How to Batik Dye

The basic concept of batik dye is that where the wax is placed it does not dye. Hence this creates your batik design! Learn to do it yourself in these step-by-step instructions.

by CraftBits (Shellie Wilson)

What you need

Loose Fabric or Fabric item
Paraffin wax
Fabric dye
Uniodized salt
Paint brush
Paper towel


Fabric Preparation: Fabrics such as percele, fine silk, muslin or cotton work well for this project as they are the most easiest fabrics to dye.

If you are working on a flat piece of fabric prepare it by washing, drying and ironing the piece. This will remove any starch, dyes and avoid shrinkage later.

Your Design: Place the fabric on a flat surface and using a pencil or dressmakers chalk draw out your design. You can transfer the design using carbon paper, freehand or iron on a fresh photocopy for a ink transfer.

Melting the Wax: Paraffin wax is the cheapest of waxes and is great to use, but it can crack giving a mottled effect if you want to avoid this then use beeswax. You can also use paraffin with beeswax together.

You can melt the wax in a double boiler method (pan on pan) the same as you would melt chocolate. Or melt it in a heavy based saucepan. Heat the wax to around 170’F (80’C) making sure that your wax does not get to flash point.

Never leave hot wax unattended and if fire occurs do not use water but a blanket or sand to extinguish fire. Once it has completely melted lower the heat right down.

To Paint With Wax: Use a small brush and dip it into the hot wax and apply it to the fabric in even strokes.

Remember you are painting where you do NOT want the dye to go.

If the wax just sits on top and does not absorb into the thread, then your wax is not hot enough by the time it reaches the fabric, so either work closer to your stove or quicker.

To Dye:
Make sure you have taken the obvious precautions of wearing an apron, gloves and protecting your work area. Mix the dye as indicated on the packet you are using. Add a teaspoon of salt to every quart of liquid this will work as a fixative. Make sure your directions do not require extremely hot water as the wax will melt off your fabric, you need a warm water dye no warmer than 80’F (30’C). If you have a hot water dye to dissolve the dye then just allow it to cool before dipping the fabric.

Before Dying soak your fabric in a lukewarm water bath this will allow the dye to soak in evenly. Then slowly emerge fabric into dye bath, be careful not to crack you wax design or you will get a crackled effect. Leave the fabric in the dye for 20 Min’s then rinse in clean warm water. If the color is not dark enough dip it again.

Double Dye: If you are dying a second color onto your design then you need to apply the lightest color first. Reapply any wax that needs to cover your design and follow the steps again.

Crackled effect: Emerge the waxed fabric in cold water and crush it in your hands then submerge it into the dye bath.

Removing wax:
Using paper towel under and over your item, iron the fabric until all the wax has heated and lifted from the fabric. Replace the paper towel as you go until all the wax is absorbed.

Setting Dye:
Iron the whole garment well to set the dye.

Caring for your item: Hand wash or dry clean the garment.