U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: Paper negative

Re: Paper negative

David, I find it at the drugstore on the open shelves near rubbing alcohol and the like. It's used, apparently, as a laxative.

It's also used by people who make wooden salad bowls and the like, as a nontoxic substance to oil and polish the wood; in fact that's how I discovered it in the first place. I had been using a vegetable oil that turned rancid and made the negatives first smell bad, then turn brown and eventually disintegrate into a pile of brown bits. I was telling my brother, a woodworker, that I needed to find a better oil, and he suggested the mineral oil.

I just looked on Wikipedia because I wasn't sure I was remembering right about the laxative part, and found a whole long list of uses for mineral oil. One thing I hadn't known is that baby oil is just mineral oil with added fragrance (that "baby oil" smell). No wonder it makes my hands feel so nice.

On Dec 4, 2007, at 4:40 AM, Henry Rattle wrote:

David – there’s a wonderful and very long list in Wikipedia of synonyms for mineral oil. In UK I used to call it liquid paraffin – a misleading name at a time when we still sometimes used paraffin (that’s kerosene in the US) for heating!

Best wishes


On 4/12/07 11:50, "davidhatton@totalise.co.uk" <davidhatton@totalise.co.uk> wrote:

Hi Katherine,

I'm sorry. Can you explain what else mineral oil is used for? In the UK mineral oil is what we put in our car engines.


david H
On Dec 4 2007, Katharine Thayer wrote:

On Dec 3, 2007, at 11:56 PM, Robert Krawiec wrote:

> --- Katharine Thayer wrote:
>> I've tried all
>> kinds of treatments but long ago settled on mineral
>> oil as my
>> favorite treatment for negatives. It soaks in
>> nicely and makes a
>> very transparent negative, dries to a nice finish,
>> maintains its
>> tonality over years, doesn't go rancid (as some
>> vegetable oil I tried
>> once did) and it makes my hands feel soft after I've
>> used it, too.
> How do you coat the paper? Both sides?

Rob, here's my whole procedure: I put the paper on a sheet of glass
or in a flat-bottomed tray, pour a couple of tablespoons of oil over
the paper, and spread and rub the oil into the paper with my hands.
When one side is permeated with oil, I turn it over and rub oil into
the other side until the paper is soaked through with oil. Then I
move the oily paper to a blotter (I keep a blotter for this purpose
that I don't use for other things) and heat it with a hair dryer on
hot setting while with my other hand rubbing with a paper towel to
distribute the oil evenly as the heat helps the paper absorb more
oil. I start with an oily paper towel to make sure the paper is
soaked through and finish with a dry paper towel to wipe off any oil
that hasn't been absorbed and finish the negative to a crisp dry
surface. When the negative is dry, I hang it in a warm place
overnight; in the morning I do a final polish with a fresh paper
towel. Then the negative can be stored indefinitely, although
because of the possibility that oil could transfer, I keep oiled
negatives separate.

It's messy, but when I was doing this routinely I'd do 10-15 at a
time, and it goes pretty fast. It takes longer to tell you how to do
it, than to actually do it. When I move the first negative to the
blotter, I spread the oil that's left on the glass/tray out evenly
and put the next negative on the oily surface so it can be passively
soaking up oil while I'm heating/rubbing the first one. It only
takes 15-20 minutes to do a whole batch of negatives.