Natural Dyes Using Lemon And Orange Peel

Colorful dyes can be part of many fun DIY home projects. They can be used as either food or textile dye for crafts and other project that include,

  • Dyeing Easter eggs;
  • Cake and cupcake decorating;
  • Textile projects like silk scarves, cotton t-shirts, cotton, wool or silk wraps;
  • And more.

Commercial dyes are typically made with chemicals and other compounds that may cause allergic reactions, and are listed in general among the most harmful of all common household chemicals. In fact, some of the research links common food dyes with problems in children that range from aggressive behavior to learning impairments.

Fruits and vegetables are natural sources of color for dyes that can be safely used in foods and fabrics. Lemon and orange peels make a good source material for light yellow and orange dyes, which can range from lemonade to a warm ocher shade.

Make The Dye
1 cup of chopped lemon or orange zest*
2 cups water

*Remove as much of the white pith as you can, leaving only the colored portion.

  • Place the chopped lemon or orange peel into a saucepan.
  • Add the 2 cups of water.
  • Bring to a simmer over a medium-low setting. Cover and allow to simmer for about 1 hour.
  • Take the saucepan off the heat and allow it to cool.
  • Strain out the citrus peel and store the dye in a clean glass jar.

Textile Projects
It’s a good idea to first treat any fabrics you may be using – typically natural materials such as cotton, silk, and wool – first with a fixative.

1/4 cup salt, OR 1 cup vinegar
4 cups water

  • Add the water and salt or vinegar to a large pot. Stir to dissolve/blend.
  • Add the fabric or piece of clothing.
  • Bring to a simmer over a medium-low setting.
  • Allow to boil for 1 hour.
  • Rinse the fabric or piece of clothing in cold water.

To Dye:

  • Soak in the dye for as long as it takes to reach the desired color. Overnight is typically long enough to get a nice shade.
  • With hardier wool and silk fabrics, instead of soaking, you can add the fabric and dye (about equal amounts) to a large pot and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the pot to cool, leaving the material to soak overnight.
  • Once dyeing is done, rinse the fabric thoroughly in lukewarm water.
  • Wash with a gentle pH neutral soap.
  • Hang to dry away from the sunlight.
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