A little experiment - Making natural dye using food waste.

A little while ago, I was getting a little bit curious about natural dye. After getting some reading on book and sources such as blogs and instagram, making dye from kitchen waste seems like something interesting to experiment. During this pregnancy, I have had my shares of loss of appetite, and there were somedays I took light lunches and dinners with some avocadoes salad on the side. 

After I am done with the salad preparation, I put the avocado pits/seeds away, and let them dry in my kitchen. I tried drying some of the skins too, but only managed to save just a little bit of them. Next time I should scrapped the inner side of the skin more thoroughly so that it will dry nicely. The objective of me experimenting with this kitchen waste dye making are :

  • To know the expectation of how slow the process would be if I we are to make more of it in the future.
  • To recognize what I feel during the making of this process.
  • To recognize what are the things I could improve to make the process easier or produce better result in the future.

So, I started with really small amount of material for making the dye. I had three avocado pits before I started to make the dye. I chose avocado because from reading they have high tannins to produce dye, and the coincidence of me consuming more of them during my pregnancy. I was not sure if it would be better to leave them in water for one night, but I just jumped in and decided I would try making them one morning, hence the not so thorough preparation.

Putting the pits and skin into aluminum pot for low heat simmering.

I got a mini aluminum pot from daiso, and filled it with enough water to cover the avocado pits and skins. I cut the skin into smaller pieces, because I hope it will have more surface to produce the dye pigment. I put the pot on very low heat on the stove and let it simmer. After 30 minutes, it started to turn peachy in color. The pictures below show how the color changes after certain length of time simmering.

How it looks after one hour. This is the first batch of dye.


This is the second batch of dye, which I left one night using tap water before simmering it the next morning for 30 minutes. 


I soaked organic cotton rib knit scrap, interlock knit scrap and a small scrap of linen for about one hour using the second dye bath.
The avocado pits and skins after being filtered out from the pot. They become very soft.
The dyed ribbed knit after rinsed with tap water and dried. Looks more toward soft peach than pinkish.
How the color look on drawing papers and all the fabrics scraps I used.
The colors are pretty soft since I used the second dye bath. The first batch was darker, but I am saving to do more experiment with the kids later. I saved the balance together with the first batch of the day in a recycled jam jar. I put it the refrigerator and just hope it will still be in good condition when I use it later with the kids.
How do I feel about making my own dye?
The process was lengthy, for just making the dye, but not boring at all. I am loving the slow process, because it means I can do little at a time, and it seems practical with life with small kids. I can do other things while the dye was simmering. And every time I checked on the progress, I feel amazed with what happened. They turned darker quite fast. Faster than I expected, and I could imagine feeling more excited if I was using more material to make more of the dye. I also wonder what type of avocado will make more vibrant colors, because I read how the color turns out, are very much affected by the pH of water, and type of avocado we are using. Very interesting. Feels like doing a chemistry experiment, though I must admit I don't really like my school chemistry experiments back then. Feels like playing and discovering something new at the same time. So many possibilities, with avocado, and I was wondering about other consumable plants I can use while we are still here, and when we are back in Malaysia. Natural dye making is something I think I would do every now and then in the future, insha Allah.
Things I would change next time.
  • Soaked the plants or dried material for one night before simmering on low heat.
  • Consider a muslin or gauze to sieve and filter the dye from the pot.
  • Save more material before making the dye, though it will means I need larger storage.
  • Need to make thorough plan of storing the material and use material which we consumed a lot in certain time.
  • Study on more tropical plants I can use once we are back in Malaysia.
  • Plan more fun project to try with the kids using the dye.

I guess once we have use the dye to make something, I will update the process and outcome in this blog again. I have a few projects in mind, and yet to choose one to proceed. When doing things with kids, we should try something with lowest expectation first, right?

Stay updated through my instagram or subscribe to my newsletter to know when I will update my blog for more projects with natural dye/ kitchen waste dye. 

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