Does water source matter? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

As I start to mix darkroom chemicals beyond ditlution of liquid & dry premixed off the shelf brands, and get into amidol and pyro, should I be using distilled water? and if so, what is the reason for doing so? Or is a good filtered tap water ok?


-- Bill Haley (, August 27, 2001


Use distilled if you are fussy. Use tap if you are not. Tap water (filtered or not) could contain chemicals that change your developer, and tap water adds another variable to your process, since the make up of tap water can change.

In practice, tap water should be okay since any chemicals in it are in small quanities. Still, if you are into absolute consistency, stay with distilled.

-- William Marderness (, August 27, 2001.

FWIW, I have a friend who gets well water six months out of the year and Lake Michigan water the other six months. He has noticed a definite difference.

-- Sean yates (, August 27, 2001.

My experience has been that if you can get the same water all the time and can get things standardized, then it doesn't matter. If, however, the water source changes, things can get tricky. At home we've got well water and I've got everything pretty well worked out for that. At school in Athens, OH, though, we're on city water and not only is that different from the well water I've got at home, but the chemicals in the water change during the course of the year. This means different chemical content of the water as well as vasty varying PH levels from place to place and time to time. While the difference in chemical processes can be subtle, they can also be rather marked. I've especially noticed that I have to adjust my developing time for Tri-X (35mm & 120) in HC-110 depending on where I am and what the water's like. When I'm really feeling motivated, I'll leech a ride off a friend and get distilled water at the local supermarket, but I usually just make adjustments as necessary. FWIW, I've noticed less of a change with different water when using PMK Pyro than other developers. Hope this helps.

-- David Munson (, August 27, 2001.

My negatives looked like S--- until I switched to distilled water. The water here where I live in Southern California is so hard, I consider it to be contaminated as far a mixing photochemicals in it is concerned, to do otherwise results in negatives that are ruined. Andre

-- Andre Noble (, August 28, 2001.

At $0.69 a gallon, distilled water is cheap insurance. It's one less variable to worry about.

-- Kevin Bourque (, August 28, 2001.

yeah but people think your crazy when you buy ten gallons of it at the store.besides you have to haul it around pain in the ass. if you want to use distilled water get a water cooler tell them you want distilled they may even deliver.-J

-- josh (, August 29, 2001.


I've never used anything but distilled water for any of my film processing. Needless to say, I've never had bad results that I couldn't more parsimoniously attribute to some of my other darkroom buffoonery. I'd like to know though where a gallon of distilled water can be gotten for 69 cents.

Keep on shootin


-- Robb Reed (, August 29, 2001.

You can buy a gallon of distilled water for $.69 at a discount store like Kmart or Wal*Mart.

-- Michael Feldman (, August 29, 2001.

Josh, buy a water distiller, I bought one and could not be happier with it!

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, August 29, 2001.

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