How To Make DIY Iron Liquor Mordant For Natural Dyeing

how to make DIY iron liquor mordant for natural dyeing

DIY iron liquor mordant is very useful: as mordant before you dye fabric with natural dyes, to weather wood and dye leather black naturally. Iron liquor is easy to make at home and really cheap. In this tutorial I show you how to make DIY iron mordant using things you probably have at home!

How To Make DIY Iron Liquor Mordant For Natural Dyeing

You’ll need:

  • 2 parts water
  • 1 part vinegar
  • rusty iron pieces (nails, screws …) or steel wool
  • glass jar

rusty iron solution

Put all ingredient into a jar. Cover it loosely with a lid. Let the iron liquor stand for some days or weeks.

The solution will darken over time and there may be some rusty spots on the glass.

You can use iron liquor over and over again. If the solution gets to weak, add more iron pieces.

Uses Of DIY Iron Mordant

DIY iron liquor can be used as mordant or modifier in natural dyeing. It can also be used to dye natural tanned leather black, and for staining wood for a silvery weathered look.

Related: How To Dye Blue With Red Cabbage (DIY Iron Mordant)

You can paint tannin-rich wood like oak directly with iron liquor. Other wood is painted with a strong brew of black tea before iron liquor is applied.

14 thoughts on “How To Make DIY Iron Liquor Mordant For Natural Dyeing

  1. Thanks so much for this recipe Lina. We have a whole bunch of pallets that need to be stained so they look “older” and this is going to be just perfect

  2. I want to use my iron modifyer on woll fibre. I’ve siak the iron pieces in the vinegar and water. Can you tell how much of the liquor I need to pour into the saucepan of water please.

    1. I used about 1l iron liquor for the yarn and fabric that I dyed with red cabbage. But I used cotton yarn and fabric – I’ve never used iron liquor on wool (I’ve read that iron liquor can damage wool and silk fibers), so I don’t know if it works or how much you need.

  3. I have the iron liquid in my jar that I have used on a few projects to weather the wood and they all came out great! QUESTION: I am on a new wood project, and the liquid is not drying to a gray, but a red stain, and I cannot figure out why. Is it the type of wood? Thank you in advance for any advice!

    1. Yes, it’s the type of wood. 🙂 I use scrap wood for my projects and, depending on the type of wood, it turns the wood gray or brown or red.

  4. Thank you so much for all your wonderful information on natural dyeing! You are consistently more thorough and informative than many other sites I’ve looked at. I am exploring natural dyeing for use on cotton rope, to sew into rope bowls.

    One question I keep running into: I’ve read in many places that you can reuse a mordant. Does this mean returning it to the original jar with nails, vinegar and water? Does this still apply when you have added water in order to fully submerge the material?

    Also, in your experience, does use of the iron liquor as a modifier (so, in a iron liquor bath after dying, rather than prior) have the same positive effect on wash and light fastness?

    Again, thanks so much!

    1. Thank you! 😀 Yes, you can reuse iron mordant: you can either mordant more fabric in it if it’s diluted with water, or you can return it to the jar (and add more nails and vinegar) if you haven’t added too much water.
      I always use iron liquor before dyeing because it helps to bind the color to the fibers – especially with natural blue dyes like red cabbage. As far as I know, if you use iron liquor as modifier after dyeing, it saddens the colors (making them darker and more muted).

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