Marpy

How to Dilute Pro Dye with water (use Borax)

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Okay, I have been wishing for a way to dilute my fiebings pro dye to extend the dye. It's kind of expensive if you are dying big pieces with full strength dye! And I don't really want it to be full strength anyways. So I've been lurking on this forum browsing threads about the topic of diluting dye. The only way I found was by using alcohol, but as many of us know, the more alcohol you apply to veg tan leather, the harder and drier it becomes. So that led me to experimentation mixing pro dye with water. Pro dye is not an oil based dye, per se, because the vehicle for the pigment is most definitely alcohol. However, the pigment itself IS oil based. Oil is soluble in alcohol, but not in water, as pretty much everyone knows. So if you mix a bit of Pro Dye with water, a lot of that pigment will separate out of the dye and sit on the surface. Then I remembered learning about emulsions and I looked up emulsifiers for oil and water. BORAX is the answer! If you mix pro dye into a solution of water and borax, a stable emulsion is born! That means that the oil will remain mixed with the water permanently--you don't have to shake it up after the oil pigment separates out. 

I'm just so excited about this, I wanted to find someone else who would care about it (and could use it) to share it with! So, I hope someone gets something out of his post. It's my first post.

 

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One big issue with this.. Borax and leather are like mixing vinegar and baking soda.. Leather has a slightly acidic pH level of 4.5. Mild dish soap, on the other hand, possesses a basic pH level between 7-8, and other general cleaners, such as Borax, usually find their way to around a basic 10. The contrast between leather pH levels and the cleaners’ during contact damages leather fibers and can weaken its integrity over time. This leather pH damage is typically characterized by – you guessed it – cracked and dry leather.

Just stick with alcohol to thin your dye and simply hit with neats foot and conditioner when your done, or you can even pre oil the leather and give it a day to absorb and dry before dying the project. (normally one of last steps as finish project anyhow for 99% of people for the long term health of the project.)

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Oh, that's really interesting. Thanks for the info! I would have never known.

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1 hour ago, 3DReefer said:

Just stick with alcohol to thin your dye and simply hit with neats foot and conditioner when your done, or you can even pre oil the leather and give it a day to absorb and dry before dying the project. (normally one of last steps as finish project anyhow for 99% of people for the long term health of the project.)

 

Agree 100%. 

Neatsfoot oil (or olive oil if you want to darken the color) is the way to go.

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I'm new to working with leather and when I read this I think both of you can answer my question? I want to use oil dye. I ordered fiebings pro dye thinking it was an oil dye. The picture from the retailer has the words (oil dye) on the bottle. What i received was pro dye without the word oil on it. Now i find out what i bought was an alcohol based dye with oil pigments. The retailers site explains the dye i bought was replaced by the alcohol based product. Is this true that fiebings does not have any oil based dyes any longer?

 

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4 hours ago, TxLeather2 said:

 

Agree 100%. 

Neatsfoot oil (or olive oil if you want to darken the color) is the way to go.

But be sure to use pure neatsfoot oil . . . not compound neatsfoot oil, which contains mineral oil which will compromise the leather.

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2 hours ago, bob2952 said:

I'm new to working with leather and when I read this I think both of you can answer my question? I want to use oil dye. I ordered fiebings pro dye thinking it was an oil dye. The picture from the retailer has the words (oil dye) on the bottle. What i received was pro dye without the word oil on it. Now i find out what i bought was an alcohol based dye with oil pigments. The retailers site explains the dye i bought was replaced by the alcohol based product. Is this true that fiebings does not have any oil based dyes any longer?

 

I think you will find they only replaced the name to avoid confusion.  My understanding is the Pro dye and the Oil dye are one and the same.  They both work very well.  The regular dye has a different pigment base, and results in rub off that you don't get with the Pro or Oil dye.  These are generally more expensive and much better dyes in my experience.

YinTx

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9 minutes ago, YinTx said:

I think you will find they only replaced the name to avoid confusion.  My understanding is the Pro dye and the Oil dye are one and the same.  They both work very well.  The regular dye has a different pigment base, and results in rub off that you don't get with the Pro or Oil dye.  These are generally more expensive and much better dyes in my experience.

YinTx

This is correct according to an email I received from fiebings when I asked the question.

Same same.

Edited by bikermutt07

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Is there a good process for dyeing large pieces.  When replacing a stirrup leather and fender it needs to be dyed to match the other fender. When we smooth the dye over the raw leather it streaks.  We are using Fiebings but I'm not sure if she is using pro or regular.'  It takes so much dye to dip... so are there any other good ideas for  making this process turn out better.  

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4 hours ago, gunnerdiego said:

Is there a good process for dyeing large pieces.  When replacing a stirrup leather and fender it needs to be dyed to match the other fender. When we smooth the dye over the raw leather it streaks.  We are using Fiebings but I'm not sure if she is using pro or regular.'  It takes so much dye to dip... so are there any other good ideas for  making this process turn out better.  

1. dampen your leather, not sodding wet, but wet like you are going to tool it. This will help the dye spread thru the leather

2. Dipping doesn't need a big tank; here's a method I use for long straps, its based on how I used to develop films in the field.

Put gloves on, put thinned dye into a jug or tray. Dip one end of dampened strap into dye, pullout by pulling the length of strap thru the dye in the jug/tray. Holding each end of the strap pull it back and forth thru the dye, making sure the ends get into the dye as well. Do not allow any part of the strap to remain in the dye any longer than any other part. Work it back and forth steadily for a short time then hang up to dry. There will be some dye running down the strap; form your first two fingers into a V and run them down the strap, one finger front and one back of the strap, wearing rubber gloves this action will squeegie the excess dye to the bottom of the hanging leather quickly, not allowing it to dry in streaks down the length [although, allowing that leads to interesting patterns]

3. for large flat areas consider using a spray brush to spray the dye on. I've only just started using this method as I don't make anything very big. It does give a very even finish. I use a spray brush which cost under $20

hth

Edited by fredk

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Thanks so much fredk.   After reading some of the other posts I figured that dipping would be a idea.  Need to work out that process as the shop is very small.   Which spray unit are you using?  $20 is a reasonable cost.  I'll pass this along.  

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On 1/11/2019 at 10:59 PM, gunnerdiego said:

Is there a good process for dyeing large pieces.  When replacing a stirrup leather and fender it needs to be dyed to match the other fender. When we smooth the dye over the raw leather it streaks.  We are using Fiebings but I'm not sure if she is using pro or regular.'  It takes so much dye to dip... so are there any other good ideas for  making this process turn out better.  

Personally I avoid dye jobs like the plague.  For repair jobs like you are talking about, I will choose the tannery-dyed leather that comes the closest to the original color, and oil until it matches as closely as possible.  Saves me time, money, and I usually end up with a better job than if I had tried dyeing the leather.  Only if someone wants a two-tone job, or if the desired color is so far off anything I have available will I dye a whole piece.

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