How to mix urea for tie-dye?
Hey so I was wondering about the use of urea. I had read somewhere that urea could help you dye your clothes better, but I wasn’t sure how it helps or how to use it. So we got to the bottom of it and researched exactly how to mix urea during the tie-dye process.
It turns out, urea is a chemical product that can be used for a multitude of purposes. The main use is to mix it with the dyes inside the bottles. We found that the best and easiest way to use it is to put an amount of urea that is about half of the amount of dye. Let’s say you put 1 teaspoon of dye in your bottle, then you should mix 1/2 teaspoon of urea. Now you may have remaining questions, such as what is urea, and how to use it.
What is urea?
What our research says is that urea is the same chemical that is found inside the urine of animals, but do not be afraid, the industrial urea we use is synthesized from natural gas. Urea is a safe chemical that is even used in skin care products such as moisturizers and we will soon know why.
So, when you have a little experience tie-dyeing, you may have experienced situations where you find it difficult to properly mix the dye in the bottle and that the powdered dye tends to clump up. It turns out that the solution all along was to use urea. It helps you mix the dye in the water more easily. It is especially useful when you are trying to mix a lot of dye in a small quantity of water when you’re trying to achieve very dark colors.
Why and how to use urea for tie-dye?
The main reason to use urea in tie-dyeing is because it’s an humectant. For the same reason it’s used in skin moisturizers, it is used in tie-dye to help the shirt stay wet longer. It turns out that the longer the shirt stays damp and does not dry up, the longer the dye can react with the fibers and the stronger the color will be.
Simply measure the quantity of urea you need depending on the amount of dye you’re using in your bottles. Use half as much as dye when you mix it with the water in the bottles. After you have the right quantity of urea, add it to the bottle, either before or after the dye, it doesn’t matter. You can put it first or last it will work either way. Just be sure to not put too much in as it’s effect will not scale and you will just waste the surplus urea.
Is urea necessary for tie-dye?
You’re probably wondering if it’s worth the cost and effort of mixing urea in your bottles. It does take more steps if you want to use it, but we feel it can be worth the trouble, especially if you are an intermediate dyer and want to take your art to the next level. There is a multitude of different alternative chemicals that can improve the dyeing process.
While urea is not necessary for the process of tie-dye, it does help in multiple ways such as helping to mix the dyes in the water and to help keep the shirts wet for longer with it’s humectant properties. If you wan the best results and want to leave nothing to chance, then definitely check it out and try it for yourself. It doesn’t cost much as it is an industrial chemical and can be had fairly easily.
Where to buy urea?
If you are like us, you probably are interested in leaving no stones unturned. Especially when it comes to tie-dye, it can be hard to figure out exactly what you need and when you need it. This is why we thought that we may as well try it and figure out if it’s worth the price.
The easiest way to buy urea is on the internet. It comes in powder form, and is white with no smell, I’m not sure about the taste, I haven’t tried it and wouldn’t recommended testing it. Dye suppliers almost all have urea for sale, or you could try your hand locally. Urea can be found as a fertilizer in some stores.
Urea’s as a fertilizer is called 46-0-0. It is used because the pure urea will degrade and become ammonia which plants like a lot and thrive on.
Tie-dye’s history is evolving and people are always finding new ways to practice this ancient art.
We are Samuel and Francis. About two years ago we bought our first tools and supplies for tie-dyeing. Ever since then we’ve been learning the skills of folding and dyeing in intricate ways. We’ve learned from our experiences on the field about what techniques works and what doesn’t. This is the site were we share everything we’ve learned.
Samuel and Francis
We are the sole owners of this site, we live in Canada where we work everyday on making tie-dye more accessible to everyone. We are always looking forward to teaching you something new.