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Mi precious negatives from late 90s / early 2000s have developed nasty spider-like structures due to (I believe) mold. Some online research suggests to wipe them gently with 99% isopropyl alcohol.

I believe this not only will get rid of the mold, but it also might dilute other chemicals in the emulsion, namely the stabilizer added at the end of the C-41 development process to pre 2000s Kodak color film.

Hence with the isopropanol rubbing I might get rid of the mold and have a time window to digitize the film but then, in a matter of months or few years, the colors in the film will fade away irreversibly.

Do I need to apply a stabilizer (formaldehyde or something similar, I read) to my photographic negatives after cleaning them with isopropanol? If so, how?

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Color negative film, during processing were dipped in a mild solution of formaldehyde. This did two things; a. hardened the emulsion and b. is a biocide. The formaldehyde step was replaced by more friendly biocide. I suggest that an over-the-counter water based first aid treatment like Bactine diluted 2/3 water 1/3 Bactine will do nicely.

This film is coated with gelatin which is a good food for beasties like mold and mildew, most any water based biocide will be OK. Likely if the film has been damaged by mold, have a digital copy made and use a modern image editing software and try to mitigate the damage.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! I read that mold turns the color layers into something water-soluble, hence the need to avoid water on a damaged color negative film and the use of isopropanol. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mephisto
    Nov 20, 2023 at 18:42

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