Dektol won't dissolve?

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by Bobby Ironsights, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. Bobby Ironsights

    Bobby Ironsights TPF Noob!

    Dec 3, 2006
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    Thunder Bay, ON, Canada
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    That's a complaint I've heard a bunch, and it's annoying as frick alright.
    I buy my chemicals in bulk pure and save money and the annoyance of measuring is offset by the ease of mixing, but it also makes the chems dissolve faster.

    The problem is the METOL, the metol is the chemical that doesn't like to dissolve in water that already has any other dissolved salts in it.

    Unfortunately the metol is one of the developing agents so you HAVE to get it dissolved. It dissolves easily by itself so when you make it at home you just dissolve it first, then add the other chemicals afterwards.
    It's really cheap to make dektol my way. I think 500 grams of metol cost me something like eight dollars? It's hard to remember, as you only use a few grams of metol per liter of paper developer so you can mix hundred of liters per canister of metol.

    Now that I've stopped using the orange bags and gone to mix-it-myself powders, I ignore the "capacity" and "shelf life" of my chemicals (almost all common powdered pure photochemicals last decades) and just mix everything new, every two weeks. I figured out that it's just so cheap, it's not worth my having milky prints every once and awhile, figure out that my Dektol is too old, and then having to mix more up, and try to get it to temperature or more often just pack everything up(I use a bathroom darkroom), or worse yet, end up with nasty negatives.

    It's improved my consistency greatly, and now that I'm good with my kitchen scale, and workflow it only takes about forty minutes to make, measure, and mix a liter of hardening fixer for film, two one liter bottles of non-hardening fixer for prints (bath one and bath two) non hardening makes toning much easier, a liter of D76, a liter of dektol and a liter of stop bath. All of those chemicals together probably cost less than four dollars and half that is the distilled water I use for everything.

    I might have to start mixing more often in the summer, but while I'm busy with school that amount does me just fine.

  2. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

    Sep 16, 2007
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    Hell's Kitchen, New York
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    You know about the old 'pinch of sulphite' trick before dissolving the Metol (it can have a capital M because it is a trade name), don't you? You add a pinch of sulphite to the water (at about 30 degrees C, to help the Metol dissolve quickly), then add the Metol. This helps to prevent the initial oxidation of the Metol. Whether it is absolutely necessary is open to debate, but it is easy enough to do.

    Just out of interest, why do you use hardening fixer for film? Except during reversal processes (when I may use it before bleaching), I haven't used hardener for decades.

  3. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

    Sep 13, 2005
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    You can subsititute the metol with phenidone in roughly a 10:1 difference. It helps to dislove the phenidone in some 90% alcohol before adding to the water.

    I would expect a faster working developer, which can be altered by the how much phenidone you use, with the possibility of improved shadow detail.

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