Natural Dyes - for Apparel & Textile Dyeing ...
   

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  Natural dyes are a class of colorants extracted from vegetative matter and animal residues.
 

Historically, natural dyes were used to color clothing or other textiles, and by the mid-1800's chemists began producing synthetic substitutes for them. By the early part of this century only a small percentage of textile dyes were extracted from plants. Lately there has been increasing interest in natural dyes, as the public becomes aware of ecological and environmental problems related to the use of synthetic dyes. Use of natural dyes cuts down significantly on the amount of toxic effluent resulting from the synthetic dye process.

Natural dyes generally require a mordant, which are metallic salts of aluminum, iron, chromium, copper and others, for ensuring the reasonable fastness of the color to sunlight and washing. Customers who have become accustomed to the dazzling colors and wash and light fastness of synthetic dyes are hard to convince, as only a few of the natural dyes have good all round fastness

Quality standards for natural dyes vary widely, so it is necessary to first contact an importer to find out what they are looking for. The problem arises with standardization of the colors as no two dye lots are identical. While paint manufacturers might be interested in the uniqueness of each batch of color produced, technicians in the pharmacology, food and textile industry loathe this lack of consistency.

This latter group has attempted to standardize natural dyes by imposing a color index that attempts to classify and name them. Each dye is thus named according to the following pattern:

natural + base color + number

These dyes are thereby specifically identified as dyes of the stated colour, but it does not specify whether the dyes are derived from animals or plants. This is because it is a classification based on the dye's source and color, and it contains no chemical information, nor does it imply that dyes with similar names but unique numbers are in any way related. It also gives no information about the mechanism by which staining occurs. This is done in order to authenticate the synthesized organic dyes along with natural dyes under the same universal classification system.

Some examples include carmine which comes from cochineal (natural red 4), lac (natural red 25) and hematein which comes from the logwood tree (natural black 1). The FDA in the US has taken an additional step and given colors used in foods, drugs and cosmetics their own labels (FD&C) after passing them as being fit for human consumption or use. Further information on this process can be obtained via the FDA's website: www.fda.gov

Natural dyes are a class of colorants extracted from vegetative matter and animal residues. They can be broken down into the following categories: 

Table 1: Categories of Natural Dyes
Colors Chemical Classifications Common Names
Yellow and Brown Flavone Dyes Weld, Quercitron, Fustic, Osage, Chamomile, Tesu, Dolu, Marigold, Cutch
Yellow Iso-quinoline Dyes Barberry
Orange-Yellow Chromene Dyes Kamala
Brown and Purple-Grey Naphthoquinone Dyes Henna, Walnut, Alkanet, Pitti
Red Anthraquinone Dyes Lac, Cochineal, Madder (Majithro)
Purple and Black Benzophyrone Dyes Logwood
Blue Indigoid Dyes Indigo
Neutrals Vegetable Tannins: gallotannins, ellagitannins and catechol tannins Wattle, Myrobalan, Pomegranate, Sumach, Chestnut, Eucalyptus
Source: Color Trends
Developed under the auspices of the RAISE program and through the sponsorship of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The information on this page is from the RAISE program.  Developed under the auspices of the RAISE program and through the sponsorship of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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