Washing film and paper

Pictorial Planet

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Washing film and paper


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When washing film and paper, it is imperative that you wash out as much of the fix and development by-products as possible. Inadequate washing will eventually cause staining and will always lower the archival quality of the photograph or negative. Do not cut corners at this stage of your work!

A running water bath can be used for really effective washing of films and paper. With film, ensure the water is at 20C (plus or minus two degrees) but for paper, cold water is quite acceptable. 

Make sure your flow rate is correct!

We can test the flow rate by introducing a harmless dye into our wash water and timing the length of time it takes to clear. It should be less than 5 minutes. Potassium Permanganate solution is often used for the dye. Also see Archival Insurance.

Ilford Method for Film Washing

This is my preferred method. It's easy, it's effective, and it saves water.
  1. Measure out 2 litres of clean water at 20C.
  2. Rinse the film and tank once with this clean water, empty.
  3. Fill the tank with more of the clean water and agitate 5
    times, empty.
  4. Fill the tank again and agitate 10 times, empty.
  5. Fill the tank again and agitate for 20 times, empty.