Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sandalwood Dyepot Recipe

There are only two things in life that I consider real-life chemistry experiments (my dear sister reminds me…cooking notwithstanding…).  The first is something that I will never do, that is, managing one's backyard pool chemicals.  The other I hope to do many times more: natural dyeing at home!

Sandalwood Dye Recipe

Safety note:  do NOT use any pots or bowls or stirring tools that you plan to return to the kitchen.  I renounce any responsibility if you do this either on purpose or by accident!

Mordant Bath


1) 1 gallon of Bluffton South Carolina tap water (next time I would use warm tap water to reduce the time needed to warm it once in the mordant bath)

2)1 oz alum

.25 oz cream of tartar was suggested by one website, but I eliminated this as it also said that cream of tarter brings out more pastels but is easier on fiber so I decided to eliminate it…I preferred to not have the color toned down

I doubled the amounts of water and alum to give enough liquid to cover the wool in the mordant bath

3) Undyed wool from Ireland: 3 mini skeins 1.8 oz each or 5.4 oz total

Note: I used my dye-dedicated turkey roaster (henceforth DDTR) for both mordant bath and dye bath.

Directions: Preheat the DDTR or your preferred dedicated dyepot and mix water and alum in it, with a dedicated stirring tool. Premoisten the fiber and add, bring to a simmer.  Simmer for an hour then leave in the dyepot to cool overnight.  Parts of my yarn took on a silvery (alminumy?) tone.  The next day, drain. You can reserve the mordant bath for another mordant bath if you wish.


2 oz (48) gm of sandalwood powder

Used this procedure:
Wearing a respirator mask, I mixed powder with alcohol to cover, I used isopropyl alcohol (I didn’t use much as I didn’t have a lot) to cover, next time I’ll use more

Let it sit 30 minutes then add to a quart of water in DDTR, simmer one hour.

Strain through a coffee filter.  I didn’t do this…the dyestock was so pale that I got nervous and dumped the paste in the bottom back into the depot!!

Leftover paste: 

Dyepot plus paste:

A note on amounts: One site said to use 1:1 weight of sandalwood to fiber, another said 2:1of sandalwood to fiber. I used what I had: 1:2.7!!!!

2 oz of sandalwood powder and 5.4 oz of wool (dry) 

Despite my trepidation I went forward and got what I thought were good results:

It did need some rinsing due to powder still in the fiber…it is a bit duller than the photo above but the Afghans for Afghans knitting crew here in Bluffton seems satisfied….

Some nice sites that I used to put this together include:

I thank these bloggers for helping me to formulate my recipe and understand that it’s all a big experiment!

I've added this post as a page for easy future reference, for me if no one else!

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