Monday, March 19, 2012

Alternative to the fixer bath

First of all, I suppose that everybody knows that the fixer bath is constituted with a chemical capable of dissolving silver halides without damaging the silver itself that constitutes the image. Normally there are two substances that are mostly used, sodium thiosulfate or ammonium thiosulfate also known as hyposulfites.

Searching the internet you will find references to other substances that may be used as fixer but nobody gives you results of their own experiences. Well, guided by the references I could find, two other substances went under my experimental tests: ammonia and common salt, sodium cloride. And I can announce you that both this substances really work. So, from now, you are not limited to the special substance used in photography, you may replace them with either ammonia (ammonium hydroxide) or common kitchen salt. But...

Ammonia is available at drugstores, I have no difficulty in purchasing ammonia at a big drugstore called AKI (Portugal), it works fast but the fumes are terrible. But in former times I used to make heliocopies of drawings and the developer was also ammonia and we were used to it and I am still alive. So, if you can stand smelling a little ammonia, open the window and use it as fixer, quickly, and put back in the bottle.

Common salt is also a fixer, it dissolves silver halide. As first use it very concentrated, I putted half a kilo in 500ml solution and stired for a while. It still remains undissolved salt at the bottom, never mind. Filter this in coffee filter and use it for fixing films. But you have to be prepared to wait quite a long time, some 24 hours and the film is fixed at room temperature.

If you wait some more hours I will show you photos of the first film fixed with KITCHEN SALT!

Actualization at 20:40, 19-3-2012:

Kitchen salt passed this test. The film came out with white areas completely transparent after 24 hours fixing time with a very concentrated solution but without solid parts. If nothing else is available you can use salt, be prepared to wait 24 hours at least. After the first hour, you may open the tank at light and control visually the process. That was what I have done without problems, so far.

21 comments:

Rohan Hande said...

Hi, I'm trying to experiment with this method and was wondering if you just fill the tank with salt water and leave it without agitation over 24 hours? Also it'd be great if there was a chance you could show the results. cheers :)

H. Sousa said...

Hello, the solubility of salt (Sodium Chloride) in water is 359 g/liter. According to my own experience it is difficult to reach this value but it is also not needed. Try to dissolve 300g in one liter solution. Weight 300g salt and put in a beaker and complete with water to make 1 liter. Hot water is the best because the solution of salt requires heat. When the salt is completely dissolved measure again the volume and complete to 1 liter again. This solution may be used as fixer and, if you use it warm, about 35ÂșC it will take less than 24 hours but depends also on the film brand and type. I have experimented with Fomapan 100 and I've got 2 hours only. After one hour it was clear and then I waited another hour tobe sure it is fixed.
You are welcome!

H. Sousa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
H. Sousa said...

You better make a search in this blog, there is a box on the right side for searching. Search about «salt fixer».

Kenri Kaizen said...

Hello can you please share the photos fixed with salt as mentioned? 2015...and very curious! :)

Henrique Sousa said...

I am sorry, I posted one of them in another post, here: http://caffenolcolor.blogspot.pt/2012/05/my-most-seen-photograph-in-flickr-is.html but the photo was hosted at Flickr and my account was deleted. So, I have to search elsewhere. Of course I have the negatives but mixed with thousands I will never find. I will try my computer or another photo site where I have an account. But if I don't find, I will fix another roll with salt. They look the same as fixed with regular fixer because the paper of fixer is just to dissolve the remaining silver halides, leaving the film transparent.

Henrique Sousa said...

Here

Rosanna said...

hey, how do you use ammonia to fix? do you use it pure or do you water it out? and if so how much ammonia do you use for a litre? im new to this and im thrilled to hear you dont have to buy fixer as i have no way of buying it where i live, thanks!!

Henrique Sousa said...

Hello! I didn't see your comment before. The answer is yes, use it pure, But choose a ventilated place for it. I only used normal grain films, I don't know if it also works for all films. Ammonia is a bad solvent for silver chloride.
You are welcome!

Rosanna said...

in Norway its practically impossible to get a hold of pure ammonia. The strongest blend of ammonia and water I know I can get a hold of is called Salmiakk, do you think it would work the same?

Henrique Sousa said...

Well, you have to try it yourself, thus I don't have it! Just put a small piece of virgin B&W film in a small bowl, pour that stuff you have over and wait some minutes to see what happens. Nothing? Wait some more time. Nothing? Set the alarm for one hour and observe again. It is the only way to know whether it clears the film or not. In my tests, when I used pure ammonia - but attention that when it is said pure it is always a water solution of say 25 to 30% - it clears very fast. Ammonia is a gas NH3 and the solution in water produces Ammonium Hydroxide that is known as household ammonia. The fumes are again of NH3.

Henrique Sousa said...

Do you mean this? https://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salmiakk ? It says Ammonium Chloride. That is not the same as Ammonium Hydroxide and it may, therefore, not work!

Rosanna said...

I could always try to get ammonia first, go to other stores maybe. but if i were to try salmiakk, should i do this in a darkroom or just broad daylight because id like to do it outside,

Henrique Sousa said...

If you are developing a film, it will be in a developer tank, safe to light, no problem, If you are just trying with a stripe of film to see if it clears the film then you don't need to have it in the darkroom. Just immerse it in the liquid at light.

pmcrig1 said...

When using ammonia as a fixer how long should the film be in contact with the ammonia? Thanks for all the info!

Henrique Sousa said...

In my experiments with Fomapan film it took just a few minutes, something between 5 and 10 minutes.

Rhudelyn Pesigan said...

hi is there other way to lessen the time in fixng using salt? thanks

Rhudelyn Pesigan said...

after fixing with ammonia should i wash it at running water? if yes how many minutes

Henrique Sousa said...

Hello, Rhudelyn Pesigan! To fix with salt in less time, add 2ml/l of Sodium Hypochloride, aka, household bleach.

After fixing with ammonia you should wash as usual with plenty of water. A few minutes running water (5-10) or 3 x 15 minutes water baths to save water.

Carlos A Lopez said...

Has anyone tried using salt with enlargement paper? I'm hoping to fix some pinhole camera negatives. Thanks in advance!

Anonymous said...

I'm really curious too, is this salt recipe also for fixing photo paper??
Thanks for sharing your knowledge!