What Is a Natural Dye In Textile?

Natural dyes are natural sources of dyestuff. This dye is collected from food, plants, vegetables, minerals, animals, and many other natural resources. It is also called organic dyes. Its application, use, properties, and benefits are different from other synthetic dyes. In textiles, natural dye is used for dyeing fiber, yarn, fabric, and garments. Its toxicity level is lower than other synthetic dyes so that is 100% safe for human skin.

Natural dye in textile

The use of natural dyes in textile dyeing dates back to ancient times and is considered one of the oldest forms of artistic expression. While natural dyes have been employed for centuries, the advent of synthetic dyes in the 19th century largely replaced them, particularly after the discovery of mauve colorants.

Natural dyes are derived from renewable sources like plants, animals, and minerals, making them environmentally friendly. They have a wide range of applications, including coloring textiles, food, protein fibers like wool and silk, cotton, and leather, as well as use in food and cosmetics.

Natural dyes encompass a variety of components obtained from diverse natural substances, including plants, insects, and minerals, offering a spectrum of colors.

In contrast, synthetic dyes, extensively utilized in industries, pose environmental challenges such as waste disposal, non-biodegradability, water pollution, and carcinogenicity.

Natural dyes, despite facing commercial challenges, present a more sustainable alternative due to their biodegradability, eco-friendliness, and capacity to produce vivid and appealing hues.

They also imbue materials with additional functional properties, contributing to their suitability for various applications.

Natural Dyes and their Sources

Type of Natural DyeSourceColors Produced
IndigoIndigo plantShades of blue
MadderMadder plant rootsRed, pink, orange
WeldWeld plantBright yellow
CochinealCochineal insectRed, purple
Tyrian PurpleMediterranean sea snailPurple

Benefits/Advantages of natural dyes for textile

LED (Low Energy Dyes):

Natural dyes are low-energy dyes as a result we can get the below benefits.

  • Less time and energy consumption compared to the conventional dyeing method
  • Helps to shorten lead time
  • Embracing sustainable production and lower-impact clothing
  • Having a lower impact on ETP and wastage

Short & Easy dyeing process:

  • It is a sustainable dyeing process that contributes to reducing the environmental load, improving production efficiency, and improving the working environment
  • Process simplification from conventional to one bath Scouring- Dyeing- RC will shorten the process for polyester dyeing
  • Less water, time, and energy consumption
  • Helps to shorten lead time
  • Embracing sustainable production and lower-impact clothing

Experience Process Transformation:

  • One-Bath Simplicity: Streamline your dyeing process with a simplified, one-bath approach encompassing Scouring, Dyeing, and RC steps. This innovation is a game-changer for polyester dyeing.

Maximize Efficiency, Minimize Resources:

  • Resource Efficiency: Witness a significant reduction in water, time, and energy consumption. Our sustainable approach ensures that every drop counts.

Accelerated Lead Times:

  • Swift Turnaround: Shortened lead times mean faster delivery, helping you meet market demands promptly.

Commitment to Sustainability:

  • Lower Environmental Impact: Embrace sustainable production practices and be a part of the movement towards eco-conscious and low-impact clothing.

Comparison table for Natural and Synthetic Dyes In textile

Here is the difference between Natural and Synthetic dyes which are used in the textile industry.

AspectNatural DyesSynthetic Dyes
SourceDerived from plants, animals, mineralsChemically synthesized from petrochemicals
Environmental ImpactBiodegradable, minimal environmental impactEarthy, subtle tones with a limited color range
SustainabilityRenewable and sustainable resourcesReliant on non-renewable fossil fuels
Health and SafetyGenerally safer for humans and the environmentMay contain hazardous chemicals
Color RangeEarthy, subtle tones with limited color rangeWide range of bright and vivid colors
Color FastnessGenerally lower color fastness compared to synthetic dyesHigh color fastness, less likely to fade
ApplicationUsed traditionally for cultural and artisanal productsDominant in commercial textile and industry
Chemical UsageMinimal chemical processing requiredRequires chemical additives and auxiliaries
Allergenic ReactionsLess likely to cause allergic reactionsSome synthetic dyes may cause allergies
Eco-FriendlinessEco-friendly, derived from natural resourcesMay contribute to pollution and waste
CostCan be more expensive due to extraction and processing effortsGenerally more cost-effective due to mass production

Most use natural colors in the textile industry and their chemical formula and Source.

Here’s a list of natural dyes along with the color they produce, their chemical structure, and their source:


  • Color: Blue
  • Chemical Formula: C₁₆H₁₀N₂O₂
  • Source: Indigofera tinctoria plant

Madder (Alizarin):

  • Color: Red
  • Chemical Formula: C₁₄H₈O₄
  • Source: Rubia tinctorum plant

Cochineal (Carminic Acid):

  • Color: Red
  • Chemical Formula: C₂₂H₂₂O₁₃
  • Source: Dactylopius coccus insect

Turmeric (Curcumin):

  • Color: Yellow
  • Chemical Formula: C₂₁H₂₀O₆
  • Source: Curcuma longa plant

Henna (Lawsone):

  • Color: Reddish-Brown
  • Chemical Formula: C₁₆H₁₀O₆
  • Source: Lawsonia inermis plant

Logwood (Haematoxylin):

  • Color: Purple
  • Chemical Formula: C₁₆H₁₄O₆
  • Source: Haematoxylum campechianum tree

Brazilwood (Brazilin):

  • Color: Red
  • Chemical Formula: C₁₆H₁₄O₇
  • Source: Caesalpinia echinata tree

These natural dyes produce a range of colors, from blues and reds to yellows, purples, and reddish-browns. Their chemical structures contribute to their unique coloring properties, and they are derived from various parts of plants or insects. Keep in mind that the exact shade of color can vary based on factors such as concentration, mordants used, and the type of fabric being dyed.

Mixing formula of Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary natural color and their resultant color table

Primary ColorSecondary ColorTertiary Color
IndigoIndigo + Indigo = BlueBlue + Blue = Dark Blue
MadderMadder + Madder = RedRed + Red = Dark Red
CochinealCochineal + Cochineal = Deep RedDeep Red + Deep Red = Dark Deep Red
TurmericTurmeric + Turmeric = YellowYellow + Yellow = Dark Yellow
HennaHenna + Henna = BrownBrown + Brown = Dark Brown
LogwoodLogwood + Logwood = Dark PurpleDark Purple + Dark Purple = Very Dark Purple
BrazilwoodBrazilwood + Brazilwood = Deep RedDeep Red + Deep Red = Very Deep Red

Properties of Natural dye which reflects the textile

Natural dyes, with their unique properties, have gained significance in the textile industry for their eco-friendly and sustainable characteristics:

  1. Eco-Friendly: Natural dyes are derived from renewable resources, reducing the environmental impact associated with chemical synthesis.
  2. Biodegradable: They break down naturally, minimizing pollution and harm to ecosystems.
  3. Non-Toxic: Unlike synthetic dyes, natural dyes do not contain harmful chemicals, making them safer for both the environment and human health.
  4. Low Water Consumption: Natural dyeing processes typically require less water compared to conventional dyeing methods, contributing to water conservation efforts.
  5. Varied Color Palette: Natural dyes offer a wide range of colors, often with unique and subtle variations, adding depth and character to textiles.
  6. Cultural Significance: Many natural dye sources have cultural and traditional importance, connecting products to their geographic and historical origins.
  7. Potential for Organic Certification: Textiles dyed with natural dyes have the potential to meet organic certification standards, appealing to eco-conscious consumers.
  8. Minimal Carbon Footprint: The production and use of natural dyes often involve fewer carbon emissions compared to synthetic alternatives.
  9. Promotes Biodiversity: Cultivation of natural dye plants can contribute to biodiversity and support local ecosystems.
  10. Artisanal Opportunities: Natural dyeing can be a source of livelihood for local artisans and communities, preserving traditional crafts and skills.
  11. Less Hazardous Waste: The waste generated from natural dyeing processes is generally less hazardous and easier to manage compared to synthetic dyes.
  12. UV Stability: Some natural dyes demonstrate good UV stability, providing longer-lasting color retention in textiles.
  13. Aesthetic Appeal: Natural dyes often lend textiles a unique, organic appearance, which can be highly desirable for certain fashion and home textile applications.
  14. Reduced Allergenic Potential: Natural dyes are less likely to cause allergic reactions or skin sensitivities in comparison to some synthetic dyes.
  15. Regeneration Potential: Many natural dye sources can be grown and harvested sustainably, providing a renewable resource for the textile industry.

These properties collectively position natural dyes as a compelling choice for the textile industry, aligning with the increasing consumer demand for sustainable and eco-conscious products.

History of Natural dyes in textile

Basic Natural Dye

Natural dyes have played a pivotal role in the textile industry for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans employed plants, insects, and minerals to create vibrant hues.

The Silk Road facilitated the exchange of dyeing techniques, introducing prized dyes like indigo, cochineal, and wool to different regions. During the Islamic Golden Age, scholars made significant strides in documenting dyeing methods. In medieval Europe, wool and madder were crucial for textile production.

The Age of Exploration brought new dye sources like cochineal from the Americas. However, the advent of synthetic dyes during the Industrial Revolution led to a decline in natural dye usage. In recent decades, a resurgence of interest in sustainability and eco-friendliness has sparked a revival of natural dyeing, with artisans and designers worldwide embracing its unique and environmentally conscious approach to coloring textiles.

Challenges and limitations of natural dyes for the textile industry

  • Color Fastness and Variability: Ensuring that colors remain vibrant and do not fade over time, especially with exposure to factors like light and washing, is a critical concern in textile production. Natural dyes, while eco-friendly, may exhibit lower color fastness compared to synthetic dyes. Additionally, the variability in color outcomes due to natural sources can pose a challenge for consistent production.
    • Impact: Maintaining color durability is crucial for meeting consumer expectations and industry standards, necessitating careful selection of dyeing methods and consideration of dye sources.
  • Cost and Availability: The extraction and preparation of natural dyes can be labor-intensive, potentially leading to higher production costs. Additionally, the seasonal and geographical availability of certain natural dye sources can impact their accessibility. This can result in higher material costs and limited availability compared to readily accessible synthetic dyes.
    • Impact: Affordability and consistent availability of natural dyes are important factors for textile manufacturers, particularly for large-scale operations looking to balance cost-effectiveness with sustainable practices.
  • Processing and Application Techniques: Achieving desired and consistent colors with natural dyes requires specialized knowledge and skills. Factors such as pH levels, mordanting techniques, and dye extraction methods play a crucial role in determining the final color outcome. Inadequate or incorrect processing techniques can lead to uneven coloration or undesired color shifts.
    • Impact: Proper training and expertise in working with natural dyes are essential to ensure high-quality results. This may increase production complexity and potentially add to the overall cost of production.

Future Prediction of Natural dye for textile

In the future, there are several potential developments and plans for natural dye usage in the textile industry:

Research and Innovation: Continued research into discovering new sources of natural dyes and refining extraction processes is likely. This could lead to a broader palette of colors and improved dyeing techniques.

Scaling Production: Scaling up the production of natural dyes will be essential to meet the growing demand from conscious consumers and businesses. This might involve optimizing cultivation and extraction methods for dye-yielding plants.

Certification and Standards: Establishing certifications and standards for natural dyes can help ensure quality, authenticity, and sustainability. This can also build trust with consumers.

Collaborations and Partnerships: Collaborations between textile manufacturers, dye producers, and agricultural communities can help create a sustainable supply chain for natural dyes.

Education and Awareness: Raising awareness among consumers and businesses about the benefits of natural dyes and their environmental impact will be crucial. Educational programs can also help train artisans and manufacturers in the use of natural dyes.

Integration of Technology: Implementing technology for better dye extraction, application, and waste management can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of natural dye processes.

Waste Management and Recycling: Developing methods to recycle and reuse natural dye materials and byproducts can further reduce the environmental impact of dyeing processes.

Regulatory Support: Governments and regulatory bodies may implement policies and incentives to encourage the adoption of natural dyes and discourage the use of harmful synthetic alternatives.

Market Demand and Consumer Preferences: Continued consumer demand for sustainable and eco-friendly products will be a driving force for the adoption of natural dyes. This may lead to more brands incorporating natural dyes into their product lines.

Circular Economy Practices: Implementing circular economy principles in the textile industry, including dyeing processes, can contribute to a more sustainable and less wasteful approach.

Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering: Advances in biotechnology may lead to genetically modified plants that produce more vibrant and diverse natural dyes. However, ethical and environmental considerations will be important in this field.

Ending word

Lastly, we can say, we are going to sustainability or Green textiles so natural dye is the best option for dyeing the textile industry. It is 100% safer than other dyestuff, so for kids, we can use natural dyed products. Though it has some limitations it is healthy for us.

Natural dye in textiles offers a sustainable alternative to synthetic dyes, sourced from plants, insects, and minerals. It minimizes environmental impact and supports ethical practices. With the increasing demand for sustainable fashion, natural dye is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping a more eco-conscious textile industry.

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