Plastic material for holding chemicals? (Newbie question)

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by carlostaiwan, Nov 3, 2017.

  1. carlostaiwan

    carlostaiwan Member

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    I'm planning to start developing by myself soon. I'm collecting information on all the stuff that I need. I have a question about some plastic elements in the development process. About the following things: Dark plastic bottles, jug to mix the chemicals, funnel. I was planning to buy them on-line in a specialized photography store , but the shipping to Taiwan is quite expensive.
    Is it possible to use normal plastic ones that I can buy in the store here or, the material of which those products are made is somehow especial?
    Some kind of plastic to avoid? (never handled this kind of chemicals and I'm not sure how strong/corrosive are)
    Probably is a stupid question but I found nothing on-line and I'm worried to use cheap plastic products from the store and ruin the chemicals, negatives or the cabinet in where they will be stored.
     
  2. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Soft drink bottles seem to work well for darkroom chemicals. When they are stored in the dark, they don't have to themselves be dark. I've heard that some other plastic bottles permit oxidation of chemicals.
     
  3. tezzasmall

    tezzasmall Subscriber

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    As far as the jug and funnel goes, I have used shop bought items for years with no effect on the chemicals. The difference in price for a 'photographic' jug or funnel can be much higher from some sellers.

    As for storing chemicals in bottles, I use thick (slightly opaque) bottles of various sizes from an online store. Others will say that they use old wine bottles (with screw caps or corks, as they use a separate wine device for the latter) or even the empty bags used in wine boxes.

    The only thing that I can think of to avoid, is thin clear coke type bottles, even if used and stored in the dark. The plastic is quite thin on these and from what I've read, oxygen does get through these! The same goes with photographic concertina bottles, especially in the folded areas of the bottle, where the plastic is stressed and thinner.

    Terry S
     
  4. OP
    OP
    carlostaiwan

    carlostaiwan Member

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    Thank you! I guess I will buy the ones found in the store. Taiwan is one of the biggest plastic manufacturers in the world, and this stuff can be found for almost nothing. I was feeling stupid paying 6$ for a funnel or 10$ for a normal measured jug,
     
  5. mike c

    mike c Subscriber

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    The "PETE" bottles are the ones to use, they have a symbol of a "1" surrounded by a Triangle. Most soda bottles are made of this airtight materiel. I use the Arizona green tea 16 oz brown bottles to store dev., thicker plastic than water bottles and they are wide mouth bottles.
     
  6. jim10219

    jim10219 Member

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    I use soda bottles as well. Light really isn't a problem for developers and fixers (at least not the ones I use), but oxygen is. So using these 1 Liter soda bottles, I can squeeze all of the air out and prolong my chemicals. I would recommend using different shape or texture of bottles (I use Sprite for fixer and Dr. Pepper for developer) as this allows me to distinguish them in the dark. I have in the past dumped a tray full of fixer thinking I was holding the final rinse tray, which forced me to locate the fixer and refill the tray completely in the dark. I would have been a guess if I had used the same bottles for both developer and fixer, but since I could tell the difference by feel, it was only a minor hassle.

    I use a standard funnel you can find at any auto parts store. For the short amount of time that the chemicals will be running through the funnel, I don't think it matters what kind of plastic they're made out of. Just be sure to clean it off really good immediately after use.

    I also use hydrogen peroxide bottles for some chemicals that need to be kept away from light, but don't oxidize. That's mostly for my alternative process chemicals. They're also really cheap, and I use hydrogen peroxide to speed up the oxidation of my cyanotypes anyway, so they serve a dual use. Also, since I'm not squeezing the air out them and bending them out of shape, they can be reused, unlike the soda bottles.

    Just make sure to mark every bottle clearly so you know what's in it, and don't mix them up.
     
  7. My main problem with soda bottles or other food bottles, is that someone could mistake the bottle and ingest the photochemicals. I buy photochemical bottles to avoid any problems. They are not expensive, usually.
     
  8. bernard_L

    bernard_L Member

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    +1
    (PET is maybe a more common abbreviation)
    Adox ships its chemicals in HDPE (polyethylene) bottles. My (now unused) "photo" storage bottles lack the material marking, but look and feel like HDPE. Soda bottles are PET. PET has a permeability to oxygen (and other common gases) about 50 times smaller than polyethylene. Go figure...
    Other storage containers I've used effectively: brown 1-litre bottles for laboratory-grade chemicals; wine pouches.
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    None of the usual photographic chemicals are corrosive.
    If you are using several chemicals, some people prefer to dedicate particular bottles to particular chemicals, in order to limit any possibility of cross contamination.
    I've never worried about that. I thoroughly rinse containers and funnels and measuring graduates immediately after use.
    With respect to measuring graduates, I am content with using inexpensive graduates designed for kitchen use for quantities like 500 ml or larger, but I use more specialized graduates for smaller quantities. I trust the accuracy of the measure indicators on the specialized graduates, but feel the need to check the accuracy of the measure indicators on the inexpensive graduates.
    The Paterson darkroom measuring graduates are excellent.
     
  10. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I've always found containers to be an economic inconsistency. You buy product in a container with the product logo and you pay X. Try to buy the exact same container, without logo, and you end up paying 1/2 as much but don't get the product. I used to get generic brand bubble bath for my kids in 1L "boston round" HDPE bottles. They worked well for chemicals.

    The Delta 1 chemical bottles are HDPE. The Spint chemical bottles are HDPE as well. So I suggest finding and reusing HDPE bottles.

    PET bottles (from carbonated drinks) are fine too. They transfer even less oxygen than HDPE. But--- I assume all the transmission rates for materials are based on a constant wall thickness. I suspect commonly found HDPE bottles have a thicker wall than soda pop bottles. Not sure it really matters though.
     
  11. howardpan

    howardpan Subscriber

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  12. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    As mentioned above, PET is actually better than HDPE because its much less gas permeable. I'm not sure how much that difference matters over the normal use span of photo chemicals, but the numbers for PET are more reassuring. Manufacturers may use HDPE for other reasons like cost, rigidity or impact resistance, I dunno.
     
  13. laser

    laser Advertiser Advertiser

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    Please follow safe chemical practices. PET bottles can be misidentified as containing a soft drink. I know of a case where a photographer stored his chemicals in pop bottles. Visiting children drank a very poisonous, uncommon photographic chemical and died.

    I suggest:

    1. Use glass bottles that are not beverage bottles.

    2. Label them with a skull-and-cross-bone poison label. They are available on eBay or you can make your own. Ingesting your chemicals probably will not kill but why take the chance? They will certainly cause discomfort.

    3. Label the bottle with its contents and date it. In shared darkrooms include your name.

    4. Store your chemicals where they will not be accessed by others, especially children.
     
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  15. AgX

    AgX Member

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    PET is to avoid if using strong alkali. However in current workflow nothing of that kind is involved any longer.
     
  16. mshchem

    mshchem Member

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    The only time I had a problem with PET bottles was storing individual components of E-6 color developer concentrate. This stuff crazed the plastic so bad it became brittle and cracked. I've never had a problem with any working strength solutions, color or black and white in PET. HDPE is what most concentrates are sold in. I hate glass, one slip and you have a big mess.
    Obviously you need to keep this stuff away from kids etc.
    Don't spend film money on fancy bottles :smile:
    Mike
     
  17. CMoore

    CMoore Subscriber

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    No doubt there ARE some "bad" choices, but.....How many recorded disasters from using just about anything from plastic sandwich bags to Medical/Biotech containers.?
    I use those brown bottles in two different sizes. They are super easy to clean and last "forever".
    But in reality.....what kind of a container do the chemicals come in from The Manufacture.? I would think that whatever plastics Ilford, Photo Formulary, Et al ship their stuff in is fine.?
    I have seen A Lot of darkrooms over the years. Seems like Photographers have used Mayonnaise Containers (both plastic and glass) Soda Bottles (both glass and plastic) Salad Dressing Bottles (both glass and plastic) ...Empty mouthwash bottles (both Listerine and Lavoris) Tupperware and every imaginable, cheap container from Walmart and The Dollar Store that people can buy or re-purpose.
    Another thing i like about the (brown) glass bottles is that masking tape is super easy to apply and remove...over and over again.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
  18. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    See post #12.
     
  19. darkroommike

    darkroommike Subscriber

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    Beverage bottles are fine if you tear the labels off. PET/PETE is great for stock solutions, as others have said strong alkali's are probably not. HDPE also good (not quite as good but most darkroom containers are made from it). LDPE or any "accordion" bottles not very good at all. For some things you can not beat glass. Look also to "lab ware" if it's good for a laboratory it's OK in the darkroom (which is, actually a chemistry lab of sorts). Funnels and such are OK from the discount stores though I really like the Paterson funnel design.
     
  20. M Carter

    M Carter Member

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    I've had Dektol eat through thinner plastic, like milk jugs. And you should see what dektol does to a linoleum floor - eats right through it.

    I save heavy-duty bottles though - laundry detergent, ammonia, drain cleaner, windshield washer fluid. Bathroom stuff like alcohol and peroxide. I print pretty big so the half gallon and gallon sizes can be handy.
     
  21. mshchem

    mshchem Member

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    This is where I get my bottles. Now that I don't have a mortgage payment I can afford such luxuries.

    https://freundcontainer.com/categories/containers/bottles.html

    You can buy one bottle or a truckload, they ship by Fedex ground and are Great people to deal with. The German made Kautex lab bottles are exquisite! Boston round amber PET bottles for DILUTE aqueous working solutions work fine. When they get dirty I throw them away! Don't store strong acids or alkali in anything other than the same type of bottle the chemical ships in.
    Dear OP I'm sure Taiwan has plenty of similar sources :smile:
     
  22. Anon Ymous

    Anon Ymous Member

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    I use the carbonated drinks' bottles (PET) extensively. I've used them for anything, from fixer (pH 5,5), typical bw developers (pH 8-9), stock Dektol, to E6 colour developer (pH ~12) and even 10% NaOH solution (pH > 14). For the last one I stored the bottle in another container, for added safety. Within 4 months the bottle had cracked and leaked some solution. In every other case, the bottles performed very well.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
  23. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    Here's a plastic comparison chart http://www.alphap.com/bottle-basics/plastics-comparison-chart.php

    The only area HDPE beats PET is in moisture transfer rate. PET is many time superior in Oxygen transfer (lower rate). I'd guess manufacturers use HDPE for concentrates because of the lower MVTR, but its just a guess. Absorbtion of water vapor is going to have a more noticeable effect on a concentrate.
     
  24. Truzi

    Truzi Member

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    I've not yet tried long-term storage of mixed developers (I leave the concentrates in what they came in, which seems fine), but will use PET soft-drink bottles for my Kodak Flexicolor c41 kit.

    For what it's worth:
    I had Ilford Rapid Fix 1+4 start to seep through a thin plastic milk jug (polypropylene?) in about 9 months.
    Kodak indicator stop bath, working strength, started to seep through a thicker HDPE iced tea jug after about 5 years.

    My father had health problems for years before he died, so we have a lot of those plastic wash basins from hospital visits. I put my chemical bottles in those as a second barrier in case of leaks, it keeps the cabinets nice and clean.
     
  25. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Thank you both for the add-ons on the alkali issue with PET.
     
  26. Billyjim

    Billyjim Member

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    Thirty years ago when I finished my darkroom in our new house, I went to the local pharmacy and asked them to order me a case of brown glass bottles that they used to hold certain medications. I'm still using them. Brown glass remains the best material to preserve developers from oxygen. You probably don't need a case if you're just starting out, but I'll bet your local pharmacy would be willing to sell you a few empty bottles for a very reasonable price.