Mordants in natural textile dyeing

Dyeing of fabrics with natural dyes often leads to problems such as narrow range of shades, and low colour fastness of dyed textiles. Attempts to overcome these problems have been mainly focused on the use of mordants. In addition to creating affinity between dye and fibre, the use of mordants also change the hue of certain dyes. Different mordants used with same dye may darken, brighten or drastically alter the final colour of the dyed fibre.

Mordant dyes form the largest class of natural organic dyestuff. Those dyes which have higher affinity for mordanted fibres are called mordant dyes. This classical definition of mordant dyes has been extended to cover all those dyes which form a complex with metal mordant. The complex may be formed by first applying the mordant (pre-mordanting) or by simultaneous application of the mordant and the dye (simultaneous mordanting) or by after treatment of the dyed material with mordant (post-mordanting).

Here is a list of some metallic and biomordants used in natural textile dyeing:

List of metallic mordants used in natural textile dyeing

Conventional metallic mordants

  • Alum
  • Ferrous sulfate
  • Stannous chloride
  • Copper sulfate
  • Potassium dichromate
Newly discovered metallic mordants
  • Stannous sulphate
  • Cobalt sulphate
  • Aluminium sulphate
  • Magnesium sulphate
  • Zinc sulphate
  • Manganese sulphate
  • Nickel sulphate
  • Stannic chloride
  • Ferric chloride
  • Aluminum chloride
  • Copper chloride
  • Zinc Chloride
  • Aluminium nitrate
  • Calcium hydroxide
  • Zinc tetrafluoroborate
  • Rare earth compounds
      •  Zirconium oxy chloride
      •  Rhenium trichloride
      •  Neodymium trichloride
      •  Lanthanum Oxide

List of plants used as source of biomordants in natural textile dyeing

Eucalyptus spp. Used as sources of tannin mordant
Entada spiralis
Acacia catechu
Emblica officinalis
Memecylon scutellatum
Punica granatum
Quercus infectoria
Rhus coriaria
Rumex hymenosepolus
Tamarindus indica
Prosopis spp.
Terminalia bellerica
Terminalia chebula
Enterolobium cyclocarpum  
Caesalpinia coriaria
Symplococcus spp. Al-hyperaccumulating plants used as substitute of alum mordant
Aporusa spp.
Baccaurea racemosa
Xanthophyllum lanceatum
Eurya acuminate  
Pyrus pashia Cu rich plant used as substitute of copper mordant

Source: M. Shahid, Shahid-ul-Islam, F. Mohammad, Recent advancements in natural dye applications: A review, J. Clean. Prod., 53 (2013) 310-331.


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