Cleaning records with Photo-Flo instead of distilled water

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by cambolt, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. cambolt

    cambolt New Member

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    Yes, I know distilled water is the way to go, but these things are expensive and hard to find here in Australia.

    I was wondering if anyone has tried to use Photo-Flo with tap water to clean records. Will it stop the water from leaving its mineral deposits behind?

    Not that I can really tell, but our water doesn't strike me as particularly chalky or anything.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks
     

     

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  2. janikphoto

    janikphoto Lunatic Member

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    I've had this thought in the past, but photoflo isn't cheap... especially now that the film industry has been destroyed by digital. However, it was amazing how well it kept spots off negatives that were drying. It's a similar product to the liquid that keeps your dishes from spotting, FYI.
     
  3. Vinylmasters

    Vinylmasters AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Hmmmmm........ :scratch2:
     
  4. grottyash

    grottyash Super Member

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    Photoflo is a wetting agent, you can substitute dishwashing liquid at a pinch. Personally I use demineralised water with my knosti, and don't rinse. Works fine.
     
  5. SaSi

    SaSi Seriously Illogical Subscriber

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    I find the price of distilled water sold in 5lt tanks in the food markets (for steam irons) to be affordable.

    It all depends on the cleaning process and how much it recycles. If you are rinsing in the sink from a bottle, you are wasting a lot of water. If you rinse using a spray dispenser (again the plastic ones sold for ironing clothes is perfect) then you are spending much less water and get a much better effect).

    You could also plan a 2 step process where the first rinse is done using water collected from the second rinse step, and for the second step use fresh distilled water.

    And yes, a couple of drops (half a teaspoonful) of dishwasher additive for "brilliance" per lt works wonders.
     
  6. flavio81

    flavio81 Turntable technician

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    Photo-flo will not prevent you from leaving minerals.

    It is a wetting agent that is useful for let the water run down from the negatives, drying them perfectly. (I am a photographer as well, had a darkroom.)

    The Kodak instruction manual for Photo Flo 200 explicitely states not to use Photo-Flo on vinyl records. Why? I don't know. There was a thread on this on some forum and some of us suspected it was a baseless warning.
     

     

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  7. Kahoona

    Kahoona Super Member

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    Thank you! That is so simple and yet efficient but it never occurred to me. And actually easier and quick too!.
    As far as the distilled water goes wasn't there a period about ten years ago where all of the health conscious folk drank distilled water that they made in their own little household distillers? I bet that there are some of those machines still sitting around if you can find them. Water can be distilled with the bowel method if you are in a sunny area. This article says desalination but it is really distillation. http://www.wikihow.com/Desalinate-Water
    or make it on the stove
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpkDJ6yIN8I
     
  8. robgmn

    robgmn Super Member

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    How about thoroughly removing the water instead of trying to figure out ways to avoid the spots from air drying?

    An air knife can work wonders (though vacuuming is REALLY the way go, it's harder to implement for Rube Goldberg types).
     
  9. flavio81

    flavio81 Turntable technician

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    This.

    I never had any need for adding special wetting agents. I just use a DIY cleaning fluid (typical formulas you get on the web) with a discwasher brush and it dries rather quickly without problems.
     
  10. Wigwam Jones

    Wigwam Jones Caesar non supra grammati

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    As the photographers in this thread have stated, Kodak Photo-Flo is a 'wetting agent'. It decreases the surface tension of water to keep it from 'beading up'.

    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/prof...ocessing/photoFloSolution.jhtml?pq-path=14039

    It does not 'clean' anything. It's not soap, detergent, or any kind of cleaning agent.

    Back in the 1970s, there was a rumor amongst the stoners (yeah, literally) that they could use Photo-Flo in place of something like Discwasher D3 to dust records. Bad idea. First of all, it's highly concentrated. Using is full-strength is not only very expensive, it also leaves horrible white, crusty, streaks on your records, and gums up your Discwasher brush. How do I know? I had stoner friends, and like a moron, I listened to them. I learned the hard way.

    The way Photo-Flo is used with film is this: After developing and rinsing your negatives in the kitchen sink, you do a final dip-rinse in a very diluted solution of water and Photo-Flo. This causes the negatives to be wetted with water that has very low surface tension (when you see water 'bead' on a waxed car, that's high surface tension). Therefore, when you hang the negative up to dry, the water drips off and doesn't leave much, if any, of the minerals and detritus normally found in tap water behind. It's not the water we photographers are concerned about; it's the stuff in the water that stays behind if the water remains long enough to evaporate instead of dripping off.

    So, let's translate this to vinyl records. If you are washing them, such as the way I do it, in the sink, you might want to use something like a very diluted Photo-Flo solution as the final rinse if you are NOT going to wipe the records dry and you ARE going to let them air-dry. Otherwise, I cannot think of much use for Photo-Flo in record care.

    It makes no sense to use it if you're wiping your records dry after washing in the sink, since the towel you use to wipe them dry should remove the remaining water and most if not all of the junk that's suspended in the rinse water (minerals, etc). In other words, although there may be some microscopic water remaining in the grooves, it's not going to run out in drops anyway; it's going to evaporate over time. It will leave behind deposits whether you have Photo-Flo in the water or not.

    It also makes no sense to use it in day-to-day dusting of records in place of something like D3 or D4 or whatever. Again, nothing is 'running off' of the record, so any remaining moisture is going to evaporate, leaving behind whatever is suspended in the water.

    I don't know much about record cleaning machines, but I would suspect that it would not be of any use in them either. If the water is not actually running off the record, a surface-tension reduction isn't going to do a thing for you.

    My recommendation would be that unless you are washing records in the sink with tap water and NOT drying them with a clean microfiber cloth when done, there's nothing that Photo-Flo does that would be of use to anyone cleaning records.
     
  11. Wigwam Jones

    Wigwam Jones Caesar non supra grammati

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    To be clear about water (sorry for the pun):

    Water is not the enemy of clean records. The concern is what is in the water. Typically, we are talking about minerals such as calcium. These minerals are good for the human body, but bad for things like nice crystal glasses and so on. Therefore, such dishwasher treatments as 'Calgone' and the like.

    If you use water that has no minerals in it when you wash your records, you don't have to worry about the minerals remaining behind on your records when they dry. You can get this by using distilled water, demineralized water, etc.

    If you use tap water to clean and rinse your records (like I do), then you have to remove the minerals in some other way. You can do this mechanically with a lint-free towel that absorbs water (along with the minerals in it) such as good micro-fiber towels. There will be microscopic amounts of water left behind, of course, but not enough to form droplets which bead up, drip off the record, and leave behind the mineral deposits. Instead, these tiny amounts will evaporate, and yes, leave behind whatever minerals were in them.

    A chemical that reduces the surface tension of the water, such as Photo-Flo, would have an effect on records which were still dripping water. But not on records which had been towel-dried and were no longer dripping water. If no water is running off the records, then Photo-Flo can do nothing in the way of ensuring that the remaining water runs off along with the minerals it contains. What will happen is that the remaining water will evaporate and leave behind both the minerals it contained as well as the Photo-Flo, which does not evaporate.

    The question (and isn't this always the question?) is whether or not the microscopic deposits left behind when a record is rinsed in tap water and then towel-dried with a lint-free cloth is enough to cause noise or damage to the record that can be heard when it is played.

    I do not hear any such damage, and I've been cleaning my records for some time now using tap water and towel-drying. I also routinely digitize my records and listen to passages critically with headphones and editing tools, trying to get them as 'clean' as possible. I have yet to note a digitized record that sounds worse after being cleaned, including A / B testing of records which were sealed and played only once after opening to record them and then cleaned a played/recorded again. I can't swear it's not possible, but I can say I have never experienced it.

    However, as many AK members will tell you, they are obsessive personalities (note that most of them readily confess to this themselves, it's not me calling them anal-retentives). The very thoughts of deposits from tap water on their records would keep them from sleeping well at night; the actual effect it might have is utterly beside the point.

    So if you are obsessive (and God help you if you are, what a life that must be), then avoid using tap water and towels to clean your records at all cost. And Photo-Flo is right out in any case. Spend a few thousand on the best record-cleaner money can buy, and have some of your records inspected by microscopic photography from time to time to ensure you're not getting anything at all between your stylus and the vinyl. Nothing else is going to let you sleep at night.

    All meant in the best of humor, folks! :D
     

     

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  12. scootchu

    scootchu Dear Sir or Madman

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    I assumed that a wetting agent in the cleaning solution was effective in letting the liquid flow into the grooves of the record rather than beading up. I also assumed that only a very minute amount was needed in order to achieve this.
     
  13. Wigwam Jones

    Wigwam Jones Caesar non supra grammati

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    I could well imagine that it might indeed do that, but soap is also a surfactant and does the same thing. To get Photo-Flo to do it, you'd have to add it to the cleaning solution, not the rinse.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surfactant

    By washing my records with a solution of water and Dawn dishwashing liquid, I presume I am reducing surface tension quite enough to get it into the grooves.
     
  14. scootchu

    scootchu Dear Sir or Madman

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    Yes that's what I was getting at. A couple drops of Dawn is all I use in my cleaning solution. Rinse is plain old distilled water.
     
  15. dosmalo

    dosmalo T-Totaled Subscriber

  16. bobins08

    bobins08 Loving the dream Subscriber

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    Distilled water costs $0.87 per gallon in the discount Super Markets here and $1.06 in the fancy-pants stores.

    How can you beat that cost with anything other than turning on the tap at home?
     

     

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  17. ConradH

    ConradH Addicted Member

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    Photo-Flo doesn't evaporate easily and my guess is it could leave a sticky film on records, especially if used to excess. Photographic film is coated on both sides, and a trace of Photo-Flo gets absorbed into the surface and helps with curling and flexibility. Photo-Flo is said to be very difficult to completely rinse off, though I think this has been exaggerated. The claim was that it would build up on stainless steel tanks, but I suspect that was a trace of gelatin. Still, photographers were always wary of the stuff, along with it's competitors like products like FR wetting agent. LFN is supposed to be very good.

    When water beads up and then evaporates, the droplet becomes smaller and smaller, until any contaminates are grouped into a small speck. Thus the desire for water to flow off without leaving droplets. On film those drops leave rings or specks. A similar things applies to records- you don't want individual droplets to evaporate if they contain contaminants. IMO, if they're on a record, they automatically contain contaminants.

    I've had good luck with towel drying and also using a steamer from a distance. The steamer probably doesn't have any magical cleaning abilities, but it bathes the record in distilled water, rinsing off as much stuff as possible.
     
  18. Gum Parker

    Gum Parker Active Member

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  19. flavio81

    flavio81 Turntable technician

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    Excellent, and well put.

    :tresbon:
     
  20. jlb2

    jlb2 Well-Known Member

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    I see several problems in this formula. First off, 70% rubbing alcohol is neither intended nor recommend for cleaning. It contains denaturants and contaminants likely to stay on the record after the rest evaporates. In fact several ingredients (motor anti-freeze, hand soap, etc.) are more than likely to contain additives or contaminants. Not good if the goal is to clean records.

    Then I don't really see the point of using ethylene glycol when the autor himself says that it is toxic. There is no shortage of harmless tensio-actives that are at least as good. The same goes with dishwasher liquid, especially if all that's needed is a surfactant - and then what's the purpose of using both, plus soap? :confused: I also don't see the point of using an antimicrobial agent there - OTOH a fungicide might be useful, but there is none.

    After seeing this formula, I wonder whether the obvious aggressiveness and complexity of that stuff are compensatede by any added benefit over a few drops of Tergitol and 20% of 99% pure IPA in distilled water, followed by a rinse in pure distilled water as per the LOC formula :dunno:
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014

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