Dying cotton balls
  • so i was going to use iDye to dye some cotton balls and i've got some questions.... i've tried other methods none of which worked. :( i don't really need to worry about colorfastness since they are being used for art and will never be washed.

    i plan on using the stovetop method??? (see below)

    heat: i know from previous attempts that heat is murder on cotton balls so can i use no heat or super low (like tap water hot) heat? Will the color attach to the fiber?

    agitation: i'm using the roll type cotton balls and again from experience i know that stirring causing the cotton balls to come apart. so can i just let them set in the dye with minimal agitation.

    time: tied into the above question: how long should i let it set? i know the longer you let it set the deeper the color will be. one of the colors i'm planning on doing is black (i'm making storm clouds) so how long should i let it batch for a deepish color (especially if i use no to low heat) if it ends up turning to grey/dark grey it won't be a tragedy but i'd really like it to be darker

    salt: do i need to use non iodized salt? or does just regular (iodized) salt work?

    washing out: i was planning on pouring it out into a colander and then spraying it with water until it runs clear - will that work? after i wash it out i'm just gonna to let it set on trays (maybe put it in a warm oven) to dry.

    thanks ahead of time for all your help, i'm new to the forum and i'm excited and scared to try iDye. all of my other attempts have failed and it's really getting annoying they either don't dye all the way through or they dry with a crusty top. grrr

    THANKS! :D
  • First, make sure that your cotton balls are 100% cotton. Many identical products are now made from polyester fiber, which is completely different to dye.

    Next, do not use a hot-water dye, if you don't want to use heat! Idye is a hot water dye, a type of direct dye. You will get much better results with a cool water dye, Procion MX dye, which you can set at room temperature with soda ash or washing soda. You can use the typical recipe for tie-dyeing with Procion MX dyes. It's very easy, and the dye is more permanent, as well.

  • thanks! i'm going to go buy Procion MX dyes. I thought I would have to buy them online but the DickBlick by me has them!

    quick follow up question will the dust masks that you can pick up at the hardware store be suitable protection when working with the dry dye?
  • Hardware store dust masks are fine for use when measuring out dye powder, as long as they fit your face reasonably well. Make sure that you're breathing through the material of the dust mask, not through gaps around the mask.

    You'll need soda ash or washing soda to set the dye. The dye should look darker than you want when it's wet on the cotton balls, because it will be lighter when dry. Use plastic wrap or plastic bags to keep the cotton damp with dye, overnight, in a warm place (70°F or warmer), unless you also use urea in your dye mixtures to help them stay moist longer.

  • will i still get a decent color if i just let it set all day (like 9 hours) i'm kind of in a hurry / impatient.

    and do you have any suggestions to expedite the drying - with every attempt it always took forever to dry (almost a week!)

  • If you're in a hurry, make sure to put them in a warm place to react, and wash out different colors separately.

    If you allow plenty of extra time for the reaction, backstaining is much less of a problem, so you can wash out different colors together without having one run onto another. If you're not allowing excess time, be more careful about washing the different colors out separately.

    Once the excess dye is washed out, maybe you could put the cotton balls into a mesh lingerie laundry bag and put them in a clothes dryer. Or try using a hair dryer maybe. I have no idea how well either of these will work, since I haven't tried them.

  • sorry for the million questions i just want this to work!

    will it still react in cool water (warm water will probably cool quickly) is there a way to keep in the heat? i'm assuming that letting it sit for 9ish hours will be enough time to react. i'm not worried about colorfastness since the cotton balls aren't going to be washed.

    i plan on washing out each color out separately

    i tried putting in the dryer once in a old bed sheet and they were shredded. i have these cookie sheets that i was going to lay them out on.. maybe i'll put them in a warm oven to dry..
  • Procion MX dyes work best at 70°F or warmer. At lower temperatures, some colors, especially turquoise and any mixtures containing it, will turn out paler.

    There are lots of ways to warm up your dye reactions. See "Ways to increase your reaction temperature" on my page, What is the effect of temperature on fiber reactive dyes?.