Sepia or Selenium which is "safer" : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

Although this may be a stupid question i'll ask it:

For a beginner, which is the safer toner to start with, and what might I expect as results from using such toner? Color, etc.?

I realize that all chemicals are dangerous but given the opprotunity, I would like to start with the "safer" toner.

Also are there any good sites that deal with how to tone?

Thanks for your replies Jeff

-- Jeff Riehl (, March 20, 2000


The results from either toner depends on the time/tempture you use. Both are safe if used as directed by instructions on the package, and you don't snort, drink or bathe in them. Use gloves, and a mask if the fumes bother you. You should always have good ventilation. Pat

-- pat j. krentz (, March 21, 2000.

There are plenty of good books around on the effects of toners.

If you are looking for the 'safest' one, I think you should avoid toning altogether. Which would you call 'safest', one that can kill you instantly, or one that takes years? I don't think a mask would remove the toxicity (unless it is a fireman's mask or similar, with oxygen supply).

But of course, used properly, toners are harmless. Well, mostly harmless.

-- Alan Gibson (, March 21, 2000.

The effectiveness of a "mask" depends on the material and the "mask".

The typical pressed papery material mask is a dust mask. As the anem implies it is effective against dusts, which are small airborne particles of solid matter. And they aren't that effective, intended to be used for reducing exposure to "nuisance dusts" not toxic dusts.

There are better respirators (the technical term) for dusts, the best filtering being one rated as a HEPA filter. This filter is designed to stop 99.97% of all airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns in size. They are rated against dusts, fumes (solid particles that are the result of the cooling of airborne gases or liquids), and mists (airborne droplets of liquid). But not against any gases or vapors.

For gases or vapors, you need some form of active filtration, such as activated carbon. But this does not work against all gases and vapors.

For virtually all normal photographics processes, the best thing is to have adequate ventilation. A dust mask or HEPA mask is good insurance when working with dry powders.

-- Terry Carraway (, March 22, 2000.

Well, if I had to choose a lesser evil, I would say that the simple sodium sulphide based sepia toner seems the least dangerous. It does stink, and those fumes are indeed toxic. But you can deal with that by providing proper ventilation. Thiocarbamide (or Thiourea), of which the odourless sepia toners are made, is carcinogenic, whence my preference for sodium sulphide.

Selenium, otoh, can be absorbed through the skin, and is highly toxic. You can (and you should) wear gloves when handling the toner, and also the freshly toned prints.

-- Thomas Wollstein (, March 24, 2000.

Remember to save the toner after using it. You can keep it for months. That is a good thing for the enviroment.

-- Patric (, March 27, 2000.

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