Onion Skins

Onion Skins

Onion Skins

Onion "skin" dye has been used for egg and cloth coloring for many years in Azerbaijan, also in the Middle East and Europe. During spring holiday (Novruz) in Azerbaijan, onion skins are used to dye the eggs for decorating the khoncha - a tray with sweets, nuts fruits and dyed eggs on. Samani always is the dominant feature. This is one of a few ancient traditions which is preserved until today.

Onion skins were also used for hair lightening as well as saffron and chamomile tea. It is a well known historical fact that the onion was grown extensively by the ancient Egyptians.

Onion Skin Dye

Onion skin dyes provide a broad range of colors. Onion skins do not require mordanting to adhere the wool, but mordants are used to get different shades. Depending on the mordant used, yellow-skinned onions will yield burnt and bright orange, yellow, brass, and brown colors, while red-skinned onions will yield reddish-orange, pink, salmon, gold, tan-brown, and dark tan dyes. Onion skins will produce a beautiful orange color with alum. White vinegar can be used for acidity.  It must be noted that dyeing should be done in a non-reactive (non-aluminum) pot that is used exclusively for dyeing.

These colors can be obtained from different type of onion skins


Recipe of dyeing wool with onion skins


  • a pot

  • water

  • onion skins

  • vinegar

  • a hot plate or stove


  • Put onion skins in a pot of water.

  • Bring the water to a boil.

  • Let it simmer for 20 minutes.

  • Let the water cool.

  • Take out the onion skins.

  • Heat the water and put in the wool.

  • Put in 2 tablespoons of vinegar.

  • Turn off the heat and let it soak for one hour.

  • Rinse the wool in cool water and let it dry.