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Remember in science class we would do random experiments that would ultimately teach us something about our elemental world. Salt crystals, freezing flowers with liquid nitrogen and then shattering them, testing liquids and forming chemical reactions? Well, quite accidentally we did an experiment when dying a shirt this week and it was totally cool!

tumeric dye fabric

We dyed a batch of shirts with organic turmeric. Note that this was our first time using this specific natural dye for cotton fabrics. Pretty straight forward dying technique. Hot water + a good amount of turmeric + a natural mordant, like salt, y listo, we had yellow shirts.  We rinsed them with water until no more dye came out, like three times. Perfect!

Then we wanted to double test the fabric so we warmed up some water with soap,  dipped the shirts in the water….and…sayyy whaaaaaaaat? The water and shirts immediately turned red!!!! We had no idea what had just happened. Magic!?!? : ) It brought us back to doing those experiments in science class.

After a quick research we found out the following

“Turmeric has a pigment known as xanthophylls, which lends the yellow color to it. It also has a pigment called as carotene, which is reddish orange in color. When turmeric comes in contact with detergent, it reacts with the fatty acids present in the detergent and hence the carotene pigment gets more active than the xanthophylls and turmeric turns red. When turmeric is combined with any base liquid like soap it turns red in color while when turmeric comes in contact with any substance like that of vinegar, that is acidic in nature, it turns yellow.”

tumeric dye fabric

We had no idea, so for those of you who have bought our amazing turmeric shirts I would say make sure you wash them by hand, separately, just in case of any bleeding.

On to future discoveries.

– Mushpa y Mensa

p.s. – Come check out these amazing turmeric shirts today at The Fulton Flea (located at 650 Fulton Street between Fort Greene Place and South Elliott Place (near the intersection of Lafayette Avenue) in Brooklyn, NY.). We will be there from noon to 8PM. The market is right next to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) http://www.bam.org/, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens http://www.bbg.org/, the Brooklyn Public Library http://www.bklynpubliclibrary.org/, good food and many other amazing Brooklyn sites! Make it a great day.