Natural vs. Synthetic Dyes: Which is Better?


Part of good business practice is finding solutions for your needs that are not just sustainable, but also has the least negative impact on the environment.

Using dyes for your business is a cost-effective move because it can give new life to your textile at a lower price. However, one major point of consideration is whether to use natural or synthetic products.

To make the right choice between natural and synthetic dyes, you need to understand their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at each of them.


Natural Dyes

Natural dyes are derived from plants, animals, fruits, insects, minerals and other natural resources. That’s why natural dyes are usually perceived as harmless and safe for the environment. However, that’s not the case all the time.

Some natural dye sources such as logwood and bloodroot can be toxic. Logwood can produce a range of colors, but the active ingredients in it, which are hematein and hematoxylin, can be harmful when it enters the body through inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Meanwhile, bloodroot can also be harmful because it may cause irritation and inflammation when inhaled.

Most natural dyes are safe and harmless. However, they can be toxic due to the mordant used for their application. Mordants are substances used to make the natural dye stick to fabrics such as aluminum, copper, iron and chrome.

More so, natural dyes are scarce and expensive, because producing it requires a vast area of land. Sustainability is also an issue because their pigment may wash off overtime.


Synthetic Dyes

William Henry Perkin discovered the first synthetic dye, mauveline, in 1856. This paves the way for the manufacturing of dyes in different pigments and in large quantities. Synthetic dyes became popular because of its lasting color pay-off and wide range of color choices.

However, synthetic dyes have harmful effects on the environment and human beings.

First off, synthetic dyes are made up of chemical compounds that can be harmful to humans, especially those who work in their production. Some of the chemicals found in synthetic dyes are mercury, lead, chromium, copper, sodium chloride, toluene, and benzene. Exposure to large doses of these substances can be toxic and can have severe effects in the human body.

Water pollution can also result from manufacturing synthetic dyes when untreated dye effluent is dumped directly on bodies of water.


Making the Right Choice

Because both synthetic and natural dyes have drawbacks and demand for textile is high, making a choice can be challenging.

But the good news is, more dye manufacturers are minimizing the use of harmful chemicals in their products and are more focused on creating dyes with the use of environment-friendly ingredients. At the same time, majority of dye producers are treating their dye effluent with organic bacteria in order to lessen water pollution.

The best choice is perhaps not going for natural or synthetic dyes per se, but going for products that have the least harmful impact on people and nature.

When looking for dye products to use for your business, it’s advisable to seek help from dye manufacturers that offer eco-friendly products. This way, you’re finding cost-effective solutions for your business without causing too much harm on the environment.

READ: 5 Factors to Consider When Buying Dyes for Your Business

If you’re shopping around for dyes that are not harmful to the environment, you can begin your search with KeyColour. Our products are eco-friendly but efficient in providing solutions for specific dyeing needs. Please get in touch with us to know more.

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