This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
This is generally done by immersing the plate in formaldehyde solution until the film has become almost insoluble and impermeable. Then it is placed in a solution of sodium carbonate until the gelatin has absorbed a sufficient quantity of it. When the negative is immersed in weak hydrochloric acid, carbon dioxide is liberated, and the little bubbles of gas which lodge themselves between the film and the glass cause a separation of the two, so that the film may be stripped off. After having hardened the film with formaldehyde, it is a lengthy process to get it saturated with sodium carbonate. It is advisable to use a combined bath of 1 part of carbonate, 3 of 40 per cent formaldehyde, and 20 of water; its tanning action is enhanced by the alkaline reaction, and two operations are superseded by one. After 10 minutes' soaking, the surface of the film must be wiped and the plate dried. A sharp knife is then used to cut all around the film a slight distance from the edge, and when this is done the negative is put into a 5 per cent solution of hydrochloric acid, when the film will probably float off unaided; but, if necessary, may be assisted by gently raising one corner.