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I have an almost unused 1L bottle of Ilford "Rapid Fixer" that was opened 10 months ago, used, then capped again. Is it still safe to fix B&W films with this?

The "instructions" on front state :

"STORAGE Concentrate will keep: 24 months in full airtight bottles, 6 months in half-full tightly capped bottles, 7 days (1+4)."

So I believe that my bottle would fit in the "half-full tightly capped" category. I must add that the during the 10 past months, the room where this chemical was stored did experience some temperature change. Not much, but definitely some.

I ask this for two reasons :

  1. I read on an old forum thread (I cannot find it now) that it was safe to exceed the manufacturer limitations, and that it was not uncommon to disregard such limitations;
  2. The guy did not tell a "thumb rule" on exceeding manufacturer limitations.
  • Are you sure it was completely sealed? If you squeeze the bottle, do you hear any air movement through the cap? If you do, it wasn't fully sealed and it may be risky if the images on the films are important – laurencemadill Mar 24 '16 at 10:09
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    @laurencemadill Yes, I always seal them tight. Actually I used it while on the first 7-month period before reading the instructions. But now I was just wondering because every time I used it, I made my (1+4), fixed my 4 or 5 films with that and waited for another 2 months period before making another (1+4) again for my new 5+ films. In other words, there is still like 3/4 of liquid left. I do not mind buying more, specially if people here advice for it, but I do not like waste (just a habit of mine). – jrojasqu Mar 24 '16 at 10:17
  • My inclination would be that it is probably fine, I use a fotospeed fixer that has been open for 12 months and it has been fine. I'm using extremely old cameras (80 years old) so I'm not expecting greatest results in the first place. Also, it may be worth researching on google whether old fixer can continue to be use by either increasing the concentration or increasing the fixing time. Logic suggests that it's always going to work, but its effectiveness will reduce over time. Perhaps by increasing the fixing time that can be counteracted – laurencemadill Mar 24 '16 at 10:30
  • Why not make a batch of 1:4 large enough for your current needs plus a couple of more frames? Then take a test frame that would not be any loss if it is damaged and try it. If it works well, use the rest on your important negatives. If it doesn't, then either experiment with the fixing time (on another test frame) until you are satisfied or throw it out. – Michael C Mar 24 '16 at 21:41
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One way to check is to take a small piece of undeveloped film (you can use a bit of film leader) and put it in the suspect fixer (this can be done with the lights on). It should turn transparent in less than 1/2 the recommended fixing time. To turn it on it's head- the fixing time should be at least twice the clearing time (some say 3 times the clearing time).

  • I'm taking your word for it, but, how do you know this? Is there by chance some document (book; url; whatever) that you can cite? Just tested my "old" developer again following your description and it appears to be working just fine (clearing time : 1min). – jrojasqu Apr 10 '16 at 11:12
  • It's one of those rules of thumb, but I tracked this down in the Ilford Rapid Fixer documentation (www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/2006130218312091.pdf). "In order to avoid the risk of insufficient fixing. film should remain in the fixer for twice the time it takes the emulsion to clear. Fixer should be discarded when the clearing time in used fixer exceeds twice the clearing time in fresh fixer." – BobT Apr 12 '16 at 21:28
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I am not sure if the following works for an actual answer because I figure that it will take an actual chemist or at least a professional photographer that has many years of experience to tell. But since this is too long for a comment, I decided to post it as an attempt to an answer.

I tried googling for an answer to this question and the closest information that I found is in this site.

I then decided to give my old fixer a try on some freshly exposed film. I did not add more concentrate than the advised quantity, but I did set the fixing time to 2 or 3 minutes more than what the instructions advice for. I used the same film that was used several times while the fixer was still "fresh" and developed with the same developer. The film was also exposed in the same way as before. But I did not take the same pictures as before for comparison. These conditions may be too "sloppy" for scientific proof, but it is all that I could come up with (taking into account my limited spare time and material).

The old fixer appears to work with no discernible side effects. I did not check the film on a microscope, nor am I a professional so my eye may not be the most accurate. But as far as I can tell, the fixer still works.

Now the thing that I certainly cannot tell is if the film lifespan will be negatively affected. Only time can. Or again, a chemist/professional photographer with lots of experience in the matter.

UPDATE

Just tested my "old" developer again following the description by @BobT (I assumed the information was trustworthy). The clearing time was of only 1 minute so the whole fixing time would be about 3 minutes tops on a 1+4 dilution (Ilford recommends 5 minutes in total). No discernible side effects. Seems to be working just fine. At the time of testing, the developer was 11 months old and counting.

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