What to do with recovered silver, part trois

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by David Nebenzahl, Aug 8, 2006.

  1. OK, maybe this time I'll get an answer. Question is, if one has
    silver-bearing "sludge" from using steel wool to recover silver from
    fixer, what does one do with it? (Keeping in mind that in my case, as
    agreed by several others here, the goal isn't necessarily to actually
    *recover* the silver for economic reasons, rather to try to keep the
    whole mess out of the ecosystem.) What do people do with this stuff?


    --
    In order to embark on a new course, the only one that will
    solve the problem: negotiations and peace with the Palestinians,
    the Lebanese, the Syrians. And: with Hamas and Hizbullah.

    Because it's only with enemies that one makes peace.

    - Uri Avnery, Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom.
    (http://counterpunch.org/avnery08032006.html)
     
    David Nebenzahl, Aug 8, 2006
    #1
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  2. David Nebenzahl

    Mono Guest

    I've had my own darkroom for about 30 years. Now while I enjoy photography
    and am fairly passionate about it, I don't print every day - perhaps once a
    month.

    At one point I tried to recover silver from used fixer using the steel wool
    approach. Based on that experience, I would estimate that the total volume
    of sludge that I potentially could have recovered over the 30 years that I
    have been doing b/w work might fill a standard size mayonaise jar.

    So I don't think I would worry too much about disposing of the sludge -
    just store it. When you are gone, your kids are going to have a lot of
    unwanted stuff to dispose of, and that mayonaise jar of black gunk will be
    just one more item for them to worry about.

    On a slight more serious note, I recall an articla in one of the commercial
    magazines (Petersen's?) many years ago in which the author suggested using
    a torch to melt down the sludge to form silver nuggets. I think he said
    that it would take quite a bit of sludge to yield a sizeable nugget, and
    that your garden variety propane torch probably wouldn't be hot enough, and
    suggested using acetylene instead.
     
    Mono, Aug 9, 2006
    #2
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  3. Interesting, you don't think they will just flush it ;) Back a long
    time ago there once was a darkroom I had access to that was on premisses
    of a company I once worked for. A broken mercury thermometer on the
    floor a found jar of Metallic sodium didn't cause anyone issues in
    chucking the jar or the place. Wish I had that jar it could be fun.
     
    Little Green Eyed Dragon, Aug 9, 2006
    #3
  4. David Nebenzahl

    Peter Guest

    I guess I thought you got a very good reply suggesting collaboration
    with a local mini-lab. In case that doesn't work, you are dealing
    with a fairly pure mixture of iron and silver. Neither is pernicious.

    If you want to get rid of it, aren't there scrap (metal) dealers in
    your vicinity. There used to be one on Kenilworth Ave, in
    Riverdale, MD and I feel sure he would have been pleased to
    have it (but not paid much).

    I'm not in the US at the moment, so I'm not current, but they
    used to be plentiful.

    The rest of the residue should be iron salts. Again, I don't
    think they are particularly objectionable (many of the possible
    ones occur naturally in drinking water).

    If you can heat it hot enough (check the CRC Hndbk for melting
    points) the silver should purify and the iron rust. You might
    be able (if there is enough of it) to pour off pretty pure silver.

    As someone mentioned, the quantities you're mentioning
    are probably too small for this to seem reasonable. Instead
    of pouring from a crucible, you probably will need something
    more like an eye dropper.
     
    Peter, Aug 9, 2006
    #4
  5. David Nebenzahl

    bill grenert Guest

    Go to the largest photo processor in your area and ask them
    who handles the fixer. We had a guy pump it out and refill
    with fresh. He PAID for it. BG
     
    bill grenert, Aug 11, 2006
    #5
  6. I did a Google search for silver recovery and found a
    great many sites some of which look like they might be
    helpful. All I can suggest is to repeat the search and
    follow up on what you find. Again, I suggest checking with
    local photo labs or one hour places to find out what they
    do.
     
    Richard Knoppow, Aug 14, 2006
    #6
  7. David Nebenzahl

    gr Guest

    Locally Safety-Kleen does silver recovery among other hazmat /cleaning
    things. I think they are national and server most big cities.
    gr
     
    gr, Aug 20, 2006
    #7
  8. gr spake thus:
    I used to own a business (print shop) that generated haz waste and used
    Safety-Kleen to pick it up. I wouldn't use those idiots again if my life
    depended on it. (Unfortunately, in a lot of places they're probably the
    only player in town.)

    Besides, they only deal with minimum 20-gallon size containers. We're
    talking about maybe a mayonnaise jar-full here.


    --
    In order to embark on a new course, the only one that will
    solve the problem: negotiations and peace with the Palestinians,
    the Lebanese, the Syrians. And: with Hamas and Hizbullah.

    Because it's only with enemies that one makes peace.

    - Uri Avnery, Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom.
    (http://counterpunch.org/avnery08032006.html)
     
    David Nebenzahl, Aug 20, 2006
    #8
  9. David Nebenzahl

    darkroommike Guest

    What you can do with it is almost unlimited, what you are allowed to do
    with it can vary by local ordinance, contact your local environmental
    people and brace yourself for the onslaught of nosy Parkers that will
    regulate your darkroom out of existence. Unless your home darkroom is
    going through 100 liters of fixer a week your silver sludge output will
    be so small that storing it in a mason jar in the basement is a viable
    alternative, then when the local toxic clean up day comes around trot
    out your little pile of silver sludge leavings and dispose of it
    properly. (Unfortunately the EPA (and equivalents) will not make any
    exceptions for the guy in the darkroom once a month and as soon as you
    are on their radar you're screwed.)

    I'm thinking of going this route:

    Stir steel wool into fixer, stir daily for a week, adding more steel
    wool until no more seems to be reacting, let the slop settle, decant the
    fixer and pour it down the drain (though at first I may try another
    batch or steel wool in the decanted liquid) and then scrape the sludge
    into a 5 gallon pail and let evaporate. Then when the pail is full I'll
    contact a silver recovery place (price of silver is going up).

    Mike
     
    darkroommike, Aug 20, 2006
    #9
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