Last month we hosted our very first ice dye workshop. It was a colorful good time filled with laughs, ice, and lots of questions. Number one question? How do you speed up the process if we need the ice to melt? The folks attending the workshop solved the question in some of the most amazing ways: fireplace, space heater, MICROWAVE!
We thought it’d be fun to accumulate some of the most frequently asked questions to help you along your ice dye journey.
Q: How much space do I need?
A: Not a lot. A table is perfect. You’re going to want to be close to a sink. And, if you’re ice dyeing something big … consider more space!
Q: What tools do I need?
A: A colander + bowl combo is your best bet. The colander will hold your dyeable and ice, while allowing the runoff from the ice to drain through. The bowl will capture the runoff. If the ice runoff has nowhere to go, you’ll end up with a colored dyeable, but not the amazing patterns that come from ice dyeing. You also need GLOVES!
Q: What can I dye?
A: Anything so long as the fabric is made up of mostly natural fibers: Cotton, Rayon, Hemp, Linen, Silk, Wood, Cane, and Rattan. We go 100% cotton when we can.
Q: What is soda ash?
A: Officially? It’s sodium carbonate. But for our purposes it’s most helpful to know that soda ash changes the PH of your dyeable, allowing the dye to stick to the fabric’s fibers better.
Q: Where do I buy soda ash?
A: Well you can make it! But we don’t even do that 🙂 You can grab some on Amazon, in most craft stores, or online shops that sell cold-water activated dyes. Dharmatrading.com is our favorite.
Q: Is it safe to dispose of my soda ash bath down the drain?
A: In small amounts, yes. Disposing of a lot of soda ash? Here are some helpful hints.
Q: What should I do if I get soda ash on me?
A: You should always wear gloves when working with soda ash. This includes after your ice has melted and you’re rinsing your dyeable. For the first few weeks of ice dyeing, I decided gloves were too much work. My hands got so dry and my nails weakened. Needless to say, gloves aren’t too much work anymore! If some part of your skin comes in contact with the soda ash water, rinse it with soap and water. No need to worry if you get soda ash water on your clothes, it’ll come out in the wash, but we recommend swapping that article of clothing as soon as you can.
Q: How long do I leave my dyeable in the soda ash bath?
A: A minimum of 20 minutes. So far, we’ve figured out no maximum amount of time. In fact, we load up a rubber tote with dyeables and soda ash water to be ready when the mood strikes to ice dye. Those dyeables have sat in the soda ash bath for a week with no issues!
Q: How should I shape/arrange my dyeable?
A: Now we’re getting to the fun part. There is no wrong answer. We highly recommend playing around with every option you can think of. Let’s use socks as an example:
*Crumple socks together.
*Crumple socks alone.
*Twist two socks together (our favorite).
*Want a lot of white left? Twist ’em tightly. The tightness keeps some of the white of your socks protected from the dye.
*Want a lot of color all over? Twist ’em loosely.
*It’s even fun to dye two socks separately with the same colors – use more of color A on the first sock and more of color B on the second sock. You end up with a kick-butt yin and yang pair of socks.
*Don’t forget you can use rubber bands to help you keep shapes of your dyeable, or use rubber bands to get white lines throughout the dyeable.
Q: What’s the best kind of ice to use?
A: Whatever you got! You can even use snow. We love the cylindrical type with a hole down the middle. We often use the crescent-shaped ice because that’s what the drug store near us carries.
Q: Is there such a thing as too much ice?
A: Not really. But, the more ice you load up, the longer it will take to dye. Plus, we HATE wasting ice. Rule of thumb is use enough ice to fully cover all fabric of your dyeable.
Q: What do you use to dye big pieces like sheets?
A: We haven’t encountered a giant colander yet. But we’re keeping our fingers crossed. We got crafty by using a big rubber tote, drilling some holes in the sides and running string through the holes. Then we shaped chicken wire to fit on top of the string and sit inside the tote. In other words, we made a makeshift giant colander!
Q: Do I need to use a lot of dye?
A: Answering your question with another question! Do you want vibrant color? Don’t skimp on the dye. Want white showing through? Use less dye. Really though, experimenting with the amount of dye is one of the most fun parts of this whole ice dyeing business.
Q: How do I care for my Sideye/ice dye creation?
A: After your ice has melted, rinse your dyeable out in the sink. At first you’ll notice a lot of color in the water. Slowly, that’ll decrease. When the water runs clear, throw it in the washer. We recommend throwing an old towel in the washer to capture any additional loose dye. We wash our dyed goods on it’s own or with other tie dye once more. Then it just gets added to the laundry like all the other things.
Got more questions? Got recommendations? We want to hear ’em! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.