SODIUM ACETATE is used as a pH BUFFER.
The Lanasets take best at a pH of 4.5; they'll work up to 5.0; but they
pretty much stop at 5.5. Even if you establish a pH of 4.5 at the beginning,
by the end of your dyeing pH may drift up towards neutral. If it rises
as high as 5.0, adding Sodium Acetate the next time will probably hold
it in range. If your pH stays below 5.0 you don't need the Sodium Acetate
(although it won't do any harm).
ACETIC ACID is the acid of choice
for the Lanasets. It's good with wool and silk, it's relatively cheap,
and is less hazardous than some of the alternatives. Chemical supply
houses have Acetic Acid at concentrations of 100% (called glacial),
80%, 56% (most common), 28%, or 14%. Regular grocery store DISTILLED
WHITE VINEGAR is the same chemical at a 5% concentration.
Whenever a dye recipe calls for 56% Acetic Acid, you can substitute
Vinegar: use 11 times as much as the recipe calls for, and reduce the
Water by an appropriate amount. 56% Acetic Acid is a harsh chemical.
It's expensive to ship, and therefore costly in small quantities. If
you use ten gallons of Vinegar in a month, consider using 56% Acetic
Acid. But Vinegar is safer, easier to get, and cheaper in small quantities.
In our recipe for a pound of Fiber, it's the difference between using
two tablespoons of a possibly dangerous substance and two cups of an
almost harmless one.
STOCK SOLUTIONS are concentrated dye
liquors, prepared in advance of dyeing. They are handy in classrooms,:
one person can prepare the dye for everybody. And handy if you dye every
day, because you can do a week's weighing in one shot. But use of stock
solutions can mean that you dissolve more dye than you need, which you
have to store, or discard. It is not a more accurate method—just consistent—only
as good as your initial weighing. In fact precise metering of liquids
can be harder than precise weighing of powders (a good syringe, incidentally,
is better than a pipette). We cover both methods: dye powder and stock
solution. Use whichever is better for you.
Ciba-Giegy (the maker of Lanaset Dyes) believes
that the leveling agent Albegal SET is not suitable for home/studio
use. Glaubers Salts have always been an adequate substitute.
Note 1: The quantities on the right are an analog to Recipe #1 (with
its pound of Fiber)—the ratios and percentages on the left are the key
Note 2: Water/Fiber ratio is also called the "liquor ratio"—it
can vary from 5:1 up to 50:1, depending on the work being dyed—25:1
is a reasonable middle for wool.
Note 3: *The Dye, and Glaubers Salts are expressed as a percentage
of the "weight of fiber" (WOF).
Note 4: The Acid and pH Buffer are meant to bring the dyebath to a
pH of 4.5; they have nothing to do with the WOF and are expressed in
grams/liter of dyebath Water—much will depend on starting pH.
MEASURING OUT DYE Method One: STOCK SOLUTION
To make 1% stock solutions (which make later arithmetic easier),
weigh out the amount of dye you want (depending on how many pounds of
fiber you want to dye to what depth of shade). Do this for each color
you need (the amounts need not be the same). The object now is to dissolve
each pile in exactly 100 times its weight of water. Multiply the weight
of each pile, in grams, by 100 to get the weight of water you need—which
is also the volume of water in cubic centimeters or in milliliters (thanks
to the metric system)
Paste the dye with hot (boiling) water, a known amount,
in a small cup or beaker. Thin with 2-3 times the first volume of water
to get a liquid, pour into a larger container (be sure no powder is
left behind, pour back and forth if necessary) then add the rest of
the water (warm is okay), stir thoroughly. Your stock solutions are
ready. Each cc of solution holds .01 gram of dye. If you want half a
gram of dye, you just dispense 50 cc of stock solution. 1% solutions
are fairly standard, but you can make a 1.5% or 3% or 5% if you wish
to: 20 times the weight of water, for instance, gives a 5% solution.
The stock solution method makes color mixing easier,
especially if you expect to want to get the same mix another time. It
also is very handy for dyeing graduated shades of a color—just use graduated
amounts of your stock solution, keeping everything else the same.
MEASURING OUT DYE Method One: DYE POWDER
The dry method is simpler, because you don't need to fuss with water
weights, but you must keep the dye powders from getting loose. Keeping
each color or mix in a separate weigh boat can help a lot. Pre-measuring
the exact contents of each dyepot you intend to do is even easier to
keep up with. When the time comes, you take each little pile of powder,
paste and dissolve it (as above), and pour it in. In fact you can convert
all your powders to pasted and dissolved liquids at this stage if you
want to. Which gives you the mechanical advantages of stock solutions
without the making and metering. The half cup or so of water per 3 gallon
dyebath will not affect your liquor ratio perceptibly.
Take a suitable dyepot (enamelled or stainless steel) of a suitable
size (3-4 gallons in our example above) and fill it with the amount
if Water you need (25 times the weight of Fiber to be dyed). Lukewarm
Water is best. If you want to be fussy, deduct now the small amounts
of Water that will enter as Dye stock solution, as the extra liquid
in Vinegar: maybe 2-3 cups total. Sodium Acetate and Glaubers Salts
dissolve easily—simply add the appropriate weight of powder and stir.
Also stir in Vinegar. Stir until everything is evenly in solution. Check
the pH with some narrow range acid test paper. If the pH is still not
low enough, add Vinegar 2 tablespoons at a time until it is at 4.5.
If the pH is too low (if you have extremely acid water), add non-sudsing
ammonia 1 tablespoon at a time until it's right (and cut the amount
of Vinegar you add to future dyebaths appropriately). The ideal temperature
at this stage is 120° F—if you are way below, warm it up a little.
Put the material you are dyeing into the dyebath and leave to soak for
ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the work and add the dye from your stock solution or batch mix.
Re-enter the fiber and stir gently. Leave to soak for ten minutes stirring
occasionally. The dye will circulate through the fiber, but there is
no take-up at this temperature. Still about 120° F.
Check your thermometer, you want the temperature to climb gradually
from 120° F to a simmer (200° F) over 30-45 minutes. Reduce
the heat if it's going too fast, increase if it's going too slowly.
Stir occasionally, but very gently. If you are especially concerned
about level results, hold the temperature at 170° F for about 10-15
minutes. There is take-up at this temperature, but it is still slow.
Bring the temperature slowly the rest of the way to a simmer, just under
a boil. (You can boil wool if you are very gentle.) Let it simmer for
30-45 minutes, or until exhaust (water is clear, all the color is in
the work). With silk, do not let the temperature go over 190° F:
make that your top temperature, held for 30-45 minutes. Stir infrequently,
very gently. Be sure to stir from top to bottom as well as from side
to side, so that the top, middle and bottom layers of fiber change places.
This will prevent heat from being trapped on the bottom of the pot and
causing uneven take-up. Turn off the heat, and let the pot cool gradually
to room temperature.
Remove the work from the dyepot and wash in warm soapy water. Very little
color should come out. Rinse in clear water. Let the work air-dry (you
can spin out some of the excess water in a washing machine).
Check the final pH of the dyebath. It should be 5.0 or below. If not,
you will either have to add more acid in the beginning, or part way
through. Before discarding the dyebath, sweeten it up with any mild
alkali so it's close to neutral. Household ammonia, washing soda, baking
soda, an amount roughly equivalent to the amount of vinegar you started
If you have stock solutions, find containers and a place for them that
is away from light, heat, air. Sealed jars in a refrigerator is best,
if you have the room. Remember, when you come to use them again to make
sure they're still fully dissolved. Similarly stow all dye powders and
assist chemicals: tightly shut opaque airtight containers (refrigeration
is not necessary). Clean up any spilled liquids or powders, washing
with soap and water is enough for all chemicals used here.
3-4% is a deep shade for all colors but Black. A really deep Black may
take 6%. The Gold settles out more than the others, stir or shake or
swirl. Silk dyebaths should not go over 190° F, otherwise treat
the same as wool in the above recipes. A fortunate quality of the Lanasets
is that all colors are roughly the same intensity, which simplifies
mixing. You can probably mix the Lanasets with another Acid Wool Dye
that works in the same temperature and pH ranges: test to be sure.
Use normal dyeing precautions. Watch out for heat,
for powders (don't get on skin, in mouth or nose or eyes), for solutions
(keep off skin, don't ingest, don't splatter); for fumes (don't breathe
in, keep from skin, eyes). Be careful, clean up as you go, clean thoroughly
at the end. Respirator masks, rubber gloves, goggles, aprons: use what
seems appropriate to you. The dyes are nontoxic, the assist chemicals
are supposed to be; you're using a little more vinegar than you would
for salad dressing, a lot less than for making pickles. But don't expose
irreplaceable parts unnecessarily, your own or others'. Ventilation,
cleanable surfaces, old clothes, no cooking utensils.
COMMON SENSE, PAY ATTENTION