Natural vs. Synthetic Dye
Humans have been dyeing since our ancient ancestors first covered themselves in the leaves and animal skins they had lying around them. In those days, all the dye they had was animal guts and dirt. We have thankfully evolved passed such ineffective and limited color options found in those dark days. Ever since humans first looked at their bland and drab strips of cloth, they imagined the possibility of color.
At QQ Studio, adding color to life is our prime directive. With the countless color and dye options that we have at our disposal, the possibilities are boundless. However, there is a connection, a kind of primitive pleasure that comes from using the fruit of the earth to color clothes. This blog will list some of the best natural dyes available to you and attempt to explain why they are better than the synthetic alternatives.
Avocado Pits & Skin
The wonder food that millennials are buying instead of diamonds. It has more uses than just spreading on toast. It can also make a beautiful pink dye. Yes, that’s right, pink.
This green fruit can make pastel pink dye using the skin and peel. In some cases, it will come out brown, but if you follow the right steps, it will blush more than an embarrassed albino.
Here is what you need to do:
- Wash the green gunk off the skin and seed. To make this process easier, you should dry out your ingredients on a sunny window ledge until you are ready to use them.
- Gently dissolve the skin and seed in the water at a low temperature. If you boil the seeds, the dye will come out browner than pink.
- When the color is to your liking strain out the fruit chunks
The color of your dye and level of pinkness is going to vary based on how well you follow the steps, as well as the kind of avocados you use. Every person on earth is different, and so is every avocado. Some will give you a pink dye, and some avocados will result in a brown dye. What kind you get is ultimately a mystery. For pink packaging bags that you can use to hold your pink clothing, see our pink collection.
Nothing beats beets when it comes to getting a vivid pink and red color. Unlike Avocados, the results of beet dyeing are more consistent. If you've ever eaten or cooked with beets, you understand that beet juice can dye everything it touches a pinkish-red color. Use this superpower to your advantage and try using the vegetable to color your clothes. It’s easy!
- Wash and peel 2-3 beets
- Chop them into 2-inch chunks
- Place the chunks in a pot of water and heat until the water boils
- When the water is boiling, reduce to a simmer and let the beets cook for 2-3 hours
- By now, the water should be a dark red color. Remove the beat chunks and add the garment you wish to dye
The results of beet dying can vary from a light pink to a dark orangey-red. The color results vary based on how well the cloth you use absorbs the beat juice. A clean white cloth that soaks in the beet juice for a long time will likely come out looking redder than one that takes a quick dip. Are you interested in red packaging bags? View our red collection.
Charcoal is an ancient method of cloth dying that dates back to when poor peasants in medieval Europe dyed their cloth black using the ash and charcoal from cooking fires. Today, everyone still loves black, so take a trip back through time and try out this simple recipe that uses activated charcoal to make dye. The best part about this recipe? You can use it both on your clothes and hair.
To make this dye, you will need to:
- Add Activated charcoal powder to a blender
- Add aloe Vera gel
- Add flaxseed
- Blend until combined
- Store the excess dye in a bottle pouch for later use
Add this dark concoction to your favorite white shirt or spread it generously into your hair. Allow either your clothing or hair to soak up the mixture for a few hours, then wash it out. Not only will you be left with a lovely dark color, but the charcoal will also draw out any of the odors or toxins held in the item. View our black packaging bags for dark and professional packaging solutions.
Indigo is one of the most beautiful and complex dyes that we have at our disposal. Today, many of the jeans and garments that are called indigo are using a synthetic version. However, natural indigo is superior because of the depth of color, which cannot be matched by synthetic alternatives. The indigo dye comes from a wide range of plants, including the Indigofera Suffruticosa in Central America, Persicaria Tinctoria in Asia, Isatis Tinctoria throughout Northern Europe, and Indigofera Tinctoria primarily in South and Southeast Asia. The plant stretches the globe, so finding a natural indigo powder is possible.
To make the best use of natural indigo powder, you will have to perform a little bit of chemistry:
- Fill a large bottle pouch 2/3rds to the top with hot water and then add 1 1/2 teaspoon of lye
- Add 2 teaspoons of indigo powder. For a darker blue, add 5
- Screw on the cap and shake for 2 minutes and then add thiourea dioxide. Shake again for 2 minutes. Then let sit for 15 minutes
- While you are waiting, fill a 2-gallon bucket with hot water
- Add 1/8 teaspoon of lye and stir until dissolved. Then add 1/2 teaspoon of potassium hydroxide and 1 teaspoon of thiourea dioxide. Stir again
- Add the contents of the bottle pouch to the bucket, making sure to introduce as little oxygen as possible. Cover the bucket and let sit for 15 minutes
- Take the cloth you wish to dye and dip it into the vat. For a darker, richer color, dip multiple times, wringing out the cloth after each dip
Yes, dyeing with indigo is a complicated process compared to the other methods. However, the rewards are also greater. Unlike synthetic dye, natural dye is not water-soluble. So after multiple washes, the colors will stay. You can experiment with different drying times, dip amounts, and age of the indigo. As the vat ages and the indigo ferments, the colors will change. View our blue collection for bright indigos and cobalt blues.
Turmeric is something you may find sitting in your spice cabinet. I bet you didn’t know that you could use that as a dye. Turmeric contains the chemical curcumin, which has a yellow color that is great for coloring both foods and clothing. The chemical also has powerful pain-relieving qualities. Consider adding it to both your food and clothing.
To use ground turmeric as a dye, follow these steps:
- Mix 3/4ths of a cup of turmeric with about 12 cups of water in a large pot. Add a few teaspoons of vinegar to achieve a brighter yellow color
- Stir until combined and bring to a boil
- Boil for ten minutes, then remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool down before moving on
- After the mixture has cooled, add the fabric you wish to dye. Let it sit for 30-60 minutes. Stir the cloth to ensure proper saturation
- Rinse with cold water
The process of dyeing with turmeric is easy and consistent. It is simple to tweak the recipe to vary the shades of yellow you wish to achieve. For lighter yellows, reduce the amount of turmeric, and for darker yellows, add more. Store your excess turmeric powder in a yellow packaging bag to keep it organized and fresh.
Natural vs. Synthetic Dyes
Here is the final note on synthetic dyes. Yes, if you use synthetic dyes the process of dying is more time-efficient, and you will be able to achieve bolder colors. For quick and hassle-free dye jobs where you only want bold and flashy color, consider synthetic dyes. Synthetic dyes allow for much more consistency and concentrated placement than what you will get from natural dyes. You can go to an art supply store and find the exact shade you need. However, the colors you do achieve will not have the same earthy and natural tones than the ones you can achieve through natural dyes. Also, it is not nearly as satisfying to use synthetic dyes. When you use natural dyes, you will feel a sense of pride whenever you see the results of your labor. When friends compliment your pink shirt, you can proudly say that you dyed it yourself with avocados. When they look at you, mouth agape and eyes wide, quell their confusion with the knowledge you have gained from this blog.
Hopefully, from this blog, you were able to find a natural dye that piqued your interest. For more information on dyeing, check out our spiral or stripe tie-dye tutorials. If you want inspiration, see our list of some of our favorite tie-dye patterns. At QQ Studio, we want to add color to every part of your life. Want to join the #packwithcolor family? Become a member today by creating an account.