All About Black Fiber Reactive (Procion) Dyes

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5 shades of black Fiber Reactive dyes, each with a different color cast; which one should you use?! Three of them work well in lower temperature direct application methods like tie-dye,  batik and low immersion techniques, including baggie and snow (or ice) dyeing, where the temperatures used are cooler but the fabric is kept moist long enough for the dye to develop full depth. You will see, however, some differences depending upon which one you use and your particular situation and techniques. All five can be used for tub-dyeing (when you are dyeing a solid color shade) and here there are also some differences:

#44 Better Black - one of our most popular blacks. Tub dyes with a blue cast and edges are blue to blue green in tie-dye. Not black on protein fibers.
#300 New Black - now tied with #44 for the title of most popular black! Tub dyes with a blue cast and edges are blue/pink in tie-dye. Not black on protein fibers.
#200 Raven Black- NEW! - A cold water black that has more balanced cast than 300 or 44, and gives the deepest black of all of the “cold water” reactives in tub dyeing. Tie-Dyeing the edges are blue to bluish purple, a deeper shade than 44, and slightly darker than 300. We think it is going to be a great new option for dyers doing all kinds of techniques. And while no cold water black can ever equal the depth of a hot water black like #250 in solid dyeing, this one is the next best, and much more economical than a hot water black. Not black on protein fibers.
#250 Jet Black - Darkest black we have for cotton and other cellulose fibers IF tub dyed in HOT (130° to 150°F) water! Not black on silk or wool or other protein fibers (nice dark brown though). In tie-dye, batik or low immersion techniques done at room temperature it yields edges that run mossy and olive green, it can be a really neat look but not the best as your basic black for tie-dye with other colors. If you want to try it for tie-dye, as some do use it quite successfully, you need to mix with HOT tap water, use your urea, and then either batch it under black plastic in the sun in the summer, or under a heated blanket (protected by plastic, of course) in the colder temperatures.
#275 Hot Black - Also best tub dyed in hot (150° to 180°F) water, like the #250. Tub dyes with a deep but bluish black cast on cotton. With Soda Ash on silk is a deep blackish brown, with vinegar on silk, came out black in our tests and a less deep shade of black on wool. #250 Jet has never come out black on silk or wool. Tie-dye came out blue black for us in warm ambient room temp of 75°F or more! (unlike #250, which it was replacing). If you are looking for a different black, give it a try. The only Fiber Reactive black that works on silk! Also the BEST Fiber Reactive black for Discharging!
#39 Black - we regret to say we are discontinuing this black, our original from many many many years ago, as it is our least popular black, our least black Black, and sales no longer support keeping it. We are happy to mix up 5 or more pounds for special orders, as always with discontinued colors.

Some tips and tricks to get the best out of your blacks:

•  You have to use a lot of dye:
   In tub dyeing, 7-8% weight of goods. Always paste up your dye, preferably with Urea water mixture, to get it all dissolved and avoid “freckles” of undissolved dye, particularly red. (If you are still having freckles, filtering your dissolved dye through a very thin fabric like habotai silk can help.)
   8 teaspoons per cup of Urea water for tie-dye, it can help to mix this in a blender vs by hand as it is hard to paste up that much dye in such a small amount of water. Here is where your Urea really pulls its weight, as it is a dissolving agent as well as a wetting agent. Shake your solution back up before applying, as the heavier red often sinks to the bottom when it has been sitting.
•  Use 1.5 to 2 times as much salt in TUB dyeing as you normally would - this forces more of the dye to the fabric.
•  Some folks love  50/50 combination of #44 and #300 for tie dye and batik. We got a mean black tie-dye with our new Raven Black! In tub dyeing your hot water #250 gives the darkest black of all. #200 Raven gives the darkest tub dye of the coldwater blacks.
•  Keep the blacks as dark as possible and reduce washout by adding the extra step of soaking the finished dyed garment in Dharma Dye Fixative or Retayne. (When the dyebath is done, drain it but don't rinse the garments/fabric. Fill tub back up with HOT water and the fixative, 1 oz per lb of fabric, so 8 oz for a full washing machine load. Soak it in that, agitating occasionally, for 30 minutes, then rinse and wash in HOT water and Synthrapol as usual. Sometimes it is necessary to wash black items twice. But without Retayne or Dharma Dye fixative, you might have to rinse and wash more. The nature of the beast. This helps with any darker shade you want to dye, by the way.
•  For tub dyeing- STIR STIR STIR!!! - The most your item is agitated, and for a full hour after adding the soda ash, the more dye will penetrate the fabric for a deeper and more even color.

 For re-blacking black clothes and jeans that have faded, you can get away with a lot less dye. (4 to 8 oz per machine load, depending on how badly faded - instead of a pound!) To make it worth while, gather up enough faded black stuff so you can just do a whole washing machine load (about 8 lbs. of fabric) and follow our basic tub dying directions.

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