• Sasha Geerken

Day 4: Turmeric & Annatto Dye

For my Day 4 dye bath, I did a mix of part Turmeric root and part Annatto seed. You can dye with one or the other (shades of yellow for turmeric and shades of oranges for annatto seed), but I wanted to try both together to see what would happen!

Turmeric is an ancient herb used for digestive complaints such as gastritis & acidity, helping to increase mucus production and protect the lining of the stomach. Although turmeric does not relieve pain, its anti-infammatory actions make it useful for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions such as asthma and eczema. And as a dye…WOW. IM IN LOVE. The golden color yellow color it produces is due to curcumin, and has apparently been used traditionally to dye Buddhist monks robes? (love it!)

I know almost nothing about annatto seed other than it can be used as a natural colorant (shades of orange) and is used for cooking.

When dyeing with turmeric, it seems as though you can use dried root, fresh root, or the powder. I assume each would produce the same sort of color but I’ve not tried it yet.

For one scarf I used just turmeric powder and steeped it for only 10 minutes or so, and it produced almost a highlighter yellow color, which was crazy. Another I let soak overnight in both turmeric & annatto seed mix, and it turned a beautifully vibrant orange. For another scarf I did a mix of turmeric, annatto & black tea and loved how the black tea sort of muted the vibrancy of the color, grounding it a bit more.


1.) Place your turmeric (freshly chopped, dried root or powder) and annatto seed into a stainless steel pot. Add enough water to allow your fiber to float freely in the pot. Set

burner set to medium/low, bring the water to a boil, then lower and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2.) After 45 minutes, you’ll see the dye bath turn a lovely yellow color if youre just doing turmeric, orange if youre just doing annatto seed, and a deep orangey-yellow color if youre combining them both.

3.) Add in your fiber, keeping the dye bath at a low simmer, stirring occasionally to free air bubbles and allowing

for the fiber to dye evenly.

4.) For a brighter color, steep for a shorter amount of time. I did one silk scarf for maybe 10 minutes in just turmeric powder, and it resulted in a really bright yellow, almost like highlighter yellow. Let the fiber sit in the dye bath overnight for a deeper tone.

5.) When your fiber has reached the color you want, rinse in room temperature water and hang dry out of direct


FUN FACT (that has nothing to do with dye): Turmeric & black pepper each have health benefits, due to the compounds curcumin and piperine - piperine (in black pepper) enhances curcumin (in turmeric) absorption in the body. This means that by combining the spices together, they become more easily absorbed into your body and increase their health benefits. Together they can reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and possibly take over the world. Just kidding, but really, they’re a dynamic duo that wanna help ya!

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