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I'm scanning about 30 years worth of 35mm negatives. This morning I encountered several dozen rolls that were digitized onto 3-1/4" floppies. To do this, Kodak stuck some sort of masking tape to the film.

I have to remove the "masking tape" so the film fits into the scanner. This leaves a thin layer of exposed adhesive on the edges of the film. I want to remove the glue before I put the film into the scanner because I don't want to risk gumming up my scanner's film feeder with the adhesive.

So far I've been cleaning the film with Pec Pads, Pec-12, and compressed air, as needed. Pec-12 does remove the adhesive, but the process of soaking a Pec Pad with Pec-12 and rubbing the edges of the film strip is very tedious. The pad gets stuck in the film indents; have to unfold/refold the pad to get a fresh clean surface; resoak with Pec-12.

This sometimes leaves streaks on the film, and the glue tends to form into globs which I inadvertently smear over the images. I also managed to wipe off a lot of the emulsion from one strip. I don't want to repeat that.

Since the adhesive I want to remove is across the film's sprocket holes, I'm concerned that if I cover the sprocket holes the scanner won't be able to feed in the film.

So looking for a better solution, both chemical and process. What's the best way to clean the glue from the film? I read a previous answer that said to soak the film in distilled water. Is this the best method for removing glue?

  • Not really an answer to the question as asked, but since it sounds like the glue is only on the non-image containing edges of the negatives why not just place a thin layer of film over the glue? You could trim the edges of a leader or "trash" negatives with nothing worth saving on them and use that to sandwich the glue between the two film layers so as not to risk the glue getting in your film scanner. – Michael C Jul 26 at 17:34
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Perchloroethylene (Perc, Tetrachloroethylene) available from Amazon.

Wet a well-washed "T" shirt with this and swab both sides. This is the stuff of Cine film cleaner.

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I have encountered this same problem, and I can sympathize.

Pec-12 does remove the adhesive

If the glue were water soluble, Pec-12 would have no effect, so this tells you that it is not water soluble and there's no point soaking your film in distilled water (unless you want to give it a good cleaning).

The pad gets stuck in the film indents; have to unfold/refold the pad to get a fresh clean surface; resoak with Pec-12.

Since you only want to clean the edges, try a smaller applicator. Cue tips with Pec-12 are easier to control than those large pads. It won't solve the tedium, but it will minimize accidentally hitting the image emulsion.

This sometimes leaves streaks on the film

Using too much Pec-12 will leave a white haze, but if you let the excess evaporate, you can go over the area lightly with a small amount of Pec-12 and the haze should disappear.

Since the adhesive I want to remove is across the film's sprocket holes, I'm concerned that if I cover the sprocket holes the scanner won't be able to feed in the film.

You are right to be concerned about the sprocket holes if you are using a negative scanner, like the Nikon 5000, which needs them to feed the film strip into the scanner. Getting rid of the glue is the only solution, and I don't know of any quick and easy way to it. Removing the adhesive without damaging the emulsion is a tricky proposition, and patience combined with a product safe for emulsions is key.

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    I do in fact have a Nikon 5000. I tested with sprockets covered, and the scanner could not advance the film. – Mike H Oct 4 at 4:56
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    The film I need to clean covers about a 3-year period and it was processed in both the Glendale CA area, and the Greater Chicago area. There are at least 3 different types of "tape/film" that are glued to the negatives, so it's possible that I'm dealing with different types of glue. – Mike H Oct 4 at 4:59
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    I've done some additional research, including contacting Kodak's film processing division. Several sources (including Kodak) recommended a 99% solution of Isopropyl alcohol, which I have tried. It wasn't very efffective at dissolving the glue. – Mike H Oct 4 at 5:02
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    I bought a bottle of Tetrachloroethylene, but have not yet tried it. – Mike H Oct 4 at 5:06
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    I experimented with a water bath - this did dissolve the glue,but even with a complete change of water I was left with tiny glue particles all across the negatives. I'm planning on going with the water bath, drying, then either a PEC-12 or a 99% Isopropyl pass to remove any lingering residue. Once I find a process that works reasonably well, I'll update this thread with my final results. – Mike H Oct 4 at 5:09

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