Natural Dye: Avocado

Natural dye with avocado_1

Last month, a good friend sent a late-night email asking me if I’d tried using avocado pits for a natural dye.

Whoa there –  Avocados make a dye?

No. Way.

Yep, apparently, they do. I immediately started an online search and discovered that both the pits and the skins can be used for natural dyes.  The seeds (pits) make a rosy pink, the skins make orange. Some dyers commented that coaxing the pink out of the seeds was a long process and not worth the resulting pale shade. I kept that in mind, but most of my recent experiments produced yellow or orange. I craved a new color. I needed to make pink.

I learned a  few basic  concepts repeated from various dyers and chose to use them as my foundation for experiment number one.

Natural dye with avocados

(If you’ve done this dye – please comment below! I would love hear about your results. )

  • Chop the pits and freeze until you have enough to use for a dye. I’m not sure how to quantify enough, to be honest. I bought mine at Costco, and started with 11 fresh pits. (Yes, we’ve been eating a lot of guacamole. Oh, the tough sacrifices my family makes so that I can create …)
  • The dye needs to have a high pH, which means it needs an additive such as ammonia (I used washing soda), and you’ll need to buy pH strips to test your dye. The highest I achieved was 9.
  • Heating it, reheating it, and reheating it again will deepen the color of the dye. This is perfect as a solar dye.

I  chopping my pits, added them to a large mason jar, added hot water, and ½ teaspoon of washing soda (pH turned 9). My plan was to let the dye sit in the sun for a few days before adding my yarn.

Within an hour, the dye turned the color of the top photo. My jaw hit the floor. Who knew?

Once a day I’d heat the dye on the stove, simmer it for at least 30 min, while continually checking the pH. When it lowered, I’d just add a bit more washing soda. The dye color deepened after each heating. It spent the rest of the day basking outside in the sun.

I continued this process for a week before I added  alum pre-mordanted 100% wool yarn. I simmered it again for another 30 minutes, monitored the pH, and took it off the stove to sit in the dye overnight.

This was the result:

Natural dye with avocado pits

My second experiment included the same dye bath, but with an additional five pits. I repeated the same heating process as the first experiment,  then added this skein of alum pre-mordanted wool (it was a gift, so I’m not sure if it’s 100% wool.) After letting it simmer on the stove for 40 minutes, I poured the dye back into my jar, and let it sit in the sun for another 10 days.

Wool naturally dyed with avocadovo

The colors are in the range that I saw online – pale, rosy pink. But the color of the dye was so rich, I’m curious to see if it’s possible to intensify the results on the wool.


Next up – avocado skins!