Vegetable Dye Science Projects

Written by sarah lipoff
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Vegetable Dye Science Projects
Experiment with natural dyes. (tie dyed green image by Steve Mann from Fotolia.com)

Science experiments with vegetable dyes are a fun way to educate kids about the versatility of vegetables. Not only do vegetables make good eats, but they have been used for years by Native Americans to dye fabrics and other materials. Create engaging science projects with dyes that will encourage kids to look at their food differently.

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Homemade Dyes

Make a list of different types of vegetables that students think will create good colours for dyes. Have kids each pick one vegetable to investigate and find what colour dye the item will create. Direct kids to ask their parents to help them boil 1 cup of the vegetable they selected in 4 cups of water for 30 minutes. Allow the dye to cool and then strain into a container. They should then bring the dye to school, where they will dip small pieces of white cloth in the dye to share their results with others.

Onion Skin Concoction

Create dyes in the classroom or home using onion skins. Collect 1 cup each of skins from yellow, white and red onions. Boil three pots, each filled with 4 cups of water, and add the red skins to one pot, the yellow to another and the white to the third. Boil the onion skins for 30 minutes. Watch what colour the dyes become. Allow the dyes to cool, then press small pieces of cotton cloth into the dyes to check the colours. Use a hot pot in the classroom for the experiment or boil the onion skins for 5 minutes in their own glass containers in a microwave.

Other Ingredients

Boil three pots of water, each filled with 4 cups of water, and add three different vegetables, one to each pot, to use for creating natural dyes, such as beets, carrots or tomatoes. Determine whether other ingredients added to the dyes will make them more permanent. When dyes are finished boiling, add additional ingredients to dyes such as salt, white vinegar and sugar. Dye pieces of white fabric and let dry. Test the strength of the dyes by washing the pieces with detergent in a bowl. Have students decide which, if any, of the added ingredients help the dyes stay bright and bold.

Colourful Eggs

For a fun science experiment and a good snack, boil eggs in water with various vegetable dye ingredients. Put one white egg in each pot with an item to test for dying such as spinach or red peppers. Boil each egg for 5 minutes and then remove. Which egg has the darkest dye?

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