Jump to: navigation, search
Silk dyed with onion skin; Uemera Dye archive


A round edible bulb, Allium cepa, whose outer skins have been used to produce a dye. The dried skins are removed from the onion and boiled in water to produce shades of yellow, brown, and green. The flesh of onions makes a paler yellow and young sprouts give a vivid yellow. Historically, onion skins have been used for dyeing by the ancient Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, and African tribes.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Allium cepa; Natural Yellow 10; Zwiebel (Deut.); cebolla común (Esp.); oignon (Fr.); cipolla (It.); ui (Ned.); cebula zwyczajna (Pol.); cebola (Port.); gul lök (Sven.)

Resources and Citations

  • R.J. Adrosko, Natural Dyes in the United States, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, 1968
  • Helmut Schweppe, Schweppe color collection index and information book
  • J. Thornton, 'The Use of Dyes and Colored Varnishes in Wood Polychromy', Painted Wood: History and Conservation, The Getty Conservation Insitute, Los Angeles, 1998
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 852
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998