separation of colors
  • I am having issues when I mix colors using fuschia, blue and yellow. the colors seem to seperate and the orange bleeds out of the dye mix and spreads. Also my blue keeps sparating in the bottle I mixed it in and the sediment sticks to the bottom. What can I do about these problems?
  • Which dyes are you asking about? Are these acid dyes, or reactive dyes, or what? It helps to be specific.

    In each class of dye, there are several different reds, several blues, several yellows, plus a number of pure colors that fall in between without having to be mixed, in addition to convenient pre-mixed colors made from two or more individual dye colors mixed together.

    Each of the pure dyes consists of a different dye molecule, with a slightly different size, different electrical charge, and different reactivity. Two different reds may have very different properties. An orange that has been mixed from a red plus a yellow might get yellow halos around the edges as the dye spreads on the fiber, whereas a pure orange dye can never do that. Some mixtures of dyes work well for immersion dyeing but not direct dye application; other mixtures are suitable for both. Some dye artists happily exploit haloing of different dye color mixtures for special effects.

    If you mix your own orange (for example), it makes a huge difference exactly which red you use. One red may be very different in its properties from your yellow, so that the colors separate badly; another might be more similar to it, so you have a lot less trouble. However, if there is a pure unmixed dye of the exact color you want already, it may be best to use that, if you are trying to avoid color separation.

    If you don't like the way your blue settles out of solution, try another blue, or try a tiny drop of a detergent (such as Synthrapol) in the mixture, or less salt in the mixture (if you're using any). You can always heat an acid dye up a little before use to dissolve it, but don't use heat to dissolve cool-water fiber reactive dyes.

    It's extremely useful to know which of your dyes are single unmixed colors, and which have been mixed from other colors. For Jacquard Acid Dyes, check out their technical info page, which shows a number of different unmixed pure dyes for each color. I also have lists of pure versus mixed dyes on my site for other dye classes, such as Procion MX dyes, Procion H dyes, Lanaset dyes, Washfast Acid dyes, food coloring dyes, and others.