Friday, April 11, 2008


Janice asked the following question about my dyeing:

"Where do you do this dyeing? I ask because I've been afraid to do it in the kitchen, but don't have another good place. Is it OK if you keep all the utensils for dyeing separate from those for cooking, or is there a danger of fumes and spatters getting on food and eating utensils?"

I am glad that Janice is so concerned about dye safety. Being concerned is very important. There are people who absolutely will not dye in their kitchen. At all.


What I absolutely will not do is bring dye powders into the kitchen. I will not even open a jar of dye powder in the kitchen. Dye powders are extraordinarily light and can move easily into the air just in response to your breathing. Of course you would be using a face mask...........

Dye powders are the primary danger source. So I use my garage to mix up the dye stock solutions. I try to do this on a windless day so that I can keep the garage door open for added ventilation. I close that dye jar as soon as I can after I have opened it and wipe down the area with a damp cloth. Doing that always reveals unseen spilled powder.


One reason I like using acid dyes so much is that I can make up dye stock solutions in one- and two-liter containers. They will store for a year or two, perhaps even longer. I do date the containers. Then I can use those stock solutions in the kitchen to mix the colors I want.


In the kitchen, I move all items related to cooking to another area. For me, all this usually means is moving the mixer and the coffee maker. I also remove the dishcloth from the sink.

I cover the area with oil cloth and sometimes I put newsprint down over that. Newsprint absorbs spills; oil cloth does not. Any spill, even a small spot left by putting down a stirring spoon, I immediately wipe up with a paper towel. The paper towels go into a closed trash can, as does the newsprint, if I have used it.

At the end of the session, I carefully wipe down the whole area. And the whole time I am dyeing I keep glancing at the floor just to make sure a drop or two of dye hasn't gotten on it.


As for the fumes, yes, although I cannot smell them, I know that there are some fumes from the citric acid I use. These fumes are nothing like the fumes I would get, however, were I to use vinegar. Fortunately Sabraset dyes require very little acid, so any fumes do not concern me.

When I dye on the stove, I do turn on my professional kitchen hood to ventilate any fumes (and moisture) to the outside.

I will not do discharging, because the chemicals which are used for that have horrible and dangerous fumes. I won't even do that outside.


I do not dye often or for long periods. If I dyed every day I would carefully investigate the need for a respirator. I suspect that I would find I would not need one. But I do not know.

From the literature I have read, it is the dye powder which is the potential hazard. Keeping this in mind, we need to remember that spilled dye liquid, when dry, will turn into dye powder. That is why I am so meticulous about cleaning up the slightest spills.

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

This is very a useful post Peg,we have a small kitchen and I was wondering how to manage for dyeing space. Mixing up in the garage would solve my problem.

I am (or should be, if I wasn't in front of the computer) getting ready for a workshop on using acid dyes tomorrow, I hope to come home confident to have a go by myself. I found with natural dyes I spent ages not quite getting started until I attended a workshop and realised it was straightforward.