Alizarin, Madder, Parijaat, Natural Dye, Bagh Print, Ajrakh, Puru Print, Hand block print, Dabu

Showing posts with label Ecofab. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ecofab. Show all posts

Monday, 24 December 2018

Indigo Dye: Organic, Natural synthetic & Complete synthetic

Indigo dye

Indigo is one of the oldest known natural dye used in ancient times to get natural blue extracted from Indigofera tinctoria plant leaves. Indian subcontinent was famous for its cultivation and used in dyeing traditional block printed clothes. It was one of the early known natural dye used in cold form by fermenting the indigo leaves or powder extracted from leaves through as certain process. 

In today's time natural indigo is used by very few dyers in organic form. To prepare a vat or dye pot any plastic drum or underground cemented tank is used. Size of the indigo vat depends upon the use and demand. Traditionally a pitcher is used to prepare a indigo vat. There are 3 variants of Indigo color is available in the market today.

Maheshwari handloom cotton tie dyed with organic natural indigo

Organic Natural Indigo

First we talk about the indigo used to ferment using organic process with natural ingredients. It is very important to use natural ingredients if any dyer is using natural indigo otherwise it is of no use to make a natural indigo vat. The natural ingredients used in preparing organic natural indigo vat are:

1. Water

2. Natural indigo cake or powder

Indigo cake

3. Cassia tora seeds (It attracts bacteria to fasten the fermenting process and extracting the color from indigo powder)

Cassia tora seeds

4. Lime (To make water alkaline and maintaining the ph value of the vat)
Lime in crystal form

5. Jaggery or sugar (A natural source of fructose works as a reducing agent)
Jaggery crystal

By mixing all the natural and organic ingredients in water with indigo powder a natural indigo vat get prepared.

Organic natural indigo vat by EcoFab

Using all these natural and organic ingredients in preparing organic natural indigo vat requires 12 to 24 hours in activation. It also depends upon the weather and use of ingredients in proportion.

Natural Indigo with synthetic process

Natural indigo is prepared using natural indigo with synthetic chemical ingredients. Ingredients used in preparing natural chemical indigo vat are:

1. Natural indigo cake or powder
2. Lime
3. Caustic soda (Heavy chemical with toxic property)
4. Sodium hydrosulphite (Heavy chemical with toxic property)

If some dyer is using synthetic chemical ingredients as a reducing agent in preparing natural indigo then it is of no use because the natural herbal properties of indigo got nullified while using heavy synthetic chemical based reducing agents in preparing the vat. 

Why people use synthetic chemical ingredients in natural indigo?

1. It get activated within 30 minutes of preparing vat
2. Easy to maintain using chemical ingredients
3. Non- availability of cassia tora seeds or unaware about it
4. Sometimes no access to knowledge of preparing organic indigo vat

Synthetic Indigo 

Most of the indigo products available in the market are flooded with synthetic chemical indigo dyed products marketed as natural indigo dyed products. After introduction of synthetic version of indigo in the market every hand block printing cluster is using synthetic (chemical) indigo to dye the fabrics. 

Synthetic indigo vat get prepared using synthetic chemical ingredients only.

Ingredients used in preparing synthetic chemical indigo vat are:

1. Synthetic/chemical Indigo known as German indigo
2. Lime
3. Caustic soda (Heavy chemical with toxic property)
4. Sodium hydrosulphite (Heavy chemical with toxic property)

Why hand block printers or dyers use chemical indigo?

1. Pricing of synthetic chemical indigo is 2 to 3 times cheaper than natural indigo
2. Maintenance of chemical indigo vat is easy
3. Quick demand 
4. Lack of  knowledge about preparing natural organic indigo vat

Now the million dollar question is how to identify the difference in between synthetic chemical & natural indigo?

It is not easy to identify the difference of shades in between organic natural, natural chemical and chemical indigo dyed fabrics initially. It all depends upon the level of honesty and transparency of block printer, dyer or marketing company to mention it. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Madder roots: A source of natural herbal dye

Madder roots: Introduction & history

Madder or Manjishta (मंजिष्ठ) in Hindi is one of the oldest known sources of natural red color in dyeing fabrics worldwide. Roots of madder is used as a rich source of red dye since ages. It is found that even 3000 years B.C. in Mohen-Jo-Daro civilization it was used for dyeing clothes. There are two different species of madder found in the nature, rubia tinctoria and rubia cordifolia. Rubia cordifolia is better known as Indian madder or common madder and rubia tinctoria is known as dyer's madder. Both the varieties are rich sources of purpurin and alizarin which gives shades of pink, red and orange with different mordants.

Madder Plant (Source:

Either madder roots or its powder is boiled in water to extract the dye stuff and then fabric dyed with it. Madder is one of the most useful natural dye used worldwide as source for variants of red. It is very fast dye if mordant is used properly.

In past in India madder roots and al roots (morinda tinctoria) were used as a source of red dye in hand block printing industry. In traditional hand block printing madder was used as a source of natural alizarin to get red dye color where alum is printed but today it is replaced by synthetic alizarin.

Herbal importance 

Madder is not just a source of dye but used as a main element in Ayurveda. A tonic called "Mahamanjishthadi Kada"  is named after its use in preparing it by mixing other herbs in certain proportion. This tonic is very useful and recommended by physicians for blood purification. It is having skin healing property too. People who are suffering from skin irritation or any other skin related problem madder dyed fabrics may work as a healer for them.

Dried Madder Roots 

Madder is very useful natural herbal dye which does not contaminate the water resources and works as a skin healer too. For a healthy skin madder dyed fabrics is a good choice.

Ecofab's work with madder

Ecofab has started working with madder roots since its inception to over dye traditional hand block print fabrics and sarees with it to get hues of pink and red. While working with craftsman came to know that today they are using synthetic alizarin in place of natural source of alizarin to get red color in place of alum print. 

Madder roots powder

Ecofab started experimentation with madder to dye traditional hand block print fabrics with it but didn't got success initially. Result got as faded red color or no color while dyeing with madder roots. Ecofab continued experimentation and finally got the formula to get shades of red dye, orange and turkey red in place of alum printing in hand block printing. Ecofab created a madder formula to extract red color from madder. It gave a new dimension to Ecofab's work with traditional hand block print to regain its roots. Now valuable natural red dye is rejuvenated. 

Few of the finished products dyed with madder formula below:

Silk Cotton Bagh Print Saree (Dyed with madder) 

Modal Saree Printed in Tarapur (Dyed with madder) 

Modal Saree Printed in Tarapur (Dyed with madder) 

For more details you can explore

Bagh & Bagru Print: Similar process but different traditions

Traditional  Process of Alizarin Printing  1. Purchase of kora/unbleached fabric 2.  Scouring (Cleaning of fabrics locally known ...