HOW TO NATURALLY-DYE WOODEN EGGS

 

naturally dyed wooden eggs in a basket

Last year, my daughter and I started dyeing wooden Easter eggs with jars of leftover dye. The activity was simple + fun (my favorite combination) so we did it again this year, making modifications from what we learned! They also make the perfect gifts for Easter or pretend-play.

Depending on the age of your child, you may want to have the dyes prepared ahead of time to focus on dyeing the eggs. You can use this method on either wooden or boiled eggs. All ingredients are non-toxic allowing you to consume the eggs later, reducing waste.

All dyes contain vinegar which helps to deepen/saturate the color and salt which is used as a natural mordant (binding agent). Depending on the natural ingredient and their sensitivity to pH levels, you can add lemon to make it acidic or soda ash to make it alkaline. Red cabbage is especially sensitive so it’s the perfect science experiment. Adding lemon creates a pinkish red while soda ash turns the dye greenish blue! Though, with wooden eggs, it creates a deep brown as pictured. 

Last year we tried dyeing eggs with, and without a binding agent, and the ones without all faded significantly. So this year, we added salt to all the dyes.

We also recommend adding a natural polish at the end if using wooden eggs. The ones without polish dried out over time making the colors look dull. We used beeswax polish.

Naturally-dyed wooden egg in turmeric, red onion, yellow onion, red cabbage, and red cabbage + soda ash

Materials Used:

  • Wide mouth mason jars or bowls - the more wiggle room your eggs have, the better.
  • Wooden eggs (you can find them online or at craft stores) 
  • Mesh strainer
  • Beeswax polish
  • 1 tbsp measuring spoon
  • 1 cup measuring cup
  • Pots for making dye
  • Salt
  • Soda Ash
  • White Vinegar
  • Water

*The recipe is for 1-2 eggs per jar depending on the amount of dye and size of jar/bowl.

Natural dyeing ingredients:

While making the dyes, I recommend soaking the wooden eggs in water. This helps absorb the dye better once inserted into the dye bath.

wooden eggs soaked in water

Red cabbage - Purple

Half a cabbage

Enough water to cover 3/4 of cabbage

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp salt

Bring to boil and simmer for 30 min. Strain and let it out to cool. Once cool, add eggs and leave it for at least 24hrs. The longer it dyes, the more saturated your color.

Red Cabbage + 1 tbsp soda ash - Blueish green

From the steps above, you will have enough dye to divide into half. When dye is cooled and ready, add 1 tbsp of soda ash to see the color turn blueish green. 

Yellow onion - orange

1 cup yellow onion skin

1 cup water

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp salt

Bring to boil and simmer until color is a deep orange. Pore dye into bowl with a mesh strainer. Let bowl of dye cool. Once cool, add dye into mason jar and add eggs. If using hard boiled eggs, refrigerate right away and let sit for at least 24hrs. If using wooden eggs, you can let it sit out for about a week.

Turmeric - yellow

1 tbsp turmeric

1 cup water

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp salt

Bring to boil and simmer until color is a deep yellow. Let pot of dye cool. Once cool, add dye into mason jar and add eggs. If using hard boiled eggs, refrigerate right away and let sit for at least 24hrs. If using wooden eggs, you can let it sit out for about a week.

Red onion - wine red/purple

1 cup red onion skin

1 cup water

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp salt

Bring to boil and simmer until color is a deep wine red. Pore dye into bowl with a mesh strainer. Let bowl of dye cool. Once cool, add dye into mason jar and add eggs. If using hard boiled eggs, refrigerate right away and let sit for at least 24hrs. If using wooden eggs, you can let it sit out for about a week.

natural dyes in mason jars with wooden eggs inside

*If you don't have soda ash, alternate options for brown is coffee or black tea as easier ingredients to find in the kitchen. 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Thank you for following along! The great thing about this activity is that you can follow the directions and pretty much dye any other wooden item. Last year we also dyed wooden beads and made necklaces for her and to gift to her friends.

If you end up dyeing some eggs, please tag us on social media @shopirroirro. We'd love to share your art work!