I would like to make home made natural dye fixative.  Vinegar? Rubbing Alcohol?

Name: Lisa
Message: My question is; I would like to make home made natural dye fixative.  Vinegar? Rubbing Alcohol?  I mostly use procions, and plain fiber reactive (Dharma brand) dyes and go through way too much of the dye fix.  Also, I am in to natural remedies and the like. Any information or suggestions.  I have searched the net with several different search terms but mostly come up with hair dye stuff.


Soda Ash

Procion MX Fiber Reactive Cold Water Dye
Procion MX
Fiber Reactive
Cold Water Dye

You want an all-natural fixative for synthetic dyes, is that correct? That's something I can help with. You don't make it yourself, but instead buy it from a swimming pool supply store or hardware store. What you want is pure sodium carbonate, Na2CO3, also known as soda ash, and sold under brand names such as "pH Up" or "pH Increaser". Check the label carefully for sodium carbonate; do not accept sodium BIcarbonate, which is baking soda.

Sodium carbonate works extremely well as a fixative for fiber reactive dyes, including Procion MX dyes as well as Cibacron F, Drimarene K, and Remazol type dyes. The stuff we buy at the hardware store is exactly the same stuff that Dharma sells as "Soda Ash Fixer", but buying locally can save a lot of money in shipping.

We usually buy 5 pound jugs of sodium carbonate at the hardware store. I like the jugs because they are easy to handle, keep the powder dry, and have child-proof caps. You can also buy larger quantities, but be sure not to buy more than you can keep dry, because if water gets into it you will have difficulty knowing how much to measure out. Soda ash will stay good forever, but cannot be stored in used milk jugs, because the plastic used to make milk jugs is weak. 

Washing soda contains the same chemical as soda ash, but with a lot of water molecules included in the dry powder, so it weighs three times as much. We used to advise against the use of washing soda, because Arm & Hammer used to put optical brighteners in it, which are not desired in dyeing. Now it appears that they have gone back to the all-natural sodium carbonate decahydrate, so you can use washing soda if it's handier for you to buy; just use three times as much as you would of the pure sodium carbonate.

The only substitutes for soda ash as dye fixer are high-pH chemicals, such as trisodium phosphate or sodium hydroxide. Soda ash is the best choice, however. Note that sodium carbonate is of no use in dyeing with natural dyes, nor with all-purpose dyes. For more information, see: What is soda ash, and what's it for in dyeing?.

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Posted: Tuesday - October 24, 2006 at 09:46 AM          

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