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flammability of darkroom chemicals

James Weaver , May 06, 2000; 02:18 p.m.

I am in the process of building a BW darkroom for my son. It will be located in the basement of our house which has a raised foundation. The space contains two gas furnaces and a gas water heater, all of which have pilot lights. The area where the darkroom will be located can vent through the entire raised foundation area, although we will need to cover the vents on the exterior walls when working in the darkroom. I am aware of the probable need to install a fan in the area of the darkroom but am concerned about the potential flammability of darkroom chemicals with pilot lights in the immediate area. I would appreciate any assistance on this issue. Thanks.


Robert Orofino , May 06, 2000; 02:47 p.m.

I don't believe any common black and white chemicals are flammable.The exceptions are the rapid dry film treatments that contain alchohol.Possibly an anti-scratch product,applied to negatives before printing, contains flammable solutions as well. Color film & paper processing or Chromogenic B&W film (that uses color processes) contain flammable solutions. I am not familiar with color processes so others should advise you on this.(Ditto for Antique processes.) To repeat the usual chemicals, ie. Dektol,D76,Fixer,stop bath,photo-flo,etc should be fine.My basement has a gas heater and furnace as well and there is no danger of fire from the chemicals. Ventilation, however, is absolutely necessary.

Conrad Hoffman , May 06, 2000; 08:33 p.m.

The only dangerous situation I can imagine would be dropping a bottle of solvent based film cleaner, and most people don't even use it. Normal B&W chemistry is all water based. I'd be much more concerned about electrical safety, and be sure to use GFIs on the outlets. Though most aren't, I like to have my enlarger frame grounded- helps with static attracted dust, too. Try not to stir up dust with the fan- think low velocity. Considering all the gas fired stuff down there, a CO detector wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Christopher Hawkins , May 06, 2000; 08:58 p.m.

The best source of this information is MSDS. Kodak has a wonderful web site including a section with country specific MSDSs. The URL is http://kodak.com/US/en/corp/hse/prodSearchMSDS.shtml

Terry Carraway , May 07, 2000; 02:07 p.m.

Glacial acetic acid is flammable, but it has such a low vapor pressure, that your situation is not a problem. Or just use Indicator stop or 28% Acetic Acid.


None of the other chemistry is flamable nor produces flammable vapors. Film MAY be flammable solvent based, but many are also non-flammable.


There is one product to avoid in your setup. Tetnal Protectant. This is a spray can that you can use to displace oxygen in bottles of chemicals for longer life. It is a mixture of propane and butane. It should not be used around open flame or in an area where the gas cannot escape downwards.

Thomas Wollstein , May 08, 2000; 06:38 a.m.

When covering the vents, make sure you only cover them light tight rather than airtight. Rooms containing gas furnaces *must* be ventilated.


As you have heard before, common darkroom chemicals are not flammable. Only some of the less common stuff (glacial acetic acid, solvents) are. These, however, can usually be applied in daylight. As long as you don't want to work with collodion plates, there is not too much to worry about. BTW: My own darkroom is in a bathroom where the gas furnace is standing. So far, nothing exploded yet.

Terry Carraway , May 08, 2000; 08:33 a.m.

My mistake, my post should have said that film CLEANERS may be solvent based...

Alan Gibson , May 08, 2000; 05:41 p.m.

>> <i>Though most aren't, I like to have my enlarger frame grounded- helps with static attracted dust, too.</i>


Here in the UK, I would expect all metal enlargers to be earthed. Americans seem to be less fussed about earthing equipment, perhaps the lower voltage doesn't kill quite so often.

Clay James , Jan 07, 2014; 08:49 p.m.

Most American enlargers use a 3 prong plug, the third prong is the ground, so by plugging it in, it is grounded.

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