I am trying to preserve and dye flowers, especially roses. Let me walk you through the process I am trying to optimize:

1) Soaking flowers in 96%-ethanol for a day to dehydrate them. This step removes a lot of the color from the petals - red roses for example become faint pink. The flower itself becomes brittle to the touch, since almost all water is removed.

2) Putting the dehydrated flower into a mix of 96%-ethanol, polyethylene glycol 400 and reactive dye which is used in textile industry. I am still experimenting with the ration of ethanol:PEG. Soaking duration is a couple of days. In theory, the PEG gets into the cells of the petals - this preserves the petals and gives them most of their flexibility back.

3) Removing the flower from the mix and rinsing it for a minute in 96%-ethanol. This should remove the excessive PEG on the surface of the petals. Otherwise it looks glossy and stays sticky.

My problem begins at step 1): If I remove a flower from the dehydrating ethanol-bath, the petals turn opaque in a weird way. Some connected areas of a petal start to change their appearance abruptly (some sort of bursting, cracking, rupturing)! This starts some seconds after removing the petal from the ethanol and after a couple of minutes, almost all of the petal has turned opaque. Usually the outer edges of the petals don't turn opaque. I am not sure about this, but could it be, that the ethanol somehow destroys the cells of the petals? Is this a behaviour that is to be expected or am I doing something wrong? I think I would benefit a lot if I could understand where this abrupt change of quality comes from.

it doesn't matter, if I remove the flower after step 1, 2 or 3, the result is always this abruptly turning opaque behaviour.

Since my goal is to dye them to look nice and pretty, I need to find the mistake I am making. I was hoping you experts could help me.

You find two pics of already dyed petals attached.

(I wouldn't mind if they stay all transparent. In that case the petals should not turn opaque. But I also wouldn't mind if they become opaque - but on 100% of their surface. Also at the outer edges. This actually may be better - I think it looks nice this way.)

dyed petal

dyed petal

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enter image description here I find that using mixture of PEG 400 and Ethanol 2:1 reduce the transparency. You also need to bake the pental in microwave 360w for 15 seconds. Still some small transparency but acceptable.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hello, nice answer! This question was deemed worth of an answer, so why not upvote it? Vote early, vote often to encourage new users and keep the community alive! $\endgroup$ – LinuxBlanket Oct 13 '18 at 23:56

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