How to Clean Fixer Gunk? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I stored fixer solution in the Jobo accordian plastic bottles. After a while, I suppose the chemical have oxidised and there appears to be some kind of yellowish "gunk" stuck to the side walls. Question:

1- Will this gunk affect the rate of oxidation of my next batch of fixer?

2- Does it affect development of my negatives?

3- How can I get rid of it? (Wash it with hot water? Salt water? Baby bottle brush?) Help me please.

-- (, September 29, 2001


That sounds more like what you see with fix sulfurizing...for lack of a better word. I would just throw the bottle away, and get a new one...better yet, don't get another accordion-type bottle. That's a problem with that type of bottle in general. You could try soaking the bottle in a processor cleaning solution, like the systems cleaners that Falcon, edwal etc, market (yech) or using a cleaner like Photofinish compound on it....this is great for cleaning up tanks, and is gentle to use (on you---unlike some of these other cleaners)....but just save yourself the headaches, get a new bottle.

-- DK Thompson (, October 01, 2001.

Thank you for the reply. It will be a bit expensive to throw away bottles everytime the fixer has gone bad and sulphurized. Can I just use the gunked up bottles for new solution? It wont be pretty, but as long as the solution doesnt go bad at a faster rate, I can live with it.

(Hmm that would be my question No 1.)

-- (, October 02, 2001.

Perhaps sulfurize wasn't the best (proper) term for this...that's basically what happens to really old fixer. If this happens to your fix every time, then something else is going on here as well...if the crud is just left in the accordion pleats (?) because you've squeezed out the excess air and the jugs are half full or something (sorry, I don't use those things), then I guess (ha...I don't know) it might be okay. Look, dried fixer is one, if not, THE hardest thing to clean off tanks, racks etc. You can scrub the heck out of it with abrasive cleaners, soak it in nasty chemical cleaners, and it will look clean when it's wet...but then it returns! You need to catch it early on...but in your case, that's going to be tough with that type of bottle. What I would do would be to clean as much of it as possible out of there, and then just reuse the bottle. You'll know if you're fix is going bad, because it will form a precipitate that reeks of sulfur--rotten eggs.There's a darkroom cleaner called "Photofinish" that comes in a little tub. This works really well on fix & developer stains/tar etc. It's kind on your hands too. There's a chemical made by Falcon, I can't remember exactly what it's called, but it's a liquid and it's bright red (quite toxic & nasty too). If you soak the interior of the container in this, and clean it out really well, that may do the trick as well. Personally, I'd go with the photofinish first. the tub will last for years, and it's great for cleaning up old trays, getting chemical stains off your hands etc. It's made by the folks who make Pec-12. All this wouldn't effect the development of your film, but dirty tanks & containers can lead to contamination problems & mysterious stains etc. Some claim that those accordion bottles can form pinholes in the pleats & oxidize your chemicals faster, but I have no real first hand knowledge of this...good luck.

-- DK Thompson (, October 02, 2001.

Thanks again for the tip. I'll try to get my hands on the photofinish chemical. Is there a web site where this chemical is avaliable? (I'm not in the US so finding some of these things may not be as easy.)

If I switch to glass bottles, what is the best way to remove the oxygen from the bottles? (I've heard of placing marbles in the bottle, blowing/breathing into the botle.)

How do you store your fixer by the way?

-- (, October 03, 2001.

I've gotten Photofinish from a variety of places, local & mail order....mostly Calumet. Here's the manufacturer's url:

You'd be surprised at how long a little bit of that lasts...and at how useful it can be.

Alright, I use tank lines to develop film, so that's not much help to you, but I keep fix in a tank with a floating lid & cover for a month. Way back when I used small tanks (daylight), I would keep my fix in either a glass amber bottle, or a plastic jug. I would keep it really full to minimize air space, and I'd keep an accurate log of when it was mixed, and each run of film I did through it. It's not such a bad idea to keep good logs of your film runs if you reuse for storing it in containers like this, you can displace the air with glass marbles etc., or use that tetenal product, that is basically Nitrogen in a small spray can. I can't remember what it's product name is...protectan or something like that. I don't have any experience with this product, but we use a similar method with our Wing-Lynch film that we use a 5 gallon tank for each chemical (6--E6 chem). The WL uses nitrogen pressure in the tanks, instead of a mechanical pump, to deliver the chemistry. As a byproduct of this, it also lays a "nitrogen blanket" down on top of the remaining chemistry. Our E6 lasts about 3 weeks or so this way in the tank, which is pretty good considering the lousy lifespan of that type of chemistry.....the Tetenal product, I imagine, would be the poor-man's nitrogen blanket....I don't think fix really oxidizes in the same manner as developers do. For instance, when we run tray lines in our print lab, we use tray covers & leave the fix out for days at a time. Fix will last for about a week in the tray this way, whereas something like Dektol would be useless in less than a regular 8 hr. day. However, all this chemistry is dirt cheap in the scheme of things, so it's better to toss it early when it still has life, than to try to pinch pennises with it....and take a chance on your film.

-- DK Thompson (, October 03, 2001.

Got to this thread a little late... but, why store all that fixer for ever and a day, especially if you just have to throw it away due to age and replace bottles ruined by sulfur deposits? Just switch to any one of the liquid rapid-fix concentrates and mix only what you need for one or two sessions. I now use all film developing chemicals one- shot, including the fixer. I mix either Ilford rapid fixers (Hypam and the like) or Kodak rapid fix at twice the recommended dilution (e.g. 1:9 for Hypam) and increase the fixing time accordingly. My guideline is to fix film three times the clearing time in fresh fix, which is determined by a clip test for each film and recorded. Capacities are extrapolated from the factory recommendations for the higher dilution (half the number for the same volume at the higher dilution, which is more than conservative and so contains a generous fudge factor). This way you are not storing or wasting fix. The validity of this method was confirmed in an e-mail from an Ilford technical rep. Just make sure you are not exceeding fixer capacity and that you fix long enough. Hope this helps. ;^D)

-- Doremus Scudder (, October 08, 2001.

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