The Indigo Vat

When working with indigo first pre-wash the goods you would like to dye, also known as scouring, to remove any excess dirt, wax, or starch. Unlike other natural dyes, goods you plan to indigo dye do not need to be mordanted.

To learn how to use scour, and to learn how to create an indigo vat, with very detailed instructions, pick up a copy of our book, The Modern Natural Dyer.

In order to create indigo-dyed cloth, the indigo must be made water-soluble. In order to accomplish this, two things must take place to prepare the indigo vat for dyeing.

1. The vat must be a pH of 10-11
(find pH strips in the drop down menu below to measure the pH)

These are ingredients which raise the pH of the indigo vat:
- lye
- soda ash
- limestone

2. All of the oxygen must be taken out of the indigo vat (known as the reduction process).

These are ingredients which aid in the reduction process:
- sodium hydrosulphite
- henna
- iron (ferrous sulfate)

The Modern Natural Dyer recipe requires:

20g indigo
50g lye (sodium hydroxide)
50g sodium hydrosulphite

** this recipe will dye approximately 500g (17oz) of goods a medium to dark shade.

-- OR --

50g indigo
100g henna
100g limestone (calcium hydroxide)

** this recipe will dye approximately 250g (8oz) of goods a medium to dark shade.

***CAUTION***
You must use proper precautions when working with lye. 
Please read before proceeding.

- Always wear gloves and protective eyewear.
- Do not let lye touch your skin, as it is caustic and can burn. If lye touches your skin, rinse immediately.
- Only add lye to water; never add water to lye.
- Use only cool water when working with lye.
- Never add lye to boiling water, It can explode.

Check out Kristine's video on Creativebug on indigo dyeing! It's a fun resource to help you set up your indigo vat and learn a few techniques for creating designs on cotton bandanas! You can tune in to the class here.

Shipping notes: If purchasing lye, it will ship via UPS Ground. Please provide a physical mailing address (no PO Boxes). Please note that UPS Ground shipping times may be longer than expected. We are currently not able to ship lye outside of the continental United States. Please call or email us with any questions.

To purchase scour, click here.

To purchase natural dyes, click here.

Use the drop down menu to see all ingredients available to create an indigo vat.

If you would prefer an all inclusive indigo kit you can purchase our Waves Bandana Kit, click here.

*** All items on this page are to order and will be ready to ship or pick-up 3 business days from time of order. ***

$10.00