Dyes- What Are We Looking For in Them?

Choosing the correct dye for your use can be confusing, especially if you do not know what your options are. Yes, we all can say we want a certain color, but what about the characteristics of that color you might need? Let’s discuss the following things you might need to know about a specific dye you want to use.

Light fastness: This is a very important aspect of choosing a dye when you are using it to color something that will exposed to direct sunlight. The rating system is 1-8 with 8 being the best and meaning it will take a longer period of time for the color to fade. If you were dying socks, you might not need great light fastness for the dyes you’re using.

Wash fastness: If you are using dyes to color t-shirts, you will need a dye that will not fade after just a few washings. You will need a dye that has good wash fastness. The ratings are 1-8 with 8 being the highest rating.

Solubility: Depending on what you are using the dye for, you need to determine if that use needs a water soluble or solvent soluble system. Some dyes are soluble in water and some others are soluble in a solvent-based system. It’s possible to find a dye that is soluble in either, but they are few and far between. Also you might need to put a certain amount of dye in solution and that would require you to know the solubility rating of the dye you’re using.

pH stability: It’s important to know if the dye you want to use is stable in an alkaline or acidic solution.  Also, there are some dyes that are stable in both. When using these types of dyes it is important to know the pH range in which you are going to use them.

Heat Stability: Some dyes are stable to high heat ranges, while others will not be stable in lower temperatures. Know your specific situation before you choose which dye you’re going to use.

Shelf Life: Depending on how a dye is stored, it can be kept for anywhere from 6 months to a 2-year period without degrading. This varies from product to product and from liquid to solid form. Both solid and liquid forms of dye should be stored in a clean, dry place in a closed container.

Mix vs self-shade: Can your use tolerate a mix of two or more dyes to achieve your desired shade of color or do you need a self-shade? When you mix dyes together to get the shade you need, it’s very important to know some of the characteristics mentioned above. As an example, if two dyes in a mix have different solubility ratings, they might not perform well together. One could fall out of solution before the other and your desired color could not be achieved. The same can be said about light fastness. If two dyes in a mix fade at a different rate, the desired shade will not be achieved. Dyes used in a mix need to fade on shade. All of these types of problems can be avoided if you use a dye that is not a mix.

The use of dyes is difficult under any circumstance, but the more you know about a particular dye’s characteristics the better chance you have of achieving your desired color. Feel free to contact our lab by clicking the picture below for any questions in regard to dyes.

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By |May 16th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments

About the Author:

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James P. Bernard is Vice President of Colorants at First Source Worldwide. His skill at problem solving has led him through 48 years in the dye industry across virtually all areas of dye use. Once, he advised a university how to dye a bee population destroying crops. Now that’s strategic color management.