The Rainbow Dye-It
Updated: Sep 14
I’m obsessed with dyes and data, so I figured, why not combine them into a reference guide I can use for my business. And then I realized, why not also make it so the whole world can reference it and have a better idea of how their ice dyeing will turn out?
My goal is to create a reference guide for ice dyeing with fiber reactive dyes with a large swatch of 100% cotton as the medium.
I try to control as much of the process as possible so the results can be comparable, but there are some variables to every part of this. All of the dyeing will take place in the same room that keeps a fairly consistent temperature between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity hovers around 40%, and the ice will all use filtered tap water, which is from Lake Redman on the East Branch of the Codorus Creek, sourced through a pumping station and purification plant. The water falls into the range between soft and moderately hard. This water passes all compliance requirements, met or exceeded the quality of unregulated contaminants, and is perfectly safe to drink. It’s fairly close to pure water. The ice will be the same weight, 2lbs. The swatch will be a 12" x 12" square of cotton fabric. The swatch will be pre-washed with Professional Textile Detergent, soaked in a 1:8 solution of soda ash for 1 hour, then dyed. Once the teaspoon of dye is sprinkled, the swatch will be left for 24 hours.
I will also conduct some mini experiments throughout this guide, including tests of the variability of ice amount and ice type, applied heat, and additional natural fiber types. Feel free to reach out if you have any other mini experiments you would like to see.
The results of this experiment will be posted on my blog as well as in an easy to follow online reference guide. The colors will be sorted into the color groupings ascribed by Dharma Trading, using the direct color names and associated hex codes. A complete color palette with direct connections to images of the ice dyed blocks will be a part of the online reference guide. The results will be released online on a regular basis as the experiment is performed.
This experiment will hopefully save a lot of people time, effort, and frustration. I know it will save me so much guesswork in the future. I hope that others can use this guide as heavily as I do, and hobbyists can easily get the ice dye results they’re looking for to make their new favorite garment.