Dye Study - Mordant Toxicity

Wheat, Agreed on a study topic! I have not read extensively on mordant comparisons, but having worked in the garden industry during my working life, I know the most common mordant: Aluminum sulphate, is a fertilizer. It is frequently used to turn hydrangea blooms blue. Alum (same thing) is frequently used in foods, especially pickles. It is also common in deodorants (not the aluminum hydroxide that several years ago got the bad rap about causing Alzheimer’s). Aluminum is the most common metal on earth, supposedly (can’t quote source there). All that said, I’m guessing there are heavy metals used in commercial dyes.

Having also been an art major, and having watercolored for years, there are pigments (same things used in a lot of dyes) that are very toxic, and lots of watercolorists and painters avoid them. Particularly bad are the cadmium pigments.

There is a difference to me in reading the warnings to use a respirator (NOT a mask; the thing you see commercial painters wear) with chemical dyes, and being warned to wear a dust mask with natural dyes and mordants to avoid irritation (not poisoning or cancer).

I am not an expert on the chemical properties of natural dyes; I think some of the recent dye books are much better at dealing with these things. We would all benefit from personal research and sharing on this topic. Thanks for the suggestion! What about it everyone? I will make the promise to research this (if given the time) and report back after the fall fair season ends. I look forward to the findings of other dyers!

Did you know blue jeans cause cancer? If you eat one pair a day for a year,…

moved your comment from the Fiber In The News over here to the Dyeing Forum,
Hopefully that will help you find more who may be interested in more in depth study and information exchange.

@fluidpaint@wheat very interesting. I have only used Alum in mordanting fiber but have used homemade iron water and oak gall water added to jars of dye bath and using pre alum mordanted fiber to dip in them. Just free wheeling it no measuring but from my experience you don’t need much iron water. I try to keep my fingers out of it. Oh and vinegar with acid dyes. Stay out of the breeze with those guys.

Just had a minute and thought I’d check in: Alminum sulphate is used in: Water purification, for tanning leather, fireproofing and water proofing cloth and in antiperspirants. Toxicity Most cases occur in renal dialysis patients exposed to intravenous or intraperitoneal aluminium-containing dialysates. Also this site with the same basic information as the quote: https://study.com/academy/lesson/aluminum-sulfate-uses-toxicity.html

Still needs more research, but I know of other dyers who will pour water with alum. Sulphate down the drain. Personally, I use it on my acid loving plants (most evergreens; broad leaf and needle types). As I said in a prior post, it is a fertilizer. Technically it is not a fertilizer, but because it is highly acidic, it is used as an amendment to soils to balance them.

More to come…

But also if commercially you’re working with heavy volume of powder dyes, you should wear a respirator. The heaviest mask is usually an n95 which means it will filter 95% of particles. Respirators filter 100%… So for employee safety they (commercial dyers) should offer the respirator…