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Intro to Chemistry

This evening I was given some old Kodak chemistry from The Potato House in Williams Lake. Apparently they have been waiting for a person making a darkroom so they could finally get rid of it! If your not familiar with the Potato House “The Potato House Project is a community initiative to celebrate one of the last standing downtown heritage houses of Williams Lake. Purchased in May 2011, the Potato House is now held by the “Potato House Sustainable Community Society” – a not for profit organization. Our purposes are to carry out activities that inspire self-sufficiency and a smaller ecological footprint and to operate a high-profile drop-in centre and garden space for the educational benefit of citizens.” – Excerpt from http://www.potatohouseproject.com/About_Contact.html

Check out their Website and the Facebook page.

So let’s get smarter and find out what this stuff is and cut straight to the scary sounding one, Potassium Ferricyanide. From a little bit of online research it seems that “PF” isn’t as scary as it might seem and Wikipedia lists it as nontoxic or low toxicity. But with the beauty of chemistry you can turn this stuff in to cyanide gas if mixed with a harsh acid. With that in mind I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen, last time I checked cyanide gas is super duper lethal. Learning is good right!? So it turns out PF is used as a bleaching agent. Next question, what is a bleaching agent? Bleaching agents are used to lighten a photograph in the darkroom, its the equivalent to post “dodging” in Photoshop. So you mix up a small batch with distilled water and selectively brush it on your print all while rinsing with water, it seems this is capable of continuing to bleach your print in to nothingness if you aren’t careful. After you are done and the print has been washed with water thoroughly you need to run it through a fixer bath and then wash it again. So since you only mix it with distilled water I will not create that cyanide gas I spoke of! Piece of cake right!? Here’s a little video of some bleaching action! https://youtu.be/b2xXQb8opx4

Let’s check out this Kodak Dektol Developer. First off I need to read you the notice on the back of the can “Eastman Kodak Company will not be responsible for any skin ailment caused by this product.” I feel like this is the first time I have ever taken warning labels seriously. This is legit chemistry, it’s pretty interesting and I need to know how to handle this stuff properly so the family trusts me not to accidentally kill them. Trust is good! So this is a cool can, it’s unopened and has a cool retro look. It’s a straight up can of powdered black and white print developer (some films) that is still sold today and has near perfect reviews, good job Kodak! Since it’s still sold at $11 USD I’ll hang on to it as decoration.

Last but not least is the Photo-Flo 200 solution! Not a single warning on the bottle… I’m not sure I trust that. This is still sold today as well for about the same price as the developer. Photo-Flo 200 is used as a wetting agent in the final step in developing black and white film and some plates. This solution helps prevent water spots and streaks during the drying process. That sounds handy.

I’m a little bit smarter now. There’s a whole lot more chemistry to learn but it’s a good start. Thanks Potato House!

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