you can't dye cotton with Kool Aid

Name: Deb
Message: I am trying to dye with kool-aid and am using tights that are a cotton/lycra blend. I realize the cotton will not hold the color but will the lycra? I need them to be bright yellow for duck legs. Will I use vinegar? Please advise.

Instructions for dyeing with Kool-Aid, such as the How can I tie dye with Kool-aid? page from the FAQ section of my website, specify that you cannot use it to dye anything but animal fibers or nylon, but your tights contain no animal fibers and no nylon. This is not a good idea for a project! Vinegar won't help, because acid dyes, such as Kool-Aid, will not dye cotton OR lycra even if you add vinegar. Plus, acid dyes require heat to work on even animal fibers.

If you are using acid dye on cotton, you might as well be using watercolor paint. It will never attach to the fiber, and, if you don't wash it out, it will bleed all over the legs of whomever is wearing the tights.

On the other hand, it *is* safe to apply food coloring to the skin, since food coloring is safe to eat, so having the Kool-Aid run onto the skin not a bad thing in the way that letting all-purpose dye run onto the legs would be. Perhaps you should just paint the legs of whoever is going to wear the costume with food coloring! I had a costume like that once.

If you want to dye cotton/lycra, the best advice is to buy some decent dye. There are many different companies that are good sources of high-quality, safe, fiber reactive dye, listed on my web site under Sources for Supplies. If you were to buy all-purpose dye, you would have to simmer the tights in the dye for an hour at close to a boil, which is not at all good for Lycra. It might fall to shreds. In contrast, fiber-reactive dye can be used at room temperature, and, if you follow the instructions, and wash out all excess dye afterwards, it will not bleed onto the wearer. Tie-dye kits are generally good.

Alternatively, you could buy some nylon tights and dye them with acid dye, even Kool-Aid, since that is a form of acid dye.

Posted: Monday - September 27, 2004 at 12:27 PM          

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