How to Make Organic Natural Black Dyes

  • 01 of 07

    How to Make Natural Black Dyes from Plants

    Black yarn
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    One of the most popular colors in our wardrobes and fashion is black. Fortunately, nature gives us an abundance of plants that produce black dyes.  

    Learn how to create natural black dyes from plants and then use it to dye fibers and fabrics for your home, clothing and craft projects. As with commercial dyes, you will need to take extra care when washing to keep black clothes black.

    Once you've mastered black dyes, try your hand at these other colors all made from natural plant material.

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  • 02 of 07

    Carob Pods

    carob pods
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    The carob tree, Ceratonia siliqua, is a flowering evergreen shrub or tree. The seed pods may be crushed and used as a substitute for chocolate. The tree is native to the Mediterranean region including Southern Europe, Northern Africa, the larger Mediterranean islands and to the Canary Islands and Macaronesia.

    The pods can be purchased in bulk online from or at most natural or organic food stores. When boiled, they will produce a dark gray dye for cotton fabrics.


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  • 03 of 07

    Iris Roots

    Iris roots
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    Iris is a common and popular garden perennial and is widely found throughout Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa, Asia and across North America. Iris colors range from white to yellow to pink to dark purple. The color of the flower does not make a difference in achieving the black dye from the roots. You can buy iris rhizomes at most garden centers and online from

    Most irises grow from rhizomes which can be divided to create new plants. It is the roots/rhizomes of iris that...MORE will produce a black dye. Boil the roots in plain water to create a black dye.


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  • 04 of 07

    Oak Galls

    oak galls
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    Galls are irregular plant growths that occur on oak trees which are stimulated by the reaction between plant hormones and powerful growth chemicals produced by some insects or mites. Galls may occur on leaves, bark, flowers, buds, acorns or roots. The insect gains its nutrients from the inner gall tissue.

    Oak galls produce a strong, black dye. When gathering galls, be aware that the insects may still inhabit the gall. Boiling the galls will prevent infestation to other trees.

    If you can't find...MORE oak galls in your area, they can be purchased online from


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  • 05 of 07

    Rusty Nails

    Rusty Nails
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    Nails are not plants but covering rusty iron nails with distilled white or cider vinegar will produce a chemical reaction that produces a black dye. Simply fill a non-reactive tub with the nails and vinegar. When ready to dye, remove the nails using a strainer. Other iron hardware - such as hinges, fence parts - can also produce the same reaction.

    Once the fabric has reach the color desired, the black dye must be set into the fabric using alum to make it permanent.


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  • 06 of 07

    Sawtooth Oak Acorn Cups

    sawtooth acorns
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    The sawtooth oak,Quercus acutissima, is originally native to eastern Asia but is now present in North America. It is often called Sawthorn oak or Japanese silkworm oak. The have lance-shaped, glossy, mid-green leaves with bristle-tipped teeth. The acorns have cups covered with long, slender, hairy scales. The acorns are very bitter, but are eaten by jays and pigeons. Squirrels usually only eat them when other food sources have run out.

    It is the acorn cups that will produce a black dye.


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  • 07 of 07

    Walnut Hulls

    Walnut hulls
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    To get a strong black dye, you'll have to find a walnut tree not just a bag of walnuts at the grocery store. The walnuts in a shell that are found at the store grow in an outer hull or husk while on the tree. It is the husk/hull that will produce a black dye.

    The walnut tree, Juglans regia, is a large, deciduous tree. It is a light-demanding species, requiring full sun to grow well. The leaves are alternately arranged with 5–9 leaflets paired alternately with one terminal leaflet. The female...MORE flowers are in clusters of two to five, ripening in the autumn into a fruit with a green, semifleshy husk and a brown, corrugated nut. The whole fruit, including the husk, falls in autumn. The seed (nut) is large, with a relatively thin shell with a rich flavor.