This is the first post in a series on how I develop film. These posts will not be a How To. They will not argue that my way is the best way. They will just describe how one person develops 35mm black & white film.
I’ll start with water. The only water I use when I develop film is a jug of distilled water. I use it for three reasons.
No Plumbing Needed – My entire film developing process — develop, stop, fix and wash – uses just one and a half liters of water. With a jug of distilled water, an 11×14 print developing tray to catch spills, and a plastic bucket for used liquids I can develop film anywhere I have a small counter space. No need for running water, or a drain.
Temperature Control – I store my jugs of distilled water where the temperature is a steady 68°-75° Fahrenheit. In winter on top of the refrigerator, where it never goes below 68°. In summer in the basement, where it never goes over 75°. The developer and fixer are mixed one-shot with distilled water and liquid concentrates stored with the water. The stop bath and the three changes of wash water are plain distilled water. Everything is at the same temperature with no fuss and no bother.
Spotless Negatives – I have used this plumbing-free process with my own tap water in a clean jug, with bottled spring water, with bottled filtered water and most recently with bottled distilled water. Since I finally switched to distilled water I have absolutely no water spots on my negatives. No rinse aid. No squeegee or wiping of any kind. I just snap the film to remove the bulk of the water and hang it in the shower stall. I also have almost no dust spots, but that has been true with all the varieties of bottled water.