Aluminum Triformate

Aluminum Triformate is a new mordant for all fibers, wool, silk, cotton, linen and hemp, that works well in room temperature water, so it may be referred to as a ‘cold mordant’.  This is great because it eliminates the need to heat the mordant bath, so you can easily mordant a bulk amount of material outside in a bucket, and there is no worry about accidentally felting wool fibers by agitating them in a hot bath or shocking them by sudden temperature changes. 

It also makes using the mordant bath multiple times to use up the mordant really easy, because you are not worried about needing to reheat the bath every time.  Also, you can mordant all types of fibers in this one bath.  Yay!

The amount of Aluminum Triformate to use can be calculated by using 20 grams for every liter of water, or by using 5-10% WOF (weight of fiber).  However, a higher percentage could result in deeper colors for some dyes. 

I bulk, cold mordant in a 5 gallon  bucket during warm months, and the first time I went to use Alum. Tri. I decided that I’d use the 20 grams per liter method that was described as the great advantage of using this mordant for bulk mordanting and repeated use of the mordant bath.  I put 5 skeins worth of fiber, 500 grams in the form of mini skeins into the bucket and then loosely figured out how much mordant I’d want to put in, and I figured about 340 grams of Alum. Tri. for the 4.5 gallons of water that I added to the bucket.  Then you are supposed to mark where the water level reached on the bucket, and when the water level goes down with subsequent mordanting, then you just refill the bucket at the same rate of 20 grams per liter up to the line you marked. 

My question was that, 340 grams was quite a pile of mordant!  I thought, this is a huge amount of mordant to dump into this bucket with just 5 skeins, 500 grams of wool!  I wish I’d used the WOF method!  Now, the point is supposed to be, I guess, that the amount of mordant seems excessive at first, but with repeated uses it won’t be as much.  But, mordanting water can get cloudy with repeated use, and sometimes one thinks that it might be best to start fresh.  So, this is my question as I go through this summer and continue using this bucket to mordant.  How many times will I use this mordant before it gets cloudy?  Do I think it was worth it, and not a waste or over-use of the mordant using the 20 gram per liter method?  I’ll update this sheet when I have more experience. 

Some explanations regarding the use of the ‘per liter’ formula for bulk mordanting also say that, if you notice results are poorer because of less mordant in the solution, then you know to add more mordant or top up your mordant bucket, but my goodness, you started out with a whole lot of mordant!  But, the idea of waiting for poorer retulsts bothers me a little because I don’t want any of my results to be poorer!  So, use the WOF formula or per liter formula, as you think benefits you best. I’ve read that this mordant is supposed to mordant a whole lot of fiber, but maybe that was said because the mordant bath at 20 grams per liter started out very strong?  Information is passed around by natural dye sellers, but where is the actual scientific testing to really prove these things!  I have heard that this mordant is used with great results by leather dyers. 

Please use dedicated utensils and pots for natural dyeing.  Do not use tools or pots that you will use for food.

For 100grams or 4oz of fiber at a rate of 5% mordant strength, use 5 grams, .17oz.  Dissolve the aluminum triformate in warm water, and then add it to your dye bath. 

Leave the fibers in the mordant bath for several hours or overnight or until you need them, since there seems to be no negative effect to leaving them in the mordant bucket.  Give the fibers a stir occasionally and making sure that there is plenty of water for the fibers to move around freely and for all parts of the fiber to come into contact with the solution. 

After mordanting, take the fibers out and rinse before proceeding to dye them.  I have read that mordanted fibers could be stored damp and refrigerated to age them, as this may increase the depth of shade in the dyed fibers.  Or you can dry them and store for future use.  It is normally said, that storing mordanted fibers can produce better or deeper shades, so apparently, you can do that with a brief, damp storage or drying them like you would do normally to store them. 

This mordant is reported to mordant quite a quantity of fibers, like, 7oz to 11lbs of fiber but when you reuse the mordant, extend the amount of time that the fibers are in the bath.