Kool-Aid comes in all sorts of flavors and all of them contain dye to form the wild colors of the drink. The most common dyes used, based on the huge pile of Kool-Aid packages I have sitting in front of me, are red 40, blue 1, yellow 5 and yellow 6. These are "azo" dyes that have been certified as safe to use in food, drugs and cosmetics by the US Food and Drug Administration.
There are some great reasons to use Kool-Aid as your dye. Because it's food/drink you can safely dye in your own kitchen and use the sames bowls and pans and utensils that you will use later to cook dinner. This is a great dye to use with kids because they can literally drink it if they wanted to and it wouldn't hurt them. Of course, we use the dye without sugar or any sweetener so it might not be all that appealing.
This is not the time to have the discussion about the general safety of commercial dyes in our foods, the amounts of dye or the long term effects. These are all important issues but the bottom line is Susie could drink this dye and not have serious toxic effects similar to what might happen out in the dye shed with dyes that are meant only for fiber and never for food.
There are also some issues with using Kool-Aid as your dye. The color palette is somewhat limited. You can mix the Kool-Aid powder to create a multitude of colors but not nearly as many as you can find if you look at commercial fiber dyes. Kool-Aid is fairly expensive to use in a big dye operation. Each packet only dyes about 1/2 ounce of fiber and costs about $.10. That's not bad when you are dyeing a skein of yarn or two but at that rate dyeing one pound of fiber would cost you $3.20 which is about twice what commercial acid dyes would cost.
I'll be teaching a class in dyeing with Kool-Aid at the Knit 1 Oxford Fiber Festival at the end of January. I'm looking forward to it! I've spent several days this past week playing with Kool-aid colors to create some samples for that class. We love going to Oxford and always have a fabulous time there. If you can get there for the festival, please try. And stop by our booth and say hello!
Knit 1 Oxford Fiber Festival
The Oxford Powerhouse
January 30 - February 1, 2015
For information call Knit 1 Oxford at 662-238-2829