4 facts about natural dye extracts you didn’t know about

posted in: Natural Dye | 0

It happens at times.

You see your perfect white shirt turn into a plain old off-white tee. You look into your closet and notice that red dress is getting paler every day. You toss them into that washing machine for a spin, yet nothing changed. That’s when you agree that color fades over time. But you want to wear them again without looking dull.

So, you went to a nearby shop to buy some dye. A girl sporting a cute green top asked you what you need, so you told her what you wanted. She came back with a jar labeled Rose Madder and handed you a leaflet with the instructions.

“We only do organics here,” she said.  She guided you over to a table and made some demo. You figured the natural dyeing process might take time but looks promising.

You left the shop with a half-smile on your face and told yourself, “There are a lot of things to learn about organic dyes.”

Whether this has really happened to you or not (yet), continue reading.

Let me tell you four things no one has ever said about organic dyes.


1. The use of natural dyes dates back to the ancient times in different societies worldwide.

There were three primary dyeing colors used in history were madder, producing different hues of red; woad for dark blues and indigos; and weld for yellows. A line or two of a Chaucer’s poem was even dedicated to these colors.

Ancient Egyptians used woad dyes to color the cloth they used to wrap mummies and madder extracts to decorate tombs, such as Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s. Native Americans also used some colors to tattoo themselves and decorate their basketry.

2. Purple used to be expensive that only royalty can purchase it. Sellers extracted the dye from thousands of mollusks called the Purple Fish.

3. Lincoln green, which is a mix of woad and weld, is the color of Robin Hood’s green cloth. His merry men also wore similar clothing.

4. The term mordant came from the Latin word ‘mordere’ which means “to bite.” A mordant refers to the mineral salts such as alum or iron used to help the fabric or textile ‘bite’ the color of the dye.

So this has been your history class on organic dyes. The next time you buy another jar at a local shop, you have some trivia to share.