Trouble with Black acid dye
  • I dye alpaca fiber on stove top, using the Jacquard acid dye Jet Black. This black just Not TURNING BLACK for me. :(
    I keep getting dark brown! :( I wanna cry, as I keep ruining a bunch of fiber and even handspun yarn. o.0
    I am about to give up on this brand.
    I also tried mixing the Jet Black w Silver Gray, and it still comes out brown....grrrrrrrr

    any suggestions why is that happening?
  • Are you using White Vinegar or Citric Acid?
  • Aqua,
    You're frustration is palpable! I can tell this is driving you nuts. Fortunately, I think we can solve this problem...
    Alpaca is an especially difficult fiber to dye. The reason you are not getting a deep black is probably because of the high lanolin content of the fiber. For best results (deep, reliable, consistent colors) you'd probably want to scour your fiber... This is a science in of itself: scouring wool has always been a challenge, but there is plenty of information available if you decide to take that route...
    That said, I think you'll get a much better black if you use a different dye (sans scouring). In Jacquard's Specialty/Bulk store (, we sell Super Fast Acid Dye For Wool ( This is an acid dye designed specifically for wool and other difficult to dye protein fibers. They dye easier and last longer. I think the black in this line will give you much better results on an un-scoured alpaca than our standard acid dye will. I would be happy to send you a sample of this dye so you can try it out and see if it is going to work for you. Please call me at 800-442-0455 ex. 105 and I'll get you set up.
    As for the fiber you've already dyed with poor results: do not despair! You can always dye it again, once you find a good black...
    I hope this has been helpful.
  • Kathrynloch also asks a very pertinent question: what acid are you using? Also, what temperature are you dyeing at and at what percent? For a really deep black, you'll want to be around 8% by weight (meaning 8 grams of dye per 100 grams of fabric...)
  • I use citric acid
  • Asher,
    Thank you for getting back to me. But first I have to tell you that alpaca has no lanolin in it what so ever.

    I normally heat it up to about 180F for about 30 min, then sometimes I leave it cool down before draining the fiber / yarn.
  • On a second note.... in the powder I have red clumps which I normally break apart n mix into the powder. Is that normal? I haven't seen clumps in any of the other colors I've got.
    This is an 8oz container.
  • Sorry had to come home to check my notes...
    I use 2 tsp of powder for 1 lb of fiber/yarn.
    I measure dry fiber/yarn, then soak it for about 30min or more in slightly warm water.
    I measure out the dye and mix it hot water in a glass jar, then pour that into the stainless steel pot before I put fiber/yarn in. I let the fiber/yarn soak in the dyed hot water for a few minutes, then add Citric Acid. I heat it up to about 180F, rarely boil. Sometimes I let fiber/yarn cool down in water before I rinse.

    If I mix black w silver gray, I have the same problem. Instead of getting a darker gray, it turns to brown :(

    Since I raise the alpacas, I process most of my fiber - shear, wash, dye, spin - and I don't use any chemicals besides a small amount of dish soap to remove dirt. There is no lanolin in alpaca fiber. It is also a 'hair'.

    I was also thinking to try the fiber reactive dyes if I won;t find a solution with this. But I'd hate to through out almost half a pound of dye :(
  • Aqua,
    I don't think the clumping is responsible for the problems you are having. As long as all the dye is going into solution, it should be okay. (That said, let's check the batch number just to play it safe. The batch number is usually stamped near the bar code. Shoot that number to me and I'll make sure it's a good batch.)
    Your technique seems sound, although I spoke to our chemist and he had a couple suggestions. First of all, do not let you fibers cool in the dye bath before rinsing. You want to remover your fiber while it is hot. If you let it cool too much in the dye bath, the dye can come out of solution and give you blotches or poor color.
    Also, he recommends a dyeing temperature of 185F or 190F. The extra five or ten degrees can make a significant difference to the intensity of color. Your concentration should be around 7% or 8% by weight (I'm not sure how much 2 tsp of this dye weighs, but my guess is that you are on the low side), and your pH should be very low.
    Of course, you are right, there is no lanolin in alpaca. That was my mistake and I apologize. As you say, alpaca fibers are "hairs," which means, in part, that they have a smooth surface. This presents its own set of challenges. The smooth surface of alpaca fiber reflects light differently then more woolly fibers, and just tends to look lighter. The alpaca dyers I have encountered recommend dyeing at higher concentrations with longer dyeing times at higher temperatures. (I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't know already).
    You will definitely have an easier time getting a deep black using the Super Fast Acid Dye For Wool that I mentioned. Again, I'd be happy to send you a sample. That said, the black in the Acid Dye line should also yield good results on alpaca, despite alpaca's unique challenges. If you would be so kind as to send us a sample of your fiber along with a sample of your dye, our chemist will work out a recipe/process for you that we can guarantee. We can do the same with the Super Fast Acid Dye For Wool if you are interested. Again, feel free to contact me at 800-442-0455 ex. 105.
    We do not recommend fiber reactive dyes for difficult to dye protein fibers.
  • Wonderful! I'll be happy to send you some samples as the fiber is different on each animal, so if I send you a few different ones, you get a better idea :)
    I will also give you a call.

    Thank you!
  • batch#22838

    left you a message earlier, but will try tomorrow again

    Q: how do you suggest to do higher concentration when mixing gray n black for a charcoal color? if I use too much black, it will be black instead of gray...
  • Aqua,

    Did you receive the dye sample I sent you? Have you had any better luck with it?

    I did receive the fiber you sent me and I was able to dye it JET BLACK using the following method:

    You must dye at a concentration of at least 6% by weight. (In other words, 6 grams of dye for every 100 grams of fiber).
    Temperature should be at 185-190F.
    pH should be at 4.
    Dye for 30 minutes.
    Remove fiber from hot dye bath and rinse well.

    I was able to get a very black black dyeing like this. I can send the sample back to you for proof if you’d like.

    If the fiber goes a little brown or red, I recommend using more dye. Also, I know there is no lanolin in alpaca, but cleaning the fibers before dyeing can only help.

    All that said, I suspect you’ll have an easier (and more economical) time dyeing with the Super Fast Acid Dye for Wool that I sent you… Please let me know how that goes for you…

    And let me know if you have any other questions or concerns!


    Asher Katz
  • I seem to be having the same problem with a nylon spandex sweater i purchased. I need it black and nothing seems to be working at all! I want to try and use your product but i cannot find it anywhere in my city. Maybe its because im Canadian?.. I do not have to means to spend hundreds of dollars in gas and dyes to try and find one that works. Someone help.
  • Your Highness,

    Here are some sources in Canada and the US where you can buy our product and have them delivered to your doorstep!

    hope this helps