A Crash Course in Dyeing with Kool-Aid

Dyeing wool with Kool-Aid is very easy, and best of all, totally safe!  Kool-Aid drink mix is an acid dye, which means it will only dye protein fibers: wool, mohair, camelid fibers, angora or silk. 

 Since the drink mix is non-toxic you can use your regular cookware and kitchen utensils – no need to have separate pots, measuring cups, etc.  For dyeing with Kool-Aid you’ll need:

  • Yarn or roving
  • Kool-Aid packets (for bright colors use 1 packet per ounce of fiber)
  • Large pot or microwave-safe dish; or pot with a steamer basket
  • Rubber or latex gloves

 To begin, soak your fiber in warm water with a couple drops of dish soap or rinse aid (Jet Dry) for about 30 minutes.  Squeeze out excess water or spin it out in a salad spinner.  While the fiber is soaking, prepare your dyepot by filling halfway with water and adding drink mix powder (don’t add any sugar).  Heat the dyepot to almost a simmer and add the fiber, making sure it’s all submerged.  Keep the dyepot near a simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring gently a few times so that the fiber doesn’t rest on the bottom of the pot.  Check the dyebath by scooping some of the water in a clear container (i.e., a Pyrex measuring cup or Mason jar).  When it’s clear, all the dye has been absorbed.  Remove the dyepot from the burner and let it cool to room temperature.  Rinse the fiber in clean water (about the same temperature as the dyebath) and air dry.

 To use your microwave to dye your fiber, add water and Kool-Aid to your microwave-safe dish/bowl.  Stir so that the powder is dissolved.  Add the pre-soaked fiber and enough water to cover the fiber.  Microwave for 2 minutes and check the fiber.  If the dye isn’t fully absorbed, microwave in 2 minute increments until it is (let the fiber rest in between heating so that it doesn’t burn).  When the dyebath is clear, cool the pot to room temperature and rinse as above.

 Dyeing with Kool-Aid is something everyone can try, since there’s no need for special equipment.  It’s even a fun activity to do with your children.  During the fall and winter, what better way to spend a day than dyeing with some Kool-Aid?

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