Quote Originally Posted by Mick Fagan
John S, do you purchase your chemicals in Melbourne? I haven't needed to purchase any bulk chemicals for close to 12 years.

When the original owner of CanChem went out of business, I bought bucket loads of chemicals for extremely low prices. This turned out to be a very good thing, I've been developing hundreds of rolls of film each year, at a cost that would make you cry.

However all good things come to an end, I will be requiring some bulk chemicals in the next year to replenish some of the depleted stock. However, I cannot seem to find anywhere in the country to get bulk photographic chemicals.

I was told that VanBar's may be a possibility, but on a flying visit two weeks ago to get some RA4 paper, I didn't see any bulk chemicals.

As usual the shop is so busy one seems to wait forever until your turn comes up, then the assistant rushes your order through and is onto the next customer.

Heavens that shop must outsell all other analogue photo stores combined in Australia. The immediate customer before me, purchased a back pack of B&W paper along with chemicals, staggered out to his bike, then rode off to print the weekend away.


Vanbar have a new outlet in North Melbourne. Bulk chemicals are there, but not on display. Check their prices at


Best to phone and place an order, and go in when you have confirmed availability., since they don't have every chemical in every size on the shelf. Quantities are made up one day a week, I think currently on Wednesdays, by Mario.

Pricewise, they are good on some things, a bit expensive for others, but it depends on quantities. If you can store 25kg bags of hypo, sodium sulphite, etc, then many chemical suppliers have these in technical (industrial) grades, not super pure. Price depends on purity. Price usually includes delivery, so if you ask for their best price if you pick up, it can be much cheaper.
I buy from various chemical suppliers for 25kg bags, e.g. sodium sulphite. I priced hypo at Vival at Laverton and Spectrum (distributor for Orica) last year- don't have the figure, but it was cheap. Purity specs available and seemed ok. Sometimes 99% pure and 97% pure are photographically equivalent if the main impurity is something benign, like sodium sulphAte in sodium sulphite. I guess generally the main impurities to look out for are metals.

Then there are Ajax and Merck Australia, but they are very expensive. They will sell to us, but Sigma will not, which is a pity since they have lots of nice stuff at (comparatively) low prices.