Pomegranate is an aromatic dye that yields a green-yellow color and shifts to olive and dark gray with iron. Pomegranate can also be used as a tannin-rich mordant. Pomegranate peels are the leathery skins and seeds of pomegranate fruit. They are high in tannin and super useful as a natural dye.
Fiber Preparation and Mordanting
Extracting the Dye
Use about 20% of the weight of fiber (WOF) of the peels for a medium green-yellow or more for richer shades. To prepare, wrap the chunks in a tea towel or heavy paper bag and pound them with a hammer to break them up into smaller pieces. You can also use a mortar and pestle to grind the peels into a coarse powder. Simmer the peels in enough hot water to cover them for about 45-60 minutes. You can let this solution cool over night or use it immediately. reserving the liquid, which is your dye bath and use immediately.
Adding Fibers to the Pot
When you’re ready to dye with the solution, remove the pomegranate peel pieces from the liquid. Fill the dye pot with water so that the fibers move easily. Add the extracted liquid and stir well. Add the wet, mordanted fibers to the cold dye pot and begin heating the water and bring to about 90 degrees F (33 degrees C), rotating the goods gently. Hold at this warm temperature for 30 minutes, then bring the temperature up gradually to 180 degrees F (80 degrees C), rotating gently. Hold at this temperature for 30-45 minutes, rotating the fibers regularly.
Using the same temperature water as your dyebath, rinse the dyed goods once or twice to remove excess dye, then wash gently in a neutral liquid soap. Dry away from direct sunlight.
Reusing Dye Baths and Disposal of Dye
Any exhaust baths with dye color left in them may be used to dye additional materials. I keep extra small skeins of mordanted wool yarn and throw those into the exhaust baths. There will usually be some residual color in the dyebath, even after using the exhaust bath. Dispose of the used dye baths in accordance with your local municipal guidelines. After you are done extracting the dye from the peels, you can also save and dry the peels for additional extractions or to use with bundle dyeing.
Mordanting with Pomegranate Peels
To use pomegranate as a mordant, prepare the peels at 30% WOF and soak fabric in the pomegranate liquid solution for at least an hour or overnight. Remove from the solution and proceed to dyeing.