Picture of Fabric Printing with Citra-Solv
Any photograph, image or design that looks good in black and white is a great candidate for printing with Citra-Solv. It's permanent, can be washed in the washer, takes about 2 minutes to do and it's cheap and easy. Once you start printing it's hard to stop because the possibilities are pretty endless.
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Step 1: What you need:

Picture of What you need:
1. Citra-Solv. They have an incredible website with product info, art stuff, oder info, go here. If you live in the States you can find it at just about any Whole Foods. But save yourself a trip and go to their website if you live far from town. There are great ideas there that I didn't know about until after I wrote this 'ible.
2. Small shallow bowl
3. Cheap 1" or larger paint brush
4. Fabric you want to print on (this should be the smoothest fabric you can find - usually that means a tight weave, but experiment - if you don't have a lot of detail such as a photo you can use a looser
weave fabric.
5. An iron
6. Access to a copier that uses toner (most do, like a Xerox or Cannon etc.)
7. Newspaper or something to protect your dining room table if need be
8. A big spoon, wooden or metal
9. Some pins
10. Images you want to print

Step 2: About Citra-Solv:

Picture of About Citra-Solv:
Citra-Solv must have some other uses besides being used to print images onto fabric but I don't know what those uses are unless I read the side of the bottle. You can do that if you want. I am not going to be pedantic and do it here.

All that matters to you and I is that it is pleasant to smell, but you still need to use it in a well ventilatied room or outside, and you should try not to get it on your hands - it doesn't burn but it's not good for you. Keep it out of your eyes obviously - OK, I read the side of the bottle. A little bit anyway.

There is more info about this in the ironing section - be sure to read that too.
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ricardosf14 days ago

What I have to do to make the printings work?

I had printed some images in a regular printing machine, I tried it 4 hours after having the printing images, and didn't worked!

Can you help me?

Ninzerbean (author)  ricardosf13 days ago
Printed images won't work because the toner is not carbon toner. You must use COPIES. And you must make sure the copies are made on a copier the uses carbon based toner. There is a lot of information about the difference between prints and copies and all of that in the comment section.
satoko6816 days ago
As far as I know, this stuff is made from d-limonene, which I actually buy in bulk from a supplier to make cleaners. It's not expensive & it's safe to work with providing a person doesn't do anything stupid with it like drink it, and it smells very strongly of oranges since it's made from orange peels. It's used as an industrial solvent, amongst other things like skin & hair care products, so that tells you it's incredibly effective & useful. I'll be testing this out using my pure d-limonene for this project after getting some of my other half's photography photocopied at an office supply store. It'll be interesting to see what happens! Thanks very much!
Ninzerbean (author)  satoko6816 days ago
Read the MSDS on d-limonene before you start - you should not be using it without a respirator. Just because it is made with oranges it is still a solvent that will cause nerve damage if you are exposed to it in an unsafe way for too long. Artists are exposed to many chemicals and should take many precautions. Think about your quality of life in 10 years.

Also, read a lot of the comments, there have been problems with people not getting copies that are carbon based. The copier that you use must be carbon toner based one. The comments will explain it all. Good luck and be sure to post what you make.
clewis212 months ago

I love this technique but don't use it because I am very chemically sensitive and don't like the smell.

Xamu2 months ago

Is there a functional difference (in terms of this project) between Citra-Solv and Goo-Gone?

Both appear to be citrus based solvents.

Ninzerbean (author)  Xamu2 months ago
Yes, they do seem the same-ish, but I don't think they are the same. Though of course they both might work. The Citra-Solv folks are really wonderful and they have a lot of artist related stuff on their website and I am sure they could answer your question.
alcurb2 months ago

Very cool. I want to try it.

I found the MSDS (material safety data sheet) for Citra Solv. In an nutshell, it is mostly safe as long as you don't drink it. On skin it is irritating, so you probably don't want to wash your hands with it.

Here's the MSDS:

jlambert2 months ago

Very good instructible and I am planning to try my hand at it. But you have me completely confused. One place you refer to transfering the INK, the another you say to use copier with TONER . Which is it ? The capitals are not meant to be shouting, just emphasis. Thanks .

Ninzerbean (author)  jlambert2 months ago
Thank you for pointing this out. I wrote this 'ible years and years ago, and a nice person at Instructables has honored me by re-featuring it. But there always was a lot of confusion on toners and ink and carbon and ink so I will try to edit the 'ible but in the mean time I used the word ink when I meant the toner ink.

Still confused? Well it will only get worse if you can't find an old copier that uses toner, carbon based toner. My old Canon PC491 copier is still running great and Canon still makes the toner for it. Perhaps by calling their service dept they could help you with which machines use toner and which don't. There is such a variety of toner and yes, inks that will work with this project. Some folks had great luck with printers for some reason. Who knows. The point for me is that the images do not wash out. Please wear a respirator.

Go through the comments, that will help.
hendrosutono2 months ago
I used to do image transfer using gasoline. The one with high octane.
It can transfer not only image from copier, it can also transfer image from news papers, tabloids dan some magazine.
The whole process is same...
sazure9 months ago

Citra-Solv using the aromatic oil of orange is toxic (as ALL aromatics are) due to the chemical compounds found in all plants (some more then others). Oops didn't mean to italicize - (artist/biochemisty and arts/chemistry, Masters Health field and used intensive therapies, including Gerson to recover from end stage chemical injury - building fire where illegal renovations occurred (solvent and toxic based products with no ventilation or OSHA standards, and in college art courses with inadequate ventilation). It was in his books (therapies) from way back that the aromatics can harm those with compromised immune, detox enzyme, liver detox systems (et al) all systems.

Since these same toxic based compounds are used in most common household and commercial products (perfumes most all in America made from petroleum, fabric softeners so on) once injured (cell phenomena of anesthesia - these compounds both anesthetize and sensitize) meaning injure to the point where it takes only a little amount to do more and more damage. (not that one is "sensitive").

Great book "Artists Beware" and see Dr. Grace Ziem.

So has the author mentions VENT and protect. That is why.

That said it is certainly less (much less) toxic then the synthetic based products.
Ninzerbean (author)  sazure9 months ago
Thank you ever so for your valuable input, I hope everyone reads and follows what you wrote. The Gerson institute is one that my mother tells everyone who will listen about. Mostly people don't listen though.
sazure Ninzerbean9 months ago
Your welcome - I paid a heavy price and am glad you did not mind my posting a reply as regarding it's safety (low low income and lost job so on and live like "boy in bubble"). That said - that's life! (and I learned much due to this "alternative" path. But it really amazes me when I see Youtube tutorials where no one takes safety precautions!
A tad Off Topic -

Re: Gerson - I saw it first hand when - 30 years prior (lived in Oregon) my friend's grandmother (one of Gerson's highlighted cases) had end stage liver cancer (and luckily no radiation or chemo) with rigidity setting in (dying). Recovered fully to live near to very late age. One could wipe away the castor oil pack (over liver area) and see the brown (broken down tumor) ooze out.

I later found (in NYC) Dr. Majid Ali - who asked what I was doing (and many other things - studied Eastern and other modalities "on the way down") and he has done brilliant research on castor oil, as well I wanted to do Oxygen therapies (IV of H2O2 - native to our cells and other forms of Oxygen) and when NYC passed a medical freedom act - we could and I finally started to turn around (was very nearly dead).

Rockefella way back when (family) owned chemical consortium's and started the AMA (American Medical Association) and made and still does (entities - corporations and Government bodies) huge efforts to destroy plant based holistic therapies to support pharmaceuticals. No real freedom of choice as Gerson (a Genius) discovered.
lainey3102 years ago
HELP, I have a samsung color lazer multi format printer, lazer

I printed out a page from graphic fairy, bought the citra solv did everything you did and got nothing/

what am I doing wrong

Ninzerbean (author)  lainey3102 years ago
It's a printer, not a copier - your Samsung - you say so yourself. Please read the comments, you will find a lot of information there about the difference between copiers and printers and inks, toners, carbon based toners etc. I do not know what a graphic fairy is, is it is a place you went and had your printed image copied and if you asked them if they were using a color copier or a simple black and white one?
sorry graphic fairy is a web site that you could print images off ofon your computer, so your saying that a printer could not be used for this project, could you tell me if I take a copy of the print to a printing place would they make one that will work, Thanks for your help, Idid read alot ofthe comments but
I guess Im still not understanding,
Ninzerbean (author)  lainey3102 years ago
If you go to the Citra Solv website there is a lot of new information about printing that was not there when I wrote this 'ible, of special interest to you would be this section.
Ninzerbean (author)  lainey3102 years ago
Sorry to put you off like this but you really must read all of the comments to get the best understanding,otherwise I'm repeating myself.
Light_Lab3 years ago
Are you sure you need the Citra-Solv? I have been doing this for years by just ironing the paper with a really hot iron. I mostly use laser printer printouts but they are made by exactly the same process as modern thermal photocopiers.
I am thinking that the Citra-Solv is just acting as a heat transfer medium because you get about the same amount of transfer as I do when I don't pre-chill the paper.
Here briefly is my best method (but I have had success with variations):
(1) Chill your print paper overnight in the fridge (wrap in plastic to avoid condensation).
(2) Print a mirror image of your design out on a B&W or colour laser printer while the paper is still cold.
(3) Re-chill the paper and take it out of the fridge just before ironing.
(4) The iron has to be very hot, it should yellow paper slightly, Make sure the steam setting is off and there is no water in the iron. (And old iron kept for the purpose is best.)
(5) Place the design toner side down onto the fabric on a good flat ironing board and make sure the fabric is flat (pre-iron if needed).
(6) Iron until your patience is gone or the paper goes yellow. At times I have sprayed the paper with water from a mister to try to increase heat transfer.
(7) If you are really lucky the paper will be stuck to the fabric by the fused toner and you will have to wash it off with water. That usually gives the best result. Other times it just falls off dry, that usually means some of the toner will be still stuck to the paper.
can i chill multiple papers in the fridge or freezer in one plastic bag before ironing??? was going to attempt your process today! i am very excited because it will hopefully produce a crisp print especially with thin straight lines. :-)
Hi viv664, Sorry to take so long to reply, been a bit ill and trying to make up for lost time.
You should be able to chill multiple sheets together but I have never tried it. Keep in mind that paper is a good insulator and chilling will take longer to get right to the middle of the stack.
Ninzerbean (author)  Light_Lab3 years ago
Wow, that sounds great, I assume it it then washable too? Thank you for sharing!
They do fade a bit with washing. This is never a bold full contrast result but sort of rustic so if that is what you are after a bit of fading is OK. I did a black design on a handkerchief about 10 years ago; it has been used and washed hundreds of times and the design is very faded but still visible.
I have been thinking lately that one experiment I haven't tried is to iron from the fabric side. The melted toner should move toward the heat by fluid absorption. Next time!
Ninzerbean (author)  Light_Lab3 years ago
Well that is the difference then, I guess the Cirtra-Solv 'melts' the toner during the transfer and because it is plastic it wont fade or wash out. I think your process is only transferring the ink from the image instead of actually embedding the toner into the fabric. Why not write up an 'ible on your technique - I'm sure it would be very popular, I know I would enjoy seeing it.
Are you saying that the Citra-Solv prints don't fade with washing at all? How many times have you washed them? When I say "They do fade a bit with washing." I mean they start to look a little less intense after about 2 or 3 years of typical washing.
I guess I could do an Instructable on it, what would be cool would be to do a proper comparison of several methods to see what works best. I am not sure if I can get Citra-Solv here in Oz though.
Ninzerbean (author)  Light_Lab3 years ago
No they don't fade at all with washing - I show that in the 'ible. Even bleach does not effect them - see photos in 'ible. Yes it would be great to see comparables! There is a link to the Citra-Solv site in the 'ibel so you can see if you can get it in Oz - where ever Oz may be. Are you like a munchkin or a witch or Toto or something? I think you can only get the stuff in the real world though. When I use this technique it gets run though so much stuff, like over-dying, bleaching, re-dying and such that even though when it is all finished I usually use the fabric in a quilt, I am not afraid that any more washing will fade it, though a typical quilt only gets washed as much as the cat lies on it and makes it worth washing.

We cold even print the same image - your way and my way and then wash however many times you want and post the results with photos.
Oz = Australia, locals pronounce it Oz-trail-ya so Oz has become a standard in emails and SMS's. Even though I don't drink, there is a lot of beer drunk here and I imagine broom riding witches, dancing scarecrows and munchkins are seen quite often. i{^_^}
As far as the bleach goes; toner colours are predominately pigments not dyes so very resistant to bleach and sunlight; particularly the black. Fused toner is more likely to be lost from fabric by extensive mechanical agitation ie as the fabric fibres wear away. Hence most of my articles that have faded eg the handkerchief, is so threadbare now I would say it is just about had it's day. I really only keep it because it was my first experiment with toner.
I will definitely try to get some Citra-Solv. Actually I should really get serious and checkout exactly what polymer is used for the toner binder and see what appropriate solvents I can find around the lab.
I have to tell you though the "chill trick" pretty well leaves very little toner on the paper when I get it perfect. I suspect that any solvent will only make the lines more diffuse. This would be good for photos but perhaps not as good for text and logos.
Comparing results for the same image is a great idea, I am buried in projects at the moment though, I will take this up thoroughly as soon as I get time.
Ninzerbean (author)  Light_Lab3 years ago
I think being that you are so far away (and in the real world) is only the more reason we should try this. We can do a collaborative 'ible, it's pretty easy, we can PM each other to set up the private stats to start it. I am as busy as you are but when the mood strikes you just PM me with an image you want to try and we can go from there. I can send you some fabric samples so we are both working with the same 'ground'.

When we are done we can post a link from this 'ible to our 'ible.
d1ndian3 years ago
Can we use a laser printer???
Ninzerbean (author)  d1ndian3 years ago
No you can't, you must use a carbon based toner COPIER, not a printer. For a better explanation of why, read through the comments.
Ahhhhhhhh ... yes you can as a matter-of-fact, Ninzerbean! I have used acetone based fingernail polish remover as well as Citri-Solv using my Samsung 3051N desktop laser printer to transfer flipped, inverted, toner based images to metal for both electro etch and chemical etch resists. The Citri-Solv I gave up on first because it blurred more than transferred. I then gave up on the acetone when I discovered that there is an even BETTER TONER TRANSFER METHOD that could also be used to transfer toner based resists to glass as well ... via heat. I bought a Creative ' Versa-Tool ' (Walnut Hollow). It has it 's own transfer tip dedicated to toner transfer as well as many other tool tips. The first 2 I bought had no heat control but the new ones do ... so sweet ... if you use the right paper, transfer (I get 100% ... nothing left on paper) is way better than chemical transfer and certainly less biologically intrusive. Check out some of the stuff I have done.
Ninzerbean (author)  Aight_then2 years ago
Sounds great! I will check out this tool, in the mean time post some of your work. Thanks for sharing this info too.
You're welcome, Ninzerbean. I must ask: When you say ' post ' some of your work ... I am not really sure what you mean ... do an ' ible' !!!??? I have posted some pics of things (both glass and metal) that I have etched, to my profile. I have also posted captions but I have to be signed in to read them ... seems kinda pointless as far as being informative to others !? I figured maybe it was a Java problem so I switched from FF to IE .... same thing !? Then I figured I was doing something wrong, so I hit the FAQ (second page ' photo Captions' ) ... Caitlinsdad there says that the captions are kinda ' wonky ' and seems to imply that the captions might possibly only work if you have an ible ... any answers would be appreciated as I am really new here!? Oh ... any to anyone else who wants to gain a really good insight into the nuances of toner (yes they are truly different !!!), I found this super informative link :
Oh never mind, Ninzerbean I figured it out ... silly me !!!??? I actually don't have any samples of fabric I have done photographed yet . I really do not think it appropriate to post unrelated stuff ( etched glass and metal have their own categories/ibles) here. As soon as I get some pics (today or tomorrow), certainly I will post. But ... I think your technique is way better for fabric than the transfer tool, your tones are more vibrant yet with decent contrast.
Ninzerbean (author)  Aight_then2 years ago
Yeah, I checked out that tool, but it would take forever and a day to transfer with it on fabric you wanted to do a repeat on.

I just meant to attach your photos to a comment - when you have a chance. I think the 'unrelated stuff' would still be relevant here.
Hey Ninzerbean. On the contrary ... it is quite fast with the right technique as I just learned. Earlier I said your tones are more vibrant with decent contrast (than the transfer tool) only because I am not used to transferring toner to fabric but rather glass and metal. Yesterday after looking at my sad picture transferred fabric, I thought what the heck, I'll give it another try. This time I will give it some pressure and higher heat. Blew me away !!! 5 minutes later my second piece was done with outstanding clarity and contrast. Had to try again, this time larger pic ... same quality. You can actually feel the embedded toner. Oh certainly your Citri-Solv transfers are awesome (and do have nice vibrancy and contrast) but I implore you ... TRY the tool. What I am going to do is make a small video and show you how quick it really is, hopefully I can change your mind. So below pictured is firstly the one that I supremely failed on (low heat and very little pressure). In the same picture is my second try (more heat and pressure). The second picture is the second try and my last try. Oh sorry for crappy photos. I have a cheap webcam I had to 'snap' pics from.
Ninzerbean (author)  Aight_then2 years ago
5 minutes is a long time - to me. I can transfer a photo in less than a minute. Your transfer looks great! When I am using this technique I am doing dozens and dozens of repeats on fabric. Can you wash yours and have it look the same? That is key to me when transferring to fabric because it will be washed over and over. Have you tried color prints? I think that is why people ask if they can use a laser printer.
Haha ... you're so totally like me Ninzerbean ... 5 mins. IS a long time for me too, at least that's what the wife says, DOH !!!??? Thanks for the nice comment. I actually tried hand washing and there was slight fading in areas but permanence is certainly desirable. Judging by the look of your transfers, I am thinking they are high in carbon. I think my toner has more plastic than carbon and it really feels like it after a heat transfer. Maybe Citri-Solv somehow ' fuses ' your toner (and any toner?) upon evaporation ... maybe ALL chemical transfers do that ... just an idea !? Did you check out the excellent and informative link on toner I sent earlier ? I have tried color prints on wood (actually MDF) with excellent results, but not fabric. You say you are doing dozens and dozens at a time ... WOW !!!??? As good as your technique is and as quick and durable the results ... you should have a custom print bidness, even though it is not printing per se!? Anyways ... here is the vid I just made (not the greatest quality):
TexasBarb2 years ago
Hi. I wanted to share what worked for me. I tried this several different ways. First time I made several things using the printouts from the library and it took a good ten or twenty minutes of rubbing with the edge and bowl of the spoon but made a nice faded tone with a vintage look to it.
Then I tried printing some off at the neighborhood gas station. For holding the print down I found using blue painters tape around the edges would stay on better if the citrisolve got under it. Masking tape released quickly. I held a cotton ball on the top of the bottle of citrisolve turning it over for two or three seconds to wet the cotton ball then rubbed the back of the print covering the whole back of the paper quickly to show the image. I started rubbing at one edge of the image with the edge of my spoon then raised a small corner to check if was doing anything and found It started transferring immediately! It made a dark crisp print that took maybe two minutes to do the entire thing!
It was Amazing! I had also tried some prints from office depot that didn't work. But all of the copy machines I tried that cost .10 cents a print at the station, grocery store, and a small printing company all worked great! It is worth the looking around to find that perfect printer. Once you see how easy it can be the possibilities are endless. And it's addictive. Just warning you. Lol!
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