Caffenol without Coffee?

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Blue Monkey, May 10, 2011.

  1. Blue Monkey

    Blue Monkey Member

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    Lately, I've been intrigued with the alternative developers for different effect. I've ordered some Shanghai b+w film to play with.
    I've been researching Caffenol for developing film and paper. I can understand the washing soda and the ascorbic acid helping, but what exactly does the coffee do? Besides toning the neg and paper, can one develop without adding the coffee? What other substitute can be used? I even came across some users using tea and chai. If it's the caffeine - can you use Coke, Pepsi or Red Bull?
     
  2. bwrules

    bwrules Member

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    Catechol-like substances in coffee.

    Have you tried PC-TEA? Three ingredients: Phenidone, Vit. C, Triethanolamine. Liquid concentrate, lasts forever, very cheap.
     
  3. Blue Monkey

    Blue Monkey Member

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    I haven't tried the PC-TEA bw. My first thought was President's Choice Tea? Yeah I can get that at the grocery store here! LOL

    The Phenidone sounds safer, faster according to Wiki:
    Phenidone (1-phenyl-3-pyrazolidinone) is an organic chemical compound whose primary use is as a photographic developer. It has five to ten times the developing power as Metol. It also has low toxicity and, unlike some other developers, does not cause dermatitis upon skin contact.[1]

    Now I have to figure out where to find it!

    How critical are the pH levels with these developers?
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    its the caffic acid in the coffee .. and it is mostly in robusta coffee.
    i have a feeling it is the "stuff" that keeps the robusta coffee plants from
    getting "coffee rust" and other diseases that are prevalent in arabica coffee plants.
    you might be able to find it at a chemical house and bypass the brew -
    but how much you use .. it might take a few rolls to figure out :wink:
    most instant coffees are "cut" with good coffee for taste ...
    i home roast robusta coffee and it is 100% robusta ...
    and the 2 litres i made back in decenber showed no sign of depletion ...
    ( lots of film AND lots of prints through it WITHOUT replenishment )
    cost me about 3$ to process 50+ sheets of 4x5 film and nearly as much 8x10 paper
    i have never had the coffee i make analyzed to see how much caffic acid is in there ..
    you might be able to poke around the internet and find out ...
     
  5. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    I'm not sure if President's Choice Teas can be used as developer, though I can attest to some of the herbal blends tasting about as good as developer :tongue:
    Much prefer Twinnings
     
  6. Blue Monkey

    Blue Monkey Member

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    That's interesting. Most threads I read say develop and dump. But if your blend can be reused without replenisher, it's worth looking into.

    I'm not a coffee or tea drinker, but the wife is. I suppose she might get upset if I grind and soup her Kona blend that we picked up in Hawaii.
     
  7. Blue Monkey

    Blue Monkey Member

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    I just found that B&H carries phenidone LINK

    One pound for the $58.50 - I assume that should last a long while using 2 grams per Liter.
     
  8. bwrules

    bwrules Member

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    I wouldn't order anything larger than a few grams, as it doesn't have a good shelf life, and very little goes a loooooong way. I've ordered from http://www.artcraftchemicals.com/products/ before without problems. They will weigh for you the amount needed as well.

    TEA is available, and probably cheapest from thechemistrystore.com, and "NOW" brand vit. C powder from a local health food store, although it's plentiful on the web.

    What is so alternative about Coffee developers? Do they produce different results from regular developers? The only real alternatives I can think of are staining pyrocatechin/pyrogallol developers as they give a proportional stain and print differently.

    Huge advantage of PC-TEA is the dev. times correspond to Xtol. 1:50 = Xtol's 1:2, 1:25 = Xtol's 1:1, etc. Little guesswork to do.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i always find it funny and sad that people
    with no experience with a certain developer
    or aspect of photography somehow become
    so all-knowing they can claim it is a total waste
    or ... whatever ...
    instead of actually trying it and seeing what it is all about.

    bwrules,
    maybe before you make claims in this thread or others
    about how much of a waste of time or how much money &C
    caffenol is you should spend some time using it ... so you
    know what you are talking about ...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2011
  10. bwrules

    bwrules Member

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    Never claimed to be all knowing. In fact I asked a question. Since you have the experience with this developer, care to answer it?
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    if you aren't claiming to be all-knowing why do you claim the developer is poor, without any first hand experience ?

    there are plenty of people who use it and plenty of examples of work created with it, here on apug or elsewhere ...

    you were directed there in the other thread .. and i will direct you there again


    http://caffenol.blogspot.com/
    http://caffenol.blogspot.com/2010/03/r.html


    caffenol can be made with relatively benign household ingredients
    or those found in a grocery store ..
    the chemicals are not nasty and toxic like most other developers
    (pctea/pyro/metol/hq )
    the developer ingredients last a long time both dry and mixed
    caffenol can be used as a deep tank, replenished, or one shot developer
    it can be used as a print or film developer,
    it has no trouble processing a variety of iso films in the same batch
    for the same time


    Blue Monkey -

    if you want to make caffenol with just caffic acid
    there are lots of suppliers worldwide and it is about 1-2$ a kg
    http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/caffeic-acid.html

    but there might be other ingredients in the coffee that add to the developer
    and make it do what it does ... so your results might not be the same ...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2011
  12. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I think mint tea or an infusion of rosemary leaves will work.

    I have only tried Caffenol once (simple version without ascorbic acid) and I thought it was very good. I couldn't tell any difference in the negatives from those I had developed with Ilfor LC-29 which was my normal developer at the time.


    Steve.
     
  13. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    (phenidone)

    Yeah, I can't imagine who would need a pound of phenidone as a private citizen! I think I bought 100 g from the Formulary about three years ago, and I'll probably be used up before it will.

    It apparently keeps better in solution in propylene glycol than dry; easier to measure that way, too.


    Well, they're mild staining developers and have no solvent whatsoever, which is a kind of interesting combination. I've found I really like the results I get from Fomapan 100 in Caffenol C, though I couldn't tell you in objective terms exactly what constitutes "That Look".

    They're "alternative", though, mainly in the sense of being made entirely from household ingredients. I wouldn't really call Caffenol an "alternative process" myself.

    -NT
     
  14. bwrules

    bwrules Member

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    I've read too many problematic Caffenol accounts to consider it poor. That's why I never gave it a try. How much film and how long did it take you to iron the kinks out of it? Is it good with fast films? What about fog and general stain?

    PC-TEA worked for me right away without any fine-tuning or wasting time and film. It gives results similar to Xtol, and along with Xtol is far from toxic. Phenidone isn't metol, and TEA is used in cosmetics.
     
  15. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    As I wrote earlier, I have only used it once and I followed someone's instructions (probably on this forum).

    I developed for half an hour and my first and only film (FP4+) was perfect. I didn't notice any stain and there was no apparent fogging above what I would consider to be a normal base level.

    It was such a success that if I wanted to develop a film and had run out of 'proper' developer, I wouldn't hesitate to use Caffenol.


    Steve.
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    bwrules ...
    the main "problems" that happen with caffenol or caffenol C are problems
    from using the wrong ingredients - instead of washing soda people might use baking soda,
    or a different form of soda "crystals" or they don't use vit c powder but something altogether
    different because they were told by someone at a store that " it is the same thing " when it isn't.
    it is one of few developers where exact measurements are not critical ...
     
  17. Blue Monkey

    Blue Monkey Member

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    Appreciate all the information and the feedback from your experiences. Thanks also for the chem links. Sources are limited in Canada. The one source I found, Fisher Scientific was selling in bulk quantities. Hopefully ordering the dry chems will avoid the Hazmat fees and hassles of getting the liquids.

    I do intend to try both Caffenol and PC-TEA now knowing the details of both. Just waiting on my shipment of Shanghai 100. I'll likely try a sheet at a time with each developer/time combination and see what works best with the Shanghai.

    btw, off topic, but the Photographica Fair is this May 15th in Woodbridge. Put on by the www.phsc.ca folks. Good source of expired film along with used camera equipment.