Griffin Dyeworks & Fiber Arts

Understanding Mordants and Modifiers


TIN: Cl4Sn

Description: Mordant, white flakes with characteristic odor, clumps if air reaches it. Mined since the Stone Age, mentioned in Biblical Book of Numbers, used with copper to alloy bronze; with zinc to alloy brass. Used as a brightening mordant in Africa around 900 BCE; in Greece around 50 CE.
Other Names: Stannous Chloride, butter of tin, chloride of tin, crystals of tin, double chloride of tin, double muriate of tin, fuming spirit of Libavius, salt of tin, single muriate of tin, tin crystals, tin dichloride, tin mordant, tin protochloride, tin salt, tin spirits, [Ger] zinn, [ME] tinnen, [Welsh] ystaen, [Breton] stean, [L] stannum, stagnum (names later used for an alloy of silver and lead)
Dye Use: Deoxidizing and discharging agent; produces brighter colors than other mordants, especially reds and purples, but can leave fiber brittle and harsh, especially wool. Revises colors and stabilizes them. Pinch of tin added to other mordants will brighten colors. Makes logwood bloom into best colors; great with cochineal.
Best On: Best for cotton; wool/silk needs added oxalic or tartaric acid when dyed with tin mordant
Dye Recipe: 1/8-1/4 tsp or less in 1 gal water, simmer 20 min, add 2 tsp cream of tartar or 1 tsp oxalic acid, simmer 30-60 min. Rinse with oxalic acid or cream of tartar to soften fiber, wash to remove any unabsorbed tin
Safety: Volatile at high temperatures. Add tin to water to avoid fizzing of poisonous fumes. Avoid skin and eye contact; use dust respirator.
Disposal: Very dilute at end of dye session, so pour down toilet
Alternative: Use tin or galvanized dyepot, boil real tin cookie-cutters
Source: Griffin Dyeworks

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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