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How to tie-dye without soda ash

Updated February 21, 2017

Traditional tie-dyeing methods involve using soda ash to help adhere the fabric dye onto the fibres. However, most people do not have access to soda ash. One solution is to use salt instead of soda ash to encourage the dye to bond to the fibres. When you use salt instead of soda, the dye bath solution is safe for the skin, making it appropriate for younger children to work around and take part in.

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Fill a large stock pot with water. Select a stock pot that is large enough to hold the T-shirts so that they will be completely submerged into the water.

Pour 1 cup of table salt into the water. The salt will help the fabric dye adhere to the cotton in the shirts. Heat the stock pot over high heat until it boils, then reduce the heat to medium-low to simmer.

Pour in 118ml. of liquid fabric dye per 1 gallon of water. Stir the fabric dye into the water with a spoon until the solution is evenly saturated with colour.

Place a white cotton T-shirt flat onto a table top and pinch a section of the shirt in your fingers. Twist the section and tie a rubber band tightly around it. Repeat this process until the entire T-shirt has been twisted and tied. Repeat with as many shirts as you want to be tie-dyed.

Submerge the prepared T-shirts into the dye bath and push them down with a spoon so that they are completely submerged in the solution.

Allow the shirts to simmer for 15 minutes, then remove them and place them into a sink. Run warm water over the shirts until the water runs clear, then run cold water over the shirts.

Take out the rubber bands, and hang up the tie-dyed T-shirts to air dry.

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Things You'll Need

  • Stock pot
  • Salt
  • Fabric dye, liquid
  • Spoon
  • Rubber bands
  • Cotton T-shirts

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