All About Dyes

No one really knows how or when people first learned that colors could be taken from natural materials to be transferred onto stone, wood, clay, skin, or cloth. Many early discoveries were probably accidental: a section of cloth stained brown by someone sitting on iron-rich soil; a cook’s hands absorbed color from food during preparation. An interest for color is next to human nature. Color perceives life, things, moods and movements as well as taste. Can you imagine a world devoid of color?
Certainly not. For example, an art aficionado cannot properly appreciate Michelangelo’s painting of “The Last Supper” if it lacks color because color depicts the theme of that painting. Mercifully, necessity always comes into play for as they say, “necessity is the mother of all inventions”. Man’s necessity drove him to be resourceful and make things out of nothing either by accident or sheer force of nature, to fulfill his needs and improve the lives of others.
The discovery of coloring materials such as dyes were the by-products of a man’s never-ceasing thinking cap, signaling a domino effect to the invention of synthetic dyes—dyes produced from chemical infusions. This paper will discuss the common information one has to learn in order to know the benefits people gain from using dyes and to use it with concern on its effects on the environment and on the user itself. The process of tie-dyeing, a method common in many societies and in the fashion industry, will also be discussed as a form of craft and an alternative to the different fashion trends being followed today.

Origin and History A dye is a substance capable of coloring materials such as textiles, paper or plastics and is generally applied in a solution or dispersion. Dyes, as said are usually of natural origin but nowadays are all synthetically made. Various discoveries were made by leading chemists such as Peter Woulfe, Michael Faraday and Sir William Henry Perkin as the years progressed. Earliest records of using dyestuffs dates’ way back 2600 B. C. in China. As no chemical-producing colors were yet to be invented, colors were derived by natural means.
Natural dyes such as quercitron, a black oak’s bark yields a yellow dye, and cudbear, a red or purple dye obtained from lichens used as a colorant in pharmaceutical preparations were some early sources. Cudbear is another natural dye patented by its discoverer Dr. Cuthbert Gordon. From dated artifacts and early manuscripts we know that long before the Christian era many civilizations in various parts of the world were using dyes and pigments for many purposes. All dyes available to men from antiquity came from natural sources.
Most of these were vegetable extracts and a few were from animal products a popular example of which was the Tyrian purple dye derived from a Mediterranean mollusk murex, utilized for the emperor’s robes and tunic (http://www. dyesonline. net). Hence, the colors produced from these sources were scarce and limited. The middle Ages and early years of the Renaissance saw the dye industry spread from the eastern Mediterranean toward the west and northward into Europe. It is said that there were some 200 dye enterprises in Jerusalem during the 12th century.
In 1160 A. D, Jewish dyers gained influence westward and took control of most of the Italian dye industry. Florence, Italy in the 14th century was famous for their dye works. As the Renaissance progressed and Europe began importing indigo and other dyes, controversy arose concerning the handling and control of foreign dyestuffs (http://www. herbsociety-stu. org/Dyeing. htm). Dyes were also a part of the ancient Egyptian civilization. Proofs were unearthed Egyptian mummies wrapped a cloth dyed red, probably from the juice of the madder plant.
Even Alexander the Great of Macedonia fooled his adversaries by sprinkling red dye on his army to deceive that they were mortally wounded. Based on legend, dyes were a part of a Roman civilization. The demi-god Hercules discovered Tyrian purple, when his dog bit a snail which stained his jaw purple. It can be explained why most of the kings and queen’s robes were usually purple. The color indigo is found in many antique quilts, both in cloth dyed by traditional methods of vat dyeing, and fabric that has been synthetically-dyed.
In Malaysia and Indonesia, a method called Batik dyeing was used in ancient times. It employs wax treatment to the cloth beforehand to produced unusual designs and patterns to the cloth. From natural dyes came the discovery of producing synthetic dyes that can be used easily and can adopt well when applied into different kind s of surfaces and fabrics. The British chemist, Peter Woulfe, treated the natural dye indigo with nitric acid to create picric acid. Though able to stain various materials yellow, it was not used for this purpose until the late 1840’s (http://www. micro. magnet. fsu. du/micro/gallery. html). The birth synthetic dyes started with the discovery of Scottish chemist, Sir William Henry Perkin of “mauve or mauveine”, a pale purple dye obtained from crude aniline, and the first synthetic dye to be manufactured and used. This breakthrough opened the possibilities of creating a variety of dyes through the synthesis of materials. The emergence of synthetic dye industries phased out the previously used natural dyes among manufacturers. Composition Chief compositions of dyes are substances synthesized from aromatic hydrocarbons such as toluene, benzene and naphthalene.
Traditionally, hydrocarbons were derived from a raw material called coal tar. Coal tar is a thick black liquid obtained by the destructive distillation of bituminous coal in coke oven or retort to give such important products such as benzene, discovered by Michael Faraday, phenol, naphthalene and creosote. As the name suggests, hydrocarbons are compounds that contain hydrogen and carbon only (Sakheim and Lehman, p. 248). Sources of hydrocarbons are petroleum and natural gas. Classification Dyes are classified in several ways.
They may be classified to the fiber or materials to which they are applied or on their chemical contents. Types of dyes include direct or substantive dyes, which can color fabrics with the aid of an affixing agent called mordant; disperse dyes, which are generally used to dye nylon and other hydrophobic fibers, the fiber-reactive dyes, mordant dyes and vat dyes (Abrahart, p. 7). Vat dyes such as indigo are commonly used for cotton and other cellulosic fibers. Direct dyes are cheaper in usage because it can be applied by just simply dipping the fabric in the solution.
Fixation rate or the rate of how fast a dye stains a material may depend on the pressure, heat and the ability of the substance to permeate the given material. Other types include Azo dyes. It is the largest group of dyes. All types of azo dyes amount to over one thousand and are commercially the most important class of synthetic coloring (http://www. dyesonline. net). Forms Forms of dyes include powder, granules, pastes, liquids, pellets and chips to suit different kinds of surfaces and fabric textures and also for flexibility in application. Liquid and powder dyes are generally for fabrics.
Forms of dyes are alternated to best adopt to heat, weather conditions, ultra-violet rays and also in reinforcing fiber, free from heavy metals. Methods The process of dyeing may be done depending on the specific dye to be used as well as the material on which it will be applied. Silk, wool and some other textiles may, for instance, be directly applied by simply dipping them into the colorant (http://micro. magnet. fsu. edu/micro/gallery/dyes. html). In the Philippines, the method of dyeing involves dissolving the powdered dye into boiling water.
The t-shirt to be dyed beforehand is tied with rubber bands on desired area of the shirts to create circular designs or prints. Other method involves the use of vats and the affixing agent mordant for better color cohesiveness. Uses Anything can be tie dyed – T-shirts, jeans, sheets, pillowcases, fabric, scarves, and sportswear. From acting as colorants in plastics as well as in the field of biotechnology, Dyes were commercially used in the textile industry for variations in fabric colors such as in t-shirts, handkerchief, draperies and other fabrics.
The world of art has never been the same again since the emergence of different color variations from acrylic supplies. The first acrylic-based color was Prussian blue. In the field of cosmetics, hair dyes were invented. The first hair coloring was sold in 1907 in France. In 1956, Miss Clairol became the first in-home hair dye that was also used as a shampoo (Buckley, p. 72). Photography also benefited from the invention of dyes. Men like Eastman-Kodak, Daguerre and Niecephore made used of dyes in their attempt to improve photography by putting in colored forms (Rigg and Stone, p. 8). Dyes are also used as a colorant for food and drinks. Carbonated drinks, junk foods and preserved foods make use of dyes to stimulate appetite among its patrons. Other dye applications includes paper and pulp products, adhesives, art supplies, beverages, ceramics, construction materials, glass, paints, polymers, soaps and in the industry of inking and tinting. Modern technology made money and investments in this industry. Without dyes, we never would have colored printed documents from the computer.
In fashion, dyed shawls became a part of a person’s accessory. Beautiful sarongs and malongs with varying styles and designs can be seen almost everywhere on the beach. Men and women alike cannot resist showing off their fashion statements, whether in or out of the sun. Dyes are an integral part of Microbiology. Dyes are used to make microorganisms distinctly visible and or to differentiate them. Crystal violet (C-8650) and safranine (S-0700) are the two dyes that are used in Gram’s stain, a technique of staining to classify bacteria respectively.
In it, a bacterial specimen is stained with crystal violet, afterwards it is treated with iodine solution, decolorized with alcohol and lastly again counter-stained with safranine. It has been found out that Gram-positive bacteria is able to retain the violet stain, while Gram-negative cannot (http://dyespigments,com/applications. html). Tie-Dyeing Tie-dyeing method is common to hand-loom weavers of the ancient times and became popular in the revival of craft in the 1960’s. It is used to decorate curtains and table cloths but is now been utilized to create artistic designs on casual clothes.
Since then tie-dyed clothes and cloths are now a common feature in craft fairs. Even though tie-dyeing is truly an art, the process can involve ordinary people and engage them in relatively easy methods on designing their clothes. First, the materials to be used must be prepared. Home tie-dyeing do not require any chemicals of some sort thus removing the risks of hazardous exposures. Materials include cotton t-shirt, dye in various colors, rubber gloves, rubber bands, salt, mixing containers, and water.
The rubber gloves do not only prevent the person to color his or her own hands with dye but also prevents harmful dusts common in dye powders. Mixing containers are used in mixing dyes to have different colors and also used for dipping the clothes. The rubber bands will be used to tie the shirts. Other safety instruments like a face mask should be used. The next step is to tie portions of the shirt. Different techniques in tying can create different patterns and designs. Basically, the areas tied by the rubber bands become the border of colors.
Through random or patterned ties, horizontal pleats create vertical stripes and vice versa, one can create designs using the rubber bands. However, one should make sure that the ties are tight to prevent the dye from penetrating and coloring the entire cloth. Using the instructions provided by the manufacturer, mix the dyes accordingly in separate containers. Some powder dyes generally require to be mixed in boiling or hot water in order to dissolve. Do so carefully. One may also combine colors to create other desired but unavailable ones. After it is mixed add a few teaspoons of salt to the mixture.
The salt can help set the pigment of the dye. Using rubber gloves, swirl the tied shirt in the dye mixture, immersing different areas in different dye colors. Leave the areas soaked for about an hour for it to fully absorb the colors. After soaking let th shirts sit and dry for about 3-4 hours. After drying rinse it with water and remove the rubber bands. Tie-dyeing is usually constituted with trial and error. The maker cannot really see the designs made by his or her ties. However one should always make sure that the ties are tight. Also, proper working clothes should also be worn. Old clothes are suggested and rubber gloves are required.
Lastly, always protect work areas with old newspapers and other protective materials to prevent it from being colored. Environmental Issues and Health Hazards For one thing, dyes are toxic. As synthetic dye industries began to flourish with time, certainly, there is need to produce dyes in large quantities and efficiencies. And since dyes are chemically synthesized, environmental hazards were encountered by dye manufacturers and textile companies. In the research, Health Hazards in the Dye Industry, A. K. Smith, M. D. hazards concerning chemical compounds threaten workers in crowded dye industries of severe diseases.
Smith saw the mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids used to nitrate benzine or toluene components as very dangerous to workers exposed on such mixed acids. Nitrous fumes also causes severe respiratory conditions together with atomized acids including nitric peroxide which can be inhaled by workers in the industry. Hair products like hair dyes in cosmetics are said to be harmful to the scalp when a person changes his hair color frequently. Chemicals like AZO in dyes can easily penetrate the scalp and may cause itchiness, allergies and irritation, even cancer as recent studies shows.
In the world today, we are exposed to many agents, some of them naturally occurring and some of them man-made, that either cause direct genetic damage or therefore might be able to produce cancers, or which alter our hormone levels which might encourage cancerous cells to grow. Powder dye in particular can cause adverse health effects like asthma, eczema, and severe allergic reactions on people exposed to its dust. The handling of powder dye and its transfer from large to small containers releases dust which may be inhaled or may stick on a worker’s skin.
This exposure to dust are also perceived to be a source of cancer due to its potent occupational carnocinogen (Wallace). From the invention of the first synthetic organic dyes in mid 19th century till late sixties, textile world was oblivious of the hazardous effects of textile dyes on humans, living species and environment in general. Also, then came the findings of the various Research Institutes of Europe who were engaged in the field of Textile research, that some of these dyes are potentially carcinogenic.
The manufacturing of Eco-labeled dyes are now being promoted to increase awareness on the adverse effects of using dyes on human health and on the environment. Though many new policies are making it hard for the dye industry to survive, these new regulations are necessary for human and environmental welfare. “The extensive use of dyes often poses pollution problems in the form of colored wastewater discharge into environmental water bodies,” said by R. Kaur, TPS Walia, and Sumanjit in a research presented in the Online Journal of Health and Allied Sciences. A lot of cases throughout the whole world are reported about the roles of dyes in connection with variety of skin, lung, and other respiratory disorders. ” They also added that the chemicals in dyeing processes causes variations in wastewater chracteristics like pH, color, and chemical oxygen demand. These changes in characteristics prevents typical wastewater treatment facilities and procedures from handling contaminated waters effectively. In 2006, the Yellow River in China has been reported to have turned red caused by the discharge of dyed water in the river (AP, 2006).
China is known to be a major user of dyes even in the ancient past and is still using it in large quantities. The accident turned a half-mile section of the river into bright red due to spill and then feared to have some toxic effects on the people around the area. It would take some time in chemistry to produce products that are environment-friendly. People should do their share in making this world a healthy place to live in. Conclusion Certainly colors are everywhere. People can find it even in the most unexpected materials. Dyeing has been used for thousands of years already starting with soil and certain leaves as sources of colors.
Now certain chemicals can be used to create artificial colors in decorating cloths for various uses. Dyes are also being utilized in fashion, through hair coloring and clothings. Various forms, powder, liquid, or chips are made to fit in every methods. Regardless of its many uses, careful application should be maintained in order not only to protect ourselves from its hazardous implications but also to prevent our environment from deteriorating due to wastes. Still, one can never erase the diverse benefits people have from using dyes, simply on its adding of color in their life.

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