Introduction: How to Make Rit Dye Paintings and Other Dyed Paintings.

About: I am a part-time hobbyists biotechnologist with a photonics background. I also have a YouTube channel too. I work full time now.


Are you Interested in Making paintings from RIT dyes with bubble wrap and cotton swabs? Well if the answer is yes then I show you my method of doing so. I have tried various chemical Processes like Potassium Permanganate, and 5-SSA (Sulfosalicylic acid) in Iron chloride and Methanol. :)

I have tried mixing Iron sulfate with Oxalic acid to create flakes of yellow powder as an alternative. It works but the process is extremely difficult. One painting I have done looks like due to crystals Jellyfish due to the dyes I added (Crystal violet, Carbonol fushol dye, Methylene blue), etc.

Adding Prussian blue citrate can work as well as long as no strong acids are ever used!

Step 1: Materials, Dyes and Chemicals Required.

Here is a List of Chemicals and Rit dyes I have used for the main painting parts.

Iron (III) chloride.

5-SSA (98 percent).


Potassium Permanganate.

Iron ammonia citrate.

Potassium ferrocyanide.


Rit Navy blue.

Rit Dark green.

Rit Golden yellow (appears Orange).

Rit Purple.

Rit Wine.

Rit Scarlet Red.

Prussian blue citrate.


Cotton swabs.

Different types of bubble wrap that can be washed and re-used.

Printer paper HP but any kind will work. Mine is 8.5 inches by 11 inches paper.

Different sets of Picture Frames.

500 g plus or minus 0.1 g Scale (Digital)- Jewelry Scale will do if you want to weigh out the chemicals.

Beakers, or Measuring cups.

Bottles to keep dyes!

Pipettes - Disposable PE 3 ml types and 10 ml glass types with a bulb.

Step 2: Making the 5-SSA Dye Complex and the Potassium Permanganate Water Dye.

Get 10 g of 5-SSA and add 500 ml of 99.99 percent Methanol as the Alcohol. (Note other alcohols as Isopropanol and Ethanol have worked) but Methanol is an easy Alcohol to get and 4 L cost 12 dollars at my Hardware store.

Stir with a very clean bowl in a glass jar or beaker or measuring cup. Do not use it afterward for food due to trace amounts of toxic chemicals. Once it has completely stirred and dissolved now we add 12 g of Iron (III) chloride 6 Hydrate.

With stirring the solution should go from light color to a dark Purple color. After sitting out (This complex is very stable in excess amounts 500 ml to an L of it) use a filter funnel with to decant (Pour off) the dye into a sealable bottle. I am using a clean old Ammonia hydroxide bottle from Prolab.

Making the Potassium Permanganate solution.

In a plastic bottle, I made by adding to 500 ml (tap water) about 10 g of 99.1 percent Potassium Permanganate solution. Seal and shake the bottle with (tap water). The solution will turn a mild purple color.

Warning: Methanol is toxic, Iron (III) chloride is toxic and corrosive and 5-SSA is an irritant besides being toxic. Wear gloves and goggles or a face shield. This dye stains things so be prepared when working with it.

Step 3: Making the Oxalic Salt (Iron Oxalate) for Other Types of Art.

Well, I was not going to include this since it is kind of difficult to work with. Adding Oxalic acid and Iron sulfate with 1 L of tap water makes a yellow base on paper and once it dries the salt with remaining Oxalic acid with dyes like Rit dyes and Methylene blue, and Crystal violet from staining kits could work very well.

As a note, the Oxalic acid is sort of acidic so I would NOT RECOMMEND adding any Prussian blue complex to this type of Painting. I don't know what the outcome is but it could be dangerous due to the risk of Hydrogen cyanide possibly being released! Don't do it!

Add 14 g of Oxalic acid (Min 98 percent) to 12 g of Iron sulfate (99 percent). Make sure the Iron Sulfate is no more than 2 years old or this may not work very well and mix them and add 1 L of tap water. It should turn orange-yellow and precipitate out.

This solution must be stirred carefully before adding to the Printer paper and It must also be dried partly before those dyes are added. The advantage is that the dyes form mini crystals due to the Oxalic acid and Iron oxalate but the disadvantage is it flakes a LOT!

Step 4: Prussian Blue Complex Dye Process.

To make Prussian blue citrate which is green but turns blue in UV and sunlight you need the following chemicals.

10 g of Iron ammonia citrate.

10 g of Potassium ferrocyanide.

250 ml of tap water to mix these chemicals.

It is a light-sensitive chemical.

Now you can add them to the Printer paper for art.

Note for any Prussian blue chemical never add a strong base past ph 12 and heat or add an acid past ph 3.0! The Prussian blue could, in theory, decompose into Hydrogen cyanide thus killing you and your family, etc instantly. The 5-SSA has iron chloride but its pH is 3 or above and quickly forms a different type of Prussian blue. It is not worth any risk releasing Hydrogen cyanide gas the Immediately Dangerous For Life limit for HCN is 50 mg an L.

Step 5: Setting Up the Supplies for Painting.

Here I am going to show how to set up the painting supplies with Rit dyes and Kmno4 and 5-SSA.

For some papers in a plastic bin (Clear- but optional) add 3 sheets of Printing paper to a dry surface (important). Then with a large 10 ml, glass pipettes carefully drop 2 ml of the 5-SSA dye and then with a fresh new glass 10 ml pipette drop down 2 ml of Potassium Permanganate in water.

If you want you can add Prussian blue.

You can also use bigger drops of 5-SSA complex and add Rit Green and Rit blue and with the small 3 ml, disposable pipettes draw and press the pipette bulb to let some of the dye out. This produces a flower vine effect as I will show with a framed Picture!

Here some more bubble wrap paintings with three dyes (Rit Red, Rit Orange and RIt green). These are just ideas on how to do it. The key with trial and error is how much dye there is compared to white spaces on the paper. In this case, there is too much white space!

Step 6: Experimental Oxalate (Iron Oxalate) Process.

Here I am explaining the procedure of the Yellow-orange Iron Oxalate precipitate that forms.

Oxalic acid (aq) + Iron sulfate (aq) >>> Iron Oxalate(s) + H2SO4 (aq).

2COOHCOOH (aq) + FeSO4 (aq) >>>> Fe(COOHCOO)2 (s) + H2SO4 (acid-aq).

When those two chemicals are mixed a yellow-orange precipitate dye forms. It can coat and dye white printer paper yellow. Then other dyes like Rit dyes can be added.

For more info on how to make the dye see the Iron Oxalate Prep section in this Instructable. Please see the videos I posted here to give you an "Idea" on how to do these types of Paintings.

Note: I found this type of method very picky and difficult. The Iron oxalate as a yellow powder often flakes off and makes it quite difficult to put into a frame. It can be done but once done it may not be advisable to move the painting!! The flaking could come off the paper and potentially ruin the results of the art.

Step 7: Framing the Pictures.

I have to admit I don't know a lot of info on how to do this so Youtube will be my friend with this task.

Here some Pictures of some framed Photos I have done.

Step 8: Final Thoughts of This Project.

Well, I am glad I made this Instructable. I was not going to even post it due to its complex and experimental nature of making the dyes and painting with Printer paper. Originally I was going to do way more but enough I have several different methods here on how to do that.

I am glad I did tho. :)

Painting with dyes can give unique and interesting outcomes and each time they are slightly different. The key is adding enough dye so there is some white space but not too much. If too many dyes are added it ruins the look. As long as you are careful with the chemicals and dyes I recommend you try this.

Note on disposal. All harsh chemicals were disposed of properly keep that in Mind. :)