Making your own E-6 from raw chemicals : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I found the following page for E6. I'm going to try it. Anyone got recipe of C41?

-- Aaron Rocky (, May 21, 2001


I have one for C-41 and RA-4. It was on usenet a while ago.

I have posted it at


-- Dave Willis (, May 21, 2001.

Sure, just get your insurance payed up, and ship the kids and dogs off to Grandma's. Some of these chemicals listed are VERY toxic, and just where are you going to store them? In the small amounts listed, and in solution, there is no problem. BUT, you are not going to buy these in the small amounts needed for a gallon of solution. You will need to buy these in bulk, and that is where the problem comes in to play. -

Sodium Hydroxide - Health Rating: 3 - Severe (Poison) Reactivity Rating: 2 - Moderate Contact Rating: 4 - Extreme (Corrosive) Lab Protective Equip: GOGGLES; LAB COAT; VENT HOOD; PROPER GLOVES Storage Color Code: White Stripe (Store Separately)

Formaldehyde, 40 per cent Health Rating: 3 - Severe (Cancer Causing) Flammability Rating: 2 - Moderate Reactivity Rating: 2 - Moderate Contact Rating: 3 - Severe (Corrosive) Lab Protective Equip: GOGGLES & SHIELD; LAB COAT & APRON; VENT HOOD; PROPER GLOVES; CLASS B EXTINGUISHER Storage Color Code: Red (Flammable)


This info comes from the MSDS Sheets for these chemicals as listed by manufacturers at . If you don't know what an MSDS is, then you should not even attempt to mix your own chemistry, let alone buy bulk chemicals to keep around the house!

Just a friendly word of warning.

-- Matt O. (, May 22, 2001.

Safe handling procedures can be applied to glacial acetic and sodium hydroxide which will mitigate their dangers in the laboratory: ventilation, gloves, goggles, etc.

Formaldehyde isn't fun stuff. Aside from the cancer risks, what long-term exposure does to tissue has to be seen to be believed. Not recommended. And the stink is positively amazing.

E-6 is remarkably easy to do at home with the Kodak kit, which was recently redesigned with less formaldehyde. It also requires no reexposure. Premeasure your chemicals, use a water jacket or an air-box heater, wear gloves, and you'll be surprised how swiftly it goes.

Savings of $1 per film unit to have to play with photofloods doesn't appeal to me. I don't work for Kodak or anything, but their kit is easy enough to do -- even with hand-rolled rotary drums in a laundry sink -- that keeping a host of bulk chemicals around to replace it doesn't appeal to me.

-- John O'Connell (, May 22, 2001.

I looked at the recipe a little closer, and it should be relatively easy to deal with the chemicals safely. Instead of glacial acetic acid, you can get 28% and dilute that, or even dilute vinegar (1 part vinegar to 9 parts water gets you really close to the concentration in the E-6 stop baths). Glacial acetic acid is pretty stinky and can cause burns and is flammable.

Sodium hydroxide pellets are basically what you would find in crystal Drano. Measure them with a spatula or weighing spoon, and don't touch them with your hands. Wear glasses when you mix the chemicals.

I would try to avoid the formaldehyde. If you're going to do it, make sure you have very good ventilation, and wear gloves and eye protection. Among other things, it will fix and preserve tissues, and if you get it in your eyes, it's really really bad.

Now for the disclaimer. I am a scientist and I work with this and other nasty stuff daily. Athough I know what I'm doing, I can't be responsible for you if you should try this. It is up to you to make sure you have the proper training and equipment to deal with this.


-- Dave Willis (, May 23, 2001.

Don't worry. I'm working for my Ph.D in Organic Chemistry.

-- Aaron Rocky (, May 23, 2001.

Glad you've got chemistry experience, as well as access to scales, stir plates, and maybe even a few chemical "samples." I've got less than a year left on my Ph.D. (molecular biology) then back to my last year of med school. Good thing I've had photography to keep me sane during this time. Good luck on your Ph.D.


-- Dave Willis (, May 23, 2001.

I tried Mr Watkins' recipe and it works great. But the preparation of those solutions isn't funny. Too many chemicals. I failed first time when making the color developer because of incorrect mix order. CD3 seemed to be unstable in basic solution and turned into a deep brown color. On second try I added CD3 last and got similar result to that reported on Kodak website. Solution was at first purple then became light yellow overnight.

I used the chemical reverse instead of 2nd exposure. There is a web page on this but I forgot the address. Basically it's 100mg of Potassium Borohydride, 10g of Sodium hydroxide and 100mm of water. Use 12ml stock for 1L working solution, one minute before color develop, no wash in between. Works very well.

I have one small accurately controlled water bath, barely enough to fit in a paterson tank. I did my best to satisfy the temp requirement during 1st dev and color dev, waited for the solution to reach 38C before poured it in. Other steps I didn't take as much care, for example, I simply used the cold tap water to wash.

When I took the reel out of the tank I was shocked! blue film! You can image how disappointed I was after spending so much time on these mess. But the look got better when it gradually dried out and finnally it looked just perfect. What a dramatic emotional change!

I used the $6.99(cost of processing at local lab) that I just saved for a good meal at a chinese restraunt.

-- Aaron Rocky (, June 03, 2001.

Congrats Aaron! Was the Chinese meal as good as your home-brew E-6? Just kiddig. Is the "100mg of Potassium Borohydride, 10g of Sodium hydroxide and 100mm of water" solution stable at room temperature? For how long?

-- Geoffrey Chen (DB45TEK@AOL.COM), June 04, 2001.

I found the webpage for the reversal bath,

I just tried that for the 1st time so I can't say how stable the solution is. Sorry.


-- Aaron Rocky (, June 04, 2001.

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