Utah is the 2nd driest state in the country. Mother Nature gives us an average of thirteen inches of water per year. Yes, we’re in a high desert, and we boast The Greatest Snow on Earth. Our Wasatch Mountains receive an average of sixty inches of water per year. Water is an essential, but a limited resource. About 40% of our municipal water supply comes from surface water sources. Meaning, we have some natural springs and wells, but the majority is collected in reservoirs. Most of the water we use for landscaping comes from a secondary source, untreated water stored in reservoirs and dams. Water is critical, and water provides life.
Last year while developing film at home, I kept asking myself, “I’m rinsing this film for 10 minutes because the Massive Dev app tells me to. Why?” It seemed like such an enormous waste of water. About this time, the Film Photography Project Store started to produce and sell FPP Archival Permanent Wash for Black & White Negatives. There’s nothing new about archival wash, but it was new to me. I emailed Leslie Lazenby at the Film Photography Project and asked her about it. This is her response:
Good to hear from you! Personally, and professionally I don’t know any film that will have any permanence with just a 10-minute wash time. Depending on the film and the fixer used it is a minimum of 30 minutes to 1 hour. So, yes FPP’s Archival Permanent Wash is just the ticket for the 2nd driest State in the Union.
Here’s how it works:
Mix 3 ounces of it with enough water to make 1 gallon of working solution.
After the Fix step, wash your negatives for 1 minute in running water.
Soak the negatives in your APW working solution for 1 minute (remember this working solution is re-useable for at least 75 rolls!).
Final wash is 1 additional minute in running water – done!
If you use a wetting agent like PhotoFlo it would follow here.
As an archival freak and a water advocate, I love this stuff.
Now I’m saving over 90% of the water I used to waste on rinsing film. Plus, instead of rinsing for 10-minutes as indicated by the Massive Dev Chart, the final steps only take 3 minutes. And now my black and white negatives are archival. The 1 quart bottle of concentrate makes about 10 gallons of Archival Permanent Wash working solution that can be reused for up to 3 months or 75 rolls. And if you don’t want to mix a gallon, you can use the directions on the bottle to make smaller quantities. Here’s an example of my modified recipe in the Massive Dev app:
Kosmo Foto 100 – 35mm, ISO 100
Kodak D-76 (1+1)
Development: 9 Minutes
Stop Bath: 1 Minute
Fixing: 5 Minutes
Rinse: 1 Minute
FPP APW: 1 Minute
Rinse: 1 Minute
Photo Flo: 1 Minute
You can also listen to Leslie Lazenby respond to my email in the “Dr. Is In” segment on the Film Photography Project Podcast, 54:26 into the podcast.
If you have a product recommendation or a tip on saving water while developing film, please let me know in the comments. I’m interested to learn what other people have done to conserve water and save time.
8 thoughts on “Save Water & Time When Developing”
What a useful experience report! I do plan to start processing my own as my nest empties – absolutely will do this step as it just feels so wasteful to dump water down the drain for 10+ minutes.
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And yet, running water for 2 minutes still seems more wasteful then using Ilford’s recommended washing method (or a variation thereof), alt least when it comes to negatives. Is that not an option for you?
What is Illford’s recommended washing method?
Ilford suggests that after fixing, for minimal water usage, you fill the tank with water, invert it five times and dump it; and repeat the procedure with 10 and subsequently 20 inversions (so, three tanks worth of water in total).
Of course, you can always add a cycle or two if you’re not comfortable with just three changes of water or suspect your brand of fixer is a bit tougher to get off the film.
You can find it mentioned under “Spiral tank processing method” in this here PDF: https://www.ilfordphoto.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Reducing-Wash-Water.pdf
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I’ve always used this method. I have negs going back 40 years that are still perfect.
I have never heard of this method, but it sounds great and much easier on the water bill.
Hey Shaun! I think I spotted a typo in your development recipe! Last step should say photo flo instead of hypo clear right?
Correct. And fixed. If you’re not using FPP’s Archival Wash, you should. 🙂