Creating Sodium Citrate or use potassium oxalate: kallitypes

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Jeremy, Jul 12, 2005.

  1. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

    Oct 26, 2002
    Denton, TX
    Multi Format
    I believe that I can make sodium citrate by neutralizing a citric acid solution with sodium carbonate (specifically the Arm & Hammer I can get at the store, will have to look up exactly which ones).

    I want to try out some kallitypes this weekend and need a developer. The other option is to mix up some fresh potassium oxalate and give that a spin, but I read here on Apug that Sandy had some trouble with pot ox as a Kallitype developer.

    Ordering the chems is out of the question as I don't want to order a bunch or pay for the shipping if I can make it at home since this will just be a test. I already have everything else (FO, Silver Nitrate, and the Thiosulfate)

    I will probably run them all the way through the fixer and final wash before toning them in selenium before I try my hand at Pd toning.

    Any thoughts?
  2. CraigK

    CraigK Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    Hi Jeremy,

    Your question prompted me to dig deep into the archives of the alt-photo mailing list to find a post I sent in a few years ago regarding making various developers from readily available products.

    Here's the cut and paste jist of it...

    Hi All,

    I just enjoyed a fabulous diner at a Sri Lanken restaurant this evening. It reminded me of something I discovered a couple years ago. So I thought I would share it with the curry lovers, pt/pd and kallitype printers out

    One day, in about 1998, I found myself without any developer for my pt/pd
    prints. Usually I use pot ox. and on occasion sodium citrate. Well, the
    small amount of pot ox I had on hand was well past its "sell by" date the
    last time I made some prints so I disposed of it. I meant to replace it but
    forgot. The next time I had a print in the oven as it were, I discovered
    that my pot ox bottle was empty.

    Well I decided to give the print I was making at the time full exposure and
    just see what happened if I developed it the next day. My wife and I then
    went out to a new restaurant down the road. About half way through our
    delicious curry diner my stomach rumbled something to the effect that I
    should have ordered our dishes with "mild" spice instead of "three alarm
    fire". I managed to overule the objections and had seconds.

    As you can imagine, the first thing I did when I got home was to loosen my
    belt a notch or two and reach for an something to calm my stomach. A friend suggested I try Bromo Seltzer. Since I had never tried it before and am always on the lookout for nasty side effects I read the ingredient labelling carefully.

    Well the label lists two main ingredients: citric acid and sodium bicarbonate. When combined with water the two ingredients make a lot of bubbles and....

    Sodium Citrate!

    Well, to make a long story short, some of the stuff went into my gut, the
    rest was poured on my now fully exposed print. Five minutes later, my
    burning belly was calmed, and I had a beautiful, warm, delicately toned
    palladium print!

    I have now used Bromo Seltzer and Eno (same church, different pew) to
    develop pt/pd prints on a variety of papers. They both work very well

    But that's not all. I actually managed to stumble upon another developer
    thanks to my misadventures with Sri Lanken curry.

    Back in the restaurant, at about the time my gut was threatening strike
    action, my wife ordered something she thought may contain MSG (monosodium glutamate). Due to an alergy to the stuff, she asked the waiter to tell the chef not to put any in the dish.

    After my success with Bromo Seltzer/sodium citrate, my spider senses started tingling with the possiblities of using other household concoctions to
    develop prints.

    So with a sputter and grunt, the woefully puney part of my brain that houses knowledge of chemistry kicked in and began a tortuous brainstorm that went something like this:

    "Hmmm, it seems that there are a bunch of devlopers for pt/pd and kallitype prints that starts with either potassium, sodium or ammonium. The next word usually ends in "ate". Must be that certain acids, like citric acid or oxalic acid when combined with sodium, potassium or ammonium, form these compounds. Well what about glutamic acid and sodium? I'd probably end up with sodium glutamate. Hey! there is an Asian grocery store down the lane that sells MSG by the pound. I wonder......"


    I now have hanging on the wall, next to a Bromo Seltzer-palladium print and an Eno-platinum print, two kallitypes and three pt/pd prints developed in a 30% solution of "Squid" brand MSG.

    So the next time you are out of a pt/pd or kallitype developer check the
    medicine cabinet or the spice rack. You may be able to develop that print

  3. photomc

    photomc Member

    Jul 20, 2003
    Multi Format
    Very cool Craig....Thanks
  4. magic823

    magic823 Member

    Apr 1, 2003
    Boise, ID
    Multi Format

    Whatever you do, don't throw it away when you are done. It keeps forever, just replenish it with fresh developer. My notes from Sandy King's class says to use a 20% Sodium Citrate solution with 2 ml of 5% Potassium Dichromate as the developer. When you replenish, just use the same mix. I made two bottles and just use one as the developer and replenish from the other.

    Dev. 2 mins.
    Wash 1 min in running water
    Clearing Bath - 3-4 mins total (2 seperate baths)
    5% Citric Acid or EDTA 5% or Hypo Clear
    Rinse - 1 min.
    Toner - 4-5 mins (I use a Palladium toner - 10ml Palladium Cloride 20% + 10 gr. Citric Acid in 1 ltr. of water)
    Wash - 1 min.
    Fix - 5 mins. 5% Sodium Thiosulfite
    Hypo Clear - 2 mins.
    Wash - 30 mins.

  5. sanking

    sanking Member

    Mar 26, 2003
    Large Format
    I did not see the first time around and want to add a few comments.

    First, you do need to replenish the sodium citrate developer on a regular basis, adding back also the small amount of potassium dichromate that is there for contrast control. The dichromate also plays an important role in clearing and without at least about 2ml of a 5% dichromate solution per liter of developer it will be very difficult to get full clearing. This is also true with palladium printing.

    Second, it is good practice to discard the developer from time to time and start with a fresh solution, even if you replenish. Also, if you have not been printing for a while, say over two months or so, I recommend that you discard the old solution and mix up a batch of fresh developer.

    Finally, for really critical work I would recommend using the sodium citrate developer as one-shot, and either discard it after use or replenish and use for less critical work. By critical I mean when you want to make absolutely sure that you get 100% clearing. What I have found in my own work is that an absolutely fresh solution is necessary with some papers for full clearing, and this is true with both kallitype and palladium, at least when developing in sodium citrate. Stains that are very difficult to remove almost always begin in the developer and/or in a first wash.

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 14, 2005