Adding Alcohol to Speed Drying of Waterborne Dyes

Advice on speeding up drying, and other tips for water-based dye use. July 2, 2008

Can water-soluble dye be mixed with alcohol or acetone instead of water? I have dye powder that has a 12 hour dry (recoat) time when mixed with water - way too long for me. I am looking for a faster drying solution. This will be sprayed.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
What brand of ws dye has a dry time of 12 hours? I have never used a water dye that took that long to dry.

To answer your question, water and alcohol are miscible together, so you can normally make a blend to speed up your drying time, but without knowing what you are using I can't say for sure.

If you are spraying and want incredibly fast dry time why don't you use alcohol dye? If you want the penetration and light-fastness of a water dye check out another brand.

From contributor M:
I am in Canada and got it from Lee Valley tools not sure if they are in the US. I have not used it yet but found the dry time stated to be outrageous. Could the dry time be way overstated? I rather use this dye because I have it and it is already the color I am looking for.

From contributor A:

The quick answer is make it up and do a sample and then test it. If it is 12 hours there is something else going on because water does not have an evaporation rate of 12 hours.

From contributor M:
I do realize that I will need to raise the grain and sand before application. Can these stains be used as a spray and no wipe type of stain like NGR if they are sprayed with no puddling or will it need to be wiped? Will adding some alcohol with the water speed up the dry time?

From contributor C:
Yes they can be used like an NGR type of application, but it defeats the purpose to use them in that way - the reason water soluble dye has the best light-fastness is because it stays wet and penetrates deeper, therefore allowing more UV stability to the coloration process. The more it’s used like a surface dye with little penetration into the wood surface, the less light-fastness you will have.
Just as through dying veneer in a vat of hot dye, it will give you the absolute longest light fastness. This is really the only way to properly dye wood is by allowing the dye to permeate the entire thickness of the wood. Too many times people talk of dying wood when what they’re really doing is just staining the surface of the wood with the dye - sometimes referred to as dye/staining. This is never as light fast as true wood dying by vat methods.

As to your question on alcohol - when you use alcohol you are just replacing some of the water content, so yes it will dry a little faster because there is less water needed to evaporate from the wood. Any solvent that is miscible with water and evaporates faster than water will do the same, just as hydroscopic solvents will act as retarders if you need to keep a large area wet to be able to spray or brush apply the dye.

From contributor P:
I don't know the chemistry, but since you're talking about Lockwood I know they sell both water and alcohol soluble versions of their dyes, which implies that they're different.