The Dyer's Guide. Chapter I. Introductory. On substantive and adjective colours, and mordants; and on the leading facts of chemical science as connected with this art.

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,

The substances commonly dyed are either animal, as wool, silk, hair, leather, and skins of all kinds; or vegetable, as cotton, fax, hemp, &c. Great differences exist between the affinities for colouring matter possessed by these substances, so that a process which perfectly succeeds in dyeing wool may fail when applied to cotton. Wool has generally the strongest affinity for colour; silk and other animal substances come next; cotton next, and hemp and flax last.

Of the numerous known dyes, few can be applied to either animal or vegetable fibre without some preparation beyond that of cleansing the stuff, and immersing it in the dyeing liquor. When colours can be fixed on cloth without any previous preparation, they are called substantive colours, such is indigo; when they cannot be so fixed, but require to be saturated with some preparation, such as acetate of alumina, or a metallic oxide, &c. they are called adjective colours; of this kind are madder, cochineal, &c. The substances with which cloths are impregnated, previously to being dyed, are called mordants, because they are supposed to bite or lay hold of the colour which is applied.

The chief difference between vegetable and animal substances is, that animal (as for instance wool) contains a small portion of carbon, and a large quantity of hydrogen and nitrogen; while vegetables contain a very large proportion of carbon, less hydrogen, and, in general, no nitrogen.

It is the interest of every dyer to acquire as much information as possible concerning the nature of alum, iron, carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, the alkalies, acids, &c. in order to prevent or obviate the consequences of an incorrect application of these agents in the various departments of his art, and also to apply them with the greatest success. We shall, therefore, enter a little into the nature and combinations of some of these bodies, and state some of the leading facts with which the modern discoveries in chemistiry have made us acquainted.

Carbon, or charcoal, is considered an elementary body, because, as yet, no means have been found adequate to decompose it; it forms the skeleton of vegetables or their woody fibre.

We must now direct the attention of the reader to oxygen gas, the discovery of which was made by Dr. Priestley in the year 1 774, and by him called delphogisticated air; the most important discovery that was, perhaps, ever made in chemistry. When a metal is exposed to atmospheric air, at almost every temperature, it loses its metallic lustre, and acquires the form and appearance of an earthy substance. If this change be produced in a given quantity of air, the oxidatioti can only be carried on to a certain degree; and on examining the air which remains, we shall find that it has lost the whole of its oxygen, and that nothing remains but nitrogen gas. What was formerly called the calcination of metals is nothing but the process of their union with oxygen, which is now therefore properly called their oxidation.

If charcoal be mixed with the metallic oxide, and a suitable heat be applied to the mixture, it will unite with the oxygen and form cai'bonic acid, which will fly off in the form of gas, while the metal will assume its metallic form. From this we learn that oxygen is a part of atmospheric air, and that nitrogen constitutes another portion of the same air. Ammojiia is a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen. Combustion, or the burning of any combustible body, cannot take place, at least under ordinary circumstances, without the presence of oxygen. Nitrogen gas, (called by its discoverers azotic gas), constitutes about three fourths of atmospheric air; the other fourth consists of oxygen, besides a small fraction of carbonic acid gas. Oxygen decomposes and destroys all fugitive colours. Oxygen is, besides, the basis of almost all the acids, and hence is one of the most universal agents in nature.

Hydrogen, formerly called inflammable air, was discovered by Mr. Cavendish in 1767; it is called hydrogen, because it is one of the component parts of water; or, more properly, it is the base of water. It is obtained in the most pure state from the decomposition of water by means of metals, thus: pass one hundred parts of water through a red hot iron tube, a gun barrel for instance, fifteen parts of hydrogen gas will be produced, while the inside of the tube will be found converted into an oxide, and to have gained eighty five parts in weight.

Again, when eighty five parts of oxygen gas are burned with fifteen of hydrogen gas, both gases vanish, and one hundred parts of water are the result. Hydrogen gas, when in a pure state, is about fifteen times lighter than atmospheric air; hence its use for inflating balloons. Hydrogen, if inhaled, destroys animal life; combined with nitrogen, it forms ammonia, or the volatile alkali, as we have before stated.

We have mentioned the Jixed alkalies in a preceding section. We may add here, that by the discoveries of Sir Humphry Davy, in the year 1807, the base of caustic, or pure potash, is now known to consist of a light, white metallic substance, to which the name oi potassium has been given; it is of the consistence of soft wax; at a freezing temperature it is hard, brittle, and solid; when thrown upon water it instantly takes fire, hydrogen gas escapes, and an oxide of pofassium, or caustic pot-ash, is produced. The pot-ash and pearl-ash of the shops we must not forget, are combinations of carbonic acid and pot-ash, hence they effervesce with all the acids; but caustic pot-ash, containing no carbonic acid, combines with any of the acids without effervescence.

The SODA, as obtained from barilla, is a carbonate of soda; pure soda, or caustic soda, was, till the discoveries of Sir Humphry Davy, supposed to be, as well as pot-ash, a simple substance. It is now, however, known to consist of a metallic substance of the colour of lead, but, nevertheless, lighter than water; upon which, when throvvn, it produces, like potassium, violent action, yet does not, in general, like potassium, inflame. It is called sodium; pure soda consists therefore of sodium and oxygen, hence it is an oxide of sodium. These discoveries of the composition of the fixed alkalies are of infinite im-portance in the arts. The alkalies contain some very striking properties:

Their taste is acrid, burning and urinous. They generally change the blue colours of vegetable infusions green. When mixed with silex or flint, by exjjosure to great heat they form glass, and they render oils miscible with water, and hence combine ivith them forming soaps. They effervesce (when combined ivith carbonic acid,) with many other acids, and form neutral salts with all the acids. The volatile alJcali or a?nmonia, on exposure to air, flies entirely away. Pot-ash, either in its caustic state, or in that of a carbonate, absorbs moisture from the air, and liquifies. While soda, on the contrary, and many of its combinations, effloresce in the air; they, nevertheless, effervesce, and combine with the acids in a similar way to pot-ash.

We have mentioned how pot-ash is obtained in a preceding section. Soda is commonly procured from the ashes of marine plants; the barilla of commerce is obtained, it is said, in Spain, chiefly from many species of the salsola, or salt-wort. Barilla is an impure sub-carbonate of soda, it is used largely in the manufacture of soap.

We now proceed to notice the nature of acids.

They excite aparticidar sensation on the palate, which we call sour. They change the blue colour of vegetables red. All of them, except the carbonic acid, effervesce with the volatile as well as the fixed alkalies when in the state of carbonates, as they are most commonly found in commerce. Oxygen is the principle of almost all acids; their difference depends upon the base combined with the oxygen: thus oxygen combined with carbon or pure charcoal, forms carbonic acid; with nitrogen the nitric acid; with sulphur the sulphuric acid, &c. &c.

Gas is a term implying the same as air; but as the term air, when used, is liable to be misunderstood for the air of the atmosphere, which is, as we have seen, a compound body, the term gas is more appropriately applied to all elastic fluids of a specific kind. Thus we say carbonic acid gas, oxygenous gas. The difference between carbonic acid and carbonic acid gas, and oxygen and oxygenous gas, consists in the latter being combined with heat only, and in the state of air, while in the former they are fixed in some body, as in carbonate of pot- ash and oxide of lead, in both which cases the carbonic acid exists in a fixed state, or combined with the pot-ash, and the oxygen is in a fixed state, or combined with the lead.

We may now treat of carbonic acid gas, which is thus produced, as well as in many other ways: when charcoal is burned in oxygen gas, exactly sufficient for its combustion, both the charcoal and oxygen disappear, and an elastic fluid is found in the vessel, which is equal in weight to both. This air or gas is carbonic acid gas; it combines with lime, the alkalies, and pure or burnt magnesia; it constitutes a considerable portion of the weight of chalk, limestone and marble, as is readily seen by comparing these bodies before and after their conversion into quicklime. It is frequently combined with hydrogen. The gas with which the streets are now lighted is chiefly carburetted hydrogen.

Carbonic acid gas has the following properties. It extinguishes flame, and, like nitrogen and hydrogen, kills animals immersed in it. It is heavier than common air, and may therefore be poured out of one vessel into another like water. Cider, wine, beer and other fermented liquors owe their briskness to the carbonic acid which they contain; soda-water also owes its briskness entirely to the quantity of carbonic acid gas which it contains, a small quantity of heat being sufficient to give the acid the gaseous state.

Sulphur has been mentioned before; it is well known to be a very combustible substance; it is found in great quantities throughout nature; the sulphur of commerce comes either from Italy or Sicily; or from the isle of Anglesea, where it is obtained from the smelting of sulphuret of copper; the best, however, comes from Sicily. It is, sometimes, found pure; but often combined with some of the metals, forming sulphurets. It is also frequently obtained by the decomposition of animal and vegetable substances; it is sometimes found combined with hydrogen (hence called sulphuretted hydrogen), in the human stomach, more frequently in the intestines. Sulphur combined with a small dose of oxygen, forms a volatile suffocating acid, called the sulphureous acid; with a large dose it forms sulphuric acid, or oil of vitriol.

For the nitric and muriatic acids, see a preceding section. We may, however, mention here, that nitric acid has the peculiar property of staining the scarf skin of the human body a dull yellow, of such permanence, that it can scarcely, by any means, be destroyed, it usually remaining till the skin wears or peels off.

The principal vegetable acids are the tartaric and the acetic. The tartaric acid exists in superabundance in tartar, and particularly in cream of tartar, which is nothing more than a purified tartar. See argol in a preceding section.

The acetic acid constitutes the vinegar both common and distilled; it is found in a very concentrated state in the shops, under the name of aromatic vinegar. It is also now obtained in large quantities, and of great strength from wood by distillation, or burning, in vessels, adapted for the purpose, hence called the pyrolignous acid, but essentially the acetic acid. This last is now used by calico-printers to make acetate of iron. See a preceding section.

Alumina, or earth of alumina, sometimes called argil, is soft to the touch, adheres to the tongue, and hardens in the fire, contracting its dimensions: it constitutes the greatest part of clays. With sulphuric acid and pot-ash, it forms the common alum of the shops. Alum dissolves in about sixteen times its weight of cold water. For acetate of alum see alum in a preceding section.

* What are called iron moulds in cotton, linen, &c. are, it is well known, nothing but the marks of a buff colour, usually left by ink and other matters which contain iron: acids, of course, dissolve, and discharge these buff colours; the oxalic acid does so without decomposing the cloth. Agriculturists and agricultural chemists know that alumina constitutes three eighths or more of a fruitful soil; some vegetables, likewise, contain this earth in their composition. Iron is also a component part of many soils, particularly those in which a red colour is pre-dominant; hence it is, probably, a component part of all drugs used for browns, fawns, and blacks. It will be seen what affinity cotton has for iron in the dye of buff* upon cotton; and it seems reasonable to conclude that this metal not only produces the black, grey, and brown hues, but, with lime, forms a component part of the drugs themselves which give the brown dyes. It may be here also mentioned, that the red colour of the blood has been by many chemists supposed to arise from the iron which it contains; Mr. Brande, however, does not, from his own experiments, conclude this to be the fact. The blood of animals is, nevertheless, occasionally used for dyeing, as will be seen under Adrianople red. See KIRWAN on Manurcs, &c. and DAVY's Agricultural Chemistry.

From the acids or oxygen combined with alkalies, earths, or metals, almost innumerable mordants, as we have seen, are formed; and upon the correct and proper application of these to the cloth or other matters to be dyed, depends the goodness and permanence of the colours. The dyer cannot, therefore, be too scrupulously attentive to this portion of his art.

In dyeing the student ought also to remember, that the material to be dyed combines intimately, in numerous instances, with alumina or other mordants; in the case of alumina it, in some instances, takes up from one twelfth to one fourth of its weight of alum, leaving the alum bath nearly tasteless. So also will rich extract of American bark, or even weld, when the proportion of weld is in weight more than two to one of the wool, form a triple compound with the cloth and alum, of permanent duration.

All these preliminaries the author considers of the first importance to be understood, and he has, therefore, mentioned them again and again. For so doing he is sure that he shall be excused in the dye-house, although not perhaps by the critics, whose candour he nevertheless respectfully solicits.

We now proceed to the application of mordants. In regard to muslins and calicoes, the alum is to be mixed with gum and carried to the piece, as will be described below in the Calico-Printer's mordant, and then immersed in the dye-bath: it thus receives the base or mordant. If the base be alum and the dye-bath madder, then, where the block strikes the pattern with the alumine base, the colour will come out red; the other parts will clean and bleach white. If alum and iron form the base, the colour will be purple; if iron alone be applied, and galls, sumach, logwood, &c. are the component parts of the dye-bath, then it will be black.

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