Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Disposing of Soy Wax after Batik

I often use soy wax for my batiks. I keep reading in various books and online that soywax can be washed away in your washing machine or down your drain. That really makes me nervous. I live in a house built in 1939 and I've had my share of plumbing issues, with all the expense plumbing repairs entail.  I would not recommend washing your soy wax down the drain.  Would you pour liquid shortening down your pipes?  Probably not. 

Here's what I do.  After my dyebath is complete, I rinse the waxed fabric well in several sink fulls of cold water. Don't use warm or hot water at this stage. The cold water will remove soda ash and salt, without reactivating your dyebath, which you don't want to do.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Don't be stingy with the water. The more easily you can move the fabric around, the easier it will be to remove all the wax. Hold your waxed fabric with a pair of tongs and plunge it into the water. The soy wax will melt immediately. The boiling water has two purposes: it removes the soy wax and it removes any reactive dye that has not chemically bonded with your fabric. Push the fabric to the bottom of the pot and let it soak for about an hour. As the water cools, some of the soy wax will become solid again and form a crust on top of your pot. Push aside any solidified soy wax and remove your fabric. Rinse the fabric well with warm water, then either wash by hand or throw in the machine with a gentle detergent. Synthrapol is not necessary, because the boiling water will remove any excess dye without the use of a surfactant. After washing, your fabric will be wax free and colorfast. Don't pour the contents of your stockpot down the drain.

In the winter, I put my pot, still filled with water and wax, outside. Wait until the soy wax forms a solid crust on the top of the pot. You can break off chunks of wax with your gloved hands and throw them in your regular trash.

There will still be a lot of small granules of soy wax remaining in your pot. 

To get rid of the small bits of wax, take an old piece of stocking and stretch it over a container. Pour your remaining liquid into the stocking.

The stocking will capture even the smallest pieces of soy wax.  Put the solids in your trash. You'll probably have to do this a number of times to clear out your stockpot. The remaining liquid with some dye in it can be safely disposed of down the drain.

This may seem rather time consuming, but I figure it's better to expend a little time now to save time and lots of dollars in the future if my pipes become clogged with soy wax!

Happy batiking.

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