Griffin Dyeworks & Fiber Arts

Understanding Mordants and Modifiers

Citric Acid


Description: Acid modifier, crystalline salt; isolated in the 1800s, with 2.2-2.4 pH. "Citric acid" in most dye recipes means lemon or lime juice. "Lime" in dye recipes usually mean slaked or unslaked lime.
Other Names: Lemon, lime, 2-Hydroxy1,2,3-pro-panetricarboxylic acid, ß-hydroxtricarballylic acid (wow!)
Dye Use: Acts much like acetic acid and vinegar: Adjusts pH, brightens colors, solvent, dye leveler, helps fiber absorb mordants and dyes, gives reddish cast to most blues or purples, as rinse adds crisp hand (feel) to silk, can bleach dye out of fiber.
Best On: Silk, wool, red dyes
Dye Recipe: Use 1 tsp fresh juice or 1/8 tsp citric acid
Safety: Citric acid salts are combustible; don't store near heat, cover any spills with baking soda. Citric acid from lemons or limes is not dangerous.
Disposal: Dilute with soda ash or baking soda solution, pour down toilet or sink
Alternative: Acetic acid, 4x amount of vinegar, lemon juice (only 5-8% power of citric acid)
Source: Chemical supply house, Griffin Dyeworks & Fiber Arts-grown or fresh groceries

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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