How to Color Eggs With Natural Dyes

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by Katie

Katie is a writer, a teacher, a mezzo-soprano, and a mama. She and her husband Shaun are passionate about mentoring and equipping artists of all kinds. Find her online at katiefox.net.

Editor”s note: Written by Katie Fox and originally published on March 22, 2010, I thought this would be a timely post to bring back as we approach Easter in just over a week. 

Many cultures and traditions include the egg as a symbol in their celebrations, usually signifying rebirth and new beginnings. Kids and adults everywhere love to dye and decorate eggs each spring, so today we”ll look at some natural techniques for dyeing your eggs. Using plant-based materials ensures safe and healthy egg-dyeing fun.

Hard-Boiled or Blown-Out?

First, decide whether you will hard-boil your eggs for dyeing, or use blown-out eggs.
• If you blow out the eggs before dyeing, you can use them to make quiche. You can also freeze them in an airtight container and they will keep for up to four months.
• If you use hard-boiled eggs, make sure they are never out of the fridge for more than four hours if you intend to eat them later.

Gather Your Ingredients

In addition to eggs, you will need white vinegar, water, and your veggies, fruits, and spices for colors.  Don”t The Gala Barrier Casinos in Aberdeen, Bristol, Cardiff, Stockton-on-Tees and Gibraltar, including its non-operating licenses for that Town of Westminster (London) and Dundee, are no more inside the scope of this original agreement. leave out the vinegar – it is a necessary fixative, ensuring that the color will adhere to the eggs.

Options for Colors

(choose one or two option from each color; you don”t need to use them all)

Reds/Pinks:

• grated beets
• chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)
• Red Zinger tea
• chopped frozen cherries

Blues/Purples:

• chopped frozen blueberries
• chopped red cabbage
• red onion skins

Yellows/Golds:

• yellow/brown onion skins
• chamomile tea
• ground turmeric
• saffron

Greens:

• chopped spinach

You can mix these together to create other colors, as well; for example, reds and yellows can combine to produce orange shades.  It”s a fun and easy way to teach children about colors.

Photo by Kristen Bonardi Rapp

The Correct Proportions

You will want to use about 2-3 cups of water in a saucepan for each color.  Add one tablespoon of vinegar and the plant(s) of choice.  Bring to a boil for fifteen minutes before adding eggs.

• If you want smooth color coverage, strain the mixture first, removing the plants.
• If you want a mottled effect, leave the plant mixture in the saucepan.
• Use crayons or wax pencils to draw decorations or patterns on the eggs before dyeing; the dye will not adhere where there is wax and your designs will be the color of the eggshells.
• When you add the eggs, you can turn off the heat under the saucepan.
• The longer the eggs stay in the pan, the more intense the color will become.
• You can add another splash of vinegar when you add the eggs; this will help the color to intensify and adhere.

Have you ever dyed eggs naturally? What kinds of materials did you use?

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Comments

  1. avatar
    Stephanie P says:

    Thanks! I’ve always wanted to try the “blown out” method but all I can envision is egg all over my entire kitchen.

    Not sure if we’ll be coloring eggs this year but this post is most fun :-)

    • I’ve got a picture tutorial up at my site for how to blow eggs. It really isn’t too bad. And the best part is that you can save your art work for years to come. Good luck if you try it.
      .-= Wendy’s last blog: Kenzie and Kam =-.

  2. We just tried the natural colors yesterday. The biggest problem, though, for the technique we use is that the eggs go into hot water. If you’re using any type of wax resist (we use the Ukranian tool to apply thick lines of melted wax) it will melt off in the baths. Just a tip.

    I tried using really concentrated versions and the only one that worked at all was liquid chlorophyll (from the health food store) for green.

    Grrr. These things dye my counters, why can’t they dye an egg?
    .-= Wendy’s last blog: Kenzie and Kam =-.

  3. Hmm, I’m curious about these. I might have to try them.
    .-= Stacie@HobbitDoor’s last blog: Cinnamon Roll Recipe =-.

  4. Ooh, thanks, Katie! We’re planning on dyeing eggs, making egg salad and creating crushed shell art (from Make and Takes: http://www.makeandtakes.com/crushed-egg-shells) this week, and I had it on my list to research some additional dye choices today anyway!

    Have a great day!
    .-= Mandi @ Organizing Your Way’s last blog: Finding a Balance Between Repurposing and Hoarding =-.

  5. Oh thanks! I can’t wait to try this. We were just at a neighbor’s house yesterday and they had colored eggs with the store bought dyes and my little one wanted to eat one. So I peeled it for him and noticed that the dye had leaked into the egg. I let him eat it because he LOVES hard boiled eggs but I thought to myself, I really need to research natural dyes! This is so timely!! (I was secretly hoping that someone in Simple Media would tackle this topic!!) Thanks again!

  6. Dear Katie and All:

    Dyeing eggs with yellow onion skins is easy. THe longer the eggs are left in the vinegar, onion solution the darker the color will be.

    Enjoy natural coloring.

    Nita in SE Michigan

  7. we always dye our eggs with either black tea or yellow onion skins. they come out so beautiful; they almost look like carved wood. sometimes, we rub a bit of olive oil on them after they have dried to give them a little sheen. i think they look so much prettier than the un-natural-looking dye tablets from the store! i think i will try some of your fruit suggestions this year. my kids would love dying eggs with blueberries!! (if i can keep them from eating all the blueberries first!)
    .-= laura’s last blog: guard your health =-.

  8. I lived in Estonia in the early 1990s and my friend’s grandmother there dyed eggs with onion skins. She put the eggs individually with the onion skins inside nylon stockings (to hold the onion skins onto the eggs). I wonder if this trick would work with other natural dyes. The effect was very nice; a sort of marbled effect. I’ve never tried it myself but am inspired to this year!

  9. We did that, but we used petals and wrapped them for a multi-coloured marble effect. It depends on what you can get, but finding and picking the petals was half the fun. Even the little one had a ball. Unfortunately we can only get brown eggs here, they don’t take colour very well.
    .-= Deb’s last blog: Dying Easter Eggs Naturally =-.

  10. I’ve been experimenting with naturally dyed eggs over the past couple of days with rather unsuccessful results. But I’m not giving up yet! I’m going to try the method you suggest and I hope for better results this time!
    .-= Malia’s last blog: Singing, not hair styling =-.

  11. Many eggs are sprayed with a protectant that keeps moisture from evaporating out and helps them keep longer. Even organic eggs. I imagine that keeps some of the color from sticking. I don’t have any advice on getting it off though, but perhaps a careful washing with dish soap would make the colors stick better.

  12. My mother taught me how to dye eggs naturally with the same ingredients you used! I love the result…
    .-= Yasmine’s last blog: The Love Story About Two Dirty Socks =-.

  13. avatar
    jamal k h says:

    thanks katie ,i will try it
    wish you a happy easter

  14. Thanks for sharing your tips. I was looking for an alternative to tumeric for yellow and was so happy to spot it on your site.

  15. Great instructions for natural dyes for Easter eggs. I’ve used the onion skins and one time tied geranium leaves to the eggs and then tied onion skins over that and boiled them in vinegar water. It gave an interesting mottled look with a bit of the leaf shape, too.
    .-= Elle’s last blog: Second Time’s the Charm =-.

  16. Katie, my two girls and I had a lovely time making these together. Thanks for the clear instructions. The toughest part was blowing out the eggs! :-)
    .-= Hannah’s last blog: Doin’ The Funky Chicken! =-.

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  18. Those eggs look cute. Perfect for Easter Egg hunt.

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