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Selenium Toning

Depending on the media choice used, Selenium toning can result in images with purplish brown tones.

The use of a selenium toner increases print permanence.

Selenium toning was originally devised to increase print permanence and reduce fading.

Selenium Toning - Andrew Sanderson

Even today, selenium toning is a sensible precaution for prints that are on continuous display.

Selenium toners are single solution toners that partly convert the original silver image to silver selenide.

The degree of toning can be varied by changing the toning time or solution dilution.

With ILFORD MULTIGRADE IV RC Deluxe, very little colour change results in selenium toners, but it tends to darken the shadow areas of the prints, and tint them purple. The highlights do not change in density however.

Warmtone papers are very responsive to selenium toners. Toning ILFORD MULTIGRADE WARMTONE papers with higher dilutions (e.g. 1+10, 1+20) of selenium toner - gives a slight cooling of the image tone and a shift in hue towards red.

Used at lower dilutions (e.g. 1+3, 1+5) - a purplish brown can be achieved.

Below are the key points and methods associated with selenium toning.

Selenium compounds are extremely toxic, so preparing the solutions from raw materials is hazardous.

ILFORD therefore recommends that you use a proprietary brand - such as ILFORD Selenium Toner or Kodak Rapid Selenium toner (this is diluted 1+3 for usage). Other commercial selenium toners include Berg Selenium, Fotospeed SLT20, and Maco Selenia.

Selenium safety

Always take extreme care when using selenium toner. Wear gloves and goggles, and never heat the solution as the fumes it gives off are poisonous.

Selenium is hazardous to wildlife - as it is also to human health. In many regions, it is illegal to dispose of the spent solution by pouring it down the sink. Before using selenium, contact your local authority for advice on safe disposal of selenium toner residues.

Prints toned in selenium toners generally have higher density and contrast than untoned prints. They also have a higher maximum density.

The toners are normally single solution toners - partially converting the original silver image to silver selenide.

With selenium toner, there is no bleaching step. After processing and thoroughly washing a MULTIGRADE IV RC Deluxe print, immerse the print in the selenium toner for between 3 and 10 minutes - depending on the end tone required. (Note too, the tone can also be altered by controlling the dilution of the toner).

As toning causes subtle changes, it is sensible to keep an untoned print nearby for comparison purposes.

Maximum protective effect is achieved with MULTIGRADE IV RC Deluxe paper - in about 4 minutes.