Caffeinol Recipes

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by brofkand, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    I've seen recipes that involve soda crystals (I presume it's baking soda? I don't know what soda crystals are or where to acquire them) and vitamin C, which is available at the pharmacy.

    Which recipe is the one most people use? Furthermore, does the staining action of the coffee (that turns the negs brownish) translate to the print, or only when scanned?

    It would stand to reason the brownish look only translates when scanned (unless you develop your prints in Caffeinol as well......will it work? Hmmmm......), but I could be wrong (won't be the first time!)
     
  2. Leighgion

    Leighgion Member

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    Nonono! Not baking soda!

    If you read up on the better caffeinol how-to's, they're very clear baking soda, aka sodium bicarbonate, is not what you need. It's washing soda, aka soda ash, aka sodium carbonate. You can get it under the Arm & Hammer brand as "Super Washing Soda" and it's also available as a pool chemical for ph balance.

    I haven't yet tried actually doing the caffeinol thing, but I read the recipes many times and had to puzzle through where I was going to find washing soda. I ended up buying it in pool chemical form from the hardware store. It's also good for cleaning, as the common name suggests.
     
  3. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    Ah, sodium carbonate. I looked at several websites that say you need soda crystals, but no website says sodium carbonate.

    Thanks for that tip. Soda ash is very common, I'd bet it isn't difficult to find at wal-mart.

    So do you use soda ash or vitamin c or both?
     
  4. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    It actually works vey well. I 've been printing with Caffenol for quite a long time now. It works with any good negative on just about any paper. (some papers better than others) The good thing about using Caffenol as a print developer is that you don't have to worry about risking your negatives to a botched developing session. (as can happen with Caffenol)

    Read about it here.

    http://tomoverton.images.googlepages.com/caffenol

    Cheers,
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2009
  5. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    Thanks so much for that link, Toffle!

    Those results are stunning. I see photographs I could make around my hometown with that stuff come alive.

    Amazing stuff.
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi

    i use caffeinol C as my main developer.
    washing soda, soda ash, sodium carbonate ... it is available
    at the grocery store in the laundry detergent aisle. i was overseas
    and couldn't find it in either the swimming pool place (looked for fixer there too!)
    or the grocery store ... so i ended up getting it at a pharmacy, together with
    powdered vitamin C ... it cost a kings ransom but it worked very well.

    the recipe some folks go by goes like this ( i got mine from whitey morange, thanks whitey! )

    8 oz. water
    4 slightly rounded tsp. instant coffee
    2 tsp. washing soda
    1000 mg Vitamin C (1/4 tsp powder)

    i gave up on measuring and make it by the litre.
    i eyeball the measurements probably using too much vitamin C et al.
    i put it in solution in the order of the recipe,
    and when the C is added the solution foams like mad.
    i have always thought that was a good thing.

    the negatives tend to look a little brownish, and the developer smells really bad,
    but they print very very nicely ( even if bulletproof!). the tone doesn't do anything to the print, and only appears
    if you scan the film ...

    i don't agitate but do stand development ( unless i process sheets of film then i shuffle in a tray )
    and i tend to add a few oz of straight ansco 130 print developer to boost the contrast a tiny bit, it probably doesn't do much.
    all the film i have printed or scanned the last year or 2 have been from coffee developer.
    it does some wonderful things to the grain, and neopan, foma tmax films, tri x and plus x LOVE it ( outdated too ).

    i am sure it isn't for everyone, but it is pretty easy and fun to use and can even be replenished.

    there is a group here on apug with coffee devotees ( or those interested in it at least :smile: )

    http://www.apug.org/forums/groups/coffee-developers.html

    have fun!
    john
     
  7. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    I've just discovered this today, I didn't know you could use coffee as a developer.

    A quick google led me to the Shutterbug site which said 'caffeine, as found in Tea or Coffee... can be used as a deveoper but coffee is best to use as the concentration is higher than in tea..."
    Well, being British maybe, I was actually drinking a cup of tea at the time. Hmmm, I thinks...
    Well, I don't want to upset anyone from across the pond, but...(searching for ways to put it tactfully...) whenever I've asked for tea in the USA I've been given a tiny bag of something fastened to a bit of string with a staple and a tiny pot of tepid water to dunk it in, usually with a lemon slice on the side.

    Well, that is not tea! :surprised: Well, not as we know it...

    I reckon the purpose of the staple is to give the water a bit of colour as it rusts. I can imagine the caffeine content is as weak as the taste is insipid.
    Now, Tetley's or PG-tips, a generous teaspoon per person and one for the pot (pre-warmed, obviously :wink: ) contains LOTS of caffeine. At least on a par with instant coffee.

    I brewed up an extra strong pot, chucked in two heaped teaspoons of Sodium Carbonate, made a quick test print and... Nothing.
    Very little, anyway. There was a tiny ghost of a hint of an image, that was all. I used RC multigrade paper, so this could be developer incorporated. I next tried an old graded paper and this time got absolutely nothing whatsoever, so the ghost image was probably just the effect of the warm carbonate solution on the paper.

    Strange, I checked the caffeine content of my tea on the web and my belief that it contains useful amounts of caffeine is correct. I did a bit more research and discovered this on wikipedia:

    "Caffeic acid may be the active ingredient in caffenol, a do-it-yourself black and white photographic developer made from instant coffee. The developing chemistry is similar to that of Catechol or Pyrogallol...
    Caffeic acid... is unrelated to caffeine"

    So, that was just a quick 20 minute wander up a blind alley for me, but it looks like it is the caffeic acid in coffee that does the trick and tea is best left for drinking. A bum steer from the shutterbug site! :mad:

    I also discovered, when googling for 'Caffeinol', it appears that the health proffession have adopted this name for a recomendation to high risk victims to drink a combination of coffee and alcohol to protect from strokes.

    When googling for 'Tea developers' you get lots of hits, but here TEA is an acronym for triethanolamine, which is an active developing agent.
     
  8. WolfTales

    WolfTales Member

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    What's the soda ash do?
     
  9. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Actually, I tried it with baking soda in the interest of just how 'kitchen-cabinet' can one go.

    I used semi stand development - a snippet of 35mm in a black plastic film canister, given a shake whenever I passed through the kitchen - for about an hour. Very thin negative, but very fine grained.
     
  10. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Well, back to the bicarb...

    If you bake baking soda it lets off carbon dioxide and turns into sodium carbonate.

    It's how it makes a cake rise - letting off the CO2 with heat.

    30 minutes in the oven at 350, just like a cake. If one cooks a lot of it it will sort of 'boil' as it decomposes.
     
  11. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    MY favorite is unadulterated coffee. I first used it when our children were visiting. They made a pot of coffee, drank 1/2 of it and then left for the day with the pot sitting on the warmer. A few hours later I noticed the horrid strong coffee smell and decided to try it as a film developer. I made a couple of test shots at full fim speed for the purpose.
    Development by inspection for 20 minutes with intermittent agitation. The negatives appear thin, but due to the stain, print beautifully.
    This was done a few years ago before the current craze to alter coffee into a full fledged chemically charged developer. I added nothing to the coffee. A little carbonate would likely have made it more active, but I was not interested in that.
     
  12. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Hmmm. So maybe the bicarb I added to the coffee did nothing but make a foul stench.
     
  13. Aurum

    Aurum Member

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    If you want some giggles 1 part Citric acid crystals, 1 part bicarb, both dry.

    Wizz up in a blender for a few seconds....
     
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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i am thinking the soda ash is just to make it smell bad too :wink:
     
  16. McFortner

    McFortner Member

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    If I remember right, it's the caffeic acid that provides the main ingredient to the development. It is more prevalent in the cheaper Robusta beans used in instant coffee. The washing soda not only helps to bring out the caffeic acid, but lowers the pH to a more favorable range to develop the film. I believe the vitamin C is to keep the contrast down.

    Hmm, gonna have to mix up a batch the next roll of film I need to develop.... :smile:
     
  17. DutchShooter

    DutchShooter Member

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    Gonna buy some instant coffee tomorrow...for the first time in my life :wink:
    So now it seems that this not-so-tasty-brown-liquid has a reason to exist!
     
  18. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I actually have a bag of green robusta beans sitting in my "random photo projects" cabinet waiting to be roasted for this purpose. Hitherto I've used Folger's (a widespread American brand which is about as bad as it's possible for coffee to be without a truck stop wrapped around it), with results that on the whole I really like. It seems to be approximately speed-maintaining with most films, and to give interesting tonality with many of them.

    I've struggled a bit with intermittent uneven-development problems---edge overdevelopment, like an agitation problem, but changes to my agitation regime seem to have no effect on it one way or another---and base fog, and to handle the latter I've been experimenting with adding potassium bromide to the standard "Caffenol C" recipe that was posted upthread. At 0.35 g KBr per 16 oz. of developer, I got a beautiful, fog-free roll the first time I tried it, but the second time the fog returned along with the uneven-development problems. So I don't yet understand what's causing the problems, but the addition of an antifoggant shows *some* promise.

    My current theory is that the unevenness is due to too much washing soda making the developer act too fast at the beginning, and that backing off on the washing soda may help with that aspect. So my next move is to try to settle on a recipe with less washing soda and then dial in an appropriate amount of potassium bromide, and see if I can get reasonably consistent results that way.

    But the thing about caffenol developers is that they really lend themselves to this sort of experimentation. Feel like trying something new? Go out and burn a roll of film on whatever subjects come to hand, mix up the brew du jour and see what happens. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes the results are a serendipitous catastrophe. I imagine this process is a bit as it must have felt to be an early photographer, dependent on your own alchemical skills and a mix of good and bad hearsay to get the images to come out, and always a little unsure what would happen when you tried something that hadn't been done exactly the same way before. Good stuff.

    -NT
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i agree with this completely!
    using caffenol is magical.
    and one of the reasons i love to use
    it is because it isn't as nasty and toxic as other
    photographic chemicals tend to be ...
    one of the thing that keeps me away from wet plate
    (even though it is beautiful watching that negative image
    just turn into a positive image as it fixes before your very eyes)
    is the chemicals are deadly toxic, or explosive &C.
    caffenol is just the right mix of crazy chemistry / alchemy
    to keep me gleeful as i look at my film hanging ...
    if i could only find a earth friendly fixer i would be as happy as
    a pig in ...
     
  20. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    ...fertiliser! :smile:

    Actually, it turns out that ammonium thiosulfate, AKA rapid fixer, is the active ingredient in some nitrogen fertilisers. I'm well aware that fertilisers are not *the* most environment-friendly chemicals going, but it does suggest that you shouldn't worry much more about fixer waste from the darkroom than about fertiliser waste from the garden.

    -NT
     
  21. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    The problem with fixer isn't the active chemical, it's the silver it dissolves.
     
  22. cmo

    cmo Member

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    That is why I still hope that a company creates a commercial version of Caffeinol. It might sound snobnosed, but I don't like to mix my own chemistry, I just want consistant, reliable results.
     
  23. DutchShooter

    DutchShooter Member

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    For me it is the opposite: I would not quickly buy a commercial caffeinol recipe...the reason I will try this development is the fun of home-cooking :wink:
     
  24. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    good point. i suppose if i used my fixer 1 shot it would have very little silver in it ... unfortunately i am too broke to do something as smart as that!

    i have thought of filling one of my empty coffee bottles with all the ingredients mixed
    and seeing what my results are like. if i get something useful, i will let you know,
    and send you a premixed baby food container :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2009
  25. wogster

    wogster Member

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    I used to think the same way about fixer, while one shot contains very little silver, using your fixer over and over until it fails the clip test, then pouring it into a used chemistries jug which can be taken to the local household hazardous materials depot for disposal, several times per year, is the cheapest and most environmentally friendly way to deal with it.
     
  26. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i have my fixer, after exhausted and failing a clip test, go into a 20 gallon
    tank ( used to be 50gallon!), and my friendly waste hauler takes it away every few years :smile:
    we are pretty much on the same page :smile: