Griffin Dyeworks & Fiber Arts

Understanding Mordants and Modifiers



Description: Alkali modifier, translucent liquid or granular flakes with pH of 11.6. First discovered in old urine and in natural soda obtained from sal ammoniac; isolated in 1782. Manufactured ammonia has replaced ancient alkalis.
Other Names: Ammoniac, ammonium hydroxide ammonia solution, aqua ammonia, aqua ammoniae, aqeous ammonia, clear household ammonia, liquor ammonia, liquor ammoniae, spirit of hartshorn, [Ger] ammoniak, [Fr] ammiaque, [It] armoninco
Dye Use: Fixative, oxidizer, detergent, bleach; gray tones, greens with copper, brightens flower dyes, softens fiber; neutralizes acids but is milder than caustic soda, especially good with cochineal and orchil dyes.
Best On: Any fiber, especially wool
Dye Recipe: Use 10% solution clear ammonia or 5% solution cloudy ammonia to volume of liquid. Don't use soapy ammonia; soap affects color. For post-mordant, add 1/4 cup in next-to-last rinse, stir fabric lightly, remove, rinse. This can brighten or completely change dye colors from flower sources. To find if ammonia is useful in dyebath, dip a bit of dye out and add a few drops of ammonia; color change indicates it's a good additive.
Safety: Stronger when cool than hot. Work in well-ventilated room or outside. Some people are allergic to fumes. Keep eyes away from steam. Fatal if swallowed. Never mix with other chemicals; toxic gas may result!
Disposal: Pour excess down sink or toilet
Alternative: Soda ash, caustic soda
Source: Grocery store

CODES: c = cup; gal = gallon; lb = pound (weight); tbsp = Tablespoon; tsp = teaspoon / [AF] Anglo-French; [Ar] Arabic; [AS] Anglo-Saxon; [Dan] Danish; [Du] Dutch; [Fr] French; [Ger] German; [Gk] Greek; [It] Italian; [L] Classical Latin; [LL] Late Latin; [ME] Middle English; [ML] Modern Latin; [OE] Old English; [OF] Old French; [ON] Old Norse; [OS] Old Saxon; [Port] Portuguese; [Sp] Spanish; [Sw] Swedish / CE = Common Era; BCE = Before Common Era

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