Natural dyes are not harmful to the environment owing to their biodegradability. For dye application to textiles, salts are necessary as mordant or electrolytes and make an environmental impact. In this paper, the influence of cationization during mercerization to the dyeing of cotton fabric with natural dye from Dactylopius coccus
was researched. For this purpose, bleached cotton fabric as well as fabric cationized with Rewin OS was pre-mordanted using iron(II) sulfate heptahydrate (FeSO4
O) and dyed with natural cochineal dye with and without electrolyte addition. For the characterization of surface changes after cationization, an electrokinetic analysis on SurPASS was performed and compared to pre-mordanting. For determination of dye exhaustion, the analysis of dye solution was performed on a UV/VIS spectrophotometer Cary 50 Solascreen. Spectrophotometric analysis was performed using a Datacolor 850 spectrophotometer, measuring remission ”until tolerance” and the whiteness degree, color parameters, color depth (K/S), and colorfastness of dyed fabric were calculated. Levelness was determined by visual assessment. Cationized cotton fabrics showed better absorption and colorfastness. Pre-mordanting and cationization showed synergism. The electrolytes improved the process of dye absorption. However, when natural dyeing was performed on cotton fabric cationized during mercerization, similar chromacity, uniform color, and colorfastness were achieved with and without electrolyte, resulting in pure purple hue of cochineal. For achieving a violet hue, pre-mordanting with Fe-salt was needed. Therefore, salt can be reduced or even unnecessary, which makes this process of natural dyeing more environmentally friendly.
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