Here are the exact ingredients I am using, and where I got them. If you know of better sources for any of these items – or just better stuff – please let me know and I’ll update the list.
Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
I got it at our local grocery store for about $6.00. I found it at Walmart for $3.24. I did the oven drying test and only lost 5% of the inital weight, indicating that this is the anhydrous version all the Caffenol C recipes call for. It may be worthwhile to confirm this for yourself when you buy a box. I’ve read reports that it is sometimes the hydrated form.
Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)
I was under the impression that lye was not readily available since the Red Devil brand left the market – how wrong I was! Roebic sells pure lye and it is easy to obtain. This two pound bottle was $14.98 at Lowe’s. It should last a very long time. Mind the warnings on the bottle! Lye is really nasty stuff. It WILL cause burns and blindness if handled carelessly. Gloves and glasses when working with it!
The WalMart website says “price varies by location.” I paid about $5.99 for a four pound box. It should last a very long time. It is a bit difficult to dissolve in water. This seems to be dependent on temperature. When I warm the solution to 35°C it dissolves readily.
Here is a wonderful data sheet that contains a wealth of useful information about Borax and other similar alkali compounds.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Ordered 1.0lb bag from Duda Energy on Amazon for $12.50 shipped. A 1 pound bag should last a long time.
Photographers Formulary sells a pound of it for $39.95.
Photographer’s Formulary 1.0lb jar $11.25 which should last essentially forever.
Potassium bromide acts as a restraining agent to limit the developer’s activity. In plain terms it reduces fogging of the film especially with stand development where developing times may be an hour or more. Not all recipes call for it and iodized salt can be used as a substitute, so KBr can be considered optional.
Arista Premium Odorless Fixer (powder)
Freestyle Photo $6.49 Cheap non-hardening fixer. I did the clearing test and it took 4-5 min to clear my FP4+, so I’m using a 10 min fix. The package says 2-5 min which would be completely inadequate.
Mine is a cheap knock-off of the Patterson style tank. I got it off EBay for ten or fifteen bucks.
These aren’t really necessary, but they do come in handy for both measuring up the ingredients and mixing the brew. I got them from Amazon for $21.41 I could have just gotten a single graduate or two for a few bucks less, probably the 1000cc or a 500cc would be sufficient – depending on how much developer you mix up in one go. Having some smaller ones is convenient – especially when I was mixing up Rodinal 1+100.
We have a nice big sink in our pantry – something of a luxury I must admit. I have moved my film processing operations here. I have a large stainless steel basin I put into the sink to hold the water bath. I bought it years ago to wash dishes in while camping. I got it from a restaurant supply house. It is actually part of a steam table – the basin that holds the hot water beneath the pans, but this is more or less the same thing, it costs $24.18 on Amazon.