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mtchen
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
564 Posts

Posted - 11/12/2003 :  11:49:32 AM  Show Profile Send mtchen a Private Message
Can anyone recommend some non-toxic synthetic fiber dyes? (besides Kool-Aid!) I am looking for something that's easy to use and not too messy.

Thanks!

BergenKnitter
Chatty Knitter

249 Posts

Posted - 11/13/2003 :  10:01:06 AM  Show Profile Send BergenKnitter a Private Message
I haven't used them yet, but I bought some Jacquard dyes for tie dying. I will probably use them over the Christmas holiday. The kit I bought comes with 3 squirt bottles of dye (red, blue & yellow) and an empty bottle with mixing instructions to create orange, green and purple.

http://www.jacquardproducts.com/products/kits/tiedyekits.htm

I am pretty sure last year (actually earlier this year - probably Jan. or Feb.) a knitting magazine had an article about dying with Wilton food coloring - and I am kicking myself for not buying it since that brand of food coloring has quite the assortment to choose from. But I did find this:

http://store.carlsonwoollies.com/colorforfiber.html

for the Wilton colors.


Kathleen

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SerMom
Permanent Resident

Canada
6412 Posts

Posted - 11/13/2003 :  2:32:01 PM  Show Profile Send SerMom a Private Message
I've discovered, to my dismay, that those really easy, non-toxic dyes - food colouring, kool aid - only work on animal fibres. They don't work on cotton (I've tried, and tried) or synthetics.

Barbara

"I know we've got one SOMEWHERE"
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of troy
Permanent Resident

USA
2474 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2003 :  07:22:51 AM  Show Profile  Visit of troy's Homepage Send of troy a Private Message
dyes --alone often don't work. most need a chemical tool to open the fiber up, and help it be 'receptive' to the dye compounds. these chemical tools, are called mordants

most animal based fibers are 'easier to open'-- the glug of vinegar you add to koolade/wilton food coloring dying is the mordant.
(most animal fibers--camal hair is extremely dye resisant)

cotton (and most plant based fibers) need different mordants. most are more toxic, or at best, less environmentally friendly.

many are fiber based mordants are 'salts'-- common table salt, or other salts, baking soda-(sodium carbonate- vs. 'table salt' sodium cloride) is a salt.
Alum (as in a styptic pencil) is a salt.. the floride in 'floride toothpastes is a salt (florine and tin=stannus floride=a salt)

many salt are toxic. Common table salt is toxic in large quantities. -even in small quantites it kills plants. -toothpaste is too, (if you ingest a couple of dozen large tubes in one sitting!)

different dyes (organic or non organic coloring matter) are toxic too.
you could ingest a whole can of wilton food coloring, no problem, but many food colors are made toxic too (by the gallon!)

some organic material have 'built in mordants'--tea, which contains tannin (tannic acid) will dye most cottons/fibers. but generaly, dying cotton is harder. mercerizing it (a treatment which is very toxic!) makes cotton easier to dye. -mercerized colors are more vibrant, and color fast.

home dying is always a hit or miss.. its fun to experiment with, but in days past, dye works, like leather works, were on edge or out of town.. no one wanted to live near the toxic chemicals/bad smells then, either!--color(clothing) was often limited to the rich, or to embroidered details (or to breeding sheep with different hues of wool.. russet red, grey, black, white, brown, cream,

some plant dyes were used indigo, for example, but it uses ammonia, and saltto set the dye-- do you want to have a bot of boiling ammonia in your kitchen? i don't!


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BergenKnitter
Chatty Knitter

249 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2003 :  09:49:20 AM  Show Profile Send BergenKnitter a Private Message
quote:

I've discovered, to my dismay, that those really easy, non-toxic dyes - food colouring, kool aid - only work on animal fibres. They don't work on cotton (I've tried, and tried) or synthetics.

Barbara

"I know we've got one SOMEWHERE"



Barbara,
I looked up the tie dye kit I have. The kit will do cotton. The mfg claims the dyes are non-toxic. The kit also comes with washing soda as the mordant. When I googled "washing soda" several sites list washing soda as cleaner that is less toxic than many chemical cleaners.

Kathleen

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SerMom
Permanent Resident

Canada
6412 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2003 :  12:48:55 PM  Show Profile Send SerMom a Private Message
quote:

Barbara,
I looked up the tie dye kit I have. The kit will do cotton. The mfg claims the dyes are non-toxic. The kit also comes with washing soda as the mordant. When I googled "washing soda" several sites list washing soda as cleaner that is less toxic than many chemical cleaners.

Kathleen





Thank you, Kathleen. I've got a tie dye kit on my holiday wish list. I'm definitely having deferred gratification problems with that, but if you saw all the things I have that can be done now, you'd understand the non-urgency. Besides, it's somehting I want to do with the kids, and they're not likely to have time 'till then anyway.

Barbara

"I know we've got one SOMEWHERE"
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BergenKnitter
Chatty Knitter

249 Posts

Posted - 11/14/2003 :  1:18:26 PM  Show Profile Send BergenKnitter a Private Message
Barbara,
I totally understand. I bought the kit to do tie dye with my 5 y/o this summer, we never did get around to it. Last month I bought some yarn that we will dye together, then I will knit and felt it. I will probably get help with the I-cord too. I am always looking for small projects we can do together when school is closed and I think this is a great one.


Kathleen

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Phaedra28
Gabber Extraordinaire

485 Posts

Posted - 11/20/2003 :  12:38:29 PM  Show Profile Send Phaedra28 a Private Message
"non-toxic" is also one of those phrases you really have to be careful with. For example, a bottle of dog shampoo I used years ago which contained oatmeal was labeled with instructions to dispose of the bottle using methods for disposing of "hazardous materials" -- yet fiber reactive procion dyes are labelled "non-toxic if used according to directions" This is like Wittgenstein's logic: make sure you define your boundaries before you ask your questions.

For dyeing cottons, without the dangers of fiber reactive dyes, about the only thing you can do is use a "union dye" like RIT. RIT dyes do work well, for the most part, although you won't get the same range of colors or nuances of tone that procion will give you for cottons. And those Jaquard dyes are not exactly non-toxic, either, especially if you buy the powdered form.

The best advice I can give anyone about dyeing is this: read the instructions carefully, and no matter what other shortcuts you choose to take, wear a dust mask when you work with the powder. Although I blithely dye in my kitchen on a regular basis, I always mix the powdered dyes in the bathroom, in a dust mask, with the door closed, over damp newspaper. The dyes themselves, once mixed, can be used in a kinda cavalier manner, but those powders are quite toxic if inhaled.

One of the things I read when I first started dyeing regularly said that inhaling the dye powder can not only damage the lungs directly, it can also lead to an allergy to dyes. Basically, while your body is making up antibodies to try to minimize the damage to your lungs, it's also preparing to attack any other dye molecules it can find. Imagine not being able to dye anything ever again! That's enough to make me careful as all get out when using those powders.

For dyeing with children, provided you make sure they don't drink the stuff, I'd say you're safe enough playing around with any of the commercial dyes -- acid dyes for animal fibers, procion fiber reactive for plant fibers -- provided you mix the primary color dyes beforehand without "help" and supervise them closely enough to make sure they don't decide to drink the dyes or anything silly like that. For fun, you can put them into safety goggles, which most kids I know find fun, but once the dyes are dissolved in water, they're usually safe enough for careful kids to handle with supervision.

Hope that helps.

Uneasy lies the head that wears the propeller beanie...
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BergenKnitter
Chatty Knitter

249 Posts

Posted - 11/21/2003 :  09:58:02 AM  Show Profile Send BergenKnitter a Private Message
Phaedra,
Thanks for the info. The kit I have has the powder pre-measured in squeeze bottle, so I'm not too worried about the powder. What I really wanted to find was a brand of dye called "Tumble Dye", it will dye cotton comes in a range of colors and is already mixed in spray bottles.

Kathleen

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