Natural dyes are dyes or colorants derived from plants, invertebrates, or minerals. The majority of natural dyes are vegetable dyes from plant sources- root, berries, bark, leaves, and wool and other biological sources such as fungi and lichens.
Dyes used in fashion industry
Animal derives dyes
- Red and pinks
- Natural dyeing with indigo, Jaipur (Rajasthan, India)
- Greys and blacks
- Royal purple
- Crimson and scarlet
- The rise of formal lack
Animal Derived Dyes
- Cochineal insect (red)
- Cow urine (Indian yellow)
- Lac insect (red, Violet)
- Murex snail (Purple)
- Octopus / Cuttlefish (sepia brown)
Plant Derived Dyes
- Catechu or Cutch tree (brown)
- Gamboge tree resin (dark mustard yellow)
- Himalayan rhubarb root (yellow)
- Indigofera plant (blue)
- Kamala tree (red)
- Larkspur plant (yellow)
- Madder root (red, pink, orange)
- Myrabolan fruit (yellow, green, black)
- Pomegranate peel (yellow)
- Weld herb (yellow)
Natural Dyes Origins
Natural dyes are derived from natural resources and based upon their source of origin these are broadly classiﬁed as the plant, animal, mineral, and microbial dyes although plants are the major sources of natural dyes.
Historically, plants have been used for the extraction of a majority of natural dyes. Various plant parts including roots, leaves, twigs, stems, heartwood, bark, wood shavings, ﬂowers, fruits, rinds, hulls, husks, and the like serve as natural dye sources.
Some famous dyes
Blue Dyes – Indigo
Indigo is the only important natural blue dye. Leaves of the plant Indigofera tinctoria are the best source of this dye. This very important dye popularly known as the ‘‘king of natural dyes’’. This blue color mostly used in denim fabrics. The coloring matter is present in indigo plant leaves as a light yellow substance called indicant (1H-indol-3yl b-D-glucoside).
Red Dyes – Madder
Madder is the red color producing natural dyes from the plants of various Rubia species. The dye is obtained from the roots of the plant. It is also popularly known as the ‘‘queen of natural dyes.’’ The main coloring constituent of European madder Rubia tinctorum is alizarin. The yield of roots from the 3-year-old plant is between 3–5 tonnes per hectare and about 150–200 kg of dye.
Rubia cordifolia is known as Indian madder, manjishth, or Manjeet, and its coloring matter is a mixture of munjistin and purpurin. Dye materials have good fastness properties.
Red Dyes – Brazil Wood
A red dye is obtained from the wood of Caesalpinia sappan, a small tree found in India, Malaysia, and the Philippines which is known as sappan wood or ‘‘Patang.’’ The same dye is also present in Brazilwood (Caesalpinia echinata), the name being derived from the word Braza meaning glowing like ﬁre due to the bright red color of its wood.
Aqueous extraction can be used to extract the dye. Alkali extraction deepens the red color. Textile materials can be dyed to get the red color with or without the use of alum mordant. A combination of this dye with turmeric produces orange shades and a deep maroon color is produced with catechu.
Red Dyes – Morinda
The root and bark of the tree Morinda citrifolia growing in India and Sri Lanka are used for getting red shades. Maximum coloring matter can be obtained from the 3 to the 4-year-old tree. Mature trees have very little dye. Dye is extracted from the chipped material with water.
Red Dyes – Safﬂower
Safﬂower is an annual herb known to have originated in Afghanistan. It is mainly cultivated for oil from its seeds which are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. The safﬂower ﬂorets were traditionally used for extracting dye which was valued for its bright cherry-red color. It contains two coloring matters, a water-soluble yellow present in abundance, water-insoluble carthamin.
Yellow Dyes – Turmeric
Turmeric is a well-known natural dye. The dye is extracted from the fresh or dried rhizomes of turmeric. It is a substantive dye capable of directly dyeing silk, wool, and cotton. Dye materials have good washing fastness, poor light fastness.
Yellow Dyes – Saffron
Saffron is an ancient yellow dye belonging to the family Iridaceae and is obtained from the dried stigmas of the plant Crocus sativus. It is grown in the Mediterra- mean, Iran, and India, and used for cooking as well as medicinal purposes. The dye is extracted from the stigmas of ﬂowers by boiling them in water.
Yellow Dyes – Annatto
Annatto Bixa Orellana is a small tree. The tree is known for the yellow-orange dye obtained from its seeds. It is extensively used for the dyeing of cotton, wool, and silk and also used for coloring butter, cheese, and the like. The pulp is rich in tannin.
Yellow Dyes – Barberry
The barberry plant roots bark and stems are used to extract the dye. The main constituent of the dye is berberine which is an alkaloid. It is a basic dye and can be used to dye silk and wool directly. The dye produces a bright yellow color with good washing fastness and average light fastness.
Yellow Dyes – Myrobolan
Dried myrobolan fruits have high tannin content and also contain a natural dye that is used for producing bright yellow shades for all textile materials. Myrobolan is also used as a natural mordant to ﬁx different natural dyes on textile materials. Myrobolan is a part of the famous Ayurvedic preparation ‘‘triphala’’.
Yellow Dyes – Marigold
Marigold is a bright yellow ﬂower-yielding plant. It is commonly used for making garlands and ﬂoral decorations. It is available in different colors including yellow, golden yellow, orange, and the like. It dyes wool and silk in deep yellow colors with good fastness properties. Cotton can be dyed with this dye in combination with mordants to get fast colors.
Yellow Dyes – Flame of Forest
The ﬂame of the forest tree, locally known as tesu in India, produces bright orange color ﬂowers. The dye extracted from the ﬂowers can be used for dyeing all natural ﬁbers. Bright yellow to brown and orange colors can be produced with suitable mordant.
Yellow Dyes – Kamala
The dried fruit capsules of Kamala yield a red-orange powder that can be used for dyeing wool and silk to bright orange-yellow and golden-yellow colors. Colors produced on cotton are not so good with moderate fastness properties.
Yellow Dyes – Onion
The outer skin of onion which is generally thrown away as waste can be used to extract yellow color natural dye. The dye is ﬂavonoid in chemical constitution and produces bright colors on wool and silk. Cotton can be dyed with suitable mordant. The washing and light fastness of the shade produced are moderate.
Yellow Dyes – Weld
Weld was a very important yellow dye plant in Europe. The coloring matter is a ﬂavonoid and it produces a good yellow color on natural ﬁber textiles that have very good fastness properties.
Preparation of dye stuff
- Dye material as to be crushed and soaked in water for few hours.
- Add twice the amount of water and heat for 1 or 2 hours.
- Strain and remove the dye material.
- Before getting into fabric dyeing we first attempted to color the lac with the extracted natural dyes.
- Mixing of lac with extracted natural dyes.
Preparation of fabric before dyeing:
- Wash the fabric
- Don’t dry it though – its needs to be wet
- Add salt: Dissolve half cup salt in 8 cups cold water
- Add vinegar: Blend one part white vinegar to 4 parts cold water
- Place your fabric in fixative solution for 1 hour
- Rinse with cold water