Re: Potassium Hydroxide (Chicago)

From: alvamel (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Mar 02 2006 - 13:19:15 PST

I just had a conversation with Robert Schaller about Potasium Hydroxide and it's respective use in the Coffee developer process. (thanx Robert!) My students didn't have very good luck with this process. The images came out too thin.

It seems that baking soda has a ph (8) that is too low for attaining a good dense image. Potasium Hydroxide has a much higher ph (11). High enough in fact that you'll need protective gear for handling, heavy rubber gloves, mask and eye protection. He mentioned that the main ingredient in Red Devil lye is Potasium Hydroxide.

I checked at the local OSH & they don't carry Red Devil lye any more, but I did find a Pro. grade drain cleaner that is liquid consentrated lye. I don't recall the brand name - it was generic made by Scotch, however, you couldn't miss all the warning signs related to handling. The primary ingredients were Potasium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide, which, acording to Robert, are interchangeable. While looking for Potasium based products, it was suggested that I try a janitorial supply house for higher grade of lye/potasium hydroxide.

There's no real danger of catching on fire, just make sure your skin is covered in the event that you slash yourself. Vinegare (acid) will neutralize the lye, but you should also flush with lots of water. Mix in glass or photo-grade plastic.

I'm sure several suscribers on this list have hand-processed with various atypical photoprocessing-chemicals & have other suggestions. But, I'm going to try this with a dilution of 2oz per gal.


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