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How to make dyes from natural sources like plants

Contributor ,

hen we talk about dyes, we refer to a color which is produced especially by soaking in a coloring solution. Dyeing is a process where colors are imparted on a product, may be food, textiles or cosmetics or for any industrial application. Dye or Dyestuff is a colored substance which imparts more or less permanent color to other materials.

Many dyes are available and they are formed by different ways and used in different applications depending on the manufacturing process.

Dyes can be formed by using artificial means like using chemicals, acids etc. However, dyes can also formed in a natural way. Though it might sound strange, but it is a fact that natural dyes can be found right in your own garden. Your own back yard is a great source for natural dyes. The various parts of a plant like flowers, roots, nuts can be used to get many colors. To use the plant material for dyeing, you should remember that the flowers should be in full bloom, the fruit should be ripe and the nut should be mature. So you should be careful while choosing the plant material. The plants bring out vibrant colors that create a palette that is compatible and blends with each other.

Colors derived from various plants
Shades of orange / yellow from Bloodroot, Onion skin, Carrot ...
Shades of brown from Wild plum root, Oak bark, Walnut, White Birch, Coffee Grinds. Tea, Beetroot...
Shade of pink from Strawberries, Cherries, Raspberries, Roses .
And many more

How to dye naturally ?

When gathering plant stuff for dyeing, never gather more than 2/3 of a stand of anything in the wild.

To set the color on the fabric, you should place the fabric in a color fixative such as salt water (1 part salt to 16 parts water) or a vinegar bath (1 part vinegar to 4 parts water). Keep the fabric for about an hour and allow it to absorb the fixative mix. After removing it from fixative, wring it out thoroughly.

Make the dye solution by chopping the plant material into

small pieces. Place it in a pot, add water in it, double the quantity of water to plant material. Next, boil the water with the plant material, then simmer for about an hour. Strain. Now add your wet fabric to be dyed. If you want a stronger shade, allow the fabric to soak in the dye overnight. This is called dye bath. Rinse the material and squeeze out excess. Rinse in cool water . The color of the fabric will be lighter when its dry.

Note: Cotton, Silk, Muslin, and Wool work best for natural dyes and the lighter the fabric in color, the better is the dyeing. Always wash separately naturally dyed fabrics in cold water .


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