Basic equipment for natural dyeing

I’ve blogged about some of the results of my experiments in natural dyeing, but haven’t said anything much about the basic equipment that I use. So here’s a brief post about dyeing equipment, where I sourced it, and how much it cost. When I started doing this I had two principal objectives: to keep the equipment down to a minimum (it all takes up space) and to keep the costs down. A really important health and safety point about all this is that you have to keep the dyeing process and equipment completely separate from your domestic cooking. This means keeping separate vessels for dyeing and having a source of heat away from the domestic cooker. Equipment for natural dyeIn the photograph below you can see the equipment I’ve assembled. The pan on the left has been on the top shelf in the pantry for years, never used, so was an obvious candidate for this purpose. This is the pan I use for the dyeing process itself, scrubbing it out between colours. The pan on the right was used by my son at university but has remained unused since he left, and he has kindly donated it for use in dyeing. I use this pan for mordanting (I’ll write about the mordanting process in a future post).

The rubber gloves are useful for keeping the dye powder away from your skin and for using when rinsing through dyed fabrics. Underneath the pan on the left is my electric hotplate, and my main investment in equipment. It cost around £19 from Amazon plus postage. Other investments are two wooden spoons (around £1 each), one used for mordanting and one for dyeing, a silicon mat to put the hot pan on, and a couple of plastic measuring spoons. Total investment a bit over £25. This is really about all I need. If you don’t have any old pans lying unused around the house or a helpful relative to donate them, you could try sourcing them from charity shops.

The array of equipment is minimal compared to some of the illustrations you get in textbooks, but it’s not worth spending a fortune on new stuff, especially if you’re not sure that you’re going to take to natural dyeing. This is pretty much all I need, although at some stage I might invest in a cheap sieve which would be useful for straining liquid off when I’m using natural materials. So far I’ve mostly used dye extracts, although I did experiment last summer with rhubarb leaves and will shortly have a go with onion skins which I’ve been collecting for several months. More on that experiment in due course.


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