View Full Version : Wanted: Least stinky chemicals

12-Oct-2011, 15:57
So...I ended up using the kitchen, not the bathroom (truly tiny) of my new apartment for developing film today. Overall it went pretty well.

I'm using Kodak Pro Fixer (not rapid fix, which is the only other one I've used). Kodak Indicator Stop Bath and XTOL.

Anyway, I have a headache. And I'd like to not piss off my roommates. I'm not sure what the stinkiest of these chemicals is. I'm somewhat committed to using XTOL at this point, but can someone suggest some non-stinky, non-headachy stop and fixer? I'm assuming the fixer is the biggest problem but I'm not sure.

I have all the windows open right now, but as it gets to be winter time, ventilation is going to be a problem. I'm hoping there is something out there that I can use that is not going to stink up the house but will still do a good job?


Brian C. Miller
12-Oct-2011, 16:14
I use Clayton. The chemicals are practically odorless to my nose, and it's fine by me for tray development. You could also check Freestyle, as they also have some ultra-low-odor chemicals.

Daniel Stone
12-Oct-2011, 16:24
you can use a water stop bath. Its probably the acetic acid in the stop bath that's making your head spin. Even when properly mixed, in small spaces, it can make one "woozy" IME. I've found that using a water stop eliminated the problem completely, and its cheaper too :)


Henry Ambrose
12-Oct-2011, 16:28
Yep, water stop is all I've used for years, just keep it fresh.
I like TF4 or TF5 from Photographer's Formulary for fixer - very, very low odor (almost none) and lasts a long time.

12-Oct-2011, 16:40
What's the implications of using water vs. an actual stop? There must be some, right?

Gem Singer
12-Oct-2011, 16:54
The only draw back from using a water stop bath is that it might reduce the life of the fixer.

I use a water stop bath with an alkaline fixer, and have never encountered the problem.

Ilford (Harman) makes an odorless stop bath made with citric acid instead of acetic acid.

More likely than not, it's the odor of the acetic acid stop bath that's causing your problem.

12-Oct-2011, 17:00
Stop is just dilute white vinegar for me, no more stinky than making a salad.

Daniel Stone
12-Oct-2011, 17:00
by using a water stop, you're basically "flushing" any residual developer off of the film, and by letting it diffuse out of the emulsion by a 1-2min soak(with intermittent agitation), it works very effectively.

Some films(not sure which) can also have reticulation(grain-clumping) problems when using an acidic stop bath that's too strong. Plain 'ol H20 works great, and its one less thing to measure out :).

Here's what I do as a water "stop":

1. Develop
2. pour out developer(if using a tank, or remove sheet from tray(if doing 8x10, I use a tray).
3. Put film(or fill(or put in measured quantity of water needed if using a rotary method) tank w/ water). Agitate constantly for 30s. Then dump out.
4. Repeat step (3) 3X.
5. Last 30s let film sit idle, to diffuse out any remaining developer into water. Pour out.
6. Fix like you normally would for necessary time.


David Swinnard
12-Oct-2011, 18:48
From the stop bath perspective, Ilford's stop is based on citric acid and is, to my nose, completely odourless. Took me too many years to discover this, and now I won't use an acetic acid bath in my (confined) darkroom.

There are formulae published for such citric acid based baths...

12-Oct-2011, 18:49
Another vote for water stop, I've used it for 12+ years.
It's much gentler on your film (and your nose) than acetic acid.

12-Oct-2011, 19:01
Just a quick addition from my own experience. I use the water stop and Xtol myself, and haven't encountered anything less malodorous than those two. For the fixer, however, I haven't found one that doesn't stink (and I mean that only literally). I use TF5 myself and really like it, but don't find that it lacks odor. I believe it's still an ammonium thiosulfate formula, so it starts off smelling like ammonia, though not very strongly, and fades into more of an old-school fixer smell as it's consumed.

Maybe a real chemist could provide a more informed explanation, but that's what my nose knows.

12-Oct-2011, 19:06
well--if you use pure hypo---then the acid sour smell from the fix is not there---it was the fixer that always pestered my nose....with pure hypo though....never....but don't SAVE it for next time...you'll get a sulphur stench

12-Oct-2011, 19:18
I use water stop for film. For prints, citric acid Ilford fixer is much less smelly that normal ascetic acid fixer (but it doesn't last as long). I never noticed the smell of common developers.

Brian Ellis
12-Oct-2011, 19:56
What's the implications of using water vs. an actual stop? There must be some, right?

According to Ansel Adams ("The Negative," pp. 190-191) there are several good reasons to use a stop bath:

1. by neutralizing the alkaline developer remaining in the film emulsion development is immediately arrested.

2. it prevents neutralizing of the fix by developer remaining in the film

3. it helps prevent staining.

Unless someone just doesn't like the smell, or is getting headaches from stop bath like you maybe are, I've never understood why anyone would use water rather than a stop bath but to each her or his own I guess.