Basic Iron Mordant Recipe for Dyeing Animal Fiber

By using this Basic Iron Mordant Recipe, you can achieve high-quality results from dyeing animal fiber.

| December 2013

  • Baskets full of dyed animal fibers.
    You can mordant your animal fiber by heat, cold, or solar dyeing methods.
    Photo by Fotolia/lightningboldt
  • The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes Book Cover
    “The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes” by Sasha Duerr is full of helpful tips and recipes for home dyeing enthusiasts.
    Cover courtesy Timber Press

  • Baskets full of dyed animal fibers.
  • The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes Book Cover

Home dyeing can be a gamble if you are new to the idea, but even if you are experienced in the art, knowing the reaction difference between animal fibers and plant based fibers can be crucial to proper dye absorption. Using The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes (Timber Press, 2010) Sasha Duerr walks you through using mordants and natural dyes in perfect harmony. Use this excerpt to dye animal fiber with a Basic Iron Mordant Recipe.

Basic Iron Mordant Recipe

Before dyeing your animal fiber, weigh the dry fiber and record the dry weight; the iron powder will be measured in proportion to the dry fiber weight. Iron powder can be obtained as ferrous sulfate crystals. You can mordant your fiber by heat, cold, or solar dyeing methods. When you’re working with iron powder, be careful not to breathe in the iron dust, which can be caustic to the lungs. It’s a good idea to wear a dust mask with iron powder.

4 ounces (113 g) fiber
2 percent (1/2 teaspoon) iron powder to weight of fiber

Wet the fiber in lukewarm water for at least 1 hour, or overnight.



Fill a large stainless steel pot with enough water to cover the fiber and give it plenty of room so it takes the mordant evenly.

Heat the water to a simmer, 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82 degrees Celsius).






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