How to Make Your Own Fixer & Stop Bath for Darkroom Black and White Archival Printmaking

April 02, 2015  •  4 Comments

How to Make Your Own Fixer & Stop Bath for Darkroom Black and White Archival PrintmakingHow to Make Your Own Fixer & Stop Bath for Darkroom Black and White Archival Printmaking If you want to properly process archival darkroom silver gelatin prints via the classic method as taught by Ansel Adams then you need a non-hardening fixer as your second fixer. 

If you are interested in learning how to process your darkroom prints for archival permanence then read my article on how to do that.  You have to be careful here because you might accidentally think you are using the right fixer when part of the description says that it is non-hardening.  Unfortunately, it is more common than not to get a non-hardening fixer that is also a rapid fixer and this is not what you want.  I also included information on how to source and mix your own stop bath too.

There is a caveat here that if you want to follow the Ilford method then you would use a rapid fixer.  I have no desire to take any risks when processing my archival prints so I stick with the classic method.

Join Tim Layton on YouTubeJoin Tim Layton on YouTube Darkroom Underground - www.timlaytonfineart.com/DUDarkroom Underground - www.timlaytonfineart.com/DU

You have two choices when selecting a non-hardening fixer.  You could buy a non-hardening fixer but it is a little more difficult than you might guess.  Thankfully Freestyle Photo Supplies carries Arista Universal Liquid Fixer that is non-hardening and it does not fall into the rapid fix category.  If you want to do that at least it is an option for now and a very good option for many.  If you want to make your own non-hardening fixer then you have come to the right place.

If you want to help support our film and darkroom work, if you use our Amazon or B&H Photo links below, we earn a small commission when you use our links at no additional cost to you. Every little bit helps and we appreciate your support. 


Making Your Own Non-Hardening Fixer

It is very easy to make your own non-hardening fixer.  In “The Print” Ansel mentions that some photographers think that it improves image color.  Because there isn’t any hardener in the fixer it should reduce your washing time.  You should keep this hypo at or below 70F when using it in your print archival process.

To make 1 liter of non-hardening fixer mix the following:

  • Water at 125F/52C – 800ml
  • Sodium Thiosulfate - Penta (hypo) – 240g
  • Sodium Sulfite – 30g

To make 1 gallon of non-hardening fixer mix the following:

  • Water at 125F/52C – 80 oz.
  • Sodium Thiosulfate (hypo) – 32 oz.
  • Sodium Sulfite – 4 oz.

There are probably a variety of sources to get Sodium Thiosulfate and Sodium Sulfite so you may want to use your own sources.  I ordered my latest batch from Photographer’s Formulary.

While you are making your own non-hardening fixer you can easily make your own stop bath. All you need is some glacial acetic acid that is also available from a variety of sources to include Photographer’s Formulary.

To make 1 liter of stop bath mix the following:

  • Water at room temperature – 750ml
  • Acetic Acid (28% solution) – 48ml

To make 1 gallon of stop bath mix the following:

  • Water at room temperature – 100 oz.
  • Acetic Acid (28% solution) – 6 oz.

You should buy Glacial Acetic Acid rated at 99% and dilute to 28%.  Mix 3 parts of glacial acetic acid to 8 parts water.  Glacial acetic acid is dangerous to your skin and to your respiratory system so do not breath any of the fumes and always wear protective gloves and clothing when handling.  It may be easier to just buy the commercial stop bath, but even then you need to be careful.

All of these formulas and many more are included in the appendix of “The Print” by Ansel Adams.  All of these chemicals are dangerous so keep that in mind before ordering and be sure to read all of the information when you receive your chemicals.  Definitely never leave any of these chemicals where a child of any age could get to them.

Join Tim Layton on YouTubeJoin Tim Layton on YouTube Darkroom Underground - www.timlaytonfineart.com/DUDarkroom Underground - www.timlaytonfineart.com/DU
 

What Are Art Buyers & Collectors Saying About Tim Layton Fine Art?

Darkroom Underground - www.timlaytonfineart.com/DUDarkroom Underground - www.timlaytonfineart.com/DU "I just received my handmade silver gelatin fine art print from Tim Layton and it is absolutely stunning!  

I want other people to know the attention to detail that Tim puts into the making of his fine art.  

As a fellow large format photographer and printer of my own B&W darkroom prints, I can tell you that Tim’s work is exceptional.  

Now having this print in my hands, I can tell you that this selenium-toned print looks three-dimensional.  That is high praise considering we work in a two dimensional medium.  If you have not already joined Tim’s Fine Art Print Club, I strongly recommend that you join now! You will not regret your decision. -John D'Angelo, NY

Ice Princess 30x40 Silver Gelatin Fine Art Wild Horse Print by Tim LaytonIce Princess 30x40 Silver Gelatin Fine Art Wild Horse Print by Tim Layton "The size of your prints are amazing, but it’s the minute detail and tonal range you capture that give your images their aesthetic qualities. Every one of your handmade fine art prints that I have seen, has blown me away to the point I pause the video to look at them more closely.  It never ceases to amaze me how you create images that look so simple, and yet many of us watching that doesn’t mean easy. I can only dream of capturing anything 1/10th as beautiful as you do." -Mark Harris


"I have been following Tim's journey for some time now; I shoot mostly 4x5 and some 8x10, and have a small business, Zee Zee LightBenders, that specialises in alternative printing in cyanotype, Salt, Kallitype and of course traditional black and white silver gelatine. I have been following Tim's quest on the Wild Horses of Missouri and was lucky enough to purchase "The Nomads" print. I live in Africa, so nothing moves with speed. 60 days later I received the package from Tim, no fault of his, that's how we roll in Africa.
Well, was the wait worth it? - ABSOLUTELY!!!! A beautiful print on textured paper. I went on a Namibia trip to see the wild horses there in January this year so I can absolutely relate to this experience. 

Keep up the good work Tim, love your work and contribution to conservation" -Rodney Rudman, Cape Town, South Africa

Join Tim Layton on YouTubeJoin Tim Layton on YouTube "The artwork by Tim Layton is very unique, all handmade, from the negative to the final print on Ilford MGIV fiber paper and gently toned in selenium.  The tones are subtle, and distinct, and placed in just the right grey scale zones so the overall contrast of the print feels complete - from pitch black to delicate highlights. Holding one of his prints in your hands and viewing it carefully in daylight will reveal the beauty of his handmade darkroom prints.  In addition, Tim's prints are simply beautiful and artistic." -Anders Blomqvist, Sweden

If you want to help support our film and darkroom work, click on the Amazon or B&H Photo logos below and we earn a small commission when you use our links at no additional cost to you. Every little bit helps and we appreciate your support.  


 
B&H Photo VideoB&H Photo Video

Darkroom Underground - www.timlaytonfineart.com/DUDarkroom Underground - www.timlaytonfineart.com/DU

What Are Members Saying About The Darkroom Underground?

Join Tim Layton on YouTubeJoin Tim Layton on YouTube There is no shortage of people providing information on photography on YouTube and the internet.   Some  are even aimed at the analog photographer, but what Tim has done with the Darkroom Underground (DU) is nothing short of pure brilliance.  DU is not only for the analog photographer it is also for the Large Format &  Ultra Large Format Photographer.  I don’t know of anyone else who is covering ULF.

He has simplified learning with wonderful videos that are supplemented with show notes so you have all the information for you to do this on your own. But unlike anything else out there you have Tim as a resource, too. He has always been easily available for questions or clarification and he welcomes suggestions for future shows.

If you are serious about learning all aspects of analog and LF/ULF this is the place to be. -Michael Wellman


Darkroom Underground - www.timlaytonfineart.com/DUDarkroom Underground - www.timlaytonfineart.com/DU "Tim Layton is providing very useful information for all those who are interested in analog photography and large format cameras. He covers in a very detailed and entertaining way the different aspects of this field. He always takes the time to explain the details and share all his know-how. Nothing is hidden or secret. Everything is on the table. 

The videos and blogs are shot and edited in a very professional way. Tim is always ready to receive and share the suggestions and ideas coming from other people. He is a very good community manager. 

I would like also to underline the growing role of his son, Tim Junior who contributes also greatly to the quality of the videos, text and explanation. Last but not least, Tim is always welcoming suggestions and questions and ready to interact. I recommend warmly the work of Tim Layton. -Stéfane France

ANALOG PHOTOGRAPHY TRAINING LIBRARY

Darkroom Underground Academy by Tim LaytonDarkroom Underground Academy by Tim Layton

Tim Layton Fine Art All Access Pass B&W Darkroom Photography Video WorkshopB&W Darkroom Photography Video Workshop Large Format Photography Video Workshop SeriesLarge Format Photography Video Workshop Series B&W Large Format Floral Still Life Video WorkshopB&W Large Format Floral Still Life Video Workshop Large Format B&W Film Testing Video WorkshopLarge Format B&W Film Testing Video Workshop Large Format Paper Negative Video WorkshopLarge Format Paper Negative Video Workshop DIY UV Printer Design & Build Video WorkshopDIY UV Printer Design & Build Video Workshop Platinum & Palladium Printmaking with Vellum Video WorkshopPlatinum & Palladium Printmaking with Vellum Video Workshop

Read Testimonials from photographers and collectors from around the world.

Buy Your Photography, Video, & Technology Gear at No Additional Cost To You From B&H Photo

B&H Photo VideoB&H Photo Video COLOR FILMS, DEVELOPERS, DARKROOM GEAR

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Fujichrome Velvia 100 - Fujichrome Velvia 50 - Kodak Portra 160 - Kodak Portra 400  - Kodak Ektar 100 - Fujicolor Pro 400H - Fujicolor Crystal Archive Silver Gelatin RA4 Paper - RA-4 Color Print Processing Developer & Processing Chemicals - Color Darkroom Enlargers 

ILFORD B&W FILMS & DEVELOPERS

Ilford HP5 PlusIlford FP4 Plus - Ilford Delta 100 - Ilford Delta 400 - Ilford Delta 3200 - Ilford Pan F Plus - Ilford XP2 Super - Ilford SFX - Ilford ID-11 - Ilford DD-X - Ilford Microphen

KODAK B&W FILM DEVELOPERS

Kodak Tri-X - Kodak T-Max 100 - Kodak T-Max 400 - Kodak Portra 160 - Kodak Portra 400 - Kodak Ektar 100 - Kodak P-3200 - Kodak Ektachrome - Kodak D-76 - Kodak XTOL - Kodak HC-110

DARKROOM SUPPLIES & EQUIPMENT
Jobo CPP-3 processer - Ilford RC Pearl Paper - Ilford RC Glossy Paper - Ilford Multigrade Fiber Paper - Ilford Stop Bath - Ilford Rapid Fixer - Neutral FixerKodak Photo-Flo - Hypo Clearing Agent - Darkroom Trays - Chemical Storage Jugs - Nitrile Gloves - Film Archival Storage Sleeves - Archival Storage Binder - Archival Print Storage Boxes

Note: I participate in affiliate programs where I earn a small commission on some select products that I provide links for on my website at www.timlaytonfineart.com. When you use these links, I earn a small commission and there is no additional charge to you.

 


Comments

Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Steve, I always mix my fixer on demand when I need it and I would agree that the fixer should be used within 24 hours once mixed at proper dilution. The shelf life of the dry chemical is effectively unlimited if stored properly. I hope that helps.
Steve(non-registered)
Hi Tim,
You mention using Sodium Thiosulphate as a fixer. I have read elsewhere that it has a very short shelf life once mixed (less than 24 hours). Has this been your experience? Thanks
Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Mark, good question. I have an article on how to test your fixer at https://www.timlaytonfineart.com/blog/2016/9/darkroom-daily-digest-testing-fixing-bath-in-the-darkroom
Mark Clinton Madrazo Go(non-registered)
how may cycles can be fixed and washed with these?
No comments posted.
Loading...