Category Archives: types of dye

Shortages of Procion Turquoise MX-G and Blue MX-G


My old cat, Isis, on a bedspread dyed with turquoise MX-G, blue MX-G, and yellow MX-8G.

Last month, Dharma Trading Company sent out an important and alarming email about recent dye shortages:

Yes, it is true. The supply of our most important and most beautiful blues, #23 Cerulean Blue and #25 Turquoise, has become problematic. It is even possible that Cerulean Blue won’t be made anymore, due to a lack of the chemical precursors used to make it. This seems to be a little up in the air, so we are keeping our fingers crossed.

#23 Cerulean Blue
We were able to get a couple of shipments of #23 Cerulean before our manufacturer ran out. Right now, we have enough Cerulean Blue to sell up to 25 lbs per customer, but no more. As we run low, we will have to ration it further.

#25 Turquoise
Right now we are having to limit orders of Turquoise to 2 oz. per customer, and are unable to package any more. What we have in stock is it for now. We have a teeny tiny shipment coming in around 12/11 or so, so we hope to be able to be able to sell 2 and 8 oz jars, one per customer, until we get some more. But, we are assured by several importers that they will get more Turquoise, it is just a matter of when.

Mixes containing these colors are all still in stock, but as they run low,
some may have to be rationed as well.

Rest assured that we are doing everything we can to resource these colors for you as we know how important it is to people’s livelihoods. We will keep you informed when any new information comes to light. Thank you for your patience!

As of this writing, Dharma’s website says,

ATTENTION: there is currently a worldwide shortage of 2 dye colors, #23 Cerulean Blue, and #25 Turquoise. For now, we have Cerulean Blue, so at least temporarily, that gorgeous color is in stock, but we have to limit it, and so cannot allow large orders. Turquoise – we currently now have 2 and 8 oz jars, 1st come, 1st serve, 1 per customer please. We are expecting a super huge shipment of Turquoise around mid January. We will keep you updated as we learn more.

Meanwhile, ProChem’s website says,

ADVERTISEMENT
Procion Turquoise MX-G

PLEASE NOTE: MANY BLUES & GREENS CONTAIN TURQUOISE 410 & INTENSE BLUE 406 WHICH HAVE BOTH BEEN ON BACKORDER BY THE MANUFACTURERS OVERSEAS. ONLY LIMITED QUANTITIES ARE AVAILABLE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

ProChemical and Dye currently has both of these dyes in stock, so I’m sure Dharma’s expected big shipment of turquoise will be in stock soon. Whew! Big sigh of relief.

What would we do if these two dyes were to become discontinued altogether? We would have to turn to another class of fiber reactive dyes. There are equally brilliant turquoise and blue dyes available in other types of fiber reactive dyes, though they are a little more expensive than our Procion dyes, and none of them are currently available in the wonderful variety of pre-mixed colors that the Procion dyes are. We won’t have to give up using these glorious colors in our work. This would still be an awful thing to have happen. It would be a tremendous headache for everyone who relies on existing recipes for mixing dye colors. It must be a nightmare for the people who mix colors at Dharma, Prochem, Jacquard, and our other suppliers.

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

Paula

Does the dye/soda ash/water mixture stay “active” indefinitely, or is there a fixed working time?

Name: Rose
Country or region: New York, USA
Message: Hi, Does the dye/water mixture and does the dye/soda ash/water
mixture stay “active” indefinitely or is there a fixed working time for
both? Thank you.

I’m assuming you are talking about Procion MX type fiber reactive dyes; answers will be completely different for other classes of dyes. There are three different questions here: soda ash, dye dissolved in water, and dye dissolved in water with soda ash added.

1. Soda ash alone, no dye mixed, in plain water, stays good indefinitely. It never spoils. Dry soda ash may absorb a little water from the air so that a given weight or volume actually contains less than you might expect. Not a big deal since we tend to use more soda ash than we really need to anyway. Cover the bucket, when you put it away for the day, to reduce evaporation and prevent rain from falling in. You can use a soda ash solution for weeks, even months, after preparing it.

2. Fiber reactive dye plus water alone (no soda ash) lasts only until the dye reacts with the water it’s dissolved in. This process is called hydrolysis. You can keep your dye stock solutions for a week or possibly more, and they’ll still be good, if not even a single drop of soda ash has gotten into them; if you refrigerate them, they will last three times as long. This is assuming you have average water, or use distilled water; alkaline or acidic water will badly shorten the lifespan of reactivity of the dye. Note that different dye colors have different hydrolysis rates, so a mixture of different dyes will shift in hue, as the fastest-reacting members of the mixture go bad!

3. The dye/soda ash/water mixture maintains its strength for only a brief
period of time; it may go bad an hour after the soda ash is added to the
dye! Be completely ready with everything else before you add soda ash to the dye. In high-water-ratio immersion dyeing, do not add soda ash until after the dye has had time to penetrate the fabric, and, for smoothest results, then add the soda ash in three or more parts, stirring for a few minutes after each addition, rather than adding all the soda ash at once. You cannot reuse a fiber reactive dye dyebath.

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

Paula

Pre-reduced indigo: natural versus synthetic

Name: Jen

Country or region: US

Message: I’m doing research on pre-reduced indigo crystals. I’m finding that they’re being called everything from freeze-dried to instant and claims of them being ‘natural’, extract, etc. This flies in the face of what I’ve also been told directly by an importer- if it comes from India it’s all synthetic. Even the stuff one seller is claiming produced in Japan has an import label from India! So you can see confusion.
Any information or insight you’d be nice enough to share is most appreciated.

Hi Jen,

I believe that I’ve NEVER encountered pre-reduced indigo that was not synthetic. Those who wish to use only plant-derived indigo must do more work to reduce their indigo themselves.

I suspect that there is no difference at all between pre-reduced indigos that are listed as being freeze-dried, dried, or instant, merely different ways of describing the same product. Indigo “extracts” appear always to be the normal oxidized form which must be reduced by the dyer before use. Note that pre-reduced indigo is not 100% reduced; the various retailers all specify that their pre-reduced indigo is 60% reduced. The remaining 40%, which is in the oxidized form, is unusable unless the dyer chemically reduces it in the indigo dyeing vat. (Both synthetic indigo vats and natural fermentation indigo vats produce chemical reduction.)

Often a retailer’s advertising copy reads as though their pre-reduced indigo is natural, but if they are both reputable and careful you can see that it is not. For example, Dharma Trading Company, which is good about what claims they make, says:

As an alternative, try this Pre-reduced Indigo. Synthetic Indigo (chemically identical to natural Indigo) has been pre-reduced chemically, then dried, so it dissolves in water right off the bat….This all makes it have a lower environmental impact for the dyer than taking the original natural or synthetic Indigo from start to finish with all the chemicals involved.
(source)

Jacquard Products starts off saying “This natural vat dye exists in plants all over the world”, but concludes clearly with “Jacquard’s indigo is a synthetic organic and comes pre-reduced 60% for unprecedented ease of use.” (source)

“Organic” is a difficult word for the dyer, because an organic chemical is any chemical that contains carbon; it has nothing to do with organic farming. All dyes, whether natural or synthetic, are organic chemicals, aside from a few mineral colors that are not really of interest. However, many dyers mistake claims that a dye is organic, thinking it means it is a plant-derived dye when in fact it is not. Dye sellers sometimes purposefully exploit this confusion.

Jacquard pre-reduced indigo is available through Amazon, as well as other sources; a supplier on Amazon currently selling Jacquard pre-reduced indigo, “The BT Group”, provides misleading information claiming that what they are selling is naturally occurring. There’s an issue with resellers on Amazon, which can post wrong information about their products; it’s likely that The BT Group doesn’t know anything about what they are selling, and merely selected several phrases from the Jacquard copy without paying attention to how they have changed the meaning by omitting a key word. Similarly, Etsy sellers give blatantly false information about whether the pre-reduced indigo dye they sell is from natural sources, when what they are selling is obviously synthetic, given their suppliers.

Earth Guild makes an error, showing instructions for using natural indigo on a page whose title is “PRE-REDUCED INDIGO INSTRUCTIONS”, but I don’t think that the title of a web page amounts to a claim, given that many people who edit web pages don’t even know how to alter the titles of their pages. (source) In corroboration of this interpretation, they have a page on Lanaset dyes with this same webpage title, so it’s just a mistake.

George Weil helpfully says that pre-reduced indigo is used as “an alternative to Natural Indigo”. (source)

There are blogs that have instructions for using pre-reduced indigo which assert that the dye is natural, but in every case it seems that the blogger was insufficiently knowledgeable. Since they’re not selling the dye, they’re not legally liable for their claims in the same way that someone who is selling a pre-reduced indigo is.

If you find any additional information, I will be interested in learning about it!

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

Paula