NATURAL DYEING / 50 mordants

NATURAL DYEING / 50 mordants

I know some dyers have concerns about the toxicity of using mordants in natural dyeing. Yes, some can be extremely toxic if misused, but there are a lot that are also extremely safe. I have compiled a list of 50 mordants that can be used in natural dyeing. I have not removed those that can be considered toxic (like chrome and tin) as to not exclude any possibilities. Do some research and make the decision for yourself, it's everyone's personal choice what substances they feel comfortable using and I'm not here to preach one way or the other.

Some of the mordants can also be used as modifiers and they don't all work to same effect. This is where experimentation comes into play. Yes, alum provides consistent results, but traditionally many other mordants have been used in natural dyeing. Try something new!

Mordant: substance that combines with a dye and fixes it to the fiber.

Modifier: substance that changes the pH of the dye bath to enhance or affect colors.


  1. Lemon Juice 
  2. Tea
  3. Sea Water
  4. Whey
  5. Wood Ash
  6. Thistle Sap
  7. Cow Milk
  8. Eggs
  9. Fermented Fruit Vinegar
  10. Distilled White Vinegar
  11. Oxidized Red Wine
  12. Metal Food Tins
  13. Urine
  14. Sheep/Cow Manure
  15. Copper Coins/Pennies
  16. Iron Oxide Liquor
  17. Compost 
  18. Blood
  19. Gelatin
  20. Soy Beans
  21. Soy Milk
  22. Persimmon Juice
  23. Cucumbers
  24. Zucchini
  25. Pumpkins
  26. Oak Tree Bark/Galls/Acorns
  27. Spruce Tree Bark
  28. Dyer's Sumac (Cotinus Coggygria)
  29. Pomegranate Bark/Rinds
  30. Hemlock Tree Bark
  31. Chestnuts
  32. Acacia Seed Pods
  33. Rhubarb Leaves
  34. Sour Grass (whole plant)
  35. Sorrel
  36. Dock Weed
  37. Willow Bark 
  38. Coal
  39. Mud
  40. Alum (Potassium Aluminum Sulfate) 
  41. Copper Liquor
  42. Table Salt (Sodium Chloride) -- avoid iodine
  43. Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
  44. Soda Ash (Sodium Carbonate) 
  45. Glauber's Salts (Hydrated Sodium Sulfate)
  46. Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide) 
  47. Ammonia
  48. Urea
  49. Chrome Salts
  50. Tin Salts

Please do your research before you decide to use any mordant while natural dyeing, especially if you have concerns about toxicity. As always, gloves and a respirator are your best friends when working with any powdered chemicals or noxious fumes. 

It is a general misconception that natural dyeing is infinitely safer than using synthetic dyes. This not true! Please be safe and educate yourself on the substances you choose to use.

XOXO
Shannon


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