I have been using acid dyes for many years to dye wool, silk and other protein fibres. I used to use the CIBA brand of acid dyes but I can no longer find them. So I went on a search for other acid dyes that work in a similar fashion. After much trial and error, I have located a range of dyes that I am happy with.
These dyes are an industrial strength acid dye that has low environmental impact.
The dyes come in a powder form and can be an irritant to your nose and throat as they are a very fine powder. So I find it best to mix the dye into a stock solution when you first purchase them. This is easily done by making the dye into a paste with cold water, and then adding 1 litre (or quart) of water. The dye stock must be heated to +80 degrees C to dissolve the dye. Once the dye is dissolved, pour the stock solution into a Mason or Kilner jar and it is ready to use. The dye stock will safely last for 6-12 months. I have some dye stock that has lasted me +2 years.
To use the dye, add some vinegar or citric acid to your dye pot filled with water. I always use a pH tester to check the acidity of the dyebath. These dyes work best when the pH is between 3-4. A lower pH can cause the wool to become harsh, much the same as a high pH can do to wool.
To dye a strong colour, I add a tablespoon of dye stock to the dyebath, mix the solution and heat the dyebath to +60 degrees C and add wetted wool or silk. It is best if the yarn has been thoroughly soaked in water first, in order to get an even colour. For stronger colour, add more dye. To get lighter shades add less dye.
In order to mix colours, you can add one or more of the dye stock colours to the dyepot. You will need to experiment to see what colours you can create.
I don’t like to waste dyes so I never throw out the dye solutions but reuse them until all of the dye has exhausted and the water is clear. If you can’t complete all your dye work on the same day, the dyes can be kept and reused for several days. Sometimes a bit of mould may develop on top of the dye solution. This is caused by the vinegar that has been added to the dye solution. You can safely wipe this off with a paper towel and continue using the dye solution until exhausted.
If you need to dispose of the dyes, it is best to pour them into the sewage system where the dye is removed by adsorption onto the activated sludge at the local treatment plant and so does not enter the environment.
I now have these dyes available for sale as a dye kit. The kit will include 10 grams of each dye colour. This is sufficient dye to make 1 litre of each dye in a 1% dye stock solution.
The colours included in the dye kit are the 3 prime colours (Magenta, Cyan, Yellow) and 2 Worker colours that enable you to make different shades of red and blue more easily.
Magenta – Rhodamine Acid Red 52
Cyan – Acid Green 25
Yellow – Tartrazine E102
Worker Red – Acid Red 57
Worker Blue – Acid Blue 62
Total Price per dye kit: £35.00
I have MSDS sheets available on request.