When I started ice-dyeing, I always applied the dye powder on top of the ice. That’s how it was done in the tutorial I was working from, and since it gave interesting and usually beautiful results, I never had reason to change.

But there are two other methods of applying the dye, and my ice dye world became richer once I started experimenting with them.

  1. powder-under-ice — put the powder directly on the fabric and pile ice on top
  2. powder-over-ice — cover your project with ice and sprinkle dye powder on that
  3. liquid-over-ice — cover your project with ice, mix your dye with water, and pour that over the ice

For a direct comparison, I did a set of samples with Raven, Wedgewood Blue, and Amethyst. I twisted the fabric for each sample into a simple tie-dye spiral.


For tie-dyeing with ice, I nearly always see people applying the powder directly to the fabric. And no wonder! Applying the dye powder-under-ice created the brightest, most intense colors and the most clearly defined patterns. (The Wedgewood Blue got lost a little in the other two colors, which are stronger.) For that classic tie-dye look, this technique offers both the convenience of being able to place your dyes precisely and really vibrant color.


Somewhat surprisingly, the spiral is still obvious even when the dye was applied powder-over-ice or liquid-over-ice. Especially with the latter, I had a lot of trouble controlling where the dye went, so was worried that the swirl would be lost. The powder-over-ice sample is brighter, and has some of the interesting edges and streaks that I’ve come to expect from that technique. The Wedgewood Blue also comes through much better.


I was surprised to see how well the spiral showed up using liquid over ice, and how detailed the resulting fabric was. The colors are softer and flow into each other more.

Which technique(s) do you like to use, and why?

One thought on “Which ice dye method should you use?

  1. I like powder directly on the fabric because you have more control over dye placement and the colors are more saturated.

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