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Wool Dying.


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Wool Dying



No I havent finaly lost my mind, I`m doing this for my dear old Mother, she`s into carding and spinning wool and making things, and since she knows I have plenty of chems, she asked me to synth a few dyes, she`s 60 the end of this year and Finaly Trusts me with chems (I`m 40 next year!) shocked.gif yeah it took a long a time!


so anyway, I have 15 different colors already but need to concentrate more on Reds, Purples/Violets, a few more Blues and some grey shades.


thus far all reactions have been Water based and I`m still open to more!

and also Cold water too.


denatured alc (methylated spririts) I haven`t tried yet, so fire away.


I`m basicly after novel colors that are simple to make and idealy metal salt based, or at least easily obtainable orgo based.


WHEN (he says HAHA) I get my cam server up and running again, I`ll send a pic of the samples I have, there really are some Fantastic colors to be had!


silver nitrate and gold chloride make a few less interesting ones than I`de hoped for, but Chlorophil or tartrazine are good, as is potassium hexacyano ferrate and feSO4

the latter looks a bit like belly button fluff color, and blends in perfectly with my faded levis.


a Very Odd thing though KMnO4 soln makes the wool jet black!

not a deep X color that LOOKS black, but 100% Pure black, even under a microscope.

however it Does denature the wool a little and make it brittle, so any good Black ideas would be welcome too.


any workable ideas (chems permitting) Are welcome:-)

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Dyeing fabrics is one thing, but making the dye fast is another thing. E.g. the blue of potassium ferricyanide and FeSO4 is not fast at all. It will quickly degrade in the mildly alkaline conditions of washing. Try adding a mildly alkaline solution to the Prussian blue. It will become light brown fairly quickly.


IIRC azo dyes are among the better, suited for adding colors to fabric. These can be made from aniline and its derivatives, together with nitrite salts (e.g. NaNO2).


Wouldn't it be nice to use natural colors? One natural color, which comes to my mind, which is fairly fast as well is the yellow color of turmeric (a.k.a. curcuma). This color is really bright and adheres to the fibres very well. Just try this with some white cotton or better, wool.

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I`ve tried the turmeric dye, it works, and I also did a version in KOH soln to get an orange(ish) color.

the nicest yellow I got from silver iodide though.

I also have 100% pure powdered Chlorophil, that makes good greens, esp when you add Ammonia afterwards.

I get a fantastic grey/green from tetramine copper (II) sulphate also.


as for the prussian blue, is there anyway to stabilise it or fix it with a mordant?

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There are almost no bright and reliable colors for cloth that are based on inorganic salts. Using plants has the same problem. Breakthrough in dyeing industries was discovery of coal-tar dyes. These were various compounds containing one or more benzene ring (coal-tar was major source of benzene in these days).


You, too, need to prepare organic dyestuffs if you want to get beautiful and reliable results. Most of practical organic chemistry books contain some sample synths. Problem is that good organic chemisry setup is needed for this and you have to deal with some very toxic precursors.

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Raivo is right, inorganic salts are not the best choice for coloring/dyeing. The prussian blue is very good and stable in paints, i.e. it very well withstands (sun)light. But it is not stable towards even mildly alkaline conditions, so washing is out of the question with this color.

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that`s a real pity, it`s a very nice color too.


I`m going to have to get some recipes that use the organic chems I already have, I think 2,4,6 trinitrophenol will be a good start, maybe a dinitro version too.

I`ll have to look into this Azo type dye also.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Try this, fill a beaker with water and add an excess of baking soda, stir well. Then electrolyze it with a 9 volt battery and copper wire, after a little while the positive wire will start to break down and the water will turn blue, you can use the copper hydroxide as a die. If you add enough soda and let it go long enough it will start turning green.

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No, this blue stuff or green stuff is not suitable as a dye. It is quite unstable on heating and also will dissolve on washing the fabric.


In order for a compound to be suitable as a dye for fabric, it needs to have adidtional properties besides having a nice color. It also needs to form some stable connection with the fabric and it needs to be fast (capable of withstanding light, washing conditions and wear).

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is there any Pretreatment that can be done to the wool prior, to make it more suscepible to dye adherance?


I`ve tried a H2O2 + potassium percarbonate. makes it much Whiter, would this treatement work?

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