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Playday: Natural Egg Dyeing!


I had WAAAAY too much fun today in the kitchen! Way! Playing with food AND science concepts makes for a good day if you are me.


I started off with my four chosen natural dye sources: 


I soon found that I didn’t have enough, or the right ripeness, or the wrong variety of avocado — there was no pink to be had from those avocado skins, darn it!  


I prepped a few eggs with some bits of nature before I started. I cut up nylons and used dental floss to hold the herb leaves, sprigs, and dandelion flower tight against the egg shell. Yes, yes, I know what that dandelion flower on that egg looks like. Yes, I know — it looks just like the end of a lemon! Amazing, right? ;)


Then, my excitement over promises of a lovely jade green egg from red onion skins was crushed. Crushed like a fragile egg shell. I had such high hopes while I was getting my first two dye processes going.


I read later somewhere that it can depend on the variety of red onion. I guess it will always be a hit or miss process, but one that I want to keep trying. Onion skins will keep, and if I find some that will give me lovely jade green eggs NEXT Easter, they can hang out in my freezer! But still, darn! See here… 


What do you think of the (not very) lovely color I did achieve with my favorite prepped egg? In the old days when the kids were young, my son Robert was TOTALLY into camo. Camo anything. Camo Easter eggs for sure. Robert, this egg’s for the memories ;) It’s certainly not for making mom happy with green! 

A briefer dip in the red onion dye gave an odd pinkish tan result, and I may overdye or doodle or jazz up that egg by another method. Meanwhile during the day, the darker rosemary-printed egg turned from a yellowish-toned brown to a darker chocolate/coffee colored brown. Interesting!

Onward to yellow onion skins… 


Finally! Success with yellow onion skins and red cabbage! However, even though I have successfully used these two dyes before at least twice each this was NOT the same experience. I posted on facebook earlier today that the laws of chemistry were suspended in my kitchen today; I could not figure out what was going on! 


Usually the yellow onion skins have given me more of a tan, and less of an orange. I welcome the brighter clearer color I got today — it was a welcome surprise! My sage leaves and dandelion masks came out clear and contrasty. I watched some extra moisture on the sage leaf printed egg draw a bit of clear true yellow into the white areas — fascinating! I hope you can notice it in the pics, but mostly it was fun to watch it happen. And I am happy with the mandala effect that the dandelion gave the end of this egg…


But now we get to the chemistry experiment. In the past I have just boiled the eggs in with the chopped red cabbage, and that’s how I started today. Well, suspend the laws of the universe on my stove: it didn’t work.I tried more vinegar; no luck. I left them in there for an hour; it didn’t work.


 I got two of these gray-green — pale and blotchy — results. Finally I set them aside and started over.  Meanwhile some kind of magic was happening in a few tiny spots… 


I decided to snack on one of these warm hard-boiled failures, and look what I found INSIDE the egg! There was the strong true turquoise I had been expecting, spotted all over the egg WHITE! As I examined the shell, I noticed a couple of almost-turquoise spots so I kept an eye on egg-failure #2. During the course of the afternoon, brilliant teal green spots showed up on the shell. I am tickled by that, I don’t know why! I wonder what the inside looks like? (There’s another picture hanging out with the blue eggs below)


Attempt #2 of red cabbage dyeing was much more successful. Simply boiling the chopped cabbage by itself, then adding a bit of vinegar as instructed, submerging some eggs for a couple hours… that gave me two pale blue print eggs and one greener blue egg without prints. I am wondering if it was just the egg, or if it was something to do with the herbs or the nylon wrap that made the color different?



I did some more reading up on the chemistry of red cabbage dye, and on a natural fabric-dyeing website I read that you can change the color of the acidic (vinegar) red-violet dye by adding baking soda, a base. Reinstate the laws of chemistry now! 

The base qualities of the egg shell are what takes the red-voilet liquid and turns it turquoise. I wondered what would happen if I added baking soda and changed the color of the dye. I was going for the other end of the scale — the rich blue-green that can be achieved. 


Baking soda in vinegar — guess what happened! Watching the foaming action at each step was fascinating for me. I am such a science geek! Even when a dusting of baking soda landed on the foam, it changed color to a bluer/greener color. Cool!!!


After making my teal dye — Sam, I was thinking of you right then! Your favorite color! — I put one light blue egg (with a ugly print stained by the leaves) back into the dye and literally 3 minutes later I had this rich saturated green-blue egg! You might remember it had taken 2+ hours to get the light blue to happen in the slightly acid cabbage juice. 

Baking soda is my best friend today! :)


For fun and variety, I put an egg in maraschino cherry juice — a nice light red-pink. I also put one into some bordeaux red wine that Sam declared past its open-time limits last time she was here. It’s an odd dusty purplish color, but adds interest to the group. 



The moral of the egg-dyeing, science experimenting, making a huge mess, taking way too many pictures, posting my blog hours late STORY is: 





Hope you enjoyed sharing my fun and experiments! 



  • Gretchen W - These eggs are gorgeous, thanks for sharing04.16.2014 – 1:30pmReplyCancel

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