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black bean dyeing (natural wool dyeing)

natural wool dyeing

I’d heard good things about black beans. It’s one of the few ways you can get a blue colour from natural ingredients. And one of the easiest.

I got a packet of beans from my local Coles for a few dollars (and I didn’t have to swap a cow for them!).


natural wool dyeing
black beans

Firstly I had to prepare the wool.

In my previous dyeing experiments I used white vinegar, this time I needed to bring out the big guns.

I bought some Aluminium Sulphate from Bunnings (or any garden centre). It’s the stuff that you use in the garden to turn hydrangea flowers blue.

It’s a chemical and quite dangerous and I didn’t want to take any chances so I wore gloves and used non kitchen utensils.

I only needed 1 tablespoon of it in enough water to cover the wool and I soaked the mixture for 2 days. Then I rinsed the wool to get rid of the chemicals (and smell) and left the wool to dry.

While all this was going on I soaked a cup of the black beans in around 8 cups of water and left it for around 24 hours, stirring it when I remembered.

If you soak for 24 hrs or less you can then use the beans for cooking  so you get no wastage.

Don’t do what I did with the first batch I tried and leave the pot outside and forget about to for a few days. It was mouldy and smelly when I got to it! Gross!!!!!

About an hour before I was ready to use the liquid I gave it one final stir then left it so the sediment settled to the bottom. Apparently the proteins in the beans and the sediment will muddy the colour so you’ll only use the top clear liquid.

Ladle off the liquid on top, try not to slosh the beans and sediment around too much. You’ll have a reddish- brown liquid like this:

natural wool dyeing
the liquid is a reddish brown

Then I popped the wool in. No heating required. I  diluted the liquid a bit just enough to cover the wool.

At first the wool went an aubergine colour, but within a minute or so the magic happened…

natural wool dyeing
the wool going in to the dye
natural wool dyeing
after 5 mins, the wool goes blue

Magic! The alum makes the colour change. 


I dyed 3 skeins of wool, each 100g, and popped one in each time dry so it soaked up a lot of liquid. I left each one an hour or two – to be honest I kept losing track of the time.

Each skein came out a little lighter, as the concentration of the dye diminished. I love the tri colour effect!

I am so in love with this colour!!!


natural wool dyeing
3 hues of blue

As soon as I get around to skeining them up properly, I’ll list them for sale.

Keep an eye out,

Love Always,