Earth-Friendly Development Processes : LUSENET : B&W Photo: Alternative Process : One Thread

Are there any alternative processes for developing b&w film that are safe for the environment? I do not want to use a digital darkroom but am fearing that this may be my only solution. If any out there can help I'd be most grateful.

-- Steven DeWitt, Jr. (, June 17, 2001


Depends on where you want to draw the boundaries on where the "environment" is. Everything involves the environment. If you wish to draw the line around your black and white darkroom, doing your personal work, mother nature can handle anything you dump down the sewer. Standard black and white processing is fairly safe. The least impact would be RC paper, because it uses less chemistry and water than the fiber based paper.

You might have better luck asking this question in the film and developing forum, rather than one for alternative processes. Alternative processes implies that you would probably be interested in a nineteenth century process such as platinum, gum bichromate or kallitypes. This is why you have had to wait so long for anyone to answer.

-- Joe Lipka (, June 18, 2001.

Hi Steve. Assuming that you are not talking about toners (another issue)the 'standard' chemistry - developers such as D-76 & Dektol, acetic acid stop, and hypo or rapid fixers - are not harmful to the environment. Kodak has a publication on this.

Fixers, once they have been used, contain ionic silver and that is an environment hazard and regulated by most state departments of environmental protection - not as produced in home darkrooms, but for any business. Quantities generated in the average home darkroom are probably insignificant. However, if you would like to do the right thing, Pour your used fixer into a five gallon can about 3/4 full of steel wool. Put a lid on it to avoid odors. Let it sit for a few days and then pour the fixer down the drain. You can use the same steel wool for at least a year. What happens in the can: ionic silver swaps with iron. You get some rusty water and some black stuff which is silver flake. When you clean out the can, you can trhow the old steel wool and silver flake in the trash. It is not harmful.


-- Mike (, November 27, 2001.


Don't forget the impact of any digital darkroom when you do your comparisons.

Plastic, printed circuit boards, semiconductors, etc.. all add up to quite a bit of environmental impact; not to mention the ultimate disposal of said computer & camera 2/3 years down the track when it becomes superseded.


-- Duncan McRae (, January 15, 2002.

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