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Old 04-03-2013, 08:31 PM
 
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I bought a chipper shredder and want to make mulch for our yard, but my wife likes black mulch, so any idea how can I dye wood chip for black mulch?

Thanks your guys,

Don
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:42 PM
 
Location: Under the Redwoods
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You want something from around the house or buy something?
Dharma Trading company sells Procion dye that is for all natural fibers- as wood is natural, the dye will work for wood. You would need to make a vat of dye and soak the wood. However, the dye needs a setting agent and that can be salt, vinegar or soda ash. Salt may not be favorable for plants. Not sure about the vinegar. I use soda ash when I dye and when I rinse the garments I hose them off on the lawn and it loves it.
Now once the wood is dyed, you would want to rinse it as well, so if you used salt, you might rinse enough away that it would be ok.

But...the wood all on its own will eventually darken with time, not to black but stil darker than fresh chipped wood.
The only other thing I can think of is charcoal, but again, you would probably need some sort of bonding/setting agent.
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:54 PM
 
Location: Land of Free Johnson-Weld-2016
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I've used Dharma's dyes to dye clothes, but are they safe for plants? I mean, when I dyed my stuff...everything had all of these warnings about how it was toxic and I had to use a fixative. You won't be able to fix the dye on wood safely, I think. And you also won't be able to rinse out the solution like you would in cloth...
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:02 PM
 
Location: Under the Redwoods
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As with all chemicals, a company has to cover themselves with warnings. The dye is most toxic if inhaled or ingested in powered form. Of course you would not want to drink it once it is made into a liquid.
Because it is a fiber reactive dye, the pigment becomes part of the material through the chemical reaction with the setting agents. Once set & rinsed, there is not longer any risk. As well as once the dye has been made into a liquid, it has a shelf life of about 2 weeks and then it starts to become inert.
What is the main toxic substance in the dyes are the heavy metals that create the pigment, which after setting is all washed away. Much of the heavy metals in the dyes are naturally in the soils and ground already. I doubt it would be harmful to plants.
Again, I'd be concerned about salt if used as a setting agent. Soda ash or washing soda, as it is found in the laundry section of the grocery store is just baking soda that has been cooked. But that is also washed away. Soda ash is also used to balance out the water in hot-tubs.

One could always experiment and take a teaspoon of dye and give it to a sacrafical potted plant and see what happens. But keep I mind that the plant is getting a gigantic dose compared to any residue left in the woodchips.
The manufacturer of Procion dye (which is not Dharma) says that the dyes and rinse water is not harmful to septic systems. That to me says that the dyes are compatible with even the most 'specialized & sensitive' of eco-systems.

I'm tempted now, to dump straight powered dye on a plant and see what happens.

Last edited by OwlKaMyst; 04-03-2013 at 11:11 PM..
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Old 04-04-2013, 08:29 AM
 
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Do we have any natural dye that harmless to the environment?
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Old 04-05-2013, 05:36 PM
 
Location: Under the Redwoods
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No mention of any dye being harmful to the environment. Harmful to people, yes. Setting agents used with dyes are in such a high concentration that can be harmful if not handled and disposed of properly.
But....
There are all kinds of vegetable dyes made from fruits, bark, roots, mushrooms, etc. But one has to make it themselves, you can't buy it. Except for Henna for the hair and skin, and that has caused some people problems.
Also to use vegetable dyes right, there needs to be a setting agent. It's is typically the setting agent that is a high acid or base that it is an all around irritant to anyone or anything if not diluted or nutralized.

All the compounds in dyes are from the environment in some way be it vegetable or mineral. So is not harmful to the environment. But some of those compounds are toxic to people, like the heavy metals, and some people get burned by black henna.
This goes the other way too. What we can tolerate or even need is not good for plants. Salt for example. The ocean is full of it, there are caves and flats made of it and we need a certain amount of salt in our lives, but that same salt is toxic to a plant.
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Old 04-05-2013, 06:03 PM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
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Mix your leaf mulch and wood chips together and turn the pile with a pitchfork often. The leaves will help stain the wood chips. You also should add lime to this mix. Try to start a separate pile every year and repeat the process – until the decomposition is complete. It really does not take that long for this compost to break down into black mulch. Just do not expect it to turn black the first year. Lots of rain or watering will also help the decomposition.

Here is a link that will explain composting much better than I can (I tend to keep it simple): The Science of Composting - Composting for the Homeowner - University of Illinois Extension
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Old 04-06-2013, 06:31 AM
 
Location: Maine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DONBY View Post
I bought a chipper shredder and want to make mulch for our yard, but my wife likes black mulch, so any idea how can I dye wood chip for black mulch?

Thanks your guys,

Don
Depending on the amount you need this could get very expensive ( buying large amounts of dye) and labor intensive (mixing a large vat of woodchips and dye, and were are you going to drain the dye after? on your lawn, down the city sewer, don't get caught doing either one by local authoritys), personally I would try to talk your Wife into accepting the original color or just buy black mulch by the bag and cover your mulch with it.




bill
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Old 04-06-2013, 07:16 AM
 
2,063 posts, read 7,357,416 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DONBY View Post
I bought a chipper shredder and want to make mulch for our yard, but my wife likes black mulch, so any idea how can I dye wood chip for black mulch?

Thanks your guys,

Don
I understand the original dye for black mulch was some form of coal product. Apparently a lot of people like to do this or "refresh" the color of existing mulch and pine straw. If you have a Lowes nearby they carry mulch dye.

Shop COLORBACK 32 oz Black Mulch Mulch Dye Concentrated at Lowes.com

Otherwise you can mail order it or find retailers using the following links: EnviroColorĀ® Product Specifications

Solarogen, LLC :: Mulch Dyes :: Solarfast Black Mulch Dye (1 Gallon)


A short to read article about the safety of using and handling dyed mulches: Is Dyed Mulch Safe to Handle?
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:12 AM
 
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I can't imagine anything that is dyed not fading, so that brand name "Solarfast" has to be misleading. My husband and I both come from the inks and coatings industry, and believe me, everything fades over time. Even UV-curable fade resistant pigments are fade "resistant". They also will degrade in time. And with a dyed piece of wood that will biodegrade because it's wood, don't expect it to look new for all that long.

We each have our own opinion of what looks good as a backdrop to our gardens. My personal preference is a mulch that doesn't detract from thelook of the plants. I like the natural look, and I really dislike red mulch, which is simply chipped up pallet wood dyed red. I think it upstages the plants.
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