Silk and Jacquard acid dye
  • Where's the sobbing icon? I need the sobbing one.

    I have had failure after failure. I am using prewashed silk scarves and Jacquard acid dyes with vinegar. In an attempt to problem solve I have followed instructions for amount of vinegar based on fiber weight, amount of vinegar based on amount of water in dye bath, and I have used a thermometer to insure the temperature was at 180 to 185 degrees, where I kept it for 30 minutes based on yet another set of instructions. With my last attemp, #11, I was so disgusted with the ongoing dye run-off, that I put it in a pot of water to heat up (thinking this might possibly speed up the removal since my tap water was not longer that hot I'd been using so much of it) and I went into another room to search the net for information to find what I was doing wrong, forgot the pot... and when I remembered and ran to it, I found that almost ALL the dye was in the water and none in the scarf! So much for a chemical bond!

    This is the first dying I have done in our new home. We have a water softener. Could that be the culprit?

    The scarves are silk.
    The dye is Jacquard acid dye.
    Vinegar for acidity. (In 18 cups of water on the stove I have used 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup vinegar, and yes, even 3.5 cups of vinegar during my attempt at problem solving.)
    Temp brought up to 180 - 185 degrees and held there for 30 minutes.
    I have added the vinegar after the dye, and added the vinegar with the dye before the scarf.
    I made 4% stock solutions of the dye in our water softened water.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • My first guess is that someone inadvertently sold you polyester or acetate scarves that were mislabeled as being silk. It does happen sometimes.

    What kind of vinegar are you using? Is it distilled white vinegar that is labeled as being 5% acidity? That is the standard.

    A water softener should not cause a problem, as it adds only small amounts of salt to the water, but you could test it by doing a small test run with a bottle of distilled water (not spring water).

    Which specific dye colors and catalog numbers of dye are you using?

  • Hi Paula,

    The scarves are all from Dharma.

    The vinegar is white distilled 5%.

    The dye was purchased from Dharma about 4 years ago. When I first got it I used it to dye wool yarn with vinegar and had no problems. (Different house though, untreated well water there.) Could the dye be old?

    602 Bright Yellow
    616 Russet
    622 Saphire Blue

    Thank you for your help.

  • It's unlikely (though never impossible) that the problem is the silk or the dye. Dharma is reliable about silk (aside from a few cases of waxed thread in the hems), and acid dyes ought to last that long.

    Jacquard lists their 602 Bright Yellow as working well with 0.25 to 0.5 ounces of dye per pound of fabric, but recommends 1.5 to 2 ounces of dye per pound for both Russet and Sapphire Blue. Neither Bright Yellow nor Sapphire Blue is a strong acid dye (also known as leveling acid dyes), so the smaller amount of vinegar (say three tablespoons per gallon of dyebath) should be suitable. Sapphire Blue is very poorly washfast (wash only in cool water!), but Bright Yellow should be good even when washed in warm water (105°F or 40°C). Not sure about the Russet, since it's a mixture whose properties are not listed.

    Are you letting your silk cool to room temperature in the dyebath and then rinsing it in cool or lukewarm water? Rinsing in hot water might remove a lot of the Sapphire Blue dye.

    What if your water is unusually basic (alkaline)? That might cause a problem with acid dyeing, and a water softener would not necessarily help. What is the pH of your water? The easiest way to check this is with pH paper (sold by your dye supplier), but if you are using a public water supply, you should be able to call someone and find out. If your water is exceptionally basic, you'd need more vinegar to reach the necessary slightly low pH levels (ideally around 5 or 6). Then again, you already tried a lot of vinegar and found it did not help.

    Your problem is so puzzling that I think you should run a couple of small tests....

    1. In order to test whether the problem is with the silk, try dyeing a little wool yarn with these dyes and your tap water.

    2. To test your water, try dyeing a scarf with distilled water.

    Your recipe that involves holding the dyebath at 185°F for half an hour ought to be good. An hour might be better, but not enough better to explain your difficulties so far.

  • Thank you Paula. I will run those tests.

    I was under the mistaken impression that I needed to rinse them in hot water until the water was clear. There was no run-off in cold water. But that just doesn't seem right to me... maybe I'm too influenced by procion MX on cotton. I was expecting a permanent bond going on, never will we part kind of thing. All it takes is some hot water? Hmm...

    I can always put something on the hang tag about "wash in cold water", but the notion that there could be bleed-off if someone forgot and used warm or hot bothers me. What about using Procion MX as an acid dye? Would I get a stronger bond with it?

    Shoot, could the only problem be that I mistakenly kept using HOT water? There was no run-off in cold water rinses.

    Thank you again,
  • Fabrics dyed with fiber reactive dyes such as Procion MX can be washed in hot water, or even boiled to wash them, because these dyes are attached to the fiber with a permanent covalent bond. (See What kinds of chemical bonds attach dyes to fibers?.) Acid dyes are attached more weakly, with hydrogen bonding, but the strength of their attachment varies dramatically from one acid dye to another, even within one line of dyes from the same dyeseller. Check Jacquard's figures for washfastness, under "Technical Info". A washfastness of 1-2 is not very good, but a washfastness of 5 is excellent.

    You cannot compare these numbers from one class of dye to another, though, because the temperature of the water used for the washfastness testing is very different. Fiber reactive dyes are tested in wash water that is 205°F, while premetallized dyes are tested at 140°F, and acid dyes, such as the Jacquard Acid Dyes, are tested in water that is only 105°F. An acid dye with an excellent washfastness rating of 5 at 105°F might be very poorly washfast in hot water at 140°F. A lot of manufacturers label their clothing "dry clean only" if they use the less washfast dyes, although hand washing in cool water will usually also work.

    If you use Procion MX dyes as acid dyes, using vinegar instead of the soda ash you usually use with Procion MX dyes, they actually attach as acid dyes, not as fiber reactive dyes, in most cases. For the best washfastness on silk, when washfastness is very important to you, you should use either Lanaset dyes (which are beyond the scope of this particular forum), or use Procion MX with soda ash, or use another fiber reactive dye, such as Remazol dyes (which are found in Jacquard Red Label Silk Colors); Remazol dyes, like some of the Lanaset dyes, can be set on silk or wool at an acid pH, given the right amount of heat, and still attach as true fiber reactive dyes. Procion H dyes are another type of true fiber reactive dyes that Jacquard sells which require steam setting (or 185°F for immersion dyeing) on silk; they are usually applied with sodium bicarbonate, which decomposes to form soda ash during the steaming process.

  • Thank you, Paula. It sounds like the dye is behaving exactly as it should.

    I like how with the vinegar the feel and hand of the scarves is still so nice. If I remember correctly, when I died silk with soda ash before that wasn't the case. I did just get some milsoft from Dharma though, so I may go the soda ash route and save the jacquard for dying rug yarn.

    Thank you for all your help,