How to make dye for mortar

Written by mary johnson-gerard, ph.d. | 13/05/2017
How to make dye for mortar
Homemade mortar stains are useful when you need a colour match for mortar repairs. (Fotmen/iStock/Getty Images)

If you are a die-hard DIY enthusiast, making dye for mortar is a rewarding and inexpensive way to colour concrete or mortar. Concrete and flooring supply companies offer pre-made pigments that you mix with dry mortar before adding water. Make liquid stain and dye the mortar after it's dried to achieve this homemade method of dying concrete. The colour won't be as dark as pigment mixed into the mortar, but you will still achieve a nice deep brown result.

Mix the muriatic acid and black iron oxide in a glass jar. The reaction happens quickly and the jar may warm up a bit to the touch. Refrain from placing the lid on until the reaction has stopped. You can store the stain for later with a lid if desired. You can find muriatic acid at hardware shops and iron oxide online.

Add 5 ml (1 tsp) of stain at a time to a jar filled with 500 ml (2 cups) of water to dilute the stain. The water should turn a bright yellow colour but still be clear enough to see through. Too strong a stain will eat away the mortar. The light yellow colour will produce a dark brown stain.

Apply small amounts of stain to the mortar, using a little stain but many layers with the paint brush. The purpose of using a little at a time is to prevent runners from forming and running down the concrete or brick. Let it dry.


Iron oxide comes in yellow, red and black colours. Only use the black. The others do not mix well with the acid.


Practice on a few areas first before staining the main project to make sure you are happy with the colour.

Tips and warnings

  • Practice on a few areas first before staining the main project to make sure you are happy with the colour.

Things you need

  • 500 ml (2 cups) muriatic acid
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) black iron oxide
  • Glass jar with lid
  • Empty glass jar
  • Teaspoon
  • Water
  • Paintbrush

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