Film · Photography

Developing B&W film with Caffenol-C

Caffenol-C Results

I’ve been wanting to try developing film with Caffenol-C for awhile (the fact that it’s environmentally-friendly really appeals to me), and last week, I finally did. The first roll I developed turned out to be a dud since it came from a totally experimental pinhole camera. I had no more exposed roll to try to develop so I took Troy and my Holga camera for a walk downtown and shot a roll of Agfa APX 100 film. The result is what you can see above. It’s grainy, streaky, unevenly developed (the last two are largely my fault) but hey, it really works! Next time I’m going to have to try it on a roll of properly exposed film, as in shot with a SLR camera instead of a toy camera. Over- and underexposed negatives just don’t scan very well.

Anyway, if you’re interested in my Caffenol-C recipe, this one’s for you:

  • 5 tablespoons of Maxwell House Original Roast instant coffee
  • 3 tablespoons of Arm & Hammer’s So Clean Super Washing Soda
  • 2 Redoxon Vitamin C Effervescent tablets (I used the lemon-flavoured ones)

Mix with 500ml water, or use two glasses with 250ml of water in each to dissolve the coffee and the washing soda separately. Once the coffee is dissolved, throw in the vitamin C tablets. It will get frothy on top but I’ve found that once you mix it with the washing soda solution, the froth disappears. Develop for 15 minutes, agitate every 60 seconds, and then stop bath and fix as normal. I use tap water for stop bath and Ilford Rapid Fixer for fixing. If you know of a source of sodium thiosulfate (the active ingredient in fixer) that can be found in supermarkets, please do let me know! I’m almost out of fixer.

Another green b&w film developing solution I’d like to try is the one with mint tea and baking soda. It’s supposed to work and smell better than Caffenol. People are complaining about how the Caffenol-C solution smells like death. It’s actually not that bad. It smells like tuna sandwich!

3 thoughts on “Developing B&W film with Caffenol-C

  1. i tried doing this an the film didnt really develop, i can see the images if i hold it up to the light but they are very very dark, also there is still the silver lining on the other side of the negatives. Iam thinkin the smooth side didn't fully dissolve, any reason as to why this happened? and is it fixable?

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