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Concertina storage bottles : any problems?

Simon Fallon , Jan 17, 2007; 05:04 p.m.

Any advice on long(ish) term storage for the usual darkroom home brews eg toners, bleaches etc? Black plastic concertina bottles would seem the perfect solution (they're cheap, unbreakable, you can squeeze the air out, etc) yet enough folk seem to prefer glass to make me wonder. If one were to keep a dedicated squeezy bottle for each solution would there be any problems that any of you are aware of? Grateful for any opinions or experiences.


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Michael Ging , Jan 17, 2007; 05:39 p.m.

I have used them for years without any problem. You just need to make sure that they are fully extended when you clean them out. I did have one that leaked on one of the folds , but that was after years of use.

Frank Schifano , Jan 17, 2007; 05:44 p.m.

The short answer is, they suck. I've have a few of them, but haven't used them for years. They're stuffed away somewhere in a closet. They are made of flimsy plastic and the caps don't seal well. Squeeze the air out and it will find a way back in. When they are full, it's hard to pour anything out of them without making a mess. Avoid them. Turn around and don't look back. If you want to go cheap, go collect some empty plastic soda pop bottles. I've been using them for years and have no problems with the keeping qualities of my developers.

Ivan Muska , Jan 17, 2007; 06:49 p.m.

I have also same experience with plastic bottles. It cost a lot and does not work as expected. The air gets back in. Glass is the best, buy couple of glass balls to fill the bottle when there's not enough of the developer. Or you may buy a special gas (sold in photo stores too) that is heavier the air so it 'sits' on the developer and does not allow the air to go in. But it might be also expensive.


Louie Powell , Jan 17, 2007; 07:50 p.m.

Simon -

There are two problems with plastic concertina bottles. As Michael noted, the flexing that takes place will eventually cause fractures to occur in the pleats, leading to leakage. On top of that, they are expensive.

My general practice in 30+ years of darkroom work is to never pay for something that I can get for free. There are lots of bottles available that won't leak, and that don't cost anything. I put my developers in glass bottles - green glass bottles that formerly held lemon juice, brown glass bottles that formerly held beer, etc. I put my fixer, stop, and other chemicals in plastic bottles, choosing bottles that are made with thicker walls that ordinary beverage bottles. The bottles that liquid concentrate darkroom chemicals come in are excellent for this purpose, and if you are fastidious, you can recycle fixer bottles to hold fixer, hypoclear bottles to hold hypoclear, etc, and not have to worry greatly about how thoroughly the bottles have been rinsed prior to reuse.

The supposed advantage of concertina bottles is that you can squeeze them to expel air, and that supposedly makes the contents last longer. I'm not convinced that is really necessary if the chemicals are used fairly promptly. Developers are the chemical that are most likely to be compromised by the presence of air.

If you really want to displace air, using canned nitrogen may be a better solution than creating a slight vacuum in the bottle that then wants to draw air in through the closure. Or the old-timer solution is to drop glass marbles into the partially empty bottle to reduce its volume.

pico digoliardi , Jan 17, 2007; 08:05 p.m.

Most plastic bottles (and bags) let oxygen and other gasses permeate. Glass does not. If you want plastic containers which are not like that, then you will pay.

If you become stymied on this, touch base and I'll look for my early source. I use Glass now.

Colin Jackson , Jan 17, 2007; 08:47 p.m.

My experience is that there are 2 types of concertina bottles, those that push down like a spring and sooner or later suck in air via poor lid seal and those that compress in steps, "clunk, clunk" and stay where they are put. They don't want to spring back, hence don't suck in air. Stay away from the ones that spring back.

Conrad Hoffman , Jan 17, 2007; 09:04 p.m.

This page is from an archive, but might prove interesting. (link)

Neil Grant , Jan 18, 2007; 04:58 a.m.

A problem that I think none of the posts so far have mentioned is CONTAMINATION. It is impossible wash out the folded area of the bottles completely resulting in the carry-over of small remnants of aged chemistry into the next fresh batch. This is parcticularly important with colour processing and can result in a run that goes off-line, and remains that way.

Stuart Moxham - Finland , Jan 18, 2007; 12:06 p.m.

I had one that leaked and one that is still OK. They are a pain to pour when full. I use plastic bottles that fizzy drinks come in now. I give them a good squeeze when I want to get the air out and quick put the top on while squeezing.

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