Chemicals & Dyes Used in the Textile Industry

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  • 0:04 The Textile Industry
  • 0:53 Dyes Used in Textiles
  • 3:19 Chemicals Used in Textiles
  • 4:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

The textile industry uses a variety of chemicals and dyes in the manufacturing of textiles. This lesson covers the variety of chemicals and dyes and why they are used.

The Textile Industry

Did you know that there are some manufacturers making garments out of the skin that forms on top of wine vats? This fermented skin is naturally dyed from the color of the grapes used and always carries around the smell of fermented wine.

Although this is an unconventional dye and textile, it's one of the natural ways that the textile industry can dye materials. Natural products such as grapes, flowers, and minerals can be heated, watered down, and turned into simple organic dyes for clothing.

The textile industry is vast in size due to its variety of products. A textile is a product made by yarn, thread, filaments, or fibers. This means everything from your coffee filters to your clothes are considered textiles. The main categories of textiles are conventional (aesthetics) and technical (functional).

Dyes Used in Textiles

Dyes used in textiles are used to color the original raw material and therefore product. Dyes can be synthetic, which means they're scientifically made with chemicals, or natural, meaning made with things found in nature. Dyeing is usually processed into textiles through a combination of water and the synthetic or natural dyes. The water used for this process in textile manufacturing is immense, which has created the need to have other dry processing for dyes, but none of them are as effective as wet dyeing.

Natural dyes are made from plants and minerals, then are combined with starches and seaweed to make sure it takes to the material.

Synthetic dyes are usually made from coal tar and petroleum. They vary so much because different materials require different chemicals to make the dye adhere. For example, you can't use the same dye for leather that you would for cotton, due to the extreme difference in material.

According to their nuclear makeup, dyes can be anionic or cationic. Some types of synthetic dyes include:

  • Acid: Acid-based dyes are used mostly on nylons and wool.
  • Sulfur: These dyes are combines with caustic soda and water to color clothing, but they lighten quickly.
  • Reactive: These dyes only dye clothing as a reaction to certain fibers, and are best used on silk, wool, and acrylics.
  • Azoic: Lighter colored dyes that fade quickly but are cheap to use.
  • Oxidation: These dyes start off without color and are combined with specific chemicals to create new colors. This type of dye is used a lot for hair coloring.
  • Mordent: This is a chrome based dye that has to be blended with different types of acid to color wools and cotton.
  • Solvent: This dye is usually used in organic dyeing processes because it can be used with organic compounds.
  • Vat: These dyes require four steps of processing, starting off in a vat, and then being combined with certain chemicals.

Each dye has a different process to properly color the material, and none of them are as simple as taking the dye, combining it with water, and soaking the material. Instead they have to be combined with chemicals to make the dye react or adhere to the material. Additionally, some dyes can be combined together to make a better solution to color difficult materials, such as polyester and rayon. Dyes are a chemical, but they aren't the only chemical that is used in producing textiles.

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