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Vinagroon Got Nasty

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I thought I would make some good old fashioned leather dye. Got some steel wool and vinegar put it in a mason jar and let it sit, and then forgot about it. The last time I looked at it it was clear with black sludge on the bottom and still bubbling a bit, so I stuffed some more steel wool in and forgot about it. Six week later it is a rust orange color with a bunch of black nasty stuff on top. Strained it off into a new jar and it orange rust colored. I did dip a piece of leather into it and it colored it nicely so I guess it is fine. Right?
Also, should I treat the leather with anything after dying it to neutralize the vinegar, or just use My Renaissance Wax as I usually do?
 
In my experience, I just let it dry thoroughly with no vinegar smell left, then oil. Wax may be just as good as oil, I never tried it. I've had very little luck using steel wool, even after dunking in acetone. My best batches are from old barbed wire and bits and pieces from my saw
 
You've got vinagroon that rusted. It's perfect. It doesn't dye very well until it reaches that rusty stage. Your vinagroon will turn black as you use it. Use it over and over again.

Press on.

I neutralize my leather with dilute baking soda. A good water rinse is also okay.
 
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I was told by Chuck Burrows, (WILD ROSE TRADING COMPANY), via a phone conversation, that vege tanned leather had a PH reading so close to neutral that further neutralizing was really not necessary and I could simply let it air out for a few days until the smell was gone. After doing so and applying oil, I have never had any problems with the leather or steel blades kept in it.
 
Been trying to make some Vinegeroon. Using old barbed wire and been working for over a month. The solution has turned black and is still bubbling but when I test it on leather get a very slight brown color. Tried it on wood and got a grey color. Wondering where the black is?
 
Wondering where the black is?
Your solution is not ready yet.
Try soaking the leather overnight. Even a weak vinagroon will react with leather if the leather is soaked long enough.

Typically leather has to be soaked in vinagroon overnight to develop a full black color. Painting the solution onto leather gives you a brown or dark gun-metal blue color, not black.

Was the barbed wire buffed clean before putting it into vinegar? Rusty wire has a layer of iron oxide that will impede the dissolving of the iron.

Household vinegar is only 5% acetic acid. You can also use a stronger vinegar, like weed killer vinegar (30%). If you use a stronger vinegar, you have to keep adding iron until all the acid has been consumed. Otherwise you'll be soaking your leather in a strong acid. You know all the acid has been consumed when the bubbling stops and there is still some undissolved steel in the container. FYI 30% vinegar will burn bare skin.
 
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Your solution is not ready yet.
Try soaking the leather overnight. Even a weak vinagroon will react with leather if the leather is soaked long enough.

Typically leather has to be soaked in vinagroon overnight to develop a full black color. Painting the solution onto leather gives you a brown or dark gun-metal blue color, not black.

Was the barbed wire buffed clean before putting it into vinegar? Rusty wire has a layer of iron oxide that will impede the dissolving of the iron.

Household vinegar is only 5% acetic acid. You can also use a stronger vinegar, like weed killer vinegar (30%). If you use a stronger vinegar, you have to keep adding iron until all the acid has been consumed. Otherwise you'll be soaking your leather in a strong acid. You know all the acid has been consumed when the bubbling stops and there is still some undissolved steel in the container. FYI 30% vinegar will burn bare skin.
NO!, not typically! A GOOD solution will BLACKEN, not brown or blue, quickly and very well without soaking the leather overnight. 5 or 6 coatings should usually do it. You can do more if you wish. It only needs to be absorbed well between coats and not necessarily dried. If you get a spot that resists turned black, gently rub the area with cleaned 0000 steel wool and try again. Then let sit and dry until the smell is gone, then apply a leather oil or mineral oil. Completely soaking leather overnight in a vinegar acid solution is totally unnecessary and looking for possible damage and a poor result to your product. The interior of a sheath or holster does not need to be blacked Apple cider vinegar is usually slightly stronger than white vinegar, and plenty strong enough to make a good solution if cured long enough. Common table vinegar is 4% to 8%. A GOOD solution can take upwards of a month to become so.
 
I am one of the world's foremost experts on ancient natural leather dyes. And I disagree with you.

I have reproduced hundreds of ancient leather dyes from recipes dating back over 2,000 years.

There are better leather dyes for black than vinagroon, that don't require soaking, but they all use the same iron-tannin-acid reaction as vinagroon.
 
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Gee, what a shame, I wish I had known I was doing vinegaroon all wrong 20 years ago, but then I'm not a world class expert on how to use it.
 
Been trying to make some Vinegeroon. Using old barbed wire and been working for over a month. The solution has turned black and is still bubbling but when I test it on leather get a very slight brown color. Tried it on wood and got a grey color. Wondering where the black is?
I might be all wrong on this but I use the shavings from the auto parts store where they turn drums and rotors. I just pour a good amount in, loosen the cap and forget about it. I always have one working so don't pay any attention to when it's done. One has been on the shelf for about a year. My grocery store sells a 6% for household cleaning.

I don't get any red or rust until I use it a few times. Steel wool tends to float a bit and is exposed to oxygen so that allows oxidation (rusting) during the process. It doesn't effect it as far as I have seen.
 
Any degreased steel should work. I've used steel wool, but now my primary source of iron is the metal flake that accumulates around my anvil.

Want something more potent than vinagroon?

Get some iron sulfate powder (or ground melanterite), vinegar, and ground oak galls (or any other high tannin wood). Throw in some steel flakes. Simmer for a few hours. Paint the leather with one coat and wait a few hours for the color to develop. Re-coat as needed. Same basic formula as vinagroon but much more potent.
 
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I had never heard of vinegaroon making a brown colour before, but the other week I made a batch and brushed it on a scrap of leather, and there it was. I liked it so much I did a holster with it!
Jay
 

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