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Henna powder


A reddish-orange dyestuff that comes from the leaves of small evergreen trees, Lawsonia inermis or Lawsonia alba, native to the Middle East, northern Africa and Asia. Henna was used by the ancient Egyptians and Asians for dyeing Hair, nails, skin, Leather, Wool, and Silk. Henna-dyed cloth was sometimes used for mummy wrappings. The principle colorant in henna is lawsone and it also contains Juglone, Luteolin, and several tannins. Lawsone is a red Substantive dye that is very effective on the protein Keratin. Henna has also been used as a Fungicide.

Synonyms and Related Terms

2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthalenedione; Natural Orange 6; CI 75480; henna (Esp.); henné (Fr.); hena (Port.); English privet; flowers of paradise; lawsone; 2-hydroxy-p-naphthoquinone; 2-hydroxynaphthoquinone; hennis; hana; alkanna; gopherwood; mignonette; mehandi; mendi

Chemical structure



  • Contact, inhalation or ingestion may cause irritation.
  • Fisher Scientific: MSDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

Lawsone is soluble in water, ether.

Composition C10H6O3
CAS 83-72-7
Melting Point 192 (dec)
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 174.0402

Resources and Citations

  • J.Hofenk-de Graaf, Natural Dyestuffs: Origin, Chemical Constitution, Identification, Central Research Laboratory for Objects of Art and Science, Amsterdam, September 1969.
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • 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
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 283
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Palmy Weigle, Ancient Dyes for Modern Weavers, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, 1974
  • John and Margaret Cannon, Dye Plants and Dyeing, Herbert Press, London, 1994
  • A.Lucas, J.R.Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, Edward Arnold Publishers Ltd., London, 4th edition, 1962
  • F. Crace-Calvert, Dyeing and Calico Printing, Palmer & Howe, London, 1876
  • J. Thornton, 'The Use of Dyes and Colored Varnishes in Wood Polychromy', Painted Wood: History and Conservation, The Getty Conservation Insitute, Los Angeles, 1998
  • Helmut Schweppe, Schweppe color collection index and information book
  • Colour Index International online at www.colour-index.org