Stovetop Kool-aid Dying Using Alum As an Modant





Introduction: Stovetop Kool-aid Dying Using Alum As an Modant

this is an instructable on how to use alum as a mordant (something used to help fix dye to fiber) to pre-treat wool yarn so the dye will be permanently set in the fiber. Also how to dye yarn using Kool-aid on a stove top. You can skip the kool-aid step and use your own dyes or natural plant dyes instead.

I found the recipe for the Alum mordant at :

Step 1: What You Need

For the pretreatment you'll need:
cream of tarter
yarn in a light colour it needs to be wool
a scale
2 chairs
metal pots NOT aluminum or cast iron

For the Kool-aid dyeing:
measuring cups
metal pots NOT aluminum or cast iron
spoons or tongs

Step 2: Getting the Yarn Ready

Take you yarn a wrap it around the backs of two chairs. Tie it loosely in about 3 places to keep it tidy.

Get your yarn damp, and squeeze out any extra water.

Step 3: Using the Alum Mordant

Fill a pot with water and heat.
Weigh yarn, mine weighed 100 grams per skein.
Add 10% Alum to yarn weight and 5% Cream of Tartar to the pot.
Add yarn, making sure that it is covered by the mixture, if not then add more water.
Let the yarn simmer for one hour.
Remove fiber and squeeze out excess water

You can let the yarn dry and dye it a different time.
From here you can continue and use kool-aid to dye, or do your own thing, and use natural dyes.

Step 4: Dying With Kool-aid

You don't have to use yarn that has been pre-treated with the Alum for these steps, but I wanted to make sure my colour was long lasting so i did just in case.

Add 1 package of Kool-aid to 3 parts water and 1 part vinegar. The vinegar will help keep the colours bright in the future.
Simmer dye and add damp yarn.
Simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the colour is all absorbed into the yarn. For me the purple was done after only 10 minutes.
Be sure to occasionally turn yarn over for even dying.

Step 5: Finishing

Rinse yarn, and hang to air dry.

Be sure you don't over stir the yarn or the yarn will felt up. Hot water +movement = felt
The only thing that smells worse then wet wool is burnt wool, so watch your pots.
It is better to not use your kitchen pots that you cook food in, Kool-aid is pretty harmless but other dyes can be bad for you. So don't eat.



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    Kool Aid is a natural Acid Dye. It doesn't require a mordant.
    Alum, Cream of Tartar, even vinegar are completely unnecessary for Kool Aid Dyeing.
    I've been dyeing fabrics and rovings, and yarns for 10 years, and this is how I know.

    would you be able to dye your hair if you added a solidifier,such as guargum, to the substance

    2 replies

    Well I had to exercise my Google-fu for this one since I haven't tried to dye my hair myself. I found 2 methods, here:
    with hot water
    and here:
    with conditioner
    Keep in mind that it needs to be unsweetened kool-aid or your hair will be a mess. Also don't use the Alum mentioned in my instructable on your hair, it's a chemical and as such might be bad for you.

    You might try cornstarch to thicken the kool-aid, but I'm not sure about guar-gum, I couldn't find any information about using it with kool-aid beyond making Popsicles.

    Wait wait wait. Sorry. I know this is a thousand years old in internet time, but "Alum is a chemical and as such might be bad for you"?

    Um. You did notice that it's a food product, right?

    Chemicals are in everything. Sodium Chloride is a chemical. It's also table salt. Sodium Bicarbonate is also a chemical. It's baking soda. Citric acid is a chemical that's naturally found in fruit.

    You should weigh the yarn before you get it wet instead of after.  Recipes are always given for dry weight, because you never know how much weight you are adding with the water.

    Hey, I've seen Warner Bros. cartoons, and the only thing alum does is make your head shrink and your voice get real high pitched ;)

    why are you using alum as a mordant? cooled doesn't really even need vinegar to set either - strait food coloring needs an acid though. But everything I've found up to now doesn't require anything beyond vinegar as a mordant for protein fibers (ex. wool, silk). Alum seems like overkill to me, and increases the toxicity of what you're working with, however if it has a practical use I'd love to know. Thank you.

    4 replies

    Hmmm, I think you'll find that many plants (ie non-substantive dyes) are fugitive without a mordant. Vinegar is not strictly a mordant but can help sometimes. See and . Alum is a classic mordant, and very low in toxicity compared to other commonly used metal salt mordants (it's a food additive so I'm sure it's safe to dye with if you don't drink the water, plus it's safe to dispose of). Alum, as well as helping form a chemical bridge between many dyes and the fibre, can really increase the brightness as well. It doesn't tend to shift shades though, unlike other mordants. I've only started researching natural dyeing for a week, and this is what I've learnt from a million billion places from many experimental, empirical and often environmentally-minded sources and I doubt everyone is simultaneously misguided you know, silverrowan? But I'm glad the plants you are using are colour and lightfast with vinegar - if you could share their latin names I'd love to know! Thankyou.

    Here's a good example of how Alum can brighten colours. From left to right : Madder root no mordant, madder root iron mordant, madder root alum mordant, madder root alum and iron mordants. Then we have: cochineal no mordant, cochineal alum mordant, cochineal iron mordant, cochineal alum and iron mordants.


    That's really gorgeous! Have you got an idea of colour/light-fastness with/without alum yet? (Guess it depends upon the fibre/dye combo though.)

    Ok, perhaps this should be two instructables instead of just one. One for preparing yarn for dying with Alum and another for kool-aid dyeing. In this instructable I used koolaid, which is not a plant dye, but I wanted to practise my mordanting, so I combined them. Alum is often used in making pickles crunchy, so is not harmful.

    I am making fingerboards (mini skateboards) and do you think that the dyes would penetrate the maple veneer fully so that when I cut the shape the dyes can be seen from the side?

    1 reply

    hmmm, I would have to say probably not. I just don't think that kool-aid has enough dye in it. But I could be wrong, I'd try it on a test piece of wood first if I were you.

    you should be able to, just keep an extra close eye on it in order to not wreck it. You can dye any animal or plant based yarn. (not acrylic)

    ok iam confused do i need to add soemthing besides the koolaid to the mohair?????thanks for your help

    When you use Kool-aid you don't, the pret-reatment was more for if you wanted to do some natural dyeing afterwards. I did both types in one go so I just put the pre-treatment and the kool-aid dying together. The vinegar will help to brighten the colours somewhat, and help the dye to last.

    thank you phantom iam going to try it tommorrow with some white wool i think all the diff koolaid colours would look awesome as granny squares.

    my favorite is the ice blue raspberry lemonade