Ok, another question. At the moment I'm washing prints in a bucket of water. Dipping it in and out and soaking it in between. Makes it easier for me and I don't have to walk through my cat and dog hair-filled hallway, through the kitchen.
Any issues with bucket washing?
No links, although the use of citric acid as a stop has been discussed on APUG quite a few times.
Is it as good as a branded solution - Somewhat subjective. Plain citric acid stop bath lacks the indicator dye used by the likes of Kodak, and it also lacks any buffering agents. On the plus side, it is dirt cheap, especially if you buy citric acid in bulk.
Citric acid as a stop is good, some people just use water.
If you didn't blow the dust off neg between prints, then the specks or hair were probably on the paper when you had the enlarger light on. Doesn't matter in the developer after that, you can scatter all the dust you want at that point. Sometimes there are specks caused by stop bath being so strong they cause effervescence but doesn't sound like that to me in your case.
I for one, would rather have a white speck to spot on the print... than a black spot (caused by dust on the film before the light hits it in the camera). That's harder to retouch.
You can even use diluted white vinegar - it just usually ends up being more expensive than concentrated stop bath.
And vinegar and citric acid don't have any "indicator" in them to give you an indication that the stop bath is getting tired.
You can tell your citric acid/diluted vinegar/stop bath is near exhaustion when the prints feel slippery.
I put the prints in the developer face down and gently push them under with my gloved fingers. I use tongs for test strips and prints I know won't be final. Much less likely to damage prints by hands. I use nitrile gloves and wash them after each print, like I was washing my hands. Then dry them before taking them off. That last for many printing sessions, so there's little cost.
Some developers keep better than others. I've been reusing and replenishing the same batch of Ansco 130 for over a year now. It still develops quickly with excellent DMax. I use water for a stop bath and a neutral fixer. All of this is odorless and causes no discomfort in the darkroom. I don't usually run the fan with this chemistry. I would if I was using an acetic acid stop bath, or an acid based fixer. I'm sure someone will say I should use the fan anyway, but I'm not convinced.
I wouldn't run a table type fan while printing. It's a sure way to add more dust to the paper than it looks like you already have. It also helps to keep the cats and dogs out of the room and vacuum frequently (ideally with the exhaust of the vacuum outside the darkroom).
If you wanted to do a conclusive test, and don't mind wasting a sheet of paper, you could dial the enlarging lens out-of-focus, then make a print. If you still get the white specks, you know that they can't possibly be dust on the negative ('cuz it would be too far out-of-focus).
I don't know your printing conditions, but if there is any open woodwork or the like above your enlarger, you might try taping a sheet of plastic dropcloth to the ceiling over the enlarger. This would stop debris from falling straight down.
So, I can buy any citric acid say from freeBay, tea spoon (heaped? Level? Does it matter?) of the powder in 1ltr of water?
I can get 1kg for £5 which would last me ages, rather than ilfostop which at 50ml a session would last me 10 sessions in the darkroom and double the cost.
Retouching. Whoa! I'm just getting used to dodging/burning and exposing haha I'll give that a try at a later date!
I really want to share some of my prints but my scanner is so crap it renders the prints awfully. And you never get a good reproduction with a photo :(