And with this much water, how long is the dyeing done to the saffron in a kiln, and how often, and why does it take so long?
Brett McAllister: Sure. I’m Brett McAllister, and in the back and on the inside of the kiln there is a little area where saffron comes out. When the saffron comes out, it’s washed. The dyeing starts in the saffron washing itself up inside the kiln and goes onto the cotton. So you actually have two parts of dyeing to take place that don’t have to interact until they do so.
As far as the amount of water that goes in and out of these kilns is really minimal—probably about 5% to 10% water weight. The water that leaves the kiln actually actually has about 7 to 8 different layers that it is made of. So if you do the math, that water then has a maximum of about 20 layers in it. So it makes it really, really hard to see if you try to look at the back and the left side of the kiln when you’re in there while the dyeing is happening. You don’t really see anything that looks like the water that actually touches the cotton fiber or touches any surface that’s in contact with the dyeing. That’s why the water doesn’t get transferred into the inside of the kiln. Once the saffron is gone then the remaining dyes have to react with their colors and it’s all absorbed into that water.
The dyeing process with saffron is actually a relatively gentle chemical reaction. It actually is more of an aqueous process. It’s actually more like a process that’s very good for color development and the development of dyes that have colors rather than color formation, which would be the way it should look. It’s good for that if you want to actually develop coloration within the fiber, but more of an aqueous process actually.
Alex Tsakiris: Wow. So that’s interesting, because here we have a dyeing process where the water goes in and it’s more of a pH system. Like a red dye doesn’t form and a green one actually becomes the pigment of the fabric?
Brett McAllister: Those are two different colors. For a long time nobody seemed to know or care about color development, because they thought like a lot of chemicals used in dyeing, it’s only about
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