MORDANT MONDAY: Color Bleeding + Pickling Vegetables With Aluminum Acetate?

We get mordant questions all the time at Botanical Colors so why not create Mordant Monday??? Got mordanting questions? Email [email protected]

YOU ASKED: I am new to dyeing and am hoping you can provide some knowledge. I have mordanted and dyed a cotton sheet with oak gall, cutch and ferrous sulfate. I sprinkled citric acid to remove some color while the fabric was  drying. If I now bathe the fabric in calcium carbonate will the color change? If so in what way?

Currently the dye is coming off on my hands when I handle the fabric. Should I iron? Should I launder with gentle soap? Please advise, my fabric is beautiful and I do not wish to ruin it.

KATHY ANSWERED: Welcome to the world of natural dyeing! We are so glad you are here and looks like you definitely need our help. I’m not clear on why you are immersing the fabric in calcium carbonate, unless you are trying to neutralize the citric acid? To answer your question, calcium carbonate will change the color of the dyes, typically causing cutch to become warmer, sometimes almost terracotta or rust-colored.

If the dye is coming off on your hands, washing will remove the excess dye. However, be aware that it will dramatically change the depth of shade of your piece. Ironing or heat will not “set” the dye.

YOU ASKED: I recently attended a mini dyeing workshop and the instructor said that aluminum acetate is safe to use for pickling vegetables. Is this true? I use it to mordant cellulose substrates. I know that alum or potassium aluminum sulfate is used for pickling but can aluminum acetate be used too?

KATHY ANSWERED: This is not something that I have ever heard. The type of aluminum acetate we carry is not considered edible and I do not have information on how it is used as a pickling agent. All of our mordants may be considered non-toxic, and sometimes even food grade, but we do not store them in a food safe manner and don’t recommend their use in food preparation. Stick with the tried and true methods. Side note, we love this pickling recipe.