Selenium Alternative? : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

I read Tob's question below with concern. I used selenium a number of years ago but stay away from it now for reason of extreme toxicity. I do use Kodak Sepia toner when I want a brown tone, especially when using Luninos textured papers, and sepia is, I believe, an archival process.

Are there any less toxic chemical which will accomplish the same results as selenium...enriching blacks and archival characteristics?

-- Todd Frederick (, January 30, 2000


gold chloride is more archival than selenium; but it is very expensive and I'm not sure how toxic it is. Adams has a formula for it in The Print.

-- shawn gibson (, January 30, 2000.

Rapid selenium toner is toxic yes. But as long as you don't drink it, get it all over you, or use it in an enclosed area with no ventilation, it won't hurt you. There are a lot of printers that have used it for decades and they are still alive. As with all chemicals, care is essential. There are other toners but the ease of use and the results obtained with this toner make it the most useful of tools. Just use it logically. James

-- Mr.Lumberjack (, January 30, 2000.

Selenium toner is no more dangerous than most of the other photo chemicals. Do not drink it, use gloves and tongs, and wash your hands before eating.

-- Terry Carraway (, January 31, 2000.

Tiny amounts of selenium are now thought to protect against cancer. I have no doubt that large amounts would be toxic, but unless you swig the stuff...

-- Peter Hughes (, February 02, 2000.


The problem with the "tiny amounts" of selenium that might have a positive effect is that they are really tiny, and it is not at all advisable to mess around with selenium, because that leads to uncontrolled exposure which is not "thought to protect" but known to be harmful. (See also post "Discarding Chemicals".) There are only few other elements where the borderline between good and bad is as narrow as with selenium, and where the negative effects are so bad.

-- Thomas Wollstein (, February 03, 2000.

Adams cites, in his book "The Print", that the trying to make your own selenium toner is unacceptably dangerous because selenium is highly toxic by inhalation. If you wear rubber gloves while using proprietory toner and ensure good ventilation the risks are minimal.

-- Adrian Twiss (, April 23, 2000.

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