Making your own developer

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by giverin, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. I've seen the recipies for making D-76 from its component chemicals and I'm seriously considering trying it but I was wondering how many other common developers can you mix yourself from individual chemicals?
  2. There are loads of developers which you can mix yourself from individual chemicals. That's all the developer manufacturers do but on a larger scale.
    The two most common DIY developers are probably Caffenol and Parodinol (do a Google search).
    With a bit of research, the recipes for most developers are available.
  3. The Darkroom Cookbook.
    My old copy of the Ilford Manual of Photography (early 1970s) contains many recipes for standard developers. You'll find plenty of older volumes in used bookstores or online through Amazon and other outlets.
  4. not to discourage you..
    one problkem is getting the individual chemicals in small amounts.
    If ou want to do it go ahead.
    I bought the components for d-23, possibly one of the simplest developers
    Prices of some of the less popular components is very high.
    You will not save any money.
    freestyle and others sell equivalents to d-76.
    When I use up mine I will buy a bottle of hc-110.
    I worked at Ohas and both a triple beam balance and a smaller scale.
    more than accurate enough if I wanted to mix my own
  5. Gutenburg has free, 19th c and early 20th handbooks that will have this sort of thing.
    As Walter suggests, you do this for fun, not to save money or time. :)
  6. Photographer's Formulary.
  7. You'll have no trouble finding the ingredients for Caffenol inexpensive & available at every Supermarket & convenience store in town provided you don't waste your time running round trying to find Arm & Hammer washing Soda (look for PH plus [100% sodium carbonate] pool/spa chemical or convert baking soda by baking it spread thin on a cookie sheet @425F for 45 minutes). I use Fomapan 100 & the original (no Vitamin C) Digital Truth recipe and it works just fine with slightly reduced contrast that can easily be adjusted for both scanned & in the wet darkroom (Kodak polycontrast 3.5 grade filter) with a condenser enlarger.I'm happy with it.
  8. Thanks for all your replies. I suppose it is about saving money but in as much as having powdered developer at hand ready to mix in small enough quantities that I always have fresh developer to use. If I mix up a 3.8 litre sachet of D-76, I sometimes end up throwing some away because I haven't used it all. I really want to be able to mix up 1 litre at a time.
    I would assume that some of the chemicals would be common to many developers so I wondered what else I could mix up and experiment with.
  9. I recommend you try to get a copy of 'Developing' by Jacobson & Jacobson or 'The Darkroom Cookbook' by Anchell. I also have 'The Film Developing Cookbook' by Anchell and Troop. They have all the formulae you will ever need. I've brewed up a fair few developers in my time - it's generally quite easy.
  10. Hi Paul,
    I am in the position as you - I have a hard time using 1 gallon of D-76 before it expires.
    It is sold in 1-liter quantities, here for example:
    The price difference between a 1-liter pack and a 1-gallon pack is such that if you will use more than 1 liter before it expires, it is more economical to purchase the 1-gallon pack and simply discard the unused portion.
  11. Hi Brooks,
    I used to be able to buy the 1 litre packs quite cheaply here in the UK but now they cost almost as much as the 3.8 litre packs. I should have stocked up on them when they were cheaper but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
  12. How many? - 46, of course!
  13. Paul,
    I enjoy mixing my own developer, you might also. In any case, to make your gallon of D-76 last a year or more, after mixing it up in a gallon container, fill 3 quart bottles to the top with little or no air. Put the remaining quart in 4 eight ounce bottles. Use the small bottles as one shot developers, and when empty fill from one of the quarts. Its all about keeping oxygen and light away. Convert to metric as desired. Enjoy with your favorite film.
    Best regards,
  14. I disagree with Walter, you can save a small fortune in mixing your own chemistry. Artcraft chemicals are excellent.
    Reliable and one of the best suppliers around. Likewise Bostick and Sullivan, though more for alt process work.
    Clean working habits, a decent scale for weighting small volumes of chemicals, decent ventilation and some patience and a whole new world of darkroom work is open to you. The suggestion of The Darkroom Cookbook and The Film Developing Cookbook is a good one.
    This is not rocket science and is even more enjoyable when you have more control. You are not at the mercy of companies and shops that don't carry what you would like to try - and the companies that discontinue your favorite products.
  15. Paul,
    Not only can you save a lot of money, but you can also make developers that are not commercially available, and get results unobtainable by commercially made developers, and don't have to worry about availability.
    If you just want to make your own D-76, your liter for liter savings will be small, but your waste also goes down, and that counts, too. But there's no reason to limit yourself to D-76, or even general purpose developers. Instead, find a developer that works best for you, your working conditions, and your image quality requirements. I haven't used commercially made developers in a very long time, and don't intend to. Bulk chemicals are widely available and most developer chems are inexpensive. I'd be happy to share a few of my favorite formulas. Have fun!
  16. Paul,
    I mix all of my developers from scratch. I love the flexibility I can make DK-50, D-76 or as mentioned earlier developers that have never been commercially available and developers that have been out of production for years. Yes the initial investment is pricey but the long term savings is well worth the investment. An accurate scale is the most important piece of equipment you'll need. I would also recommend trying to find a copy of the "Compact Photo Lab Index" published by Morgan and Morgan. It gives virtually every commercially available formula out there whether it's Agfa, Kodak, Ilford or any other. One thing to be aware of is many non-Kodak formulas require the use of an acid (I believe the acid serves as the restrainer in the formula). Also as mentioned earlier Anchell's book "the Darkroom Cookbook" will give you information on what each chemical does and how you can tweak the developer formula to yield different results such as increased contrast or less activity.
    You must also remember to mix the ingredients in the order given since the creation of a developer is building block process. Most developers contain 4 main parts:
    The Developing agent or reducing agent----Hydroquinone, phenidone, metol etc.
    The accelerator ----- Borax, Sodium carbonate etc.
    The restrainer ------usually Pottasium Bromide.
    the preservative ----- usually Sodium Sulfite.
    In some formulas such as D-23 some of these chemicals wil lperform double duty. I buy all of my chemicals from photographer's formulary in Montana, their quality is excellent and they have almost any chemical you would ever need. If you are really ambitious you can even make your own fixer.
    Hope this helps
    Jerry Sparrow
  17. With chemicals shipping cost, the amount of surplus chemicals wasted, and the cost of possible mixing failures, I don't think a small volume user can save much money if your pure intention is to mix D-76 or Dektol. Remember you need to buy an accurate scale too.

    I usually happily buy Kodak ready made chemical like, D76, XTOL, HC110, Dektol, etc., as long Kodak is still marketing them and I am still able to pick up from B&H when I am in mid-town Manhattan.

    If I want to mix from scratch, I would like to reserve my time and energy for some more "exotic" recipes, like various Vitamin C or Coffenol formulas, etc.
  18. Thanks again guys for your advice and particularly to Jerry because I hadn't realised that the chemicals had to be mixed in a set order. You learn something new every day.

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