People have dyed their textiles using naturally occurring dyes that provide brilliant, long-lasting colours in materials throughout history. Plants, invertebrates, and minerals are the three primary sources of these organic and natural colours. Chemical dyes are a major cause of the pollution that is one of the main criticisms levelled at the apparel industry today. Increased usage of natural colours, which are safe for the environment, pose no health risks, and don’t produce non-biodegradable waste, is one practical solution to the issue. Although it can be argued that natural colours fade quickly or are challenging to bind, these problems can be reduced by using the right dying techniques. Our industry may definitely think about the move in light of the advantages of natural dyes and the demands of the moment.
One of the first natural dyes used on fabric, turmeric produces a vivid golden-yellow colour. Curcumin, the colouring component found in turmeric, is found in the turmeric plant’s roots, which are utilised as dyes. Before being boiled in boiling water to create the dye, the roots are crushed and ground into a powder. This natural plant-based dye can be used to colour cotton, silk, and wool fabrics, but for a long-lasting result, it must be mixed with a mordant.
Natural dye known as henna has several uses. Henna was used for the first time in Egypt about 9000 years ago. Henna is widely used to colour human hair and skin in addition to clothing, proving that it is extremely safe for use on people of all ages when colouring clothing. The colour of the dye, which is produced by drying and crushing henna plant leaves, can range from mustard yellow to brown. Henna works well on polyester and nylon, making it a viable substitute for synthetic dispersion colours. When looking for a light shade of brown, it can also be applied to silk or wool.
Indigo has been produced for use in textile dyeing on a commercial scale for many years, mostly in Asia. The indigo plant’s seeds are used to make the dye, which yields a royal blue hue. Once being immersed in water for fermentation, the plants are removed from the mixture after the glucoside has been hydrolyzed. In order to turn the indoxyl into indigotin, which finally becomes the precipitate, the solution is then aerated. Indigo can be used to dye wool or synthetic fabrics, but it works best with natural cellulose fibres like cotton, viscose, and linen.
A scaled insect of the same name, which has carmine as a natural colouring agent in its body, is the source of the dye known as cochineal. It can be used as an organic dye to produce hues like scarlet or pink-hued tones on textiles like silk, cotton, and wool. The dye can produce more hues in the purple to grey spectrum when iron, copper, or chromium are added as mordants.
Silk, wool, and leather are dyed with malachite, an organic substance. It is not formed from the mineral malachite, despite the fact that it bears that name because of its hue. It is a salt that contains organic chloride and has a deep blue-green hue. This is a safer alternative to the chemical dyes that damage water sources and have negative effects on those who deal with them, just like all the others that were discussed above.