Re: Dyeing help

Tien Chiu

In my experience it hasn’t been necessary. MX dyes when painted or low-water immersion dyed have set for me just fine at room temperature (65F and higher). They will set FASTER at higher temperatures, but I typically leave things for a day or so and that seems to work out fine. For deep colors at cooler temperatures you might want to apply some heat but I’ve never found it necessary. Your mileage may vary, of course; people use different protocols, amounts of soda ash, etc. so use what works for your methodology.

The essence of the chemistry is that heat increases the reaction rate of the dye. My dim memory (do not take this in any way as gospel) is that every 10-20 degrees F doubles the reaction rate, so if you increase the temperature by 10-20 degrees you halve the time required for the reaction. At some point the reaction fails to happen at all, but that is significantly below room temperature (or ice dyeing and snow dyeing would not work with MX dyes, and it does).

If you *really* want to accelerate the set time of MX dyes, you can put the item to be dyed in the microwave or steam it in a steamer and accelerate the dyeing that way. I think Jane Dunnewold steams her finished MX-painted surface designed items and says she gets deeper colors that way. Depending on your feelings about dye safety you may or may not dedicate a microwave to this use. When I am doing it I don’t dedicate a microwave, but put the dyed item in a sealed plastic bag and am VERY careful about not microwaving to temps that would pop the bag open. MX dyes are pretty darn nontoxic, but you can develop allergic reactions and I would really rather not. In the microwave you can heat-set the dye in just a few minutes. Do NOT do this with silk; this *will* damage the silk very quickly, unlike room temperature direct application or immersion dyeing.

Do NOT increase temperatures from the recommended temperatures in ProChem or Dharma’s guidelines when doing immersion dyeing. The dye reacts with the dye bath as well as with the fiber and if you increase the temperatures it will react faster with the dye bath and won’t have time to penetrate the fiber before it reacts to the dye bath.

BTW, if anyone is interested in the chemistry of dyeing, the Society of Dyers and Colourists in the UK has some excellent and relatively accessible books on the chemistry of dyeing, available on their website.

My $0.02, for what it’s worth.


On Dec 26, 2021, at 10:31 AM, Linda Schultz via <lindaschultz@...> wrote:

Thanks Denise. That seedling mat idea looks interesting.

I was wondering about my warming drawer. The bread proofing setting is about 100 F. Has anyone used this for direct application/low water? 


Join to automatically receive all group messages.