I want to dye the plastic casing on my gas leaf blower. What kind of dye do I need, and what would be the dyeing process?

Name: Corey


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Vinyl "dye" is not dye at all, but instead a paint made by suspending insoluble pigments in a mixture of petroleum-based solvents such as toluene and butane.


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Message: I have an unusual project I’m sure you have never been hit with. I want to dye the plastic casing on my gas leaf blower: yes, a gas leaf blower. I have no clue what type of plastic it is manufactured of and I have been all over the internet trying to figure out how to determine what type it is made of. Currently it is black; I would like to dye it yellow. But if that will not work I would settle for dyeing it black. What kind of dye do I need and what would be the dying process? I have considered plastic paint, however, I am afraid when gasoline over spills it will cause the paint to bubble. And I am not sure it will even stick. Any info is much appreciated.

It's true that I've never heard of anyone's dyeing the casing of a leaf blower, but people have tried to dye many other plastic objects. Sometimes you really want a device to be a different color than you can buy. For some projects, the results have been excellent.

The primary problem in your case is that you cannot dye anything that is black to any color other than black. Every single kind of dye is transparent, and will not show up at all when applied to a black surface. Only pigments can be used to create a lighter color on a dark surface. There is no dye that can be used successfully to turn black to another color.

Your best bet would be to use a special plastic paint, Krylon brand Fusion spray paint. In my experience it lasts far longer on plastic than other paints, though areas most subject to wear will eventually get small chips in the paint, requiring repainting. It works on most types of plastic. A special benefit of this paint, as compared to dyes, is that it is truly opaque. You can apply a lighter color on top of a darker one, and yet get the color you want. Whenever you use dye on anything, previous colors will inevitably show through clearly. I don't know what effect spilled gasoline will have on this type of paint. I think occasional touch-ups with the same Fusion spray paint might take care of any damage, at least reasonably well. Perhaps by buying a good gasoline funnel you could avoid most spills.

Vinyl "dye" is a similar form of plastic spray paint available in automotive stores; like Krylon Fusion, it is a paint, not a dye, as it consists of pigments suspended in a combination of several different toxic organic solvents, but unlike most spray paints it does soak into the plastic (though only some types of plastic) for a little distance below the surface, reducing the apparent damage from later scratching or chipping. I don't know how the performance of vinyl dye compares to that of Krylon Fusion, and, of course, since we do not know what type of plastic your gas blower is made of, it is impossible to judge in advance how well it might work on it. Not all paints are opaque; any paint that is transparent will suffer the same problem as dye, being unable to cover a dark color. You can usually tell from the label whether a particular paint is supposed to be able to cover darker colors.

Dyeing plastic is best done by adding an insoluble pigment (rather than dye) to the liquid plastic before it is poured or extruded into its final form. Some dyers have experienced success with dyeing certain forms of light-colored plastic, long after manufacture, by immersing the plastic object in a large pot of water, along with the correct choice of dye for the particular plastic, plus any required chemicals. For example, nylon plastic can be dyed by boiling it with acid dye or all-purpose dye, along with a mild acid such as vinegar, which is important for the proper application of acid dyes. Polyester plastic, including anything marked with the recycle logo with a number "1", can be dyed by immersing it in a large pot with a special dye for synthetics that is called disperse dye, along with a horrible-smelling and somewhat toxic carrier chemical, then boiling at a full hard boil for half an hour or longer. However, even if it were a light and therefore dyeable color, I very much doubt that you would be able to fit the housing for your gas blower into an ordinary cooking pot, especially one that you would be willing to never again use for the preparation of food, after you complete the dyeing project, and buying a suitably enormous pot would cost more than a new gas blower. (Dyeing pots should not be used for cooking food.)

So, go ahead and try the Krylon Fusion spray paint. If you want to color only part of the blower, either temporarily remove the part you wish to recolor from the rest of the blower, if possible, or tape several layers of paper or card stock over any areas you want to protect, first testing a bit of your masking material with some of the paint to make sure that the paint does not tend to bleed through.

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Posted: Saturday - December 29, 2012 at 11:23 AM          

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