Iron Dyed

Iron is a very special 'dye' which isn't a dye at all, so we weren't sure for a long time if we should give it a space in the glossary, but it's key to creating so many important colours for both dyeing and printing.

Most modern Western dye books will list Iron as a mordant or sometimes a 'modifier' because on its own it creates no colour. Iron darkens dyes that have tannin content, and depending on the amount of Iron, and the amount of tannin, you can create deep colours that are so dark they appear black.

We use Iron in conjunction with myrobalan to make olive (with low concentrations of iron) and black (with high concentrations). The black you see is extrememly dark green, but its not perceptable to the human eye.

Interestingly the kind of iron used by different dyers varies, some dyers and printers 'ferment' their iron keys with jaggery and water, some dissolve rusty nails, and some opt for powdered pure iron.

Personally I (Saeed) would put Iron in the same class as any dye.