The Dyer's Guide. Chapter I. Introductory. On the drugs used in dyeing.

The Dyer's Guide
Being a Compendium of the Art of Dyeing
Linen, Cotton, Silk, Wool, Muslin, Dresses, Furniture, &c. &c.

With The Method of
Scouring Wool, Bleaching Cotton, &c.
Directions for Ungumming Silk, And For Whitening And Sulphuring Silk And Wool.
And Also
An Inttroductory Epitome of The Leading Facts in Chemistry, As Connected With The Art of Dyeing.

By Thomas Packer,
Dyer and Practical Chemist.

"Cet arte est un des plus utiles et des plus merveilleux qu'on connoisse."
- Chaptal.

"There is no art which depends so much on chemistry as dyeing."
- Garnett.

Second Edition,
Corrected and Materially Improved.

Printed for Sherwood, Gilbert, And Piper,

It may be useful, before we proceed any farther in noticing the theories of dyeing, to give a brief description of the


Alum, or Potash-sulphate of alumina, is a concrete salt, composed of alumina or clay, potash, and sulphuric acid. It is found native in some places; but the greatest part of the alum of commerce is prepared by a peculiar management of schistose pyritic clays, usually denominated alum ores. Alum is made at Civita Vecchia, in Italy, and also at many other places on the continent; at Hurlett near Glasgow, at Whitby in Yorkshire, &c. Its form and appearance are both too well known to need being described. Its chemical composition is as follows: sulphate of alumina, 36.70; sulphate of potash, 18.88; and water, 44.42— together 100. The alum called in commerce Roch alum, said to be obtained from Roccha, in Syria, is in smaller crystals than common alum, and has a reddish hue, but does not appear to be essentially different from the common alum. Common alum requires sixteen parts of water, at a temperature of 60°. to dissolve one of it; but there is another kind not generally made or known, containing soda instead of potash, and hence with propriety named soda-sulphate of alumina, which is soluble in less than its own weight of water, and which, on this account, may become valuable in some processes of dyeing. — Ure.

Acetate of Alumina is prepared in large quantities for the calico printers, by decomposing alum with acetate of lead, or more economically with aqueous acetate of lime, having a specific gravity of about 1.050, a gallon of which, equivalent to nearly half a pound avoirdupoise of dry acetic acid, is employed for every 2½ lbs. of alum. A sulphate of lime is formed by complex affinity which precipitates, and an acetate of alumina floats. — Ure.

Archil, Archilla, Rocella, Orseille, or Litmus, is said to be a whitish lichen growing upon rocks in the Canary and Cape Verd islands, which yields a rich purple tincture, fugitive, but extremely beautiful. It is brought to this country as it is gathered; it is prepared here for the dyer, by grinding it between stones, so as thoroughly to bruise but not to reduce it into powder; it is moistened occasionally with a strong spirit of urine, or urine itself, mixed with quick lime; in a few days it acquires a purplish red, and at length a blue colour; in the first state it is called archil, in the latter lacmus or litmus. The dyers rarely employ this drug by itself, on account of its dearness and the perishableness of its beauty. Its chief use is to give a bloom to other colours, as pinks, &c.

Cudbear is also manufactured in this country from archil, and is in repute for dyeing various shades, from pink and crimson to a mazarine blue; it is said these colours are very permanent.

Argol, or Tartar, is a crystalline substance deposited in wine casks during the fermentation of the wine, from the juice of the grape, in which it exists in considerable abundance. It is an impure supertartate of
potash: that is, potash combined with a superabundant quantity of tartaric acid. Argol is found in commerce of two colours, white and red. Cream of tartar is the same substance freed from colouring and other extraneous matter.

Blood. See Adrianople red.

Bran acts in some peculiar way on coloming matter, but scarcely on the mordants. It seems to loosen and remove the colouring matter; as also to alter its hue in some cases, an effect obvious in the bran pinks. — Ure.

Chlorine. See Oxy muriatic acid.

Cochineal is the female insectof the coccus cacti found on the cactus coccineUifer and cactus opuntia, Prickly pear or Indian fig, natives of South America, the West Indies, and other tropical regions. The female of the insect is the true cochineal; in her full sized, pregnant, and torpid state, she bears so small a proportion to her former or creeping state, that her antennae, legs and proboscis are scarcely discernible; her whole appearance is that of a whitish berry, and so it was formerly regarded. This insect is found in a wild state in Mexico, Georgia, South Carolina, and some of the West India Islands, feeding on several species of the cactus; but in some of the Spanish settlements, as well as in Mexico, the insect is domesticated, and fed on the cactus coccinellifer, which is cultivated for the purpose, on which it attains a much larger size than in its wild state. Cochineal is also obtained from the East Indies; but East Indian cochineal has not yet attained the quality of that produced in the West Indies and America. Its use, as a colour for dyeing many shades of red, &c. is great and important.

Copper is also used in dyeing, in the state of a sulphate or blue copperas, a nitrate, and also as an acetate. See Verdigris.

The Gall or Bile of animals consists of a saponaceous bitter, yellowish fluid, secreted by the liver, and found in the sac usually called the gall-bladder. It is sometimes preferred to soap for cleansing cloths by the dyer and the scourer.

Galls are excrescences produced on the quercus in-fectoria, a species of oak growing throughout Asia Minor. The gall grows on the shoots of the young boughs, and is produced by an insect, the cynips quercusfolii; this insect punctures the tender shoot with its sting and deposits its egg in the puncture; the egg is soon hatched, and the irritation of the maggot feeding on the plant produces the wen or gall-nut. When the nuts are gathered before the worm within changes to a fly, and not yet having eaten its way out, they are of a dusky green colour, and are called in commerce blue galls, and are by far the best. Those collected after the fly has eaten its way out have a hole in each, are of a whitish yellow colour, considerably lighter than the blue galls, and of an inferior quality: they are brought to this country chiefly from Aleppo. They are used in large quantities in the arts, principally for dyeing, and making ink. They contain a large quantity of Tannin and Gallic acid.

Indigo is a well known deep blue substance, obtained from the Indigqfera tinctoria or Indigo bearing plant, a native of the East Indies, which is propagated by seed and will thrive in most tropical climates; hence we have good indigo from South America, the East Indies, Carolina, &c. The chief criterion of the goodness of indigo is, if, when cut with a knife, it exhibits a reddish copper-like appearance; where this shade is not, or only very slight, the indigo is of inferior value. It is prepared by macerating the leaves in water, whence is obtained the blue feculence or indigo. Indigo is insoluble in water, but soluble in sulphuric acid, hence a solution of it in this acid, forming a sulphate of indigo, is well known in the art of dyeing.

The best indigo is that called Flora, which floats in water, all the other kinds sink in that fluid.

The constituent parts of indigo are Carbon, 73.22, Nitrogen 11.26. Oxygen 12.60, and Hydrogen, 2.92,=100.

When indigo is digested in concentrated sulphuric acid, it is converted into a peculiar blue substance, commonly called sulphate of indigo; this colouring matter has been, however, lately named Cerulin, by Mr. W. Crum, who has made many experiments on it; (see notes to Bertholet, vol. ii. p. 357. et seq.) he observes that cerulin dissolves more abundantly in sulphuric acid than water; but this does not prove the formation of a compound entitled to be called sulphate of indigo; that, such a solution differs in no respect from that of resins in acids or in alcohol. Another substance has been also obtained from indigo by Mr. Crum, of a purple colour, which he calls Phenicin; it dissolves both in water and alcohol.

Iron rarely in its metallic state enters into the manipulations of dyeing, but its sulphate, muriate acetate
&c. as well as its oxides contribute largely to the dyer's art.

Sulphate of Iron, or green coppevas, as it is commonly called, is too well known to need description; it is in green crystals of different sizes, and is used for various purposes in dyeing, &c.

Peracetate of Iron, or Acetate of Iron, forms a reddish-brown uncrystallizable solution, much used by the calico printers, and is prepared by keeping iron turnings or pieces of old iron for six months immersed in redistilled pyrolignous acid. It may be also prepared in a more expeditious way by boiling filings of iron with the acid.

Lac dye and lac lake are two articles now regularly imported from the East Indies, and employed for dyeing scarlet. They both appear to be the colouring matter of seed-lac, obtained from it in India by a process not generally known. Both these articles are in lumps or cakes of a dark-reddish or blackish colour.

Muriatic acid, or sinrit of salt, as it was formerly called, is obtained from common salt or muriate of soda, by distillation with sulphuric acid. When this acid is pure it is perfectly colourless, but it generally has a yellow hue arising from a little iron. It gives out, at all temperatures, a large quantity of a fuming suffocating gas of a peculiar smell. Its usual specific gravity is about 1.160. For the basis of this acid see Oxymuriatic acid.

Nitric acid is composed of oxygen and nitrogen: it is usually obtained from nitre, (the chemical name of which is nitrate of potash,) by distilling three parts of it with two of sulphuric acid. When pure, nitric acid is a colourless, extremely sour, and corrosive liquor. Its specific gravity is 1 .42; it always contains more or less water, which modifies its specific gravity. It is usually coloured with nitrous acid gas. It forms a variety of compounds with numerous other bodies. Aqua fortis is this acid diluted more or less with water; when strong it is called double, when weak single aquafortis. For Nitrogen, see forwards.

Nitro-Muriatic Acid, or Aqua Regia, is a mixture of nitric and muriatic acids. It is usually made by dissolving sal ammoniac or common salt in nitric acid. When the former is employed the usual proportion is one of the salt to four of the acid; but equal parts will be necessary to dissolve platinum. Aqua regia is the only menstruum which will dissolve gold.

Orpiment, realgar, or sulphuret of arsenic has been lately applied to the purposes of dyeing a yellow colour. Sulphur may be combined with arsenic in different proportions. Realgar is red, and occurs native in Germany and Switzerland; it is also produced by art. Orpiment is commonly produced by art and is of a yellowish colour; native orpiment is also occasionally found; it is of a bright lemon colour.

Oxymuriatic acid, or as it is now more correctly termed chlorine, from its yellowish green colour, is an elastic gaseous fluid of a pungent disagreeable smell, and highly injurious to animal life, even when largely diluted with atmospheric air. Mixed with hydrogen, and exposed to light, they combine and produce a sour compound called muriatic acid gas; this gas is greedily absorbed by water, which takes up 480 times its bulk, and has its specific gravity increased from 1 to 1.210. Thus dissolved in water it forms the liquid muriatic acid mentioned in a preceding article.

Chlorine forms combination, besides, with several other bodies; many of its combinations are termed oxymuriates, or more properly, chlorides: some of these are extremely useful in bleaching, dyeing, &c. The muriatic acid appears to be the only acid of any consequence into which oxygen does not enter.

Oxide is the combination of oxygen with some base, without being in the state of acid; it is most commonly applied to the combination of oxygen with metals; most of the different rusts of metals are oxides. As oxygen combines with the metals and other bodies in different proportions, its combinations are distinguished by different prefixes, thus: protoxide denotes an oxide containing the least quantity of oxygen; deutoxide the next larger quantity; tritoxide the next; and peroxide the largest possible quantity of oxygen in the compound when it is not acid. For Oxygen see forwards.

Pot-ashes and Pearl-ashes (one of the fixed alkalies) are both impure carbonates of potash obtained from the ashes of innumerable vegetables, over which water is poured which dissolves the salts, and by evaporating the water leaving the salt, a dry powdery white mass is obtained. The chief difference between pot-ashes and pearl-ashes consists in the superior whiteness of the latter, and in the former being of a more dirty colour, and more caustic than the latter; hence it is not so highly saturated with carbonic acid. For many purposes in the arts such caustic potash is to be preferred.

Quercitron, or American-bark is obtained from the querctis nigra or black oak, a native of North America. It is used for dyeing yellow, and was brought into notice by Dr. Bancroft, who obtained the exclusive privilege of using it as a dye by an Act of Parliament, passed in the 25th year of the reign of George III.

Safflower, bastard-saffron or carthamus, is obtained from one or two plants, species of the carthamus genus, natives of the South of Europe and the Mediterranean coasts. This dyeing material consists of two colouring substances, a yellow and a red. The former is of little value, the latter which is soluble in alkalies forms, by precipitation with acids, a beautiful red pigment sometimes used for silk dyeing, but more commonly in the preparation of rouge.

Soda, called sometimes mineral alkali, is another of the fixed alkalies; it forms the basis of common salt, that being a muriate of soda; soda, under the name of barilla, is used in making soaps, and also in dyeing.

Sulphur, or Brimstone, is scarcely used for dyeing in its crude state, but when combined with oxygen forming sulphuric acid, as well as when that acid is combined with various bases, as iron, alumina, &c. it becomes of great importance in this art; see Sulphuric acid.

Sulphate of Iron, see Iron above.

Sulphuric Acid was for many years, and still is called by the vulgar, oil of vitriol, because it was formerly obtained from green vitriol or sulphate of iron, but the more simple and ingenious processes of modern chemistry have superseded the old methods; sulphuric acid is now obtained by burning sulphur with a certain portion of saltpetre in large leaden cisterns. The acid fumes sink into the water placed at the bottom of the cistern, the water being afterwards boiled away: the acid is afterwards purified by retorts, placed in a sand heat. The specific gravity of good sulphuric acid should be 1.85.

Sumach is the production of the rhus coriaria, a shrub which grows naturally in Syria, Palestine, Spain, and Portugal. It is cultivated in the two last countries with great care. Its shoots are cut down every year quite to the root, and after being dried are reduced to powder, and thus prepared for the purposes of dyeing, &c. Sumach bears a great resemblance, as an astringent, to galls. Sumach alone gives a brown and a fawn colour, but cotton stuffs impregnated with acetate of alumina take a durable yellow from it.

Tartar, see Argol.

Tin, dissolved in nitric or muriatic acid, forms solutions of great importance in many processes of dyeing, particularly scarlet. These solutions are called respectively nitrate and muriate of tin.

Turmeric is a root obtained from a plant growing both in the East and West Indies. The root is used chiefly for dyeing yellow; but it is a fugacious colour.

Verdigris is a crude acetate of copper, obtained by exposing copper plates to the husks, &c. of grapes, which containing considerable acetic acid, the acid combines with the surface of the copper plates, forming a blueish green rust, which is scraped off, and forms the verdigris of commerce. A still more complete acetate of copper is obtained in distilled verdigris, which is in elegant green crystals. The best verdigris is made in France; some is now also made in this country.

Weld, sometimes called improperly Woulds, dyer's- weed, or Reseda luteola, is a plant found wild, in this country, but cultivated for the purposes of the dyer; it is much used for yellows.

* For the cultivation of Woad in England, see Parish's paper in vol. xii. of the Bath Society's Report, or Tilloch's Mag. vol. xxxviii. Woad, or Pastel, is obtained from a plant growing in various parts of Europe and also in this country; it is the Isatis tinctoria, and is cultivated with care for the dyeing matter which it affords, and which is obtained from the leaves of the plant, collected and prepared in a particular manner. Woad gives a full-bodied and fast blue to wool, yet not very bright, so that it is usually mixed with indigo *.

Besides the preceding substances we may mention that annatto is used for dyeing several colours; kermes, madder, and Brazil-wood for reds; log-wood for purple and black; peach-wood for maroon, &c.; fustic, dyer's-broom, saw-wort, French-berries, &c. for yellow; walnut-root, and the outside green shell of the nuts for browns. We may also mention prussiate of potash, acetate of lead, commonly called sugar of lead, and oxide of manganese, as occasional articles used for various purposes by the dyer. Several other substances are also used in dyeing, which we cannot enumerate; some are mentioned in the subsequent pages. We may, however, name cam-wood, bar-wood, redsanders, and myrobolans. We ought also to observe that how desirable soever it may be to have all woods for dyeing, in powder, in order to obtain the greatest quantity of colouring matter from them by decoction or otherwise, yet, as in a powdered state they are much more likely to be adulterated than in chips, it is most advisable to purchase them in this last state; logwood in particular ought never to be purchased in powder.

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