View Full Version : Dealing with very warm tap water

David R Munson
30-Aug-2007, 22:04
So, I have a bunch of film that needs to be processed ASAP, having already been delayed far too long by food poisoning, work, and moving to another state. However, as I'm getting set up to soup some film in the new place, I am finding that the "cold" (only in name) tap water stabilizes at around 88º Fahrenheit/31º Celsius. I've thought about setting up some kind of water bath or putting graduates with the relevant solutions in them in the fridge, but I'm wondering what kind of other options I have (note that I'm not too keen on putting fixer next to the bologna).

Specifically, I am developing Kodak Tri-X 120 roll film in a steel tank. I shoot at EI 200, which usually yields a development time of 6 minutes in HC-110 Dilution B at 68ºF/20ºC. I can shorten development time to compensate for temperature some, but there's definitely a practical limit to this, especially when the "cold" water is at least twenty degrees higher than it ideally should be.

Any tips on how to do this without going to a ton of extra trouble?

(Oh, and I know that I should be using distilled water as it is, but that's not really in the cards at the moment :))

Don Hutton
30-Aug-2007, 22:11
Go and buy a polystyrene cooler at Walmart for less than $10. Add water and a little ice until the temp is where you want it. It will remain there for a good while. Pre-cool you chems and tank and keep the tank immersed during development. It's at least an extra few minutes convenience, but it removes "what if"s from your equations...

30-Aug-2007, 22:52
I keep several one gallon jugs of water in the fridge. I live in NM and right now I think the tap water is about 80 degrees.

Dirk Rösler
30-Aug-2007, 23:12
Same problem here in Japan, too hot to shoot, too hot to soup. Any suggestions for Jobo 3010 on a Uniroller base? I suppose one could have the developer a few degrees too cold for a start and hope that over a course of 10mins or so it evens out at the tail end of the developing period... :rolleyes:

31-Aug-2007, 00:08
35mm film cans filled with water, capped, and frozen, makes great non diluting ice cubes.

Dirk Rösler
31-Aug-2007, 00:24
35mm film cans filled with water, capped, and frozen, makes great non diluting ice cubes.

That idea is pretty neat, although probably better use those plastic cooler things made for drinks. They come in smaller sizes and have no sharp edges causing problems when tumbling in a the Jobo drum. And they make drinks taste terrible anyway, so time to put them to better use -- thanks!

31-Aug-2007, 01:39
Oh...this is so perfect for an LF forum...more technical info than you can shake the proverbial stick at! But it works! ;-)

Scott --
31-Aug-2007, 04:08
I add ice cubes to the graduate when I mix up the HC-110. Add the syrup, dilute about halfway, and invert repeatedly to let the ice melt. Finish diluting, then note the temperature. Works fine for me.

Ted Harris
31-Aug-2007, 05:04
OTOH, when I had to develop film in far less than hot ideal conditions in SE Asia many moons ago (or in some remote locations in South America) without any modern technology I always found that adjusting the time for the temperature works quite well. You just shorten your development times for warmer water. You may have a problem with increased grain but shouldn't be a worry with sheet film (was usually even still tolerable with 35mm). I have no formulas for you since I always did it by trial and error.

Ed Richards
31-Aug-2007, 05:19
You might also change developers if your current one leaves you with too short a time. Xtol is rated by Kodak for 80 degrees, and at 1:3 has a reasonable time at 80, which gives some leeway to use even hotter water and still have more than 2 minutes to develop. It has been a very long time since I used HC110, but you might extend your times with a higher dilution for high temp work. If the problem is just the water, i.e., you have an air conditioned house, you can just stack up some gallons of water and use them at room temp. My tap water is hot, but the room is generally in the upper 70s, so the water I have stored is fine.

Michael Graves
31-Aug-2007, 05:19
35mm film cans filled with water, capped, and frozen, makes great non diluting ice cubes.

35mm? What's that? I use a Jobo CPA-2. I bought a couple of extra 1L bottles and fille them 3/4 full with water then freeze them. When I'm ready to develop film. I drop one of those into the last bottle slot on the right. On a warm day, it might take two of them, but in 15 to 20 minutes, I'm down' to 72 degrees, which is what I settled on for Pyrocat.

Jim Jones
31-Aug-2007, 05:26
I store film tanks, chemicals, and wash water in my darkroom, and try to maintain a darkroom temperature between 65 and 85 degrees. Development time is adjusted to compensate for temperatures in that range. Here is Ilford's compensate chart: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/applications/download.asp?n=430
A stainless steel tank can noticable change the chemical's temperature if the two aren't close.

31-Aug-2007, 05:28

31-Aug-2007, 05:29
Or Harvey's 777.

31-Aug-2007, 05:45
The math is not hard.

Say you need 1000ml of water at 67 degrees,
and say you have 500 ml at 80 degrees from the tap already.
80-67=13 - you need to make up for 13 degrees of extra heat
So you need to add 500ml of water at 54 degrees - cooled using ice cubes.

Or, just take 1000ml of water stored in the fridge, and keep adding tap water to it until it comes up to 67 degrees. Dump the extra water.

31-Aug-2007, 05:56
The water bath method works fine. In my old darkroom the water temp ranged from around 50 to around 80, depending on the time of year, but I could always get solutions within half a degree using a water bath.

I have one of those stainless nikor film processing tanks, which i use to temper the chems, and a couple of 2 liter stainless graduated jugs for tempering the wash water (for some reason i've found wash water temp affects the grain). before using each solution, it goes into a stainless graduate and i stir it in a bucket of ice water (or hot tap water in the winter).

a bit of a hassle, but it's ok if you you're using a hands-free process (like a motor base).

if you need to get everything to temp in advance, and hold it there (for tray processing) it will be more involved and probably not as tightly controlled. a big water bath for everything, like Don's cooler idea, would work well.

Ron Marshall
31-Aug-2007, 06:57
XTOL and everything in the darkroom at the same temp.

Joseph O'Neil
31-Aug-2007, 07:03
There are three things I do:
- one, freeze ice cubes using distilled water, and add those ice cubes slowly to your mix;
- two - and this is much easier - keep a container of distilled water in your refridgerator and add it to you mix slowly;
- three - weaken your HC-110 solution, and lengthen your development times, but compensate for the temperature that way.

HC-110 and Tri-X is one of my personal favourite combos too, but I find that HC-110 has a *lot* more chemical energy than you might imagine, and you can use this to your advantage. For example, my "personal" formula is 8 sheets of tri-x on two reel in a Jobo tank, 4-5 minute water pre-soak, then I add 10ml of the pure HC-110 to 700ml of water, and develop for around 9 minutes with constant roller aggitation.

Now this is probally not much help to you, and it's been a few years since i did tri-x in 120, but in 120 and 4x5 I shoot at 200 too. But what I am trying to show is this - because HC-110 is so "energetic" chemical, when you add heat energy to the development, HC-110 can really burn out /blot out your highlights and shadow detail pretty fast. For example, try developing your Tri-x at 80F and for 8-9 minutes and your negatives might look like litho film from hell. :)

so what you have to do is cut back on all that energy burning out your negatives - and this is true for any format. My solution is to use water pre-soak and/or watered down HC-110. Your mileage will vary, and in fact, might almost be worth going out and wasting a roll of film right away and developing as a test before you experiment on anything critical.

Good luck with the food poisoning recovery - getting over a burst appendix myself. Kinda sucks to see the summer of 07 get wasted away on something like this, eh? :(


John Brady
31-Aug-2007, 07:08
I live in South Florida and the water comes out of the tap at about 87f this time of year. I use btzs tubes and add Ice cubes to the water bath to bring it up to temp. I add some ice to all of my trays to bring them all to 72 degrees for the t-max rs I develop in. I use a very large tray for rinse and fill it to the top with water and add cubes to bring it to about 72. Once the negs have sat in the tray for a few minutes I run tap water for final rinse. This slowly brings the temp up and doesn't damage the negs. This system has served me well.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
31-Aug-2007, 08:41
Following Ed's advice, I have used Xtol (well, Mytol actually) at 80F 1:3 and have been quite happy with the results. However I recently moved back to Mytol at 68F 1:1. I found that three ice cubes bring 1L to temperature so I mix to 950ml, throw in three ice cubes, wait for them to melt, and then bring the volume to 1L. Obviously your mileage will differ, but this works just fine for me.

David R Munson
31-Aug-2007, 08:46
I'm going to get the stuff to try a water bath today and will also put some water to cool in the fridge. I can't change developer, as this is the film from my Mongolia trip and I'm absolutely NOT experimenting with something I haven't proven with this film. :)

Oh, and PViapiano - I was actually trying to figure out that formula in my head when I was going to sleep last night. This saves me some head-scratching!

31-Aug-2007, 08:46

Make test films and test using the water you have.

Dilute your dev.



Brian Ellis
31-Aug-2007, 09:33
I had a similar problem in Florida for many years, where the tap water was around 80 F in summer. I tested and developed film at 75 F (no need to use 68 F) for starters to minimize the difference between tap water and working solution. I also used D76 1-1. I'd get a batch of tap water down to about 65-70 F using ice cubes, mix a stock solution using the tap water, then combine the cold water with the stock solution 1-1. If it was a little too hot I'd put the working solution in the freezer to bring it down to 75 F, if it was a little too cold I'd put it in a sink filled with hot water to bring it up to 75 F. If I was processing a large volume (in BTZS tubes, which come with a water jacket which I'd get to about 75 F using ice cubes) of film over the course of a few hours I'd make a big batch of working solution at once and then use the freezer or hot water to adjust each batch of working solution. Using D76 1-1 obviously made things relatively easy, though that isn't why I used it.

31-Aug-2007, 09:41
I tried most of these methods and finally decided it was easier to adapt my times to the temperature. I got good results by using 4% adjustment for each degree.

Kirk Gittings
31-Aug-2007, 09:59
I add ice cubes to the graduate when I mix up the HC-110. Add the syrup, dilute about halfway, and invert repeatedly to let the ice melt. Finish diluting, then note the temperature. Works fine for me.

I used to do this here in NM, but the freezing of the water was coagulating or percipitating something in the water which would be adhered to the film. It took me ages to figure this out. Probably just an issue with the water here, but something to look at if you start getting "floaties" that stick to your film. I ended up using the ice in a bath for all the chemicals and BTZS tubes.

Chris Strobel
31-Aug-2007, 10:06
What about final wash when the tap water is very warm.How do you guys deal with it.

David R Munson
31-Aug-2007, 10:55
Since my apartment is air conditioned, I now think my initial approach will be to fill some gallon jugs with water, let them come to room temperature, and the go from there. This should at least get me to within 3 degrees of proper developing temp, and I'm used to dealing with that.

31-Aug-2007, 11:10
I only use bottled water for my film processing. I keep it all in my temperature controlled house and a few gallon jugs in the fridge.

A little before I started processing, I cool down the fix in an ice bath.

Brian Ellis
31-Aug-2007, 11:13
I tried most of these methods and finally decided it was easier to adapt my times to the temperature. I got good results by using 4% adjustment for each degree.

That's a good method up to a point and it's kind of what I do by using a processing temperature of 75 F rather than 68 F and basing my times on testing at that temperature. But I'm not sure it would work when the tap water is 88 F as the OP says his is. He develops for 6 minutes at 68 F. If he adjusts 4% for each degree over 68 F he'll be reducing his time by 80%, which would leave his time at a minute 12 seconds. I seem to remember reading somewhere that about 4 minutes is the minimum time for full development regardless of temperature, agitation, etc. but regardless, a little over a minute just seems too short.

31-Aug-2007, 11:15
What about final wash when the tap water is very warm.How do you guys deal with it.

Not a problem. They say that the chemicals should all be the same temp to minimize grain size but by the final wash, the image is cooked and fixed. In fact warmth may be good for washing.

Chris Strobel
31-Aug-2007, 11:32
Not a problem. They say that the chemicals should all be the same temp to minimize grain size but by the final wash, the image is cooked and fixed. In fact warmth may be good for washing.

Ok thats good to know.Thanks.

31-Aug-2007, 14:06
Ok thats good to know.Thanks.

However maybe the warmth will make the emulsion softer than by using cold water. Don't know about that one. Softer emulsion will of course scratch easier but its a tiny, marginal difference anyway...

Helen Bach
31-Aug-2007, 15:09
When I lived in Singapore my tap water could be up to 50 °C (122 °F) because the main supply pipe was in full sun. I used to keep some water in the fridge and a few gallons in bottles. To prepare developer I mixed it with the right proportions of each water source, and to help with that I wrote a little Excel file, which is attached as a zip file. It is written for a three-way mix, but to use it for a two-way mix just set the dilution to 1+500 or higher.

Most of the locals seemed to use a water bath, brought to the right temperature with ice. If you used a tempering box you could put those gel ice packs into the bath and let the heater and thermostat do their things. The gel packs are less ferocious than ice (thanks to a lower effective heat transfer coefficient), and less likely to cause temperature fluctuations.


David R Munson
1-Sep-2007, 11:56
A bit of an update here. I turned up the air conditioning a little and the water I had sitting out in bottles stabilized at 70º F. I made a small correction in development time and the negatives look great! They're a little on the contrasty side, but not overly so. I may shorten development time a little more just to keep things in good scanning range, since the vast majority of the shots from the trip were shot in fairly contrasty conditions, often with an orange or red filter. I'll post some examples later on when the scanning's done.

David R Munson
1-Sep-2007, 13:19
Another quick update. The first batch was developed for 5:30 at 70º F and as noted before, things looked good, if a little on the dense side. I just finished the second batch, developing for 5:00 at 70º F and this batch looks absolutely spot on. Unless something unexpected surfaces, I'll probably use this time for the remainder of the film.

Also, I see no effect whatever from the film having been x-rayed 5 or 6 times en route. No noticeable increase in base fog, etc.

keith english
4-Sep-2007, 07:57
I add ice cubes to the water bath. Am considering an old full size refrigerator, kept at 68 degrees, stocked with gallon jugs of water, as well as chemicals. I figure keeping it at 68 would be more efficient and give you a ready supply at the right temperature.

5-Sep-2007, 08:01

Or Harvey's 777.

I've been thinking about diafine myself, but since I'm still in the process of tuning in to plain old D76, I'm a little reluctant to go on a wild chase. On the other hand, it does take a lot of time precisely because I'm procrastinating because of temperature issues...

I'd like to hear first hand account. Would you mind describing a bit your experience with it (an image example would be even better!)?

Thanks in advance,


Bruce Schultz
5-Sep-2007, 11:00
I have used ice cubes in a sealed plastic bag to prevent dilution. Bob the baggy up and down and stir often before checking the temp.