I've actually just ordered some chemicals for my own little startup, though I've had some prior experience with wetplate. If you don't even know where to begin, perhaps a kit is a good way to go since mixing chemicals isn't even the half of it. But on the other hand, here's what I'm working from. To have my bases covered these recipes are taken directly from one of my instructors who took John Coffer's workshop a couple years ago.

As far as the salted collodion goes, there are two recipes that I'm familiar with, "Old Workhorse" and "Poe Boy". They both work though I haven't yet tried the "Poe Boy" recipe (those chemicals are currently on their way).

Salted Collodion Mixtures

“Old Workhorse” Collodion

0.85 grams Cadmium Bromide

0.7 grams Ammonium Bromide

3 ml. distilled water

2 grams Potassium Iodide

100 ml. grain alcohol (190 proof) I use “Everclear” brand

100 ml. plain collodion USP (Flexible collodion will not work).

Part A_

In a small glass beaker or jar dissolve the .85 grams of Cadmium Bromide and the 0.7 grams of Ammonium Bromide into 3 ml. of distilled water. Using a glass stir rod, mix until the Bromides dissolve completely (if you have trouble dissolving them mix over a low heat source). Then add the 2 grams of Pot. Iodide and again dissolve completely. Finally add the 100 ml. of grain alcohol. This comprises Part A

Part B_

In a separate container (I use a “Ball” canning jar), add the 120 ml. of plain collodion and the 50 ml. of ether. Always add the ether to the collodion and not the other way around. Stir well.

Finally, add the Part A mixture to the Part B and shake/stir to mix. Let sit for at least several days to allow collodion to “clear” and settle. Sediment will develop on bottom of bottle. Never shake or stir this up before use, as it will cause problems. I pour off the “cleared” collodion into a smaller “screw-to” bottle once it has cleared.


"Poe Boy" (as per Coffer's website)

240 ml plain collodion
300 ml denatured alcohol
6ml distilled water
3g pot. bromide
5g pot iodide.

add the alcohol to the collodion.
add pot bromide to the distilled water till dissolved. then add the pot iodide to that mix till dissolved. add this mix to the above mix or alcohol and collodion.
Let it set for a few days. flow away!

Silver Bath

36 grams of silver nitrate

400 ml. distilled water

Add silver nitrate crystals to distilled water…mix well….filter through coffee filter (or similar)

(before using for the first time, coat a plate of glass with collodion and let sit in bath overnight, remove the next morning and silver bath is “seasoned” for use).


Developer For Positives

100 ml. distilled water

4 grams ferrous sulfate

6 ml. glacial acetic acid

4 ml. grain alcohol

Sugar Developer
(To be honest I'm not sure what this is for, perhaps an alternative recipe?)

750 ml. distilled water

26 grams ferrous sulfate

25 ml. glacial acetic acid

20 ml. grain alcohol

½ cup of white sugar

Mix together in the order shown.

Filter through standard coffee filter into “screw-top” bottle…

I filter three separate times.


Potassium Cyanide Fixer

5 grams of potassium cyanide

450 ml. of distilled water

Potassium Cyanide is a DEADLY POISON

Mix and store in an airtight PLASTIC container that is well labeled and out of reach of children.

Do not allow KCn (Pot. Cya.) to come in contact with any acids…will create deadly cyanide gas.

Always wear rubber gloves when working with KCn and do not keep food or drink in the area as you work with it.

“Hypo” Fixer

100 grams sodium thiosulfate

500 ml. distilled water

Dissolve sodium thiosulfate crystals completely in water.

An optional mixture known as "Trick of the Trade" allows you to add more contrast to plates after you've fixed them in cases of overexposure.

“Trick Of The Trade”

(Reducer for overexposed/overdeveloped plates)

1 gram Potassium Ferracyanide

150 ml distilled water

150 ml Hypo fixer

Mix well…flow quickly over plate and wash off within a second or two.

Continue flowing/rinsing until desired “reduction” is achieved…

It is easy to go too far, so be careful not to burn through image.

Only stays good for about 1 hour after mixing.

These should get you images, but now you need to protect them with a varnish. I've heard you can use a regular varnish bought from a hardware store but if I'm wrong someone please correct me.

Plate Varnish

Sandarac Plate Varnish

220 ml 190 proof Grain Alcohol

(you can substitute denatured alcohol)

38 grams Gum Sandarac

22 ml Lavender Oil NF

2 ml distilled water

Add the sandarac to the alcohol in a mason jar (or similar).

Cap securely and periodically shake vigorously on and off over the course of a few days until the gum sandarac has all dissolved (leaving only the bits of bark, dirt, and bugs).

Add the lavender oil and water and mix.

Let the capped jar sit for several days to “settle out”.

Finally decant (draw from the top) the cleared varnish, using a lab pipette, an eye dropper, or a small “baster”, and filter it (using a standard coffee filter) into a separate stoppered bottle

Again, all actual recipe content and instructions are ripped shamelessly from my instructor's worksheets. Everything but my own little chime-ins are his and probably Coffer's by proxy.

Having said all of this, you can choose one of the two salted collodion routes, a developer, one of the two fixers (while the cyanide mixture is ideal for bright creamy positives the "hypo" recipe isn't a bad place to start) and a silver solution will get you an image. Once everything is properly rinsed, you varnish it and bing bong bing you've got a plate.

Now, for my own question to anyone who can answer. For all recipes that call for grain alcohol, I know that 190 proof Everclear works but all I can get is 151 proof which I've already read is no good. I know denatured alcohol works just about as well (as per Coffer's site) but I've heard if it is cut with too much methanol it doesn't work as well. I don't know the specifics. Coffer states that he uses "Sunnyside" brand denatured alcohol and I just wanted to know if anyone has used or heard of using "S-L-X Denature Alcohol" by "W.M. Barr Branded Sales" successfully as a substitute. That would be ideal since I and anyone else here can just go to Home Depot and buy it for practically nothing. I really appreciate any feedback and if anything in this post seems inaccurate feel free to let it be known! Thanks in advance.