can I reuse the dye water - procion immersion
  • I am familiar with the dying process (soak in soda ash, add fabric to dyed water/salt water(i have to look at my notes if i did this for procion), add soda ash to the dyed water, wash). I have dyed shirts sucessfully before.

    Im looking to dye my 100% cotton shirts on a larger scale now, at least 15-20 at a time(if not more) and more then one batch, and I need the color to be the same and consistant, or as close as possible. I have up to a 55 gallon drum to use.

    Im hoping I can re use the water and save on set up time, variations in color, and dye expenses.

    So is it possible that I soak the shirts in the soda ash mixture, and then just add them to a large drum of pre mixed water/dye/soda ash, all premixed in the right quantities.

    Cliffs notes-
    Im concerned that if the soda ash isnt added halfway through the dying process its not goin to come out right, can someone verify this?

  • Hi,
    Presoaking with Soda Ash is generally used for painting with MX dyes and not immersion process. Reusing the dye may not yield consistent results as ensuring adequate dye concentration in each batch will be difficult. Also when you add the soda ash the dye becomes inoperable after about 2 hours. It would be far better to calculate dye weight to fabric weight for the desired color shade in a test and scale up the quantities accordingly.
  • thanks for your quick reply.

    From the various instructions I have read I thought soda ash was necessary in immersion dying, but if not I'll leave this process out.

    If it is recommended, are there any ill effects if it is all premixed rather then mixxed in the middle of the immersion process, what would be the difference.

    Im hoping if I can premix it, I can dye a test piece of fabric and wash it to make sure its the color I want, and thengo ahead and dye the other 20 pieces. (or should I really just leave out the soda ash all together. And does the soda ash not being necessary in procion mx immersion dying mean that I also don't have to pre soak the fabric in a soda ash/water mix)

    Sorry about all of the questions.
  • You will get smoother, more even solid colors if you add the soda ash to your immersion dyeing only after your dye has thoroughly penetrated the fabric, preferably adding the soda ash only a little at a time, instead of all at once (adding it in three parts is good). Read How to dye in the washing machine and follow a good recipe such as Jacquard's instructions for immersion dyeing with Procion MX dye. (The recipe is the same whether you use a bucket, a drum, or a washing machine, but without either a washing machine or dyeing machine, you will have a lot of stirring to do.)

    You cannot reuse the dyebath because the soda ash will hydrolyze any dye that is not attaching to the fiber, whether the soda ash is added directly to the immersion dye bath or is added by presoaking the fabric. As soon as soda ash gets into the dyebath, whether from presoaked fabric or another method, the dye begins to react and has a very limited lifespan.

    Pretesting fabric to see if the color is right can be done only by exactly duplicating the dyebath, by carefully measuring the exact amounts of dye, fabric, and auxiliary chemicals by weight. (You cannot get adequately reproducible results if you measure your dye and fabric by volume.) The dyebath will not stay the same long enough for you to see the results of the first piece you dye in it. If you are dyeing with only a single type and color of dye, the items you dye later will be paler in color; if you are dyeing a color which is mixed from two or more different dye colors, your results will shift in hue, as the amount of time increases since fabric and soda ash and dye were first combined, because different colors of dye react at different rates.

    I have often added additional small pieces to a dyebath after dyeing has been progressing for a little while already, and each one is invariably much paler than fabric added earlier in the dyeing process.