Soda Ash

All of the information on this page was assembled in collaboration with the Facebook group Dyed Baby Carriers. If you have more questions regarding dyeing your baby carrier, join their group for assistance!


It's a dye fixative and, yes, you need it.

Soda ash is also known as sodium carbonate and it is the fixative that raises the pH of a dye bath and causes fiber reactive procion dyes to bond with the fabric. We need the pH to reach 10.5-11.

  • Soda ash is not washing soda and is not baking soda. Soda ash is sodium carbonate Use 1 cup per 1 gallon. Soak for 20 minutes or more. Max is weeks.

  • Washing soda is not pure sodium carbonate- you will need to use 1/3rd more because it is 33% less pure than Soda Ash. Use 1 & 1/3 cups per gallon of water. Soak for 20 minutes or more. Max is weeks.

  • Baking soda is sodium BIcarbonate. Not the same thing at all- it has an extra hydrogen molecule (the 'BI'). It can be baked at 200F in a shallow pan for up to 2 hours to make it sodium carbonate. Use 1 & 1/3 cups per gallon of water. Soak for 20 minutes or more. Max is weeks.



  • You can buy soda ash as "pH up" or "pH plus" on Amazon, Lowes, HomeDepot, and in pool/spa stores. Make sure it says SODIUM CARBONATE.

  • Washing soda can be found in the laundry aisle of stores like Walmart as "Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda."

  • Tulip brand soda ash can also be found in some craft stores.

  • Do not confuse sodium carbonate (soda ash) with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Baking soda does raise pH but only to 8.4. We need a higher pH of 10.5-11. You cannot use baking soda instead of soda ash but you CAN bake baking soda to chemically change it to soda ash.


Do I really need it when my dye packet doesn't mention it or if I know there's some already in the packet?

  • Y.E.S. Yes you do. The packets do not often contain enough soda ash for the amount of fabric that you are dyeing, and you will get better results if you add more.

When do I add it?

3 choices:

1) In a pre-soak before the dye

2) In the dye bath

3) In a post dye soak after the dye

***HINT*** Research the type of dye technique you are going to use. For certain LWI techniques, you do NOT presoak the soda ash, but instead, add it only after you have applied the dye. For batik dyeing, soda ash must NOT be added to the dye bath until approx 20 min prior to pulling the fabric out, as it will corrode the wax and can cause seepage and bleeding into the design.

How long do I soak?

Soak for a minimum of 30 minutes. Longer is fine but not necessary. Make sure that the fabric is completely dubmerged, as uneven soda ash distrbution WILL affect dye saturation.

How much do I need for my project?

  • For a presoak before dyeing or after dyeing:

One cup of soda ash or pH up per one gallon of warm water.


One and one third cup Super Washing Soda/ home made SA per one gallon of water

  • In a dye bath I.E tub/vat dyeing, Dharma Trading recommends one third cup per every 3 gallons of water, we still suggest 1 cup to 1 gallon. Can't go wrong in this case

What is the right pH level for fixing dye?

The right level is 10.5-11. Get some pH testing strips if you want to be accurate. The amounts of soda ash suggested may be a bit more than is needed.

Some soda ash tips:

~Wear gloves as it can burn and irritate your skin.

~Spin out your fabric in the washing machine after a soda ash presoak, NO RINSE, to remove the excess liquid that can act as a resist to the dye.

~Fine to let soda ash dry on the fabric. No need to resoak. Soda ash is still in there.

~If you rinse out soda ash from the fabric, you need to add it again if you add another layer of dye. The soda ash was rinsed away and you need more.

More about soda ash:

-- Alyssa Leonard - 2017-02-17

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Topic revision: r1 - 2017-02-17 - AlyssaLeonard
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