Monthly Archives: March 2016

Where can we order Vat dyes in Germany?

Name: Karin
Country or region: Germany
Message: Hello and sorry for disturbing, we want to order Vat Dyes and didn’t know where. Can you help us?
Thanks and best regards

Hi Karen,

Vat dyes are not as difficult to find as Naphthol dyes (yesterday’s question). A good retail source for vat dyes in Europe is Granat Farvekompagniet in Denmark. Look for their page of Granat Kypefarver/Batikfarver.

Vat dyes are widely available in many countries, including countries in Africa in which other classes of dye can be difficult to find. North American dyesellers from which vat dyes can be ordered include Aljo Manufacturing, PRO Chemical & Dye, and Maiwa Handprints. In Australia, Batik Oetoro sells Indanthren Vat dyes. (More information for each of these companies is available on my page, Sources for Dyeing Supplies Around the World.)

Vat dyes are not as suitable for beginners as Fiber Reactive dyes, but they are neither difficult nor dangerous to use, assuming normal safety precautions with safety goggles and gloves. The dyes are usually purchased in an insoluble oxidized form, and must be chemically reduced in order to solubilize them and get them inside the textile fiber; when the fiber is then exposed to air again, the dyes re-oxidize and become insoluble, so that the dye inside the fiber becomes fixed in place.

Vat dyes are particularly interesting for printing on fabric that has been dyed with dischargeable dyes, such as Remazol dyes or most Procion dyes. The same chemicals that are used to solubilize and reduce the vat dye will remove the existing color from the dye on the fabric, allowing the brightness of the vat dye in your design to contrast sharply with the background color. Granat Kypefarver/Batikfarver’s range of Vat dyes has been especially selected for being suitable for illumination dyeing on backgrounds made with Fiber Reactive dye.

Another useful property of Vat dyes is that most of them are less susceptible to fading than other types of dye. Not all Vat dyes are equally light resistant, but many are significantly more light-resistant than Fiber Reactive dyes or Direct dyes.

A specialized category of Vat dyes is light-sensitive pre-reduced Vat dye, which can be used to make single-color photographic prints on fabric. There are two brands of this amazing product available, with slightly different colors. Jacquard Products makes SolarFast light sensitive dyes, in fourteen different colors, and Lumi makes Inkodye, available in nine colors. Unlike sun-printed fabric paints such as Setacolor, the light-sensitive dye does not change the feel of the fabric, and it wears better than fabric paint since the dye penetrates the fiber. Since it is actually visible light that fixes the dye, rather than the heat from the infrared in sunlight as for fabric paints, inkjet transparencies with photographs or drawings can be used to make quite detailed designs.

For more information about Vat dyes and their use, see my page “About Vat Dyes”.

(Please help support this web site. Thank you.)


looking for Naphthol dyes in Europe

Name: Pascal

Country or region: Switzerland

Message: Hi Paula,

Thank you so much for all those information about dyeing.
Very useful website.
I am looking for Naphthol dyes in Europe but it seems quite difficult to found them. I checked also the links your put on “where to buy dye & supplies” but nobody of them seems to have naphthol. May I ask you from where you get them?

Thank you in advance for any further help or advice!



Surface Design for Fabric

by Richard
Proctor and
Jennifer Lew

This book
instructions for using Naphthol dyes to dye
cotton fabric.

Buy from

Hi Pascal,

I have never seen a retail source for artists and hand dyers to buy Naphthol dyes in Europe or North America. I have wondered whether this is because of their toxicity and ease of absorption through the skin. I believe that Naphthol dyes should be used only in a properly equipped lab, never in a kitchen or the sort of studio in which people bring in their lunch.

You can order Naphthol dyes internationally from Batik Oetoro in Australia. I don’t know if there are any local restrictions on the importation or use of these dyes in Europe. Batik Oetoro does ship internationally. See the Batik Oetoro “Naphtol & Diazo” page. For more information about Naphthol dyes, see my page, About Naphthol dyes.

If you do order these dyes, I would love to hear about your experiences with them.

(Please help support this web site. Thank you.)


For polyester, do you know anything about Rit DyeMore (for synthetics)?

Name: Danielle
Location: California
Message: For polyester, do you know anything about Rit DyeMore (for synthetics)?


Rit DyeMore
Liquid Dye
for Synthetics

Dyes polyester and cotton-poly blends, acrylic, acetate and nylon by stove top dye method.

Buy from


iDye Poly

iDye Poly dyes polyester and other synthetic fabrics. 16 colors including black!

buy from

Rit DyeMore, introduced only a year ago, contains a type of dye called disperse dye, which can be used to dye synthetic fibers including polyester, nylon, and acrylic. Disperse dye is the only type of dye that works on polyester. Rit All-Purpose dye cannot be used to dye polyester.

Alternative brands of disperse dyes produced for home use include two lines sold by PRO Chemical & Dye, PROSperse Disperse Dyes and PRO Transperse Transfer printing dyes, and iDye Poly, which is made by Jacquard Products. iDye Poly is available in sixteen different colors, and PROsperse in twelve. You can order PROSPerse dyes directly from PRO Chemical & Dye, while iDye Poly is sold by many suppliers of art materials, including Dharma Trading Company, and, if you’re lucky, some local fabric and art supply stores. Another source of disperse dye is Aljo Manufacturing in New York, which sells two different lines of disperse dyes, Aljo Acetate-Nylon dyes and Aljo Polyester disperse dyes. The Aljo Polyester disperse dyes are available in twenty-two colors. (For contact information for these suppliers, see “Sources for Dyeing Supplies Around the World”.)

It is impossible to tell which specific dyes are contained in the different colors of Rit DyeMore, which is not surprising because this is nearly always the case for dyes that are sold under the Rit name. (The only exception is the colorless ultraviolet-blocking Sun Guard dye.) They are probably among the lower-energy type of disperse dye, which require less heat or assisting carrier molecules, but which transfer more quickly to polyester from a dyebath than higher-energy disperse dyes.

I am not sure, but it seems possible that Rit DyeMore formulas may also contain direct dyes, in addition to the disperse dyes for polyester. Direct dye is for dyeing cotton, rayon, and silk. The Rit dye company appears to advise that DyeMore will also dye cotton or rayon, which we know that disperse dye is not good for, though they do say DyeMore will not dye wool. Disperse dye can stain cotton, but does not bond to it well enough to make it suitable for use as a cotton dye.

It’s important to note that there is no true black in the Rit DyeMore line of dyes. The darkest color in the range is “graphite”, which is a dark gray. For a true black on polyester, you should consider one of the other brands of disperse dye.

The colors available in the Rit DyeMore line are named as follows: Daffodil Yellow, Sand Stone (tan), Apricot Orange, Racing Red, Super Pink, Royal Purple, Sapphire Blue, Kentucky Sky, Peacock Green, Frost Gray, and Graphite. If the colors available in the DyeMore line do not match what you need for a specific project, they are not the best choice for mixing different colors. The yellow has too much orange in it to be an ideal mixing primary, and there is no pure cyan. I would recommend one of the other brands of disperse dye for color mixing.

Polyester requires high heat to accept disperse dyes. There are two ways you can supply this: either by boiling the fabric in a dyebath, which is a large pot of water with the dye and auxiliary chemicals, or using the dye to make designs on paper, which can then be transferred by ironing them on. Disperse dyes that have been selected to be suitable for the latter method are often labeled as “transfer dyes”. Rit DyeMore is intended only for use in the dyebath method.

Dyeing polyester with Rit DyeMore requires heating the fabric in the dye on the stovetop at a minimum of 180°F (82°C), preferably closer to boiling (212°F or 100°C), for at least thirty minutes. (Instructions are available at the Rit website). Other materials such as acetate and acrylic will generally take this sort of dye with less heating. The cooking pot used must be large enough for the material to move quite freely in the water, unless you are interested in a non-uniform “crumple dye” effect. As with all textile dyes that are not originally sold as food coloring, the Rit DyeMore dyes should not be used in cookware that you plan to reuse for food preparation, as some of the dyes or auxiliary chemicals may be toxic or carcinogenic when eaten. Aluminum pots are not recommended because the salt in the DyeMore mixture will tend to cause corrosion to the aluminum, but if you have an inexpensive aluminum pot that you don’t want to save for kitchen use, it’s worth trying. Stainless steel pots and enameled pots are the best choice; enameled pots are less expensive than stainless steel, but if they become chipped inside can contaminate the dyes with iron, resulting in dull colors.

One bottle of Rit DyeMore should be sufficient to dye one to two pounds of fabric, in three gallons of water in a sixteen-quart pot. Using a smaller cooking pot will result in less uniform colors. When dyeing a dark color, double the amount of dye used.

Comparison of costs: as is typical of Rit dyes, the DyeMore line is quite dilute, compared to other dyes, which makes it more expensive than would appear at first glance; the bottle contains more water than anything else, just as Rit Powder Dye is mostly salt and detergent. One seven-ounce bottle of Rit DyeMore costs $5, or about nine dollars on Amazon, and will dye one to two pounds of fabric. One small fourteen-gram packet of Jacquard iDye Poly costs $3.79 and will dye two to three pounds of fabric. PROsperse dye is more concentrated; while four grams of it is sufficient for a medium shade, and eight grams for a dark shade, fifteen grams costs only $2.49 (plus shipping) on the PRO Chemical & Dye website, and bulk quantities are available at a steep discount (e.g., four ounces, or 120 grams, for fourteen dollars).

Rit DyeMore, like Jacquard iDye Poly, is convenient for the beginning dyer who does not want to measure out salt or vinegar or other auxiliary chemicals. Nothing needs to be added to the DyeMore recipe, except for water and fabric. The formulation probably contains unspecified auxiliary chemicals known as dye carriers, which help polyester to accept dye without requiring temperatures well above boiling. iDye Poly contains a dye carrier chemical in a separate packet within the iDye Poly package; it should be omitted when dyeing synthetics other than polyester, such as acetate or acrylic, as it is not needed for them. Some dye carrier chemicals are rather toxic and smelly, and all should be used only with good ventilation. Be sure to keep at least a window open when dyeing polyester; better to have an outward-facing fan in one window, and an inward-facing fan in another. The Rit DyeMore MSDS [PDF] is uninformative, as it is the same one supplied for Rit All-Purpose Liquid dye, which contains entirely different dye chemicals.

It is a fine thing that Rit has introduced polyester dyes, because this may make them more accessible to more people, but the requirement to obtain a very large cooking pot for use with dyes, and not with food, makes immersion dyeing polyester an expensive project for the beginning dyer. Dyeing cotton with fiber reactive dyes requires much less investment, since they can be used at room temperature with plastic containers. Other brands of disperse dye cost significantly less than DyeMore per pound of fabric, and are available in colors that have been selected to be better for color mixing.

(Please help support this web site. Thank you.)