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Madder Extract

Madder – We sell two types of madder Rubia tinctorum (Dyer’s madder) and Rubia cordifolia (Indian madder). Madder is one of the oldest dyestuffs. It is used to produce turkey reds, mulberry, orange-red, terracotta, and in combination with other dyes to give crimson, purple, rust, browns, and near blacks. Madder is cultivated and grows wild throughout India, south east Asia, Turkey, Europe, south China, parts of Africa, Australia and Japan. Madder is a complex dyestuff containing multiple colourants. By manipulating mordanting, pH, and temperature many shades can be obtained. There are many historic recipes including one from Turkey which brings out the purpurin from madder resulting in a purple. Madder is dyed at 35-100% WOF for a medium depth of shade.

Mordanting: Use alum mordant at 15% WOF for protein fibres. For cellulose, first mordant with tannin at 8% WOF, then either 1) use alum at 15% with soda ash at 2% or 2) use aluminum acetate at 8%. For dark brick reds use alum acetate (instead of alum). 

Dyeing: Madder develops to its deepest and richest reds in hard water – water containing calcium and magnesium salts is ideal. If the water is soft add calcium carbonate (a single Tum’s tablet to 4 litres of water works well). Add dye material to dye pot and cover with water. Bring up to about 60ºC (140ºF) and hold for an hour. Add fibres and continue cooking for another 1-2 hours. 

Rubia tinctorum Alizarin is the primary dye molecule found in the roots, it gives the famous warm Turkey red colour. Also present in this wonderful plant are munjistin, purpurin, and a multitude of yellows and browns.  For clear reds of rubia tinctorum do not let the temperature go above 72ºC (160ºF). At higher temperatures the browns of this madder plant come out and dull the colour. 

Rubia cordifolia Munjistin is the primary dye molecule found in the roots, it gives the famous reds found in Indian chintz and painted cottons. Also present in the roots are small quantities of alizarin, purpurin, as well as many yellows and browns. Rubia cordifolia is not as affected by high temperature. The madder dyebath can be reused two or three times for lighter shades.

For in-depth information on natural dyes see our Guide to Natural Dyes available on naturaldyes.ca. Also available as a Printable PDF.

Larger sizes of natural dyes are priced at wholesale rates. Our rates reflect a growing discount as the size increases.

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