How To Tie Dye a Spinnaker with Kool-Aid

SpinSheet ad sales rep Eric Richardson and a handful of family and friends recently tie dyed the spinnaker for his racing boat, the Schock 35 Blinding Fury… using Kool-Aid! Here’s how to do it yourself.

Blinding Fury's inaugural spinnaker fly. Groovy, baby!

For Eric and crew, it was a two-step process—the first dyeing session in a big crabpot on the stove didn’t quite dye enough of the material, so step two took place in the backyard with a giant pot, such as one you’d use to deep fry a turkey. He found his how-to information in a blog called Here’s what the blog had to say…

“Nylon, like silk and wool, is best dyed with acid dyes. Don’t worry! They’re not super-villain acidic (though you should probably wear gloves any time you dye things). Acid dyes work best with “protein” fibers like nylon. 

A great resource for acid dyes and dyeing in general is Dharma Trading company. But if you’re just curious about trying out dyeing nylon, then just pop over to your local grocery store and pick up a couple packs of Kool-Aid.

Yep. Kool-Aid.

Kool-Aid is very acidic and works great as a dye on wool and nylon. You might even remember dyeing your hair with it in middle school (or, at least, I do).  It doesn’t take much effort to dye something with Kool-Aid.  nd though I’m going to show you the stovetop method, there’s a way to do it in the microwave too. Here’s what you’ll need to do it on the stove:

• What you’re dyeing

Zip tied before tie dye.

• A stainless steel or enamel pot or saucepan (NOTE: Eric used a gigantic pot such as you’d deep fry a turkey in.)

• Packs of unsweetened Kool-Aid in the colours you want

Put enough water in your pot to cover what you’re dyeing. Add packets of Kool-Aid to your pot. There’s no math involved, just more packets mean more colour! Stir to dissolve.

Now add what you are dyeing and put the pot on the stove! Heat it to almost boiling and then turn the heat off. Let it sit, covered, for about half an hour.

You’ll know that you’re done dyeing when the water is clear. All the colour is now in what you’re dyeing!  Wait until it is cooled and rinse well with warm water.

And ta-da!

If you want to use your microwave, just dissolve your Kool-Aid into water in a microwave-safe container. Pop what you’re dyeing in and microwave for two minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes then microwave for another two minutes. And done! Just like with the stove top, you’ll know you’re done when the water is clear.”

Find the full blog on dyeing nylon here.