My question is two-fold. I'd love to start tie dying, but I so much of the ingredients are toxic. Are there any non-toxic alternatives? If so, how well do you think they'd work with the low water immersion technique?
I do a fair bit of dying and probably handle them more cautiously than necessary...
FWIW the fiber-reactive dyes which are usually used for LWI and tie dye are considered to be non-toxic. They are synthetic, but not toxic, and are often called low-impact dyes because they lack heavy metals and do not use much energy or water compared to other dyes. There are no fumes during the dye process. They are not, however, food grade. The main caution with the dyes is that the powdered dye is made of very fine particles, which should not be breathed mainly because they are an irritant and because occasionally a person will develop an allergy if they use them a lot. Not toxic, but just like you shouldn't breathe anything that dusty. Once mixed with water there is no dust and it is very safe IMO.
Soda ash is the main chemical used with the dye, it is the same thing as washing soda. It's like really strong baking soda--what it does is change the pH.
Urea (organic) is also used and is also considered non-toxic, check it out on Wikipedia.
Personally, I would use this dye if I were nursing as long as I could be sure that someone else could be with the baby the whole time. (I'd want my hands clean and space clean to handle baby.) I have used the dye with older children. I would not use them in early pregnancy because I believe in being hyper-cautious at that time--not because I think there is a clear danger. Safer than using any house paint IMO.
littleist birds, thanks for posting that... dd and i both got one of those commercial tiedye packs all over our hands despite wearing gloves, and it's been troubling me ever since... i feel better now.
Thanks! Could you recommend any specific brands? I used Rit powder and it was quite messy and I didn't get very vibrant colors. I did the method in the bucket, maybe the washing machine method is best? I also had a problem with the color bleeding.