Natural Easter Egg Dyeing
Decorated Easter eggs are fun to make with your kids or for yourself. You don’t have to buy artificial colors, which are harmful to the environment. In your kitchen and at the grocery store you’ll find many possible natural plant dyes you can use for your Easter eggs. The colors don’t become as vibrant as with artificial colors, but they get a more pleasant tone when using vegetables, fruits, tree barks or spices. The process is actually very exciting, because with natural ingredients you are never sure of the outcome. Put your eggs in a skillet for the night and get a surprise in the morning what your eggs look like. Let the alchemist or druid come out in you :-).
What you need
- Cotton pads
- Acetone/ nail polish remover
- Hartshorn/hornsalt (ammonium bicarbonate) optional *
- Panty hose
- Rubber band
- Plant dyes: See eggs below for color reference. Plant dyed eggs often will get a more pastel look than artificial colors.
- Decoration elements for dyeing: Flowers, leaves, herbs, lace or stickers.
- Paper towel
- Vegetable oil (optional)
- Sewing thread
- Put some acetone on a cotton pad and remove the pink numbers on the eggs. (We have pink colored numbers on all eggs in Denmark. You might not have any numbers on your eggs where you live). Before project start check out the different organic egg brands. I found a brand, where it was impossible to remove the pink number with acetone.
- With a knife gently make two holes, one on top and one at the bottom of the egg.
- Blow the eggwhites and the yokes out of the eggs.
- Put the eggs in a bowl with 1 liter warm water and 10 tablespoons vinegar. The vinegar will make the color stick better to the eggshells.
Decoration & Effects
- For decoration you can use many materials: Small flowers, flower petals, leaves, herbs or stickers. I made stickers by cutting out small shapes from labels. Make the plants a little wet, so they stick better to the eggs.
- Cut the panty hose into pieces, so the pieces are big enough to wrap an egg. If you choose a white panty hose it is easier to see if your decoration elements are still in place underneath. Gently place the hose around the egg and tie the hose tightly with a rubber band. Trim the excess hose with your scissors.
- Eggs are ready for dyeing process now.
- For dyeing see the examples below which plant gives which color. The intensity of the colors depends on how long the eggs are soaked in the plant brew and how dilute a brew you are making. Put the egss for several hours or for the night into the plant brew. There are no fixed amounts how much plant material to use. For the spices I used 3 tablespoons for each dyeing process.
- The size of the pot depends on which plant you are using. If you dye with a cabbage, you will use a larger pot than if you dye with spice powder. Fill the pot with water, so it covers the top of the eggs by an inch – 3cm. Don’t use whole vegetables or fruits, but mash the spinach in a food processor or chop vegetables coarsely. Put the mashed/chopped plants in the pot and boil at low heat for ½ hour. Cover the pot with a lid, so the moisture doesn’t evaporate.
- Pour the content in a bowl through a sieve so the biggest plant parts don’t get into the bowl. Pour the liquid back into the pot. Now you add vinegar to the liquid, which will make the colors more bright. Gently place the eggs in the pot and simmer for another ½ hour. Let the pot stand for a couple of hours or the night until the colors are the way you want them to be. Put something over the eggs, else they will float and not get soaked with liquid.
- Cut the hose and unwrap the eggs gently. Take off stickers or plant material. Clean eggs under cold, rinsing water and let the eggs get completely dry on a paper towel.
- Put some oil on a paper towel and buff the eggs so they get shiny. I love them without oil, then they’ll get a more earthy look.
- Break matches in small pieces. Tie a sewing thread around the small match piece and place gently inside the eggs. Hang the eggs for decoration into your favourite easter twigs :-)
½ red cabbage, 5 tbsp vinegar
3 big yellow onions, 5 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp paprika, 5 tbsp vinegar
½ bottle red wine, 5 tbsp vinegar
250 g – 9 ounces frozen blueberries, 5 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp turmeric, 5 tbsp vinegar
1 small package saffron powder, 5 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp paprika, 5 tbsp vinegar, 5 tsp hornsalt*
3 tbsp chili, 5 tbsp vinegar
250 g – 9 ounces spinach, 5 tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp turmeric, 5 tbsp vinegar, 5 tsp hornsalt*
50 g – 2 ounces coffee , 5 tbsp vinegar
4 tbsp black tea, 5 tbsp vinegar
3 large beets, 5 tbsp vinegar
4 red onions, 5 tbsp vinegar
* The hornsalt can start to fume and smoke when you add it and I got a decent headache from it. Open a window when you work with it and don’t let your kids get too close to the pot! Look for it at your supermarket where the baking powder is.
I tried to blend colors with a very poor result: First dye bath in turmeric followed by a dye bath in blueberries just dissolved the turmeric color. It was an attempt to mix yellow and blue to get a green color.
Wasabe paste didn’t color the eggs at all.
tbsp = tablespoon
tsp = teaspoon