Mordant Cotton: 2nd Step to dyeing naturally

by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP:  –Living in Natures Love Lifestyles

The second step to prepare cotton for dyeing naturally is to put it into a solution to increase absorption of the natural dye.  I used Alum (Potassium Aluminum Sulfate).

When researching the use of  Alum to prepare cotton it is usually recommended to follow a three-step bath process of using

  1. Alum, followed by a bath of
  2. Tannin,  followed by another bath of
  3. Alum

Well I was experimenting and only did one bath of Alum.  I was using a product from an art store for marbling fabric and realized that it may be possible to use one bath.  This one step is usually done when using aluminium acetate, not sulfate!  The only difference is going to be in the depth of the colour.

The Process:

  1. I added 1/3 cup of Alum into a small dish of  hot tap water to dissolve.
  2. Filled a pot with hot tap water
  3. Rinse cotton in warm water and added it to the Alum bath to infuse overnight.  (you can leave material in alum water for up to 4 days!)

Once you take cotton out of the alum you can let it dry without rinsing out Alum or use it to dye!  Remember to leave Alum in.

Dyeing naturally with plants

One should be careful using any product like Alum ensuring not to splash it on bare skin or breath in the chemical reaction of adding the ash to the water.  With this in mind one is advised to wear gloves, glasses and a mask.  This is not to create fear of experimenting yourself, just advice to be cautious.  If splashed, flush with water.