Friday, April 22, 2011

Natural Egg Dyes

Our pretty natural dyed eggs
This year we decided to create natural dyes for our Easter eggs. I thought it would be fun and I also thought I could teach Katie some science. We had a lot of fun brainstorming what we were going to use as dyes. "What if we used..." seemed to be the question of the day. We tried to guess what color egg would result from each ingredient.
Also we had a discussion about vinegar - why we add vinegar to the colored liquid. Our discussion about vinegar and acids resulted in a fun experiment.  We took an egg (raw) and placed it in a jar of vinegar.
You can see the vinegar dissolving the calcium in the shell
It takes about 24-48 hours for the vinegar to break down the calcium in the shell of the egg. The egg becomes rubbery. It's awesome! I don't think Katie knew we were talking about chemistry and chemical reactions until it was too late.  She had already admitted that this was fun.
The result: a rubbery egg!
We had a lot of dyes to try, so we boiled ten eggs. The trick to boiling eggs without them cracking is to take a straight pin and poke a tiny hole in the broad side of the egg. It works. I promise. It lets the pressure out of the egg so as it boils it doesn't crack.

We chose the following:

Food processed spinach combined with water and two teaspoons of white vinegar.
I thought spinach would dye the eggs a darker green
 Beet juice, water, and two teaspoons of white vinegar.
The beet dyed eggs

Several tablespoons of chai tea, hot water, and two teaspoons of white vinegar.
We loved the chai tea dyed egg.

Crushed dandelion, hot water, and two teaspoons of vinegar.
The dandelion dyed egg was a light yellowish brown

One tablespoon of turmeric, hot water, and two teaspoons of white vinegar.
The turmeric dyed eggs were an intense gold
 A chuck of purple cabbage cooked in water and two teaspoons of vinegar (remove the cabbage after the water turns purple and before adding the vinegar).
Purple cabbage dyes the eggs a beautiful blue.
 It took our eggs two days in the jars of coloring liquid to dye to the colors we wanted. Katie was slightly disappointed because they didn't color immediately and she couldn't dip the eggs in multiple colors. I liked this process because we had to wait for the results and wonder what would happen. I was surprised at how great they turned out.

The bottom line: will we do this again? Yes, we will. Next year we will try different natural dyes and will write on the eggs with wax crayons before we dye them.

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