View Full Version : Wet plate chemicals

20-Oct-2014, 15:33
Just getting started in tintypes and wet plate. Took a great workshop at the Kodak Eastman House with Mark Osterman and am now putting together all the supplies we will need. In the workshop we used potassium cyanide for fixing the tintypes. Went online to order chemicals and supplies and found out that B&S no longer list this and can't find anyone else who might carry it. I know how dangerous this stuff is, but still want to use it if it's available anywhere. What's the word out there?

20-Oct-2014, 17:04
I just attended a wet plate photography workshop a couple weeks ago myself. I will ask the instructor of that where he gets his potassium cyanide from, though I'm not sure if he will reveal his source for that chemical. You can also use rapid fix, it is not as toxic and will take longer to fix and rinse time will be longer too. The look is different but it gets the job done.

22-Oct-2014, 07:13
I've put out a search through chemical companies and med supply houses but haven't heard anything back. Nothing on the other forums either. I'm probably on some watch list for the Homeland Security Agency because of it, but will post any news I get. Might just try calling B&S to see what they say and post when I know something.

22-Oct-2014, 08:11
The last supplier I know of, was Chemsavers, but I think they don't carry it anymore due to liability. Personally, I think KCN kicks the stuffing out of every other fixer for wet plate--not for image quality (although I think it's a bit better), but for ease of use. KCN is quick and easy to mix, and the fixing capacity is way better than rapid fix. Plus, it washes out of plates very quickly.

Wayne Aho
22-Oct-2014, 08:53
I talked with Chemsavers a few months ago, they no longer sell cyanide, and I believe they were the last to sell to individuals. Turns out, the FBI came to visit twice over sales to persons who used it for harm. NOT chemsavers fault, but the owner stated she doesn't want to deal with it anymore. Luckily, I have enough for my wet-plate use for a few years.

Your remaining options may be to find a college, lab or metal plating shop that can order it for you. Most chemical companies will sell only to a formal business or school, with a business or school account.

Regardless of what debate goes on about cyanide or sodium thiosulphate (and other fixers), the end result is minor, and you can still make great plates without cyanide.


23-Oct-2014, 08:23
Commenting to follow this thread. I would love to find a source for KCN so I can try it so I wouldn't have to deal with longer wash times while out in the field.