How do you remove batik wax from silk without damaging it by boiling?

Name: Harriet


Procion mx fiber reactive cold water dye

Procion MX Dye

cool water dyes
are ideal for batik

When mixed with soda ash, Procion dyes are permanent, colorfast, and very washable. You can easily create a palette of brilliant colors ranging from light pastels to deep, vibrant hues.


Procion mx fiber reactive cold water dye

Soda Ash

Soda ash fixes Procion dyes to cotton, rayon, or silk at room temperature, with no need for hot water that will melt your wax.


Tjanting tools (needles)

Tjanting Wax Pens

These tools are for applying wax in fine lines.


Country or region: UK, Bristol

Message: Hi, I'm wanting to do some batik with silk (to make silk scarves) but I'm worried about how to get the wax out as with silk you cannot boil it and ironing doesn't always get all the wax out. Have you any suggestions to how I can achieve this? 

When "boiling" out batik wax, you don't actually need to get up to boiling temperature. The often-recommended 85°C (or 185°F) limit for heating silk should be hot enough. If you fill the pot with enough water to cover the fabric with room to spare, the wax will float up to the top of the water, as you heat it, long before it's hot enough to boil. In my experience it's easier to "boil" out batik wax if you add real castile soap to the water, instead of detergent; liquid castile soap is very convenient. I let the whole pot cool off before removing the fabric, so as not to pull the fabric through the layer of wax on the top of the pot, sometimes adding ice if I'm in a hurry.

I recommend that you use natural beeswax, instead of the prepackaged batik wax that contains synthetic microcrystalline wax, because the melting point of beeswax is lower, so it's easier to boil out. You can mix beeswax with paraffin wax to get the desired amount of "crackle". Dharma Trading Company lists the melting temperature for beeswax as 142 to 149°F (62°C to 65°C), for paraffin wax as 145°F (63°C), and for microcrystalline wax as 175°F (80°C). (Microcrystalline wax is also called "sticky wax"; it's a less expensive substitute for beeswax.)

As an alternative, instead of immersing your dyed silk in boiling water to remove the wax, it's very common to steam-set the dyes used in silk painting. (This is suitable for true dyes, but not for fabric paints, which should be set with dry heat.) If you wrap the wax in plenty of unprinted newsprint paper, the paper absorbs the wax as it melts during the steaming process, at the same time that the steam drives the reaction between the dye and the silk, setting the dyes.

Another alternative is to use processed soy wax instead of traditional beeswax and paraffin wax. A huge advantage to soy wax is that it can be washed out with hot tap water and detergent. (I advise hand-washing the wax out in a bucket so that you can be sure you've used enough detergent to solubilize the wax; if you don't dissolve all of the melted wax, it might harden inside your pipes, resulting in an expensive repair bill.) Soy wax is similar to batik wax in how it works. It's important to get the wax as hot as you would ordinary batik wax to apply it, and it's important to test the stuff out on a quick small project first to see whether you like it. The edges of soy wax designs erode more quickly in the dyebath than the edges of beeswax and paraffin.

There are also other resists that you can use instead of wax, water soluble resists, but they don't produce the cracks seen in batik, and they are less suitable for immersion dyeing since the tend to dissolve in the dye bath. They work well if you apply the dye directly, in small enough quantities that you do not wash away the water-soluble resist.

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

Posted: Monday - January 23, 2012 at 11:52 AM          

Follow this blog on twitter here.

Home Page ]   [ Hand Dyeing Top ]   [ Gallery Top ]   [ How to Dye ]   [ How to Tie Dye ]   [ How to Batik ]   [ Low Water Immersion Dyeing ]   [ Dip Dyeing ]   [ More Ideas ]   [ About Dyes ]   [ Sources for Supplies ]   [ Dyeing and  Fabric Painting Books ]   [ Links to other Galleries ]   [ Links to other informative sites ] [ Groups ] [ FAQs ]   [ Find a custom dyer ]   [ search ]   [ contact me ]  

© 1999-2011 Paula E. Burch, Ph.D. all rights reserved