Is there a good way to SET food coloring in the clothing I want it to be in permanently?

Name: Mary

Message: Tomorrow I'm doing color run where you run through different "stations" where you get bombed with a powder mixed with cornstarch and food coloring. Is there a good way to SET this in the clothing I want it to be in permanently?

No, there is no good way to do what you want to do. You cannot set food coloring in cotton clothing, nor in polyester or rayon. The only clothing fibers that can be permanently dyed with food coloring are protein-based fibers, including wool and other animal fibers, plus (sometimes) nylon because it resembles proteins chemically. This is because food colorings are acid dyes. Acid dyes don't work on cotton. 

The problem with using acid dyes even on nylon or wool or silk is that you have to boil the fiber with the food coloring dye to get it to set, so that's totally impractical for your purposes. You could take 100% natural silk clothing that has been saturated with acid dye, let it dry, wrap it in paper, and steam it, but that is far, far too much work for any quantity of clothing.

The only way to "set" food coloring in cotton clothing is by framing it behind glass to protect it and keep it dry, and never washing it, ever.

See also:

There is no cotton or polyester dye that will work at room temperature that is safe to apply to the skin on purpose. The only dyes that work on cotton at room temperature are fiber reactive dyes like Procion MX dyes in tie-dye kits, but these have not been tested for safety on people, and indigo, but it has to be mixed with caustic lye to dye cotton, so that's even more unsafe, even though you can use indigo in cosmetics. There is no dye that can be used at room temperature for polyester.



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Posted: Saturday - June 15, 2013 at 12:15 PM          

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