A Dictionary of Arts: Black Dye.

A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines; containing A Clear Exposition of Their Principles and Practice

by Andrew Ure, M. D.;
F. R. S. M. G. S. Lond.: M. Acad. M. S. Philad.; S. PH. DOC. N. GERM. Ranow.; Mulh. Etc. Etc.

Illustrated with nearly fifteen hundred engravings on wood
Eleventh American, From The Last London Edition.
To which is appended, a Supplement of Recent Improvements to The Present Time.

New York: D Appleton & company, 200 Broadway. Philadelphia: George S. Appleton, 148 Chestnut St.


BLACK DYE. (Teinte noire, Fr.; Schwartze farbe, Germ.) For 1 ewt. of cloth, there are put into a boiler of middle size 18 lbs. of logwood, with as much Aleppo galls in powder, and the whole, being enclosed in a bag, is boiled in a sufficient quantity of water for 12 hours. One third of this bath is transferred into another boiler with two pounds of verdigris; and the stuff is passed through this solution, stirring it continually during two hours, taking care to keep the bath very hot without boiling. The stuff is then lifted out, another third of the bath is added to the boiler, along with eight pounds of sulphate of iron or green vitriol. The fire is to be lowered while the sulphate dissolves, and the baths is allowed to cool for half an hour, after which the stuff is introduced, and well moved about for an hour, after which it is taken out to air. Lastly, the remaining third of the bath is added to the other two, taking care to squeeze the bag well. 18 or 22 lbs. of sumach are thrown in; the whole is just brought to a boil, and then refreshed with a little cold water; two pounds more of sulphate of iron are added, after which the stuff is turned through for an hour. It is thereafter washed, aired, and put again into the bath, stirring it continually for an hour. After this, it is carried to the river, washed well, and then filled. Whenever the water runs off clear, a bath is prepared with weld, which is made to boil for an instant; and after refreshing the bath the stuff is turned in to soften, and to render the black more fasti. In this manner, a very beautiful black is obtained, without rendering the cloth too harsh.

Commonly more simple processes are employed. Thus the blue cloth is simply turned through a bath of gall-nuts, where it is boiled for two hours. It is next passed through a bath of logwood and sulphate of iron for two hours, without boiling, after which it is washed and fulled.

Hellot has found that the dyeing might be performed in the following manner: - For 20 yards of dark blue cloth, a bath is made of two pounds of fustic (morus tinctoria), 4¼ lbs. of logwood, and 11 lbs. sumach. After boiling the cloth in it for three hours it is lifted out, 11 lbs. of sulphate of iron are thrown into the boiler, and the cloth is for an hour. It is, lastly, washed and scoured. The black is less velvety than that of the preceding process. Experience convinced him that the maddering prescribed in the ancient regulations only gives a reddish cast to the black, which is obtained finer and more velvety without madder.

A black may be dyed likewise without having given a blue ground. This method is employed for cloths of little value. In this case they are rooted; that is to say, they receive a dun ground with walnut husks, or the root of the walnut-tree, and are afterwards made black in the manner above described, or in some other way; for it is obvious that a black may be obtained by several processes.

According to Lewis, the proportions which the English dyers most generally adopt are, for one hundred and twelve pounds of woollen cloth previously dyed of dark blue, about five pounds of sulphate of iron, as much gall-nuts, and thirty pounds of logwood. They begin by galling the cloth, they then pass it through the decoction of logwood, to which the sulphate of iron has been added.

When the cloth is completely dyed, it is washed in the river, and passed through the fulling-mill till the water runs off clear and colorless. Some persons recommend, for fine cloths, to full them with soap water. This operation requires an expert workman, who can free the cloth thoroughly from the soap. Several recommend at its coming from the fulling to pass the cloth through a bath of weld, with the view of giving softness and solidity to the black. Lewis says, that passing the cloth through weld, after it has been treated with soap, is absolutely useless, although it may be beneficial when this operation has been neglected.

Different operations may be distinguished in dyeing silk black; the boiling of the silk, its galling, the preparation of the bath, the operation of dyeing, the softening of the black.

Silk naturally contains a substance called gum, which gives it the stiffness and elasticity peculiar to it in its native state; but this adds nothing to the streghth of the silk, which is then styled raw; it rather renders it, indeed, more apt to wear out by the stiffness which it communicates; and although raw silk more readily takes a black color, yet the black dissolving the coloring particles, as silk which is scoured or deprived of its gum.

To cleanse silk intended for black, it is usually boiled four or five hours with one fifth of its weight of white soap, after which it is carefully beetled and washed.

For the galling, nut-galls equal nearly to three fourths of the weight of the silk are boiled during three or four hours; but on account of the price of Aleppo galls, more or less of the white gall-nuts, or of even an inderior kind called galon, berry or apple galls, are used. The proportion commonly employed at Paris is two parts of Aleppo galls to from eight to ten parts of galon. After the boiling, the galls are allowed to settle for about two hours. The silk is then plunged into the bath, and left in it from twelve to thirty-six hours, after which it is taken out and washed in the river.

Slk is capable of combining with quantities, more or less considerable, of the astringent principle; whence results a considerable increase of weight, not only from the weight of the astringent principle, but also from that of the coloring particles, which subsequently fix themselves in proportion to the quantity of the astringent principle which had entered into combination. Consequently the processes are varied according to the degree of weight which it is wished to communicate to the silk; a circumstance requiring some illustration.

The commerce of silk goods is carried on in two ways; they are sold either by the weight, or by the surface, that is by measure. This the trade of Tours was formerly distinguished from that of Lyons; the silks of the former being sold by weight, those of the latter, by measure. It was therefore their interest to surcharge the weight at Tours, and, on the contrary, to be sparing of the dyeing ingredients at Lyons; whence came the distinction of light black and heavy black. At present, both methods of dyeing are practised at Lyons, the two modes of sale having been adopted there.

Silk loses nearly a fourth of its weight by a thorough boiling, and it resumes, in the light black dye, one half of this loss; but in the heavy black dye, it takes sometimes upwards of a fifth more than its primitive weight; a surcharge injurious to the beauty of the black, and the durability of the stuff. The surcharged kind is denominated English black, because it is pretended that it was first practised in England. Since silk dyed with a great surcharge has not a beautiful black, it is usually destined for west, and is blended with a warp dyed of a fine black.

The peculiarity of the process for obtaining the heavy black consists in leaving the silk longer in the gall liquor, in repeating the galling, in passing the silk a greater number of times through the dye, and even letting it lie in it for some time. The first galling is usually made with galls which have served for a preceding operations, and fresh gall-nuts are employed for the second. But these methods would not be sufficient for giving a great surcharge, such as is found in what is called the English black. To give galls, it is rendered supple by being worked on the jack and pin.

The silk-dyers keep a black vat, and its very complex composition varies in different dye-houses. These vats are commonly established for many years: and when their black dye is exhausted it is renovated by what is called in France a brevet. When the deposite which has accumulated in it is too great, it is taken out, so that at the end of a certain time nothing remains of the several ingredients which composed the primitive bath, but which are not employed in the brevet.

For the dyeing of raw silk black, it is galled in the cold, with the bath of gals which has already served for the black of boiled silk. For this purpose, silk, in its native yellow color, is made choice of. It should be remarked, that when it is desired to preserve a portion of the gum of the silk, which is afterwards made flexible, the galling is given with the hot bath of gall nuts in the ordinary manner. But here, where the whole gum of the silk, and its concomintant elasticity, are to be preserved, the galling is made in the cold. If the infurion of galls be weak, the silk is left in it for several days.

Silk thus prepared and washed takes very easily the black dye, and the rinsing in a little water, to which sulphate of iron may be added, is sufficient to give it. The dye is made in the cold; but, according to the greater or less strength of the rinsings, it requires more or less time. Occasionally three or four days are necessary; after which it is washed, it is beetled once or twice, and it is then dried without wringing, to avoid softening it.

Raw silk may be more quickly dyed, by shaking it round the rods in the cold bath after the galling, airing it, and repeating these manipulations several times, after which it is washed and dried as above.

Macquer describes a more simple process for the black by which velvet is dyed at Genoa; and he says that this process, rendered still simpler, has had complete success at Tours. The following is his description.

For 1 ewt. (50 kilogrammes) silk, 22 lbs. (11 kilogrammes) of Aleppo galls, in powder, are boiled for an hour in a sufficient quantity of water. The bath is allowed to settle till the galls have fallen to the bottom of the boiler, from which they are withdrawn; after which 32 lbs. of English vitriol (or copperas) are introduced, with 13 lbs. of iron filings, and 22 lbs. of country gum, pu into a kind of two-handled cullender, pierced every where with holes. This kettle is suspended by two rods in the boiler, so as not to reach the bottom. The gum is left to dissolve for about an hour, stirring it from time to time. If, after this time, some gum remains in the kettle, it is a proof that the bath, which contains two hogsheads, has taken as much of it as is necessary. If, on the contrary, the whole gum is dissolved, from one to 4 lbs. more may be added. This cullender is left constantly suspended in the boiler, from which it is removed only when the dyeing is going on; and thereafter it is replaced. During all these operations the boiler must be kept hot, but without boiling. The galling of the silk is performed with one third of Aleppo galls. The silk is left in it for six hour the first time, then for twelve hours. The rest, secundum artem.

Lewis states that he has repeated this process in the small way; and that by adding sulphate of iron progressively, and repeating the immersions of the silk a gerat number of times, he eventually obtained a fine black.

Astringents differ from one another as to the quantity of the principle which enters into combination with the oxyde of iron. Hence, the proportion of the sulphate, or of any other salt of iron, and that of the astringents, should bary according to the astringents made use of, and according to their respective quantities. Gall-nut is the substance which contains most astringent; sumach, which seems second to it in this respect, throws down (decomposes), however, only half as much sulphate of iron.

The most suitable proportion of sulphate of iron appears to be that which correspinds to the quantity of the astingent matter, so that the whole iron precipitable by the astringent may be thrown down, and the whole astringent may be taken up in combination with the iron. As it is not possible, however, to arrive at such precision, it is better that the sulphate of iron should predominate, because the astringent, when in excess, counteracts the precipitation of the black coloring particles, and has the property of even dissolving them.

This action of the astringent is such that, if a pattern of black cloth be boiled with gallnuts, it is reducible to gray. An observation of Lewis may thence be explaiend. If cloth be turned several times through the coloring bath, after it has taken a good black color, instead of acquiring more body, it is weakened, and becomes brownish. Too considerable a quantity of the ingredients produces the same effect; to which the sulphuric acid, set at liberty by the precipitation of the oxyde of iron, contributes.

It is merely the highly oxydized sulphate which is decomposed by the astringent; whence it appears, that the sulphate will produce a different effect according to its state of oxydizement, and call for other proportions. Some adcise, therefore, to follow the method of Proust, employing it in the oxydized state; but in this case it is only partially decomposed, and another part is brought, by the action of the astringent, into the lower degree of oxydizement.

The particles precipitated by the mixture of an astringent and sulphate of iron have not at first a deep color; but they pass to a black by contact of air while they are moist.

Under dyeing I shall show that the black dye is only a very condensed color, and that it assumes more intensity from the mixture of different colors likewise deep. It is for this reason advantageous to unite several astringents, each combination of which produces a different shade. But blue appears the color most conducive to this effect, and it corrects the tendency to dyn, which is remarked in the black produced on stuffs by the other astringents.

On this property is founded the practice of giving a blue ground to black cloths, which acquire more beauty and solidity the deeper the blue. Another advantage of this practice is to diminish the quantity of sulphuric acid which is necessarily disengaged by the precipitation of the black particles, and which would not only counteract their fixation, but would further weaken the stuff, and give it harshness.

For common stuffs, a portion of the effect of the blue ground is produced by the rooting.

The mixture of logwood with astringents contributes to the beauty of the black in a twofold way. It produces molecules of a hue different from what the astringents fo, and particularly blue olecules, with the oxyde of copper, commonly employed in the black dyes; which appears to be more useful the more acetate the verdigris made use of contains.

The boil of weld, by which the dye of black cloth is frequently finished, may also contribute to its beauty, by the shade peculiar to its combination. It has, moreover, the advantage of giving softness to the stuffs.

The processes that are empoloyed for wool, yield, according to the observation of Lewis, only a rusty black to silk; and cotton is hardly dyed by the processes proper for wool ans silk. Let us endeavor to ascertain the conditions which these three varieties of dyeing demand.

Wool has a great tendency to combine with coloring substances; but its physical nature requires its combinations to be made in general at a high temperature. The combination of the black molecules may therefore be directrly effected in a bath, in proportion as they form; and if the operation be prolonged by subdividing it, it is only with the view of changing the necessary oxydizement of the sulphate, and augmenting that of the coloring particles themselves.

Silk has little disposition to unite with the black particless. It seems to be merely by the agency of the tannin, with which it is previously impregnated, that these particles can fix themselves on it, especially after it has been scoured. For this reason, silk baths should be old, and have the coloring particles accumulated in them, but so feebly suspended, as to yield to a weak affinity. Their precipitation is counteracted by the addition of gum, or other mucilaginous substances. The obstacle which might arise from the sulphuric acid set at liberty is destroyed by iron filings, or other basis. Thus, baths of a very different composition, but with the essential condition of age, may be proper for this dye. For cotton black dye, see CALICO PRINTING.

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