Tap or distilled water for film development.

Grandpa Ron

No longer a newbie, moving up!
Joined
Aug 9, 2018
Messages
879
Reaction score
496
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I was reading Ansel's book on the negative and he recommended using distilled water for mixing developer, unless you have very pure tap water.

I had never thought of that as I live in the country and we have always had good old well water and a water softener. In retrospect, I realized that the same chemical are there, they have just been chemically modified by the softener process.

So, the question is, how important is the purity of the water and what are the effect on the negative?
 

petrochemist

TPF junkie!
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
1,760
Reaction score
540
Location
North Essex UK
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I was reading Ansel's book on the negative and he recommended using distilled water for mixing developer, unless you have very pure tap water.

I had never thought of that as I live in the country and we have always had good old well water and a water softener. In retrospect, I realized that the same chemical are there, they have just been chemically modified by the softener process.

So, the question is, how important is the purity of the water and what are the effect on the negative?
They are not the same chemicals because they've been chemically modified. Commonly water softeners use ion exchange processes to convert insoluble calcium carbonate into a soluble carbonate or a different calcium salt - in either case the alternative being picked to be readily soluble.
I think producing calcium chloride is the usual approach, but I'm quite willing to point out my inorganic chemistry is getting a little rusty.
 
Last edited:
OP
Grandpa Ron

Grandpa Ron

No longer a newbie, moving up!
Joined
Aug 9, 2018
Messages
879
Reaction score
496
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Petro, Yes the ion exchange changes the compound. However, when you run a humidifier in the winter the compounds in the soften waters build a white chalky looking material on the evaporation media.

I was curious what happens in the film development process, and if the now soluble minerals in the water, simply flushes through.
 

petrochemist

TPF junkie!
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
1,760
Reaction score
540
Location
North Essex UK
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Petro, Yes the ion exchange changes the compound. However, when you run a humidifier in the winter the compounds in the soften waters build a white chalky looking material on the evaporation media.

I was curious what happens in the film development process, and if the now soluble minerals in the water, simply flushes through.
When you run a humidifier you are evaporating away the water even soluble compounds get left behind in such exercises. It's normally only transition metal compounds that are coloured so the deposit will still be white, but they wash off much easier than limescale.

I would have thought tap water runs the risk of leaving deposits, but it will vary considerably with the tap water.
 

jcdeboever

TPF Supporters
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2015
Messages
19,683
Reaction score
15,515
Location
Michigan
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I am also on well water but to be honest, I have not seen any difference at my house. I use photo flow and it works as expected. Now, a friend of mine who lives in Jackson, MI has city water and it is noticeably different compared to distilled. I have no idea why but his spots require a very saturated isopropyl micro fiber towel wipe to remove them from 135 black and white film, even with photo flow. We processed several rolls with distilled d76, distilled stop,, and distilled rapid fix, and distilled photo flow. The results were noticeably better overall so he is now doing the distilled method. I bought him some large table top containers of distilled at the water supply place near my work to reduce cost and he loves the dispensing.
 

flyingPhoto

TPF Noob!
Joined
May 29, 2021
Messages
165
Reaction score
7
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
I am also on well water but to be honest, I have not seen any difference at my house. I use photo flow and it works as expected. Now, a friend of mine who lives in Jackson, MI has city water and it is noticeably different compared to distilled. I have no idea why but his spots require a very saturated isopropyl micro fiber towel wipe to remove them from 135 black and white film, even with photo flow. We processed several rolls with distilled d76, distilled stop,, and distilled rapid fix, and distilled photo flow. The results were noticeably better overall so he is now doing the distilled method. I bought him some large table top containers of distilled at the water supply place near my work to reduce cost and he loves the dispensing.
Ah another michigan man. good im not all alone here.

On your friends water from detroit city. Its most likely the chlorine the city uses, and flouride.

Im in the middle of nowhere and my water is hard, if i left a capful of my well water on a plate, three days later it would be like milk stone.

The MAIN difference is the minerals. Minerals be like real shite to deal with when air drying. Used eco pro lineup for some film. magnificient quality, better then most mail labs that have done black and white film development for me.

i used distilled and "spring water" according to the bottle labels to mix everything. Very nice and clean. Dried in half the time that the well water takes. only 1 water spot where it bent over the towel it was on.

when i did my cinestill trial using well water, well it was BAD
 

jcdeboever

TPF Supporters
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2015
Messages
19,683
Reaction score
15,515
Location
Michigan
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Goes to show you, you have to test and experiment. I use distilled for C41 because I am batch mixing and it's convenient.
 

Rickbb

No longer a newbie, moving up!
Joined
Jul 31, 2020
Messages
357
Reaction score
192
Location
Central North Carolina USA
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
Late post but my well water has too much minerals to use. Leaves weird marks and hard spots on the film. Distilled is the way to go, at least for me.
 

Douglas Brown

TPF Noob!
Joined
Apr 16, 2021
Messages
39
Reaction score
11
Location
50 miles NE of Fargo, ND
Website
www.douglasbrownsr.com
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Great timing as I am returning to darkroom work after a 35 year hiatus. I live in the country using well water and salt water softener and will be mixing my chemicals up this weekend so the timing of this discussion is perfect. Now to run to the store for some distilled water.
 

Most reactions

New Topics

Top