mordant (môrˈdənt) [key] [Fr., = biting], substance used in dyeing to fix certain dyes (mordant dyes) in cloth. Either the mordant (if it is colloidal) or a colloid produced by the mordant adheres to the fiber, attracting and fixing the colloidal mordant dye (see colloid); the insoluble, colored precipitate that is formed is called a lake. The chemical compounds used as mordants are either acidic or basic. Acid mordants (e.g., tannic acid) are employed with basic dyes; basic mordants (e.g., alum, chrome alum, and certain salts of aluminum, chromium, copper, iron, potassium, and tin) are employed with acid dyes. Cloth to be dyed may be treated first with the mordant and then with the dye, or the mordant and dye may be applied together. The vividness of certain dyes that ordinarily do not require the use of a mordant may be markedly increased when one is employed.
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