If you are a fan of denim and its blue color, you will absolutely love our indigo-dyed clothing line. The unique shade of blue you find in denim apparel comes from an organic dye derived from indigofera plants. Indigo is a popular choice in the fashion industry because it is a safe, natural dye. Unfortunately, many textile manufacturers around the world have turned to chemical dyes instead of indigo, which destroy our planet and precious water sources.
Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of indigo-dyed clothing and its unique creation process:
How Is Indigo Prepared?
Indigofera tinctora is a plant species that thrives in tropical climates around the globe, mostly in Asia and Africa. It is best grown in medium moisture, well-drained soil in the full sun. The leaves of this plant are harvested and processed to yield the dye.
What Steps Are Taken During Production?
In living plants of the genus Indigofera, indigo occurs as a colorless, water- soluble compound known as indican. When the leaves are placed in water, the indican leaches out and is transformed into an insoluble compound called indoxyl.
When you stir up the mixture of liquid, the air oxidises it into pigment. The upper layer of liquid is then removed, and the pigment can be seen as a blue sludge at the bottom. The sludge is quickly heated to stop further fermentation, and then is dried to form a thick paste or powder. The next step is then dying your yarn or fabric to get the color you desire! In order to dye fabric, you have to add a reducing agent (which removes oxygen) to convert it to a yellowish water-soluble form called indigo white. You soak your yarn or fabric in a warm bath of indigo white for about twenty minutes. As you remove it from the dyebath, the dye will react with the oxygen in the air and turn blue—at last. Repeated soakings and airings deepen the color.
Natural Vs. Synthetic Indigo
There is a major difference between real vs. synthetic indigo. Chemical colorants are commercially used due to its easier extraction and abundance of raw materials. Natural indigo dye is sustainable, whereas synthetic indigo is derived from petrochemicals which yields toxic waste. The byproducts of natural indigo are nontoxic and also biodegradable. Natural extraction of indigo also leads to impurities that are responsible for the unique color variations. Synthetic indigo tends to maintain a uniform blue color throughout.
Two key differences between natural indigo and synthetic indigo is the production process and price of the finished product. Natural indigo dyeing is a very rare and expensive method. The threads are repeatedly dyed, dried, and washed by hand. The process requires extremely complicated and painstaking manual work. Natural indigo clothing is difficult to produce due to the time and professional skills needed, which increases the price of the product.
On the other hand synthetic indigo clothing does not require much hands-on work, and can be mass produced with chemical colorants. Synthetic indigo comes in a fine powder that is about 95% indigotin pigment. This is a much higher concentration of indigotin than occurs in natural indigo. This makes synthetic indigo less expensive and easier to use.
When you use natural indigo dye on natural fibers such as cotton, linen, wool or silk, you get to reap the benefits of ethically-sourced materials. There is no need to worry about harmful chemicals affecting your skin or the environment. You can reduce your toxicity exposure by opting for apparel that prioritizes natural dyes and fibers.