Kool-Aid Dyeing
Quick and Easy

There aren't many DIY projects easier than Kool-Aid dyeing. This drink mix is made with citric acid. When you add heat, the citric acid will bind the food dye to the wool yarn automatically.

This is a great project for beginners, children, and play dates with knitting groups.

G = Grape, L = Lemon-Lime, I = Ice Blue Raspberry Blue, B = Berry Blue,  O = Orange, C = Cherry, P = Tropical Punch, S = Strawberry, BC = Black Cherry

Mixed is a new flavor named Mixed Berry. Peach is Peach Mango and slightly more yellow than the Orange flavor.

Kiwi is Strawberry Kiwi. Soaring is Soaring Strawberry.

Super-Simple Kool-Aid Dyeing Instructions (for Kool-Aid only)

  1. soak yarn in plain water for at least an hour
  2. mix a packet of Kool-Aid with 8 ounces water in a jar or cup
  3. gently squeeze the yarn until it is just damp
  4. place yarn in a microwave-safe bowl with a cover.
  5. pour the Kool-Aid dye stock over the yarn
  6. microwave for two minutes and let cool for ten minutes
  7. repeat heating and cooling cycle until the water in the bottom of the bowl is clear
  8. allow to cool completely and the rinse with cool water
  9. dry yarn (not in sunshine)

Known for super happy, bright colors, Kool-Aid can be toned down by using non-white yarn.

Hints for some flavors:

  • Did you know you can add other food color to Kool-Aid for dyeing? Turns out there is enough citric acid when Kool-Aid is dissolved in 4 ounces of water to add icing gel or food color drops, and it will still bond. Think of all the new colors you can create!
  • According to Wikipedia there have been over 60 flavors of Kool-Aid.
    The now extinct chocolate and cola would have come in handy for dyeing brown. Many folks mix their own brown using a 1 orange to 1 grape mixture.

  • Lemonade is a weak color, so I use McCormick yellow.

  • Grape is a rather dingy purple, more blue-gray then red. However, small amounts can be used to tone down other Kool-Aid colors. Always add the grape to the other color a tiny bit at a time until you like the color, because once you add the grape you can't un-add it.

  • Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade is a lighter version of Berry Blue.

  • Lemon-lime is bright leaf green. If you want a different shade of green, it would be easier to mix it yourself using yellow and blue. Here are hints about green.

  • Orange is slightly lighter than the safety cones used on highways. And as visually jarring, in my opinion. It's a great color to use in blends.

  • Black Cherry is darker than the other common red colored flavors.

  • Invisible Watermelon Kiwi contains NO food color, but you can use it to set any brand of food color if you don't want to use vinegar.
    WARNING: It's clear, but it smells like Watermelon Kiwi.

Money saving Kool-Aid Dyeing hints:

  • Cherry, Strawberry and Fruit Punch are almost the same color red! (Punch's very last ingredient is blue1). So save your self time traveling to multiple stores in search of three dozen, say Fruit Punches, and just buy a mix of three dozen packages of any of these flavors.

  • To make dark colors, start with a gray baseyarn.

  • Do you have left over Kool-Aid after dyeing? Or are you tired of dyeing white base yarn? Here's a page of Kool-Aid on light blue cashmere.

How much Kool-Aid to use

It takes many packages to dye large amounts of fiber saturated colors. So, Kool-Aid dyeing can be expensive.

A general rule of thumb is 1 to 2 packages per ounce yarn. However, the type of yarn and how dark you want the finished yarn to be will alter this.

The samples in the photos are 3 yards of Lion Brand Fishermen's wool to an entire package of Kool-Aid. This is a super-saturated dye bath and very dark.

Which food colors are in the common flavors of Kool-Aid

  • Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade - blue1

  • Grape - red40 blue1

  • Tropical Punch - red40 blue1

  • Lemon-lime - yellow5 blue1

  • Black Cherry - red40 blue1

  • Orange - yellow5 red40 red40 lake

  • Strawberry - red40

  • Soaring Strawberry - red40

  • Cherry - red40

  • Berry Blue - blue 1

Mixing Kool-Aid with other types of food dyes

Some folks find Kool-Aid colors to be too limiting - a green, a yellow, an orange, medium red and dark red, purple and two shades of blue.

You can tweak Kool-Aid colors with other brands of food color if you remember: Wilton, McCormick and others need an acid to bond, so the amount of citric acid in Kool-Aid might not be enough.

Here's a video about Kool-Aid dyeing mixed with Wilton and McCormick.

See how Kool-Aid can be mixed together to create over 100 shades.

Americolor Food Color - comes in colors Kool-Aid doesn't.

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Kool-Aid Formulas