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Sodium Alginate Instructions


Sodium Alginate is primarily used in food production as a thickener and emulsifier although it also has a variety of uses in areas such as printing, packaging, industrial, and medical/dental applications.

In the textile craft industry Sodium Alginate can be used to thicken liquid fabric dyes so they can be brushed onto fabric like fabric paints, as well as stamped, stenciled, or silk screened. Some Tie-Dyers add a tiny bit to their dye solutions to make their lines more crisp, so the dyes don’t bleed as much, for fancy patterns. While thickened dyes may be more work to use than paints, the reward is they leave absolutely no feel on the fabric the way paints can.

Sodium Alginate is natural, non-toxic, and also the most economical thickener for fabric dyes. It is extracted from seaweed (brown algae or kelp), like what you find along the California beaches. At Dharma Trading Co. we carry two types of of Sodium Alginate Thickener: High viscosity (typically used for cotton, silk screening and stenciling) and low viscosity (often used on silk). The high viscosity sodium alginate creates thicker dye and the low viscosity allows for finer lines (like drawing colored lines of thickened dye with a gutta applicator bottle) but does not get as thick.


Sprinkle the thickener into the chemical water or liquid dye slowly, mixing continuously. (You can also use a blender - add the alginate through the top with the blender going). Let sit for an hour or so to continue to thicken before use. Refrigerate to store. Don't over-thicken, thinner is better.

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