Dye Removal

Techniques

Fun with Chemistry

Colors can be removed chemically or physically.  In the first case, the dye molecules remain in place on the shell, but are altered enough that they no longer reflect light.  In the second case, the molecules are actually removed from the shell of the egg.

There's a half dozen different ways to remove color, in order of most traditional and least harmful to the shell:


DYE RINSES:

Each successive color DOES remove its predecessor, to some extent. Obviously, yellow doesn't dye well over black. The traditional color order goes from light to dark to take advantage of this feature. Some dyes, though, can be utilized to remove colors and switch between color families.

Orange Rinse: Orange does a particularly good job of removing color, at least in part due to a lack of vinegar (UGS Orange); many pysankarky keep a separate batch of "orange rinse" just for that purpose. It is used to go form the blue/green family of dyes to red/orange.

Yellow Rinse: Yellow is not as fast as orange at removing dyes, but will do so.  It is useful for moving from the Red/Orange family of dyes to the Blue Green.

Gold Rinse:  UGS Gold (without vinegar) can also be used to switch from the Red/Orange family of dyes to the Blue Green.

Pink Rinse:  UGS Pink is said to do a great job of covering green.


WATER RINSE:

Dye molecules remain in equilibrium between those adherent to the eggshell surface and those in dyue solution.  Placing a dyed egg into water will dissolve the bonds to the shell and put the molecules back into solution. This is a slow process.

A rinse under plain water will remove most dye, although actually soaking the dyed egg in a cup of water is more effective. The shell usually won't go down to a pure white, but may remove enough dye to allow you switch between color families in many cases. Use tepid, not hot, water!


SOAPS/DETERGENTS:

Soaps and detergents will bind with various dyes and remove them from the shell. After using ANY soap or detergent on an egg, rinse well with plain water and dip briefly into vinegar to reset the pH before any further dyeing.

Ivory Dish Soap: Washing a dyed egg with Ivory liquid and water will do a better job than rinsing with water alone.

All Purpose Cleaners:  Rinsing with Simple Green cleaner (or Mrs. Meyer’s cleaner, or Fantastik, in some formulas) works better than dish soap. Spray on full strength and rub it around with your hands. Scrubbing is not necessary, but you might want to use a soft toothbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies. Again, rinse well and dip briefly into vinegar before dyeing the next color.

Some people have great results with this process, but I have difficulty getting good dyeing after etching.  In my experience, later colors tend to be pallid or pastel.


ACID ETCHING:

Etching with vinegar or other acids will remove a layer of the shell and the color along with it.

Submerge the egg in full strength vinegar until it bubbles. Take it out and scrub it gently with a soft toothbrush. The top layer of the shell will come off, leaving your waxed designs slightly raised. (this may or may not be desirable) You don't want to do this too many times, or leave it in the vinegar for too long, as the shell will get thin and break.

This should only be used on empty egg shells, not on full eggs.


BLEACHING:

Bleach does not actually remove dyes; it breaks chemical bonds within the dye, changing the molecule so it no longer reflects light.  In essence, the dyes become invisible.

Bleaching is the last method you should try, as the bleach also disrupts molecules on the egg’s surface, and tends to make the shell difficult to dye afterwards. Eggs “whitened” in this manner also have a tendency to yellow over time.

Eggs that have been bleached don’t always dye well. You may have to let your egg sit in the dye a little longer than usual after a bleach bath. Bleaching ensures the whitest white shell, and is particularly effective when you wish the background color to be white. However, bleached eggs may yellow over time.



  Touching up        Dye Rinses



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