Let's 'Cook' the Film: The Recipe of Film Soup!


What’s in your mind when you look at the Lomograph below? Flashy, dreamy, disgusting, dazzling? Or “Is my screen dead?!” I believe there are different opinions out there. But, no matter how you feel about this Lomograph, it surely conveys a different kind of visual impact. This was the cross-processed result of the slide film after being stewed in the film soup. There was no post-editing after it was digitalized. This time, I have experienced cooking the film soup myself and would like to share my secret recipe to all of you.

Caution: The following recipe accompanied unexpected risk, please take your own risk while stewing your film, and thereafter.

Step 1: Take Pictures

It is purely personal preference whether you want your film exposed before or after the stewing it in your film soup. Personally, I would stew it after I have finished the roll, that is partly because of the uneven film surface after being boiled in the soup. Therefore, it might reduce some of the trouble while exposing the film. The film is of your own choice, negative film, slide film, etc. As for exposure, try to avoid underexposure, as chemical reactions tend to enhance the negative effect of the film. Talking about my experience, a slight overexposure yielded a very good result. After finishing your roll, keep the film all the way into the cartridge and into the box.

Step 2: Collect the Ingredients and Materials

Here’s a list of what you’ll be needing for this film soup:

  • Darkroom (closet, or very dim and dark room for alternatives)
  • Neutral detergent (household detergent)
  • Clips (to hold the film in the darkroom)
  • Stove (for heating the film)
  • Pot (for heating and stewing the film)
  • Hairdryer (for drying the film)
  • Towel, tissue or newspaper (For cleaning)
  • Support and understanding from your family (the room will smell like the detergent afterward)

Step 3: Prepare the Detergent Solution

Dissolve the detergent in hot water. Control the ratio of detergent to water according to your preference. I personally mix with a 1:1 ratio. Then, keep it stirring until it is fully dissolved.

Mix the hot water with detergent

Step 4: Apply the Detergent Solution

Pull the film all the way out of the canister. Careful! Do not tear the film off of the canister. Use the clip to fix the film onto the wall, with the emulsion surface facing upwards. Check out the photo below for reference:

Film fixed onto the wall

Apply the prepared detergent solution onto the film with your finger, dabbing the solution on top of the emulsion. The right strength is the key! Of course, it might be difficult for you to do it in a darkroom, but please be calm and be patient! Refer to the photo below:

Applying the detergent solution

Following the previous step, leave alone the film for 2-3 minutes. Within this period, the chemical reaction has started doing its work. Rewind the film back into the canister, and leave your darkroom.

Step 5: Stewing the Film Roll

Pour water with a height of approximately 4 to 5 cm of water into the pot. Heat it on a stove. After 5 minutes (the results varies with the fire intensity), turn the stove off when the water is boiling. Now, put the film into the boiled water for a minute. Stir the film while stewing it, to release the air in the canister. Stir it like stirring a real soup!

Heating water

Take caution! Do not overheat it, the surface of the film will be wrinkled. Refer to the photo below: Then cool it in cold water for a minute.

The result of overheating (developed film)

Step 6: Dry Out the Film

In the darkroom, pull the film all out from the canister. Throw your film inside a pot containing water, gently rinse the chemical off from the surface. Do not exert too much strength on the emulsion side. Dry the film with hairdryer, as if it is not done so, the film will stick together adjacently after being rewound into the canister. Alternatively, you could leave it dry in a non-transparent bag for drying if you do not own a hairdryer. Rewind the film when the film is fully dry.

Drying the film

Step 7: Process the Film

For the processing procedure, just do it as usual. But before leaving the lab, please keep in mind of the objective of film soup. Dependent on your way of cooking, remember to clean up the film and process afterward. Remember to do regular quality-checking on your scanner and processing chemicals. Above is the full set procedure in making a film soup!


The results may present differently even the procedure are ultimately the same. The photos may differ slightly each and every time. The results may also be influenced by different factors, such as different emulsion, exposure balance, and exposed object etc.

Cross-processed results

According to my experience, cross-processed slide film did not fail to produce dreamy effects. And of course, it is another saying while you are using a different kind of cameras. Do not forget this is my personal favorite recipe, I would not claim myself as a pro, so why not try it yourself with different kind of ingredients to spice up your Lomographs!? It may be a failure, but it may also turn with extraordinarily fantastic results that you ever could have! Let’s take this as an enjoyable ‘cooking session’ and try it yourself! Here are some of my film soup results with a redscale film:

Redscaled results

Enjoy your cooking life! Here are other film soup recipes you can try:

Don’t forget to share your very own results from @hodachrome's very own film soup recipe by uploading them to your LomoHome!

written by hodachrome on 2013-02-27 #gear #tutorials #lc-a #experiment #tipster #soup #lc-a #boil # # # # #film-soup #film-soup #

Mentioned Product

Lomo LC-A

Lomo LC-A

Be an analogue photography pro with the Lomo LC-A family. Get the signature ‘35mm Lomographic look’ with shadowy vignettes, eye-popping colors and saturation.The Lomo LC-A is the Russian classic with customizable aperture settings. The Lomo LC-A+ has awesome added tricks like multiple exposure capabilities, extended ISO range up to 1600 and a cable release thread!


  1. buckshot
    buckshot ·

    Your cooking looks really tasty ;-) Would like to try this too, but isn't there a risk that the detergent will pollute the lab's chemicals? I wouldn't want to be responsible for ruining the films of customers who came afterwards. I guess if you rinse the film extremely well, there's less risk. Any thoughts on this before I try it? Thanks for the great article.

  2. mafiosa
    mafiosa ·

    Thank you for a very detailed description :)

  3. hodachrome
    hodachrome ·

    Thanks for the likes and the comments!
    Yes, we will have to pay the biggest attention to the part of rinse. I always try to rinse as perfect as I can, but still the lab don't know how it's rinsed well or not until it's developed. In my case I hear that the lab (not lomo lab) rinses the souped-film again by themselves to protect from the chemical damage. And lomo lab Tokyo says they are not prepared to receive that kinda films at present. We will have to keep in mind that it is not welcome for them. And before trying we will have to ask the lab we use if they can accept it. I should have written more about it on article.. Maybe I 'll ask some modification or addition soon.

  4. kekskonstrukt
    kekskonstrukt ·

    great article and awesome results! :)

  5. luffyblu
    luffyblu ·

    Tricky process but the resulting images are amazing! I have to try it one day. Good work chef! :)

  6. weaver
    weaver ·

    is it advised then to send these sorts of films to the lomo lab as opposed to hometown lab?

  7. stories
    stories ·

    If I don't have a darkroom, but rinse the film as best as possible, can I send it off to a lab/drugstore/etc for development?

  8. ping-junior
    ping-junior ·

    ^______^ woww.....

  9. valmary
    valmary ·

    I have to try this! Thank you!

  10. threemoons
    threemoons ·

    This looks awesome; it makes me want to find an amateur darkroom and start playing!

  11. eugenionesta
    eugenionesta ·


  12. coolbober
    coolbober ·

    So do you expose your film before or after the stewing?

  13. aguillem
    aguillem ·

    We could find an agreement with our photographers, if they develop our cooked films just before to change the chemicals.
    But I don't know if they change all the chemicals in the same time, etc.

  14. saskiaboer
    saskiaboer ·


  15. hodachrome
    hodachrome ·

    Exposure first, then cook =)

  16. jinx77
    jinx77 ·

    How "dim" does the room have to be to ensure the film is not ruined when drying it? Is it okay to hand dry the film in a hallway that is almost pitch black except for the faint moonlight coming through the cracks under the door?

  17. ihave2pillows
    ihave2pillows ·

    love it :)

  18. stonerfairy
    stonerfairy ·

    holy molly! This is crazy!!

  19. xgitte
    xgitte ·

    awesome colors!

  20. double_exposure
    double_exposure ·

    so doing this!!!

  21. linilein
    linilein ·

    Hallo, this might be a stupid question I guess, but I've never worked in a darkroom and now i can use one in university, so the question is: I have to do it in total darkness, I cannot let the greenlight we have switched on can I ?

  22. hodachrome
    hodachrome ·

    Sorry for the late reply. Yes you have to do it in a total darkroom. Need a experience, to get used to do well. I 'm afraid I don't understand the last part.. greenlight?

  23. linilein
    linilein ·

    no problem, ok so I'll do it in total darkness... yes in my university we have such green light in the darkroom... :)

  24. estherinthetardis
    estherinthetardis ·

    your photographs are so amazing!!! I really want to try this.. I take my photographs first and then I do all this process?
    thanks in advance :)

  25. pan_dre
    pan_dre ·

    Awesome tipster @hodachrome!!

  26. gracjaz
    gracjaz ·

    hey! this looks perfect! can you tell me what is the neutral house detergent ? you mean sth like bleach for washing your clothes?

  27. hodachrome
    hodachrome ·

    Thanks. The neutral house detergent is the neutral detergent for washing laundry. I think any neutral component will do for this cooking :)

  28. hodachrome
    hodachrome ·

    @pan_dre thank you!

  29. conjacob
    conjacob ·

    I loved your pictures!! you got some pretty awesome results!! :)

  30. hodachrome
    hodachrome ·

    Thank you very much! Need much time and care to do this but worth trying :)

  31. danieladiaz
    danieladiaz ·

    Hola!, quiero que me ayudes a realizar esto, lo quiero hacer para un experimento, pero aún no entiendo como plasmar esas fotos :( Te agradecería respondieras.
    PD, que lindas fotos.

  32. hannahmann
    hannahmann ·

    hello, great photos!
    I have been boiling b&W film in sea water, for 5 min. but Im having a few problems - far too much light in that they are mostly black, the numbers on the sprocket holes are not even being developed. My films are coming out wrinkled (aesthetically Im ok with that), as you say thats a result of too much heat, but Im wondering - does too much heat alter the emulation so that its not light responsive? Seens as tradiontionaly you are suppose to keep film in the fridge/freezer. I have a feeling that the heat is making the metal of the canister bend and let light in, have you had any of these problems, what were your solutions? should I boil the film in lower temperature water, or just eliminate the boiling part of the process, and just soak the film fro 24 hours (I'm doing that anyway) , but I love the boiling part of the process, as I am a chef in a vegan cafe, so its great that I boil vegetables to make soup for money, spend the money on film to make soup for love. Im using Ilford HP5. Im getting some great results with crystallisation of salt, but Im only getting 1 or 2 shots out of 36 of the sea. thanks in advance. x

  33. coraki
    coraki ·

    I was wondering can Borax be used? Borax is/was part of b&w chemicals.

  34. marekmoucka
    marekmoucka ·

    Very nice article, may i ask, what kind of color films suite you best? I am looking for a cold, blue-purple psychedelic look. Did you try several films? Thanks a lot, love, Marek

  35. pekmezmed
    pekmezmed ·

    Hi, thanks for sharing this recipe :) I have a problem tho- I had trouble drying the film completely and wound it up in the canister (and now I have a hard time winding the film...) does anybody have some good suggestions on drying the film quicker? I spent 15 minutes in a tiny dark room and used the hair dryer with cold air setting (maybe I should have used the hot air function on the dryer??? ) All suggestions are welcome :) <3

  36. pekmezmed
    pekmezmed ·

    @pekmezmed update on the sticky/ half wet film: emulsion on the film ended up being almost completely destroyed... film has to be super dry before it is wound up back in the canister and used. :/

  37. pekmezmed
    pekmezmed ·

    @hodachrome I just noticed this in the comments - First expose the film and then cook it? So i use the detergent, wash it, dry it, expose and then cook? Also- how to speed up the process of drying the film? I used a hairdryer and sat in the dark for 15 minutes but it still wasn't dry... :/ any help is welcome :)

  38. cnystedt
    cnystedt ·

    What do you mean by 'Neutral detergent (household detergent)' is that detergent for cloths or dishwashing detergent?

  39. cyranamtz
    cyranamtz ·

    amazing!!! =)

  40. ale2000
    ale2000 ·

    @hodachrome of course you can use a red or yellow-green safelight (refer to this for further info: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safelight). Just be sure you can the right kind of lamp from a photographer's shop :)

  41. techandmusic
    techandmusic ·

    @ale2000 Of course you can NOT use that when working with film!!! Panchromatic film, which is what most B&W film and all color film is, is sensitive to the entire spectrum of visible color. If it weren't, yellow, green and/or red wouldn't be visible on the final photos since the film wouldn't react to those shades of light. There is only one kind of B&W film, panchromatic film, that is insensitive to red, so when developing that a red safelight can be used. But panchromatic B&W film is rare and no longer in production. All B&W film on the market right now is orthochromatic, sensitive to all shades of light. The safelights are meant for using when printing developed negatives to paper the old school way in the darkroom, and then only for B&W prints as well. Color prints will have the same problem when using safelights.

  42. neja
    neja ·

    what's the best way to dry it (I don't have a dark room or special canisters)? thanks

  43. beatricethecat
    beatricethecat ·

    Nice article! Thanks for the info. I haven't tried this yet but I know students seem interested and it seems like a fun thing to do with expired film. For those reading the comments above looking for answers, here's a few I can give in summary:

    Film must be handled in complete darkness!!
    Almost all film - color and black & white must be handled in complete darkness. The faster the film emulsion, the more sensitive it is to light. TECHNOANDMUSIC mentioned a type of film B&W that is not sensitive to reds (and some yellows). This is ORTHOchromatic film, not PANchromatic (pan- meaning "all" - and in this case, referring to colors). Orthochromatic film is still made but not as widely available. (Ilford, Rollei, Arista, and Ultrafine still make it).

    Souping chemicals:
    Chlorine bleach is not neutral and it's not something I'd want mixing with film developing chemicals down the line. You could try spraying bleach on it after it's developed, but be careful mixing bleach with anything.

    Salt is a weak fixer - meaning it fixes the silver onto the film so I'm not surprised seawater is maybe not working well. Boiling the film for too long can loosen the emulsion from the plastic backing. If the film is wavy, you have melted the plastic. Soaking in hot but not boiling water seems to be a better idea overall.

    I'm guessing "neutral detergent" means not too acid or not too base in the PH range? That part is a little confusing. Household detergents contain elements that are used in developing agents (sodium carbonate, borax, sodium sulfite, etc).

    As mentioned above, no commercial lab will take this film unless they are throwing away their chemicals soon. Commercial labs replenish their chemicals, so they're not using new chemicals for every film. If those chemicals get contaminated, they can potentially ruin the film they process afterwards and even ruin their machines. Talk with the lab first to see what they can do for you. I think there are mail away services now that might be willing to work with you.

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