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Using a Microwave for faster Drying

dyed spiral

Using a microwave

Heating a dyed item in a microwave is a convenient way to accelerate the dye reaction.  Dyed items heated in a microwave can be washed out and finished in minutes, rather than the hours required for Procion MX type dyes to react at room temperature.

In situations where additional heat is required, such as when working with silk and certain dyes, a microwave is the ideal solution.

Remember, any microwave used for dyeing MUST be permanently retired from use in food preparation etc in order to avoid the possibility of cross contamination.  Also, the heating process will generate steam which should be avoided.  Only microwave dyed items outside or in an extremely well ventilated area.

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safety precautions
finished tie-dye spiral

Practical application

Using a microwave for reacting dye is relatively simple.  An item using the procedure shown in the video series simply needs to get hot all the way through for a few minutes in order to complete the dye reaction. That is to say, as soon as the whole piece reaches the desired temperature you can stop "cooking" it and let the rest of the dye reaction take place at an accelerated rate as the item cools.

The trick is to get the whole thing hot - but don't heat it for so long that the fabric gets dry.  If even just a small area of fabric dries out in the microwave it will scorch and burn.

For an individual t-shirt or scarf etc, experiment with one and a half to three minutes on "high".  Then check your dyed item to see how hot it is and make sure it's not getting dry. If it's not hot enough, put it in for a minute or two longer.  Keep your item wrapped in plastic or covered so that too much moisture doesn't escape as steam.

The actual heating time required will vary somewhat depending on the size of each item, the volume of water it contains and the actual wattage of your microwave.  You just need to get the item thoroughly heated all the way through once, as though you were cooking it. 

Allow your dyed item cool to room temperature before handling, then cut off the ties and immediately follow the washout instructions detailed in the how-to tie dye videos.

Learn more about making tie dye here.