6 Ways to Reuse Polaroid Film Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps

How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
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Written by Jennifer Stamps

Calling all Polaroid shooters! Ever wonder what to do with the cartridge when you’re done with the pack?

Well, I have a few ways to reuse the cartridge – helping you save money and avoid unnecessary waste.

How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

Differences in Polaroid Film Cartridges

If you are shooting with a vintage Polaroid camera – either a 600 or SX-70 – it comes with a battery embedded into the film cartridge (all the more reason not to throw those away).

If you are shooting with a newer camera, you use iType film which does not have a battery embedded into the cartridge.

Other than the battery, the cartridges themselves are all the same.

How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
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Four Ways to Reuse Polaroid Film Cartridges

1. Frame It: Version One

Items needed:

This is the easiest of all the ways to reuse a Polaroid cartridge. You don’t need to take anything apart.

Once the cartridge is empty, take any developed Polaroid and slip it gently through the cut at the bottom of the cartridge.

Once the Polaroid is in the frame, stand it up!

How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

2. Frame It: Version Two

Items needed:

For this project, you won’t need the plastic frame – you can use the frame for methods 3 or 4 below!

Take the metal frame out of the Polaroid cartridge. Bend the bottom half of the frame just slightly so that it stands upright. Once it’s standing upright, you can place the Polaroid on through the little metal divots at the bottom.

Boom – a frameless frame!

How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

3. Store a Series of Images

Items needed:

Remove the metal frame from the cartridge, leaving you with just a black case/shell.

Add as many developed frames to the box as you want. It can fit ten, so feel free to add more than just a pack of 8.

Take the darkslide and decorate it using your metallic marker or pen (ideas: location of the photos, film type, camera, dates, people, a love note). Take the ribbon and tie it around the cartridge to make it look nice (and keep the photos from falling out of the bottom).

Bonus: this would be a really fun gift for someone.

How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

4. In-Field Polaroid Developing Box

Items needed:

Remove the metal frame from the cartridge, leaving you with just a black case/shell.

Using painter’s tape, tape the bottom flap of the cartridge back on, creating a little door. Once that’s completed, add any darkslide back into the cartridge, creating a little dark room.

Use this darkroom developing box out in the field to protect your photos while they are developing.

How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

Do You Have a Polaroid Go?

Bonus – everything you can do with iType film cartridges you can also do with Polaroid Go cartridges.

How fun is that?

How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

Two Additional Ways to Reuse 600 and SX-70 Film Cartridges

In addition to the four ways I explained above, you can reuse the 600 and SX-70 Polaroid packs two more ways since they have a battery – assuming your battery is still good (if your camera powers on with the pack in, the battery is working).

1. Test a Polaroid Camera

Items needed:

If you are planning to go on the hunt for a vintage Polaroid, I highly recommend bringing at least one cartridge with a battery to make sure the camera powers on.

However, bringing a cartridge with a few frames loaded is even more preferred so you can also test that the rollers are working.

If you don’t want to waste precious, valuable, unused frames, no worries. Just take a few frames that are overexposed, blurry, or that you just don’t love, and load them in the cartridge, face-up. Add that pack into your possible new-to-you vintage Polaroid and boom – you now have a test pack!

How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

2. Save Money on Film

Items needed:

Ever notice that iType Polaroid film is a few bucks less than SX-70 or 600 film? It’s because of the battery. And vintage film packs are even less expensive (assuming you’re ok with experimenting with how a photo may or may not turn out).

If you end up with a pack of film with a dead battery or iType film and you only bring a 600 camera with you, you can remove the film from one pack and add it to the pack with a functioning battery.

How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

How To Reload an Empty Polaroid Cartridge

IMPORTANT: If you are loading unused frames into a cartridge, follow all of these steps in a darkroom bag.

  1. Remove the cartridge from the camera.
  2. Fold the tiny flap at the bottom so that the cartridge is open at the bottom.
  3. Gently, place one corner of one Polaroid frame into the cartridge, being sure that the frame is in between the plastic casing and metal spring/support.
  4. Gently slide the entire frame in.
  5. Push the film to the top of the frame so that it fits in place and nothing is sticking out at the bottom.
  6. Repeat. Do not add more than 8 frames in total.
How to Reuse Polaroid Cartridges by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film

How will you reuse your Polaroid cartridges? Do you have other fun and creative ways to reuse the cartridges?

Leave the ideas in the comments!

Thank you so much, Jen! Jennifer is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and be sure to check out her other articles, like Polaroid Art Project: Adding Watercolor Paint to Polaroids and Experimenting With the Polaroid Now+ Lens Filters.

You can also check out more of Jennifer’s work on her website and Instagram.

Leave your questions about reusing Polaroid cartridges below in the comments, and you can pick up some Polaroid film for yourself on Amazon here.

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Jennifer Stamps

Jennifer Stamps is a toy camera and travel film photographer and a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find her other articles here, such as Olympus OM-1 35mm Film Camera Review and 5 Film Cameras Under $50.

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