Pictorial Planet

Peter Hogan's Alkali-FixTM

Alkaline archival fixing for all films and paper.

Available from my shop here. Please order in the shop or email me if your country is not in the database for postage.

Alkali-FIX has been specially formulated to maximise the beneficial tanning and staining qualities of Prescysol, Prescysol EF, Exactol Lux, and diXACTOL Ultra but works perfectly with all monochrome negatives (except chromogenic) and papers regardless of the developer used.

Developers are alkaline. Stop baths and almost all commercially available fixers are acid. Plunging the film from an alkaline solution to an acid solution and the radical ph changes that result, can stress the film emulsion; ideally the whole processing procedure should take place in solutions of a similar ph.

We all know what happens to a metal when it is in contact with an acid; the acid reacts with and eats away the metal. It follows that immersing the delicate silver grains of your fine print in acid is not the best thing you can do! The delicate high values, the finest silver grains in a print, and subtle shadows, the finest silver grains in a negative, are at risk, and you are in danger of those awful burned-out highlights, particularly if your mixing/timing routine is lax.

The answer is an alkaline fix.

  • Alkali-FIX has several major advantages over traditional acid fixers:
  • The use of Alkali-FIX shortens washing times considerably which means less potential stress and damage to film and paper emulsions and less water used.
  • Alkali-FIX will not dissolve image-bearing silver in those delicate highlights and shadows.
  • Alkali-FIX has a much greater capacity than acid fixers.
  • There is absolutely no requirement for a hypo-clearing bath with either film or paper when using Alkali-FIX.
  • Films and RC papers are washed to archival standards in only 5 minutes, FB papers in 20 minutes.
  • Alkali-FIX™, together with Alkali-STOP™, regulates the ph level of the development process protecting the emulsion from PH shock and leading to increased permanence of your negatives and prints.
  • Improved removal of hypo by-products from the paper fibres means improved toning and less chance of staining.
  • Alkali-FIX will maximise the tanning and staining qualities of Prescysol, Prescysol EF, Exactol Lux, and diXACTOL Ultra.
  • Alkali-FIX is superb at retaining those delicate highlights so beautifully produced by lith printing. You should not use a hypo-clearing agent with alkaline fixers!

Fixing films - Dilution for all films is 1 + 4. Capacity 10-20 films per litre of diluted working solution.

Prepare the fix for film:

After development of the film, and before fixing, I recommend using our Alkali-STOP for 10-30 seconds. Alternatively, run under fresh water for 1 minute, or wash, in 4-5 changes of fresh water for 10 inversions each time.
To cover a 35mm spiral, mix 60ml
Alkali-FIX with 240 ml water. To cover a 120 mm spiral, mix 100ml Alkali-FIX with 400 ml water. Tap water is fine, but as always, we recommend that you attach a filter to your tap, or filter the water with a domestic carbon-filter water jug.

Alternately, and this is what I do at Pictorial Planet, make 1 litre of working solution using 200 ml of stock mixed with 800 ml filtered water. This solution keeps well. Just decant the right amount for your tank from this working solution and use as normal, returning it back to the working solution after each development.

Fixing the film:

Pour out your Alkali-STOP bath, retaining it for further use. Pour in your Alkali-FIX™. Because alkaline fixers are not as aggressive as acid fixers, you should agitate often (at least every 30 seconds) or even continuously for the full time. Any slight milkiness in the emulsion after the wash means that the film is not completely fixed; simply re-immerse in freshly mixed fixer until it clears and then re-wash.

Some films require longer fixing than others; we have tested this fixer for up to 15 minutes without any adverse effect on films or papers. You can’t do that with acid fixers!

It is a good idea to perform a quick test for time if you are not using fresh fixer.
  1. Cut a small piece from the leader of undeveloped film and agitate in the fixer, making a note of the time it takes to clear completely.
  2. Fresh fixer will show clear in the test in about 60 seconds, depending on the film. Once the time to clear reaches 5 minutes the fixer should be discarded, although we recommend not keeping any used fixer (acid or alkali) longer than 24 hours.
  3. Fix for twice the clearing time (with fresh fixer, for 3 minutes), and if the clearing time is, say, 2.5 minutes, then fix for 5 minutes.

Please note that you should
not give extended fixing times with tabular grain films (such as T-Max) to remove the dye if you are using an acid fixer; over-fixing is never a good idea. To remove the dye, let the film stand in three, 5 minute water baths after fixing. Any dye left after that should be removed in the normal wash, but if some still remains after that, just extend the wash time until it is removed.

Wash film as normal. Your film will be washed to archival standards in 5 minutes, but you can extend that if you wish to be really sure!

Fixing RC prints
Dilute the stock solution 1+ 4. Submerge the paper and agitate continuously for 2-4 minutes. Capacity 40 10 x 8 papers.

Fixing FB prints
Dilute the stock solution 1+ 4. Submerge the paper and agitate continuously for 2-4 minutes. Capacity 40 10x8 papers.