The daguerreotype process requires the use of dangerous chemicals--chemicals that need to be properly used and stored and not a part of your living environment. These chemicals are not only hazardous, but can be lethal. Beyond this, the chemicals are corrosives --the slightest amount in the air will corrode metals within shouting distance of the fuming boxes. Therefore the chemicals should be used and stored in a fume hood.

A less risky and highly recommended way to start is using the Becquerel process. The main chemical is iodine. Iodine crystals are relatively easy to handle.

Before considering a daguerreian adventure, make sure you have the capability of handling these chemicals. Read and understand the information and precautions and safety gear required found in the Material Safety Data Sheets. If you are unsure, or have not handled chemicals before, BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING! consult a chemist or teacher or professor.

MSDS: Bromine

MSDS: Gold chloride

MSDS: Iodine

MSDS: Mercury


Bromine must be diluted and is easier to handle in dry form. Mix approximately 1 ounce of bromine with 500 gm calcium hydroxide powder. The color of the mixture should end up being a red/orange or brick red color.

The following formulas are from Study of Iodized Daguerreotype Plates by Irving Pobboravsky:


15 grams of sodium thiosulphate and 15 grams of sodium sulphite in 1 liter distilled water.
(The concentration can be increased for quicker action on thick iodine layers)


Part A: 1 gram of gold chloride in 500 ml distilled water.
Part B: 4 grams of sodium thiosulphate in 500 ml distilled water.

For use, equal parts of A & B, enough to cover the plate, are combined. Part A is added to Part B.