A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rusty Waste Water Disposal

One of the drawbacks of Natural Dyeing With Rust is the amount of rusty waste water produced. The issue becomes how to safely dispose of this rusty water in an environmentally friendly way. After trying out many different things, here is what I've settled on and what works for me in my area.

What Works For Me

  • Use several buckets for rinsing. The first rinse water will have a heavy concentration of rust. The subsequent rinses will be less contaminated.

  • Dilute the rusty water with fresh water. You want it to be more clean water than rusty water.

  • Pour the diluted water on a weed patch in the back alley. This patch of weeds is away from other ornamental plants and trees. I do this if I have a large amount of rusty waste water to dispose of.

  • Or pour the diluted water down the drain. I will do this if I've done a small rusting session.

  • Save some in plastic jugs for soaking fabric.

Here Is What I Don't Do

  • Pour rusty water on ornamental or edible plants. The excess iron in the water will kill the plants. I know this from experience!

  • Pour undiluted water down the drain. Not sure about this, but I don't want to introduce too much iron content into the municipal sewer system.

If you have a septic tank, you will want to research what problems introducing extra iron into the system will cause, if any.

This is what currently works for me, but I am always looking for better solutions. So if you have any suggestions, please share them with us.


  1. Interesting. I like the way you are covering all the aspects of rusting. Great job.

    Just an aside. My grandfather had a large lush plant filled yard in the Garden District of old New Orleans. He would pick up hitchhiking young boys, give them a meal and some clean clothes and bring them to his house. I guess today he would be a suspected pedophile, but he was repaying the help he had received as a young runaway himself. He would teach them to work on old cars. He always had a bucket of rusty parts with vinegar and water cleaning the auto parts off. There were a couple areas in the yard he would pour the mixture. The hydrangeas flourished! And the pecan trees bore lots of pecans. I am not sure if I would recommend that to anyone, but I wish I had some of those rusty parts now!!!

    I don't use buckets of vinegar but I do pour my rinse water on my lawn and have not killed anything yet. After the August flood, all our tools are a rusty mess. Frank is actually using 5% vinegar to remove the rust. He has not poured any out yet, so I am interested to see if he kills what the floodwaters didn't. I'll let you all know!

  2. You have done a great job on this topic!!! Covered everything for us!!! Just wonderful!

  3. Thanks QuiltSwissy and Robbie. I hope it has been informative and that others give rust dyeing a try. Still a few more posts, along with pictures of finished rusted fabric, so come back.


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