Health & Beauty Recipes > Natural Dyeing


Although all the ingredients in these beauty recipes are natural, remember that it is still possible to be allergic to anything applied to the skin. DO NOT USE ANYTHING NUT BASED ON YOUR SKIN IF YOU HAVE A NUT ALLERGY. To test other ingredients make up a very small amount of the recipe you intend to use. Wash and gently dry a small patch of skin inside your elbow. Apply a little of the mix to the skin and leave for 48 hours. If you experience any redness or swelling DO NOT USE THE BEAUTY RECIPE AT ALL.

We strongly recommend that you do your own research before using any of the ingredients in these recipes since some ingredients should be avoided by certain groups of people. Mountain Rose Herbs' website has a wealth of information on herbs, their uses and possible side effects. Many essential oils and herbs should always be avoided by pregnant/nursing ladies. Always check with a qualified health advisor if in doubt.

Natural Dyeing

Mountain Rose Herbs
Mountain Rose Herbs offers a wide range of dried herbs and spices.

Until the 19th century all dyes were obtained from naturally occurring substances. Many colours were derived from plants. Colours are now produced chemically but it is quite possible to try the old, natural way of colouring fabrics in your kitchen.

Guide to colour

Red - Madder root; Alkanet; Cochineal
Blue - Wode (doesn't need a mordant); Cornflower
Brown - Walnut husks and shells (doesn't need a mordant)
Yellow - Saffron; Dock Roots
Black - Elder bark
Yellow/Green - Parsley

For shades in between experiment with mixes of the above.

Always check that you are using the correct plant and always wear rubber gloves. Never use the sauepan used for dyeing for any food and keep the dyeing ingredients away from food preparation areas in the kitchen. As always be mindful of possible allergic reactions and take special care when dealing with the hot dye.


1 old, large, enamel saucepan
rubber gloves
4 pints rainwater or bottles water
4oz wool or linen
rubber gloves
chosen herbs (the more you use the darker the colour will be)

for the mordant (this helps fix the dye):

2oz alum
2oz cream of tartar
2 pints water


- Dissolve the alum and cream of tartar in the saucepan.
- Add the linen or wool.
- Heat for 1 hour.
- Remove the linen or wool.
- Squeeze out excess moisture.
- Hang up to dry, preferably in the dark.
- Put the 4 pints of water into the saucepan.
- Bring to the boil.
- Add the chosen herbs tied in the muslin.
- Boil until depth of colour required is reached.
- Remove the muslin full of herbs.
- Put in the piece of cloth or wool.
- Bring back to the boil.
- Reduce to simmer.
- Simmer slowly for a few minutes.
- Remove cloth or wool.
- Allow to dry out of the sun.

This is a very basic introduction to natural dyeing. There are many more plants to try and different combinations of mordants to learn about.