Scoponet grain magnifer. Can't ask for much more than that.

Larry
 

j_landecker

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Bruce Appel said:
Pat Gainers' article in the march/april issue of Photo techniques.

I take it this is No.2, 2004? I just looked on the PT website at back-issues and they don't mention the article...
 

Maine-iac

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jdef said:
Larry, how is making a stock solution in glycol easier than making one in TEA? It takes exactly the same amount of time and trouble to make up a TEA solution as it does a glycol solution, unles I'm missing something, but the TEA solution is complete, needing only water to make a working solution. I don't understand the convenience that you claim for a glycol solution, to which the alkali is added separately.

Jay

You're right, of course. You have to heat the glycol as you do the TEA, thus making the stock just as time-consuming to mix, and that's the reason I only have used the glycol to experiment with single solution developers that contain all ingredients--developing agents and activators.

This is also why I most frequently and normally simply use 90% alcohol, mixed in 100 ml batches with a gram of Phenidone. This doesn't have to be heated, is enough for 25 rolls of 120 film (more actually, but I use it as a one-shot in a two-roll tank), and lasts with no decrease in potency for at least as long as I need it to to use it up.

When I'm developing, it's a liter of water, a half tsp. Vitamin C, a whole tsp of metaborate or carbonate, and 4 ml Phenidone stock. Takes 2-3 minutes, doesn't demand heating ingredients, measuring dilutions, etc. I'm naturally lazy, and since I get great printable negs with long scale and fine grain, why bother with something more, well, bothersome? I can mix AND develop in the same amount of time I would have just to develop using TEA (unless I use a 1:25 or 1:30 dilution instead of the recommended 1:50, which shortens the time from 9-10 minutes to my preferred 7 or so). Believe me, I have nothing against TEA. It's a fine developing activator. And I've got nearly a full quart that's sitting on my shelf unused after my experiments with it. Since my first attempts produced an oderiferous result, and others report no such effect, I conclude that I overheated it (though it worked well), and may try it again sometime while monitoring the temperature more closely. Or maybe not. I really couldn't see any real gain in the negs I got from it over what I've been using for several years now.

Larry
 

dancqu

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You and Larry have me yearning for TANK processing.
Don't mix anything, don't take any time. Just drop in the film. Dan
 

Maine-iac

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Thanks for the clarification, Jay. That was the way I used TEA also, and I agree that simply filling a syringe is faster at the actual developing stage. But to get your PC-TEA concentrate, you have to heat the TEA first to dissolve the Phenidone/ascorbic acid.

I think we're talking about differences of seconds, not many minutes here, and therefore, it's really just a matter of habit and preference. I have a whole gallon of non-toxic antifreeze (100% propylene glycol) to use up, so I'll probably use it for my Phenidone/ascorbic stock and continue using washing soda or Kodalk as the activator.

As I said, I haven't seen in my negs evidence that TEA is a superior alkaline to metaborate or carbonate.

Larry
 

Maine-iac

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jdef said:
Larry,

You don't heat your glycol to dissolve your ascorbic acid and phenidone?

Jay

Yep, I do, but no use in throwing out a gallon of good glycol. I had to buy the gallon (which I got cheap from an auto parts store that was discontinuing the propylene variety of glycol because despite its non-toxicity before it goes into the car, it apparently comes out more toxic than ethylene glycol, or so I was told. Also, it didn't give me the odor that TEA did (whether or not that was the result of my overheating it). This gallon will probably last me till I retire at least and maybe beyond.

Besides, I only rarely practice what I preach; consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds (who was it said that?).

Larry
 

gainer

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I think that BS about the propylene glycol becoming more poisonous than the ethylene is propaganda. I would like to hear from a professional chemist about the veracity of that statement.
 

gainer

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There is a middle ground. If you dissolve the phenidone and ascorbic acid in propylene glycol to make a stock solution, you can use it with TEA or any other alkali that turns you on. If you like the results you get with TEA, you can mix it with the glycol stock to form a new single solution stock without losing any storage life and without the discoloration that comes from heating TEA too much. Instead of 1+50, use 1+25.
 

dancqu

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There may be something to it. At www.microessentiallab.com you will
find an antifreeze test paper; I think a ph paper. When properly used,
in a radiator, it disintegrates.

I think I'll order some calibration buffers for my new Milwaukee SM102
temperature and ph meter; two probes! Also some of their narrow 0.2
range papers and hypo test paper. Dan
 

Maine-iac

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gainer said:
I think that BS about the propylene glycol becoming more poisonous than the ethylene is propaganda. I would like to hear from a professional chemist about the veracity of that statement.


So would I. The auto parts dealer who told me this was facing the real-world effects of that reported quality of propylene glycol-- he couldn't sell it. He sold me his last gallon very cheaply because he was not going to stock it any more. The reason he gave was that the garages, gas stations, and others that change anti-freeze for people were having trouble getting the disposal companies they used to dispose of it.

It may well be pure marketing assassination on the part of the ethylene glycol makers, but whatever, it has apparently worked to dissuade dealers from stocking the propylene stuff.

Thanks for the tip about using TEA with the propylene stock; hadn't thought of that.

Larry
 

Tom Hoskinson

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Gee whiz! Somebody better tell the EPA!

Seriously, lots of folks are using polyethylene glycol in food and cosmetic applications - with EPA approval.

Check out the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on Polyethylene Glycol and compare them against the MSDS's on Ethylene Glycol and Diethylene Glycol.
 

Peter Schrager

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Ethylene glycol and thanks

Ok so I just made my first 4x5 negs in Maniacs soup. I dissolved the phenidone in iso-propyl alcohol because that's what I had. Just took 4 shots each on tri-x and hp-5. Developed for diffrent times. I am unduly impressed! This was so simple I was seriously doubting that I could actually make negatives. On my initial impression they are SHARPER than XTOL. I can see it no question about it.The negatives are beautiful and I will proof them tonight to nail down my times. I went to the autoparts store and found Ethylene glycol-can I use this instead of the propyleneglycol?
On a more serious note anyone who hasn't tried one of these developers is missing the boat. I'm mixing 3 ingredients and getting great negatives. Not only that; the solution is fresh everytime I make it. I NEVER had Xtol failure but this is easier to me. Do yourselves a favor and try one the variations for yourself
Again-I want to thank Maniac,Mr. Gainer, Jdef, and everyone and anyone who has contibuted to this and the other threads about these wonderful and EASY developers!!!
Regards Peter
 
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