Natural Egg Dyes

Results from our Easter egg dye experiment!

Our “golden egg” – but where’s the goose that laid it??

You know sustainability is going mainstream when Fox News and Martha Stewart talk about natural egg dye methods. DIY egg dyes have been around for a long time, but are now popular enough to have their own kits sold online and in stores. And even though my great-grandmother may have dyed her eggs naturally, this is a new concept for me – I grew up thinking that placing magical fizzing spheres of color in plastic cups full of water was the only way to dye Easter eggs.

The beet bath.

This was our first experience testing out some natural egg dyes made from common household ingredients.  We used turmeric, hibiscus, and beets to achieve golden, lavender, and pink eggs.  The “lavender” was more of a grey color, taking after Eeyore the old grey donkey.  I later discovered that 1 cup grape juice plus 1 tbs of white vinegar might give a better lavender color.  I’ll have to try that next year, and drink some grape juice while we wait for the eggs to be done. 🙂

All the eggs but one had a textured look instead of a smooth finish.  This is because we left the dyestuff in the pot, rather than straining it out before adding the eggs.  One egg, from the turmeric-golden batch, seemed to be covered in sparkling pixie dust!  We think this may have been because the powder and “mordant” stuck to it in the pot.  Mordant is a substance that helps the colors penetrate the eggshell, like white vinegar or cream of tartar (we used both).

You can make a cold or hot bath to dye the eggs; we used the hot method which allowed us to simultaneously hard boil the eggs our friend Chloe wanted to eat.  She joined us for egg dye night on Easter Sunday, and it was a blast!  We enjoyed eating homemade chocolate peanut butter cups and laughing at “the Monster,” an egg from the hibiscus pot that cracked while boiling.  We put “hibiscus hair” on top for a toupee. 🙂

Our turmeric pot of magic.

If you want more colorful results than our simple experiment allowed, no worries!  There are several ways to go about it.  You could pick up an Eco Egg Dye Kit from the Wooden Wagon, or try one from Nature’s Magic.  For a great example of what various natural ingredients might look like on eggs, see this image.  To get that shiny finished look, just rub some vegetable oil on the eggs once they’ve been dyed and are dry.  And for a fantastic visual step-by-step process, try this one from Fox News (don’t worry, I read it – they’re not lying this time!)

Try placing herbs like cilantro or parsley, or leaves with nice patterns, against the eggshell by wrapping them around the egg using a nylon stocking, then placing the egg in the dye bath.  This should leave the pattern on the egg when finished.  For a marbled look, add a drop of oil to the dye bath.  We tried the rubber band method to achieve stripes, but the rubber band fell off the egg – this could work better in cold baths left to soak overnight.  Much about dyeing Easter eggs the natural way is common sense – grape juice makes purple, spinach makes green, coffee and black tea make brown.  But always check before you dye the eggs – results can be surprising!  Of course, isn’t that part of the fun?  Happy Easter, everyone!

Our finished eggs, in three colors.

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Man, these were so much fun to make! And the one we thought would look the worst (not fully submerged, didn’t really keep clear track of how long it was in there) turned out being the most amazing – that golden sparkly one! I’m guessing it was the cream of tartar + turmeric + small side exposure to air that helped cement the effect. So neat!

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