How To Mix Your Own Kodak D76 From Scratch

Mixing Kodak D76 Black And White Film Developer-6123

Mixing Your Own Kodak D76 From Scratch

Today we’re going to get a little into a mixing your own chemicals from scratch. We are going to be specifically talking about Kodak d76 film developer. 

This was something that I was asked about after making my video on sepia toning where I show how to mix a variable sepia toner from raw chemicals.

I thought about it for a while and at first I didn’t think there was a lot of merit to making this video or post. Does mixing your own D76 save a significant amount of money? Surprisingly no, there is not a significant cost savings to buying raw chemicals in bulk vs. buying packs of Kodak D76 until you purchase A LOT of bulk chemicals.

So, I kind of put the idea on the back burner. Then while actually mixing some d76 the other day it hit me that there are definitely some reasons besides cost that you might want to mix your own d76.

Negative developed in Kodak D76 home-brew - Chicago in Fog
Film Negative Developed In Kodak D76 – Chicago In Fog

Here are a few key benefits and reasons why you might consider mixing your own film developer:

  1. You already have the chemicals in your darkroom – cost savings to repurpose chemicals
  2. Dry chemicals will last for decades if stored properly
  3. Using fresh D76 is important as it changes chemically over time – After about 3 weeks the hydroquinone converts to hydroquinone monosulfonate which in turn can increase contrast and grain significantly
  4. Might not always have developer on hand when needed
  5. Kodak D76 and other chemicals have lately been on backorder quite a bit at Adorama
  6. Kodak D76 usually has to be ordered and can sometimes take a week or so (for me) to have it shipped. I can no longer just go purchase it at my local camera store.
  7. Simple to make – only 4 ingredients
  8. Peace of mind – knowing I always have a means to develop my film

 Here is how you make Kodak D76 Film Developer

Now that you have made the decision to give mixing your own developer a go, here is how you actually do it.

I mean it’s pretty easy. It is a hair more difficult than mixing the pre-packaged product from Kodak. I say hair because on top of what you would normally need you also need a scale (I paid $10 for mine)  and  a set of measuring scoops. Instead of just dumping all the chemicals from a single pack  you simply weigh up the four chemicals and mix them in order.

So the recipe that I use is from the Darkroom Cookbook:

 Kodak D76 – Classic

  • Water @ 125F/52C, 750.0 ml
  • Metol, 2.0 g
  • Sodium Sulfite, 100.0 g
  • Hydroquinone, 5.0 g
  • Borax, 2.0 g
  • Water to make 1 liter
  • Dilute 1:1 for general use.

A few things to note:

Interesting part in the book says many photographers feel that the original formula as given in the cookbook (above) is superior to  either commercial product from Kodak (D76) or Ilford (ID-11) . Kodak and Ilford both put a number of additional chemicals to prevent the metal from deteriorating in the presence of the sodium sulfite.  Kodak adds additional chemicals to protect the metol from the sodium sulfite. This allows the formula to be sold as a single package. Ilfords ID-11 (virtually the same developer as Kodak D76) is sold in two parts and eliminates some but not all the extra chemicals found in the Kodak version. I found this very interesting.

Step By Step Instructions

  1. First thing you’re going to want to do is  fill a one liter beaker with 750 mL of water. I have a really good water filter system in my house so I use filtered water. You can also use distilled water,  I would just be consistent with whatever you’re doing.
  2. Heat the water to 125F/52C. I have found that about 2 minutes in MY microwave will raise the temp of room temperature water to 52C exactly.
  3. Turn your scan on and zero it out with a small dish or cup to put the chemicals in
  4. Measure 2 grams of Metol – add to the water while stirring. Stir until completely dissolved
  5. Measure 100 grams of Sodium Sulfite – add to the water while stirring. Stir until completely dissolved
  6. Measure 5 grams of Hydroquinone – add to the water while stirring. Stir until completely dissolved
  7. Measure 2 grams of Borax – add to the water while stirring. Stir until completely dissolved
  8. Your total volume should now be just about 800 ml
  9. Add water to make 1 liter of water and stir
  10. Pour developer into amber glass bottle or other storage container
  11. Label and put a date on the bottle so you know when you mixed it
  12. Let the d76 cool down before use

That’s really all there is to it! Once the developer is cooled down dilute 1:1 for use. It does note in the book that you can use it stock but there are no advantages in doing so. I would say there is one advantage – shorter development times. I have also seen it noted that at 1:1 you get sharper results and know you can also use it more dilute at 1:3

There is also another more “Eco Friendly” version of Kodak D76 formula you may find interesting, This version is cheaper and more stable as it omits the hydroquinone completely

Eco- Friendly Version Of Kodak D76

  • Water @ 125F/52C, 750.0 ml
  • Metol, 2.5 g
  • Sodium Sulfite, 100.0 g
  • Borax, 2.0 g
  • Water to make 1 liter
  • Dilute 1:1 for general use.

Use exactly as you would Kodak D76 classic formula


Relevant Links:


The Darkroom Cookbook –

Photographers Formulary –

Digital Scale –

Measuring Spoons –

Glass Beaker Set –

Glass Amber Chemical Bottles –

Stainless steel black and white film developing tank –

Kodak Photoflo –

Monitoring silver levels in your fixer – AG Test Strips –

>> Also check out my step by step tutorial on how to develop black and white film <<

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