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