"Archival" wash aids

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Hello everyone,

I realize this is a darkroom question but for some reason ever since I changed internet providers I can't get the rec.photo page and besides, folks here seem more tolerant of stupid questions, and the level of knowledge is about 10,000 times greater.

My question: Is the label on the bottle of "Heico Perma Wash" to be believed? I finally, after several years of laboring with this dreadful hobby, have produced a negative I would like to print on fiber paper and while at the supplier found this bottle of magic which alleges to cut my wash times by hours. Specifically it claims with a two minute wash, two minutes in the Perma Wash, and two minutes in a final water wash I will have an archivally washed print. When I do this however my prints are slimy, so I have been washing longer but not really trusting this stuff anyway. I'd ask the guys at the shop but they are notorious liars who would say anything to get me to buy another chemical/paper/film/lens/camera. I'm afraid if I asked them I'd walk out their door carrying a $600.00 print washer AND a bottle of Perma-Wash. So I'm asking you. Thanks.

Erik Ryberg

-- Erik Ryberg (ryberg@seanet.com), December 27, 1998


I can't really answer your question, in fact I would be very interested to find out the answer myself. I use Perma Wash but, regardless, I wash EVERYTHING printed on fiber-base paper for at least one hour in warm water in an archival washer.

-- Peter Hughes (leonine@redshift.com), December 27, 1998.

Although it's true that such wash aids do help in print washing (and removing sensitizing dye from T-Max films) I don't buy the two-minute wash claim. You can easily make a wash aid by dissolving a tablespoon of sodium sulfite in a quart of water. After fixing, rinse the print in the wash aid for a couple of minutes, the give a standard long wash in an efficient washer. By long, I mean an hour or so. I don't know how short a wash you could get away with, but I don't take all the time to make a good print just to skimp on wash time. Sometime in the past year there was a multi-part article in _Photo Techniques_ magazine titled "Mysteries of the Vortex"; perhaps you could find that article.

-- John Hicks / John's Camera Shop (jbh@magicnet.net), December 28, 1998.

You might try asking Henry Wilhelm, who is reputed to be the repository of all knowledge with respect to longevity of photographs.

-- Rob Rothman (robrothman@worldnet.att.net), December 28, 1998.

The two minute wash might work with RC paper, but it sounds too short for fiber based. I rinse my prints after fixing, soak for about 2-3 min in hypo clearing agent (Kodak's version of Perma Wash) and then wash 30 min in a print washing tray. If I still like the print after it has dried, I soak it in water again, selenium tone it, hypo clear again, and wash 40-60 min. I will probably be dead before the prints are.

You can test for "adequete" washing. David Vestal discussed this in detail in his book "The Art of B&W Enlarging". It has been out of print for awhile. You may be able to get a copy from your library or inter-library loan. The "Mysteries of the Vortex" articles in Photo Techniques discuss testing and adequete washing also (two issues, Jul/Aug of 1996 and Nov/Dec of 1996).

You can get to rec.photo thru DejaNews (www.dejanews.com). It also sounds like you need a new photography store. Good luck!

Tom Gould (jgestar@aol.com)

-- Tom Gould (jgestar@aol.com), December 29, 1998.

Hieco Perma Wash and Kodak Hypo Clearing Agent are NOT equivalent. I'm no chemist, and Heico's formula is not published, but just a sniff of the two solutions will tell you that they're definitely not the same.

-- Peter Hughes (leonine@redshift.com), December 29, 1998.

I remember reading an article several years ago, I believe in the now-defunct "Camera and Darkroom" magazine or perhaps in "Photo Techniques" (under its old name), in which the author performed tests on the requisite wash times after using various clearing agents. If I remember correctly he found that 15 minutes was adequate after using Heico on fiber base paper. Just to be safe I use 20 to 30 minutes. Two minutes is way too short.

-- Brian Ellis (beellis@gte.net), December 30, 1998.

I have not tried Perma-Wash just because it cannot be obtained here in Japan. Instead, I have been using Kodak Hypo-Clear followed by 40 minutes final wash in my archival washer. Why don't you test with HT-2 (residual hypo test) ? Silver nitrate and acetic acid (28%) is all you need. If excessive fixer remains in your print, yellow stain will appear.

-- Shigehiro Ishii (shige-i@tkd.att.ne.jp), January 01, 1999.

I have been using Perma-Wash with my classes for sometime,however, i never felt confident with their recommended times. When printing my own work on fiber, I take a small piece of paper,unexposed, run it through the development process and then wash it along with the prints. Testing with Kodak's HPE test. I am washing in a tray with a shipon with only 1 or 2 prints at a time. There are times when my wash time is over 1 hour. Needless to say I am on the look out for a used archival washer which i hope will decease my times. However, I would rather not take a chance after spending time, engery and money by not washing long enough. For me, the answer is to be sure to run a hypo test no matter what the washing means.

-- Ann Clancy (aclancy@mediaone.com), August 04, 1999.

As it was explained to me, hypo clearing agent and/or wash aid doesn't so much drastically reduce needed wash time as much as making it POSSIBLE to wash the fixer out of fiber paper! With film, where you don't have an absorptive substrate, the wash time needed can be as little as a few minutes. With paper, all bets are off. The first step to keeping wash times to a minimum is to avoid over fixing the paper. If you use fresh fixer and heed the recommendations of Ilford, for example, the fiber will become less saturated with stuff you have to struggle to remove later on. I admittedly don't do a whole lot of archival testing of my procedures, but I can say that over many years of doing this, my images have neither disppeared nor changed color. After treatment in Heico, my wash times are around 45 minutes in a calumet archival print washer. The other thing I do is tone all my work in selenium. I highly recommend this to not only make the print more permanent, but also to enhance the richness of its color. Please feel free to visit my website. http://www.razeichner.com

-- Robert A. Zeichner (razeichner@ameritech.net), August 06, 1999.

I am no expert but my prints have never turned color nor disappeared. I use FB exclusively. I use a one fix bath for two-three minutes testing for exhaustion after every 5 prints or so, wash for 2 minutes in hypo-clear/perma wash whichever I have on hand and then wash for 15-20 minutes in an old 18x22 tray using about a gallon of water every 5 minutes. I flip through them every few minutes. I then selenium tone them and wash again for ten minutes. Period. Over washing has a negative effect on the look and richness of your prints especially if using FB papers. The chemistry of the wash water has a lot to due with how well you can wash your prints. Most of you don't even test for residual fix in your paper but rely on word of mouth or someone elses method that used fix and paper 20-30 years ago and most of your prints are going top die before you anyway. If you want a definative answer then test your stuff. Test kits are cheap to death. And the kit lasts a long time. I have never had any discoloration of my prints due to under fixing or under washing. The longer you fix the longer it will take to wash out. And how thick do you think that emulsion is anyway? James

-- james (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), August 07, 1999.

2 Fixer baths at film concentration not paper. 10 minutes in hypo clear no less.

-- Altaf Shaikh (nissar@idt.net), August 08, 1999.

Maybe this is a good opportunity to ask how do you wash FB papers most effectively when theres no running water and you want to save water as much as possible? Thanks. Jan

-- Jan Eerala (jan.eerala@itameri.net), August 09, 1999.

There are recent discussions on this in B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing.

-- Alan Gibson (Alan.Gibson@technologist.com), August 09, 1999.

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