By: Prof. Tanveer Malik and Prof. Ajay S. Joshi
Faculty, SVITT, SVVV, Indore


Source of colours from natural sources have been ignored from many years. Less research is done in this field. Natural colourants are used mainly for textile dyeing. Field of application of natural colourants is restricted and market of natural colours is also less. Over the past many years, it has been observed that synthetic dyes have many disadvantages associated with them like toxicity, pollution, allergenicity etc. but natural dyes have no such disadvantages. Indian researchers are therefore shifted towards the extraction of colours from natural resources and also in natural dyes there is very few natural resources available for blue and red shades. For red shades beetroot dye is the potential source. So, in this article we review the extraction and application of natural dye with special reference to beetroot dye and their application on textile products. 

Keywords: natural colours, dyeing, colourants, beetroot dye etc


For understanding the concept of natural colourants, we need to start from history. From history we concluded that concept of textile dyeing is very old. In 2600 BC natural dyes were used in China for the first time at that time, it was used for dyeing textile. During the civilization of Indus valley natural things were used for wall decoration and paintings in cave. Natural dyed clothes were used to wrap mummies in Egypt. Heena that is used to colour hairs was as old as 2500 BC. Colours might be discovered accidently but we cannot imagine our present-day world without colour. In ancient times, method for colouring was not permanent as crushed pigments were used directly for colouring without any processing. But now colours have evolved from natural to synthetic. Synthetic colours are used in every field now days like painting, textile dyeing, glass industry, paper industry etc1

Today in the world of growing environmental consciousness, natural colorants have attracted in the attention of everyone. The art of dyeing with vegetable dyes has gained attention not only from the safety point of view but it is good for health and environment also having experienced quality of novelty and beauty. The globe has been facing the serious environmental pollution over a long period of time which eventually has turned the social atmosphere back to the mother nature. This entails the need for study and interest in natural dyes2. The natural dyes have with unique characteristics, viz mild, static deep feel having the capability to express many kinds of hues according to different mordents and relatively less amount of disposal water, when compared to those of synthetic dyes. Natural dyeing is an age-old practice. It was the result of the quest of man for colouring matter from natural sources such as plants and animals3-4. But most of natural dyes do not fix permanently to the fibers and less they are used with chemicals called ‘mordants’. Also, with the use of mordants a range of colors can be obtained with the same dye material5

Natural dyes can be obtained from plant (vegetable), animals and minerals. Beetroot is one of the vegetable dye obtained from plant. The beetroot is the taproot portion of the plant. It is an excellent food which is important for development and growth of human body. It is a rich source of antioxidant and minerals. It also acts as fruits as well as vegetables. Fresh form of beetroot generally consumed as a salad. It contains betalain essential for cardiovascular also use as a medicinal plant to cure the various illnesses. It plays another important role as a natural color in the textile industries. Beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family. It has bright crimson colour. Beetroot is commonly known as beet, chard, spinach beet, sea beet, garden beet, white beet and Chukander (in Hindi)6-8.

Extraction Methods 

Synthetic dyes are made from synthetic resources through chemical reactions, but natural dye are prepared of extracted from natural resources like plants, animals and minerals Firstly colourant from natural resources were extracted and then dye solution was prepared by adding suitable constituents. Extraction of colour from natural resources is a complicated process. The different methods for extraction of natural colourants are as follows: 

Aqueous Extraction: 

It is a traditional method for extracting colour from natural resources. In this method, colour containing compound if dry broken down into small pieces or in powdered form by grinding and soaked with water in vessel for some time to loosen the cell structure. If colour containing compound is in wet form, then it is chopped down to fine pieces or grinded to fine paste. Then these broken-down pieces are boiled in water to get the colouring component dissolved in water. This solution is filtered to separate colouring solution and non-colouring remnant. Both can be used easily to impart colour to different things. There are some disadvantages associated with this extraction method like slow process for extracting colour, high temperature requirement, large volume of water requirement, heat sensitive colouring substances gets reduced at high temperature low dye yield, only water-soluble colouring components can be extracted. Beetroot dye is also extracted in aqueous medium. Beetroot can be grated into small pieces for better dye extraction9-10

Organic Extraction: 

In this extraction method organic solvent is used to extract colour. Extraction of natural colour in organic solvent resulting in better extraction. Colour from beetroot, annatto seeds, lac insect, safflower petals can be extracted using this method. Beetroot dye also yield better in organic solvent rather than in aqueous medium but cost of extraction in increases9-10.

Dyeing methods:

Dyeing of textile products with natural dyes can be done using different pH depending upon the types of the natural dyes. Application of natural dyes on a textile product is carried out in two steps. First   mordanting of textile material is taken place and after that dyeing of fabrics is carried out.

Mordanting Application:

Mordants used in dyeing with natural dyes Mordanting improved dye performance and leads to achieving a broad spectrum of colors and better fastness properties. The most used mordants used over time are Alum, Ferrous sulfate, Stannous chloride, Copper sulfate, Potassium dichromate, Magnesium sulfate, Aluminum sulfate, Zinc sulfate, Manganese sulfate, Nickel sulfate, Cobalt sulfate, Stannous sulfate, Stannic chloride, Ferric chloride, Copper chloride, Zinc   chloride, Aluminum   chloride, Aluminum   nitrate, Calcium   hydroxide, Zinc   tetrafluoroborate, Lanthanum oxide [44]. 

Generally, the metal salt because of their corrosive action make the textile material more open, rough and make them more adhere able to the dye particles. The mordants formed a link between the textile material and the natural colouring matters and allows the natural dye particle to fix on the textile material even if the dye particles do not have the affinity towards the textile materials. If in case of the natural dyes are capable of dyeing the textile material directly then the use of mordants can help to produce the colour faster and even deeper shaded can be produced. The mordant can be applied to the textile material by three different methods viz. pre mordanting method, simultaneous mordanting method and post mordanting method. In pre mordanting method the mordant is applied to the textile material before dying. In simultaneous mordanting method the mordant is applied to the textile materials during the dyeing process and in post mordanting method the mordants is applied to the textile material after dying11


Dyeing of textile material with natural dyes can be carried out at acidic pH, alkaline pH or neutral pH depending upon the nature of the natural dyes at predetermined temperature and time. Growing demands of consumers for the eco-friendly textile and variety of shades led to the development of more efficient and more energy efficient process that can be able to develop variety of shades12. Same dye with different mordant can be able to give different shades. Beetroot gives better dyeing properties in acidic medium. The pH range of 4.5 to 5 pH gives the best result as at this pH the dye molecules of beetroot is stable.


Field for application of natural dyes is limited. Textile industry is the main field for its application, but it can also be used for paper printing, more research is required in this field to standardize the methods for its application. Extraction of colour from natural sources is also limited, more research is required in this field. Also, Extraction of colour from beetroot is also limited so more research is also required in this area. Because of growing disadvantages of synthetic colours, people started using natural colours. In future it is expected that use of natural colourants will grow extensively.


  1. Ado, A., Yahaya, H., Kwalli, A. A. and Abdulkadir, R. S. (2014). Dyeing of textiles with eco-friendly natural dyes: A review. International Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Protection, 1(5): 76-81
  2. Chavan, R.B. (1995). Revival of natural dyes – A word to caution to environmentalists. Colourage 42(4): 27- 30
  3. Bose, S. and Nag, S. (2012). Isolation of Natural Dyes from the Flower of Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis. American Journal of Pharm Tech Research, 2(3): 761-770. 
  4. Carvalho, C. and Santos G. (2016). Sustainability and Biotechnology – Natural or Bio Dyes Resources in Textiles. Journal of Textile Science & Engineering, 6(1): 1-5. 
  5. Erdem, Ismal, Ö., Yıldırım, L., Özdogan, E., Use of almond shell extracts plus biomordants as effective textile dye, Journal of Cleaner Production, 70, 61-67, 2014. 
  6. 1. Sawicki, T.; Bączek, N.; Wiczkowski W.  Betalain profile, content and antioxidant capacity of red beetroot dependent on the genotype and root part.  J.  Funct.  Foods 2016, 27, 249-261.  DOI: 10.1016/j.jff.2016.09.004. 
  7. 2. Nemzer, B.; Pietrzkowski, Z.; Spórna, A.; Stalica, P.; Thresher, W.; Michalowski, T.; Wybraniec, S. Betalainic and nutritional profiles of pigment-enriched red beet root (Beta vulgaris L.) dried extracts. Food Chem. 2011, 127, 42-53. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.12.081. 
  8. 3. Chhikara, N.; Kushwaha, K.; Sharma, P.; Gat, Y.; Panghal, A.  Bioactive compounds of beetroot and utilization in food processing industry:  a critical review.  Food Chem. 2019, 272, 192-200.  DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2018.08.022.
  9. Shahid, M., Shahid-ul-Islam, Mohammad, F., Recent advancements in natural dye applications: a review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 53, 310-331, 2013.
  10. Arora, J., Agarwal, P. and Gupta, G. (2017). Rainbow of Natural Dyes on Textiles Using Plants Extracts: Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Processes. Green and Sustainable Chemistry, 7: 35-47. 
  11. Baliarsingh, S., Panda, A.K., Jena, J., Das, T. and Das, N.B. (2012). Exploring sustainable technique on natural dye extraction from native plants for textile: identification of colourants, colourimetric analysis of dyed yarns and their antimicrobial evaluation. Journal of Cleaner Production, 37: 257–264. 
  12. Bechtold, T., Mussak, R., Mahmud-Ali, A., Ganglberger, E., Geissler, S., Extraction of natural dyes for textile dyeing from coloured plant wastes released from the food and beverage industry, Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 86(2), 233-242, 2005.