soluble chemical substance or natural material which can impart color to other materials

Dye is a substance used to color materials. It is often used to color the fabric used to make clothing. It has low solubility. A pigment won't do this because it won't stick to the fibers of the fabric and color them. A dye can be natural, usually made from plant material such as berries, or a dye can be artificial, meaning that it is made by humans from chemicals such as petrochemicals.

Most natural dyes are gotten from different parts of a plant like the roots, fruits, bark, leaves, wood, fungi and lichens.[1] Most dyes are synthetic and are made from petrochemicals.[2]



Dyes can be classified based on their solubility and chemical properties.

  • Acid dyes can dissolve in water. They are used on fibers such as silk, wool, nylon. Most food coloring that are made by man are acid dyes. Examples of acid dye are Alizarine Pure Blue B, Acid red 88, etc.
  • Basic dyes can dissolve in water. They are mainly used on acrylic fibers. They may also be used on wool and silk. Basic dyes are also used to make paper colourful.


  1. Burgess, Rebecca, 1977- (2011). Harvesting color : how to find plants and make natural dyes. Green, Paige. New York: Artisan. ISBN 978-1-57965-425-2. OCLC 667210526.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. Silfvast, William T. (2008-07-21). Laser Fundamentals. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-85557-0.