My first tie-dye kit was a Jacquard kit from a local craft store. Looking back, I was lucky that this was the brand on offer. Firstly, the colours came out vibrant and still are after many washes. Secondly, it contained a powder called soda ash. As I’d never heard of soda ash, I started investigating further.
Soda ash is a fixative that promotes a chemical reaction with fibre reactive dyes, which ensures the dye adheres to the fabric. If you don’t use it, your colours will either wash out completely or be very faded. It can be added in various stages of the process, depending on what type of dyeing you’re doing. I usually make up a batch of soda ash with water and soak my items for at least 20 minutes before dyeing. I then store the soda ash liquid in a bottle for future use.
Some tie dye packs may already have the soda ash powder mixed in with the dry dye powder, which is what I found in a Tulip brand pack I purchased on a different occasion. I now purchase my soda ash from the same store I buy my fibre reactive dyes from. The kits are great for beginners or for someone doing only a couple of projects, but if you’re going to be doing a lot of projects long term, I recommend purchasing your soda ash and your fibre reactive dyes from a store that specialises in these types of items. It will be less expensive in the long run, and you’ll have the pick of colours to choose from. One good thing is that I was able to use the bottles in the kits to mix up my fibre reactive dyes. I just label them with a sticker that can be easily replaced if I change the colour.
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