Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsBotany · 1 decade ago

Which natural purple dye works best on fabric? red cabbage, purple grapes or blueberries?

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    All of those foods—red cabbage, purple grapes and blueberries—are naturally colored with anthocyanins, which make poor dyes on fabric, especially on cotton fabric. If you launder clothing after dyeing with those plants, the color will wash right out.

    As a result, none of them can be regarded as a good textile dye, along the lines of excellent natural dyes such as indigo or cochineal. None of them is a sufficiently good dye to even be mentioned in such authoritative books on natural dyes as Jim Liles' "Art of Craft of Natural Dyeing" or Jill Goodwin's "A Dyer's Manual". You might call cabbage "best" because it is less subject to phenolic browning, but it's such a poor dye for fabric that it does not deserve to be called best. A good dye should persist through many launderings, as cochineal and indigo do. If it washes out after one or two launderings, it is only a stain, not a real fabric dye.

    If you want to use anthocyanin-containing plants as textile dyes, do not try to dye cotton (nor, of course, any synthetic fiber). You will get much better results with wool. Wool will bond to many dyestuffs that have no permanent attraction to cotton.

    All anthocyanin dyes other than cabbage will turn brown due to oxidation. Although the standard recipe for dyeing fabric with natural dyes requires boiling the dyestuff in water, boiling will accelerate the degradation of the anthocyanin pigment, It is best to soak your wool with the anthocyanin-containing plant at temperatures well below boiling for many days. As with most natural dyes, you should weigh your fiber and then use two to three times as much of the natural dyestuff; it takes a large amount of most natural dyes to color fiber. Before dyeing your fiber, premordant it by simmering it for an hour with a mordant such as alum or (dangerously toxic) tin. Find a good recipe to use for this, as using too little mordant means it works more poorly, and using too much will damage your wool.

    pH has a major effect on the color of anthocyanins. They are redder and more intense in color at low (acid) pH and bluer and less intense in color at a higher pH. You can use cream of tartar, which is also known as tartaric acid, to help your anthocyanins to stay toward the reddish end of the color range. Tartaric acid is not a mordant, but a useful color modifier, due to its effect on the pH of the dyebath.

    Source(s): About Natural Dyes: What's the difference between mordants and other chemicals used in dyeing?: Technical Information on Red Cabbage Colorant: The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing: Traditional Recipes for Modern Use, by J.N. Liles: A Dyers Manual, by Jill Goodwin:
  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Natural Purple Dye

  • 1 decade ago

    Blueberries would yield a stronger extract for coloring a fabric. But in the past the best dye used for fabric is the Tyrrian Purple, an extract obtained from small sea shells native to Sidon and Tyre.

  • 1 decade ago

    You might also try elderberry. It's actually a stronger colorant than blueberry (provided you get one of the purple ones; some elders have crimson, red, or yellow berries)

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago


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