• Sasha Geerken

Day 5: Red Onion Skin Dye - With Iron Mordant

Updated: Mar 28, 2020

Dyeing with Red Onion Skin and adding an Iron Mordant is my favorite dye so far…GREEN! Red Onion skins by them selves produces shades of tans and browns, but using different mordants can alter that color - in this case, I used an iron mordant and the color turned my favorite color green. I have no idea if this is the “official” way to get this color or how the recipe I did will take to other fibers, but as I’ve mentioned, its all experimenting!

Instead of going out and buying a few red onions to peel, I’ve been scrounging the onion bins at the grocery store for them - there are always lots of skins waiting to be used at the bottom of the bins!


1.) Place your onion skins (the outer layer or two of your red onion - should be light and flakey) and place into a stainless steel pot. The more onion skins you have, the richer the color will be! Cover with enough water to allow your fiber to float freely.

2.) Bring the water to a low boil, and then keep the heat on medium/low for about an hour - stirring occasionally. The color of the water should be a translucent maroon color. You can then strain out the onion skins.

3.) Next, I added my iron mordant. I only used half a tablespoon and it worked like magic! *See below to make your own iron mordant.

4.) Once your iron mordant is dispersed well in your dye pot, add your fiber and stir to make sure there are no trapped air bubbles. The length of time you submerge your fibers is up to you - I left my darker color silk scarf in for about 2 hours and got a gorgeous rich green, and did another for only 15 minutes or so, to get a pale mint green color.

5.) Once the color is where you want it, wring out the fabric, rinse in water and hang to air dry out of direct sunlight.

I left one silk scarf in the dye pot for 2 hours to create the rich olive green color, and another silk scarf for only about 10 minutes to create the pale mint green color.

*Make Your Own Iron Mordant:

1.) In a mason jar, place rusty iron objects - nails, old pieces of iron, or steel wool (can be found in any hardware store).

2.) Add 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar to the jar, filling the jar enough to cover the iron objects.

3.) Put the lid on the jar and seal tight. The water will turn to a rusty-orange color in 1 to 2 weeks, but you can let it sit for as long as you’d like. I have a jar going from last summer that I still use.

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