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What color dye makes burnt orange?

What color dye makes burnt orange?

Burnt orange is a rich, warm shade that combines the energy of red and orange with a grounded, earthy quality. As a tertiary color, burnt orange comes from mixing the primary colors of red and yellow along with a small amount of blue or green to dull and darken the resulting tone. This color got its name from resembling the charred exterior of an orange or reddish-orange fruit or vegetable that has been baked, grilled, or roasted over an open flame.

While burnt orange can occur naturally through chemical processes like oxidation and caramelization, certain dyes and pigments can also be used to produce this attractive hue. So what type of dye makes that quintessential burnt orange color? Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common options.

Natural Dyes for Burnt Orange

Before synthetic dyes became widely available, artisans and dyers had to rely solely on organic materials found in nature to create their pigments. Many of these natural dyes can provide a range of burnt orange, rust, and terra cotta tones. Some good options include:

Onion skins – Onion skins contain high levels of quercetin, a flavonoid pigment that dyes fabric a reddish burnt orange color. To extract the dye, boil onion skins in water and then simmer the fabrics in the strained dye bath. Mordants like alum or iron can shift the hue.

Pomegranate rinds – The leathery outer rinds of pomegranates are very high in tannins, creating dyes in rust, brown, and burnt orange shades. Simmer pomegranate rinds in water to extract the dye, then soak fabric in the liquid. Adding different mordants modifies the color.

Osage orange – The wood from Osage orange trees produces a bright golden orange dye. Chip the heartwood and boil it to extract the pigment. The resulting color can range from yellow to burnt orange. Iron mordants will make it browner.

Black walnut hulls – Green hulls from black walnuts create a burnt umber dye, while ripe brown hulls make a richer burnt orange hue. Soak the hulls in water, then strain and soak fabric in the dye bath. Using an iron mordant darkens the color.

Madder root – The root of the madder plant contains a reddish-orange pigment called alizarin. Grind the roots into a powder and boil to extract the dye. With certain mordants, it can produce burnt orange shades.

Synthetic Dyes for Burnt Orange

With the rise of the chemical industry, synthetic dyes emerged that could create consistent, lightfast burnt orange shades. Some top options include:

AZO dyes – Monoazo dyes with naphthols can produce vibrant orange and orange-red colors. Structural variations create shades ranging from yellow-orange to burnt orange. They have good lightfastness.

Quinacridone – This synthetic pigment was first popularized in artist paints. It has excellent lightfastness and durability. The quinacridone burnt orange shade is reddish and rich.

Anthraquinone orange – This bright synthetic dye is used for clothing, interior textiles, and paper. Different anthraquinone derivatives make different shades of orange. They have very good lightfastness.

Benzimidazolone orange – Also known as PV Fast Orange, this dye has high tinctorial strength and excellent lightfastness. It dyes polyesters, nylon, and other synthetics in vivid burnt orange tones.

Disperse dyes – Many disperse dyes used on polyester and nylon come in burnt orange shades. Popular options include Disperse Orange 37 and Disperse Red 82. They can withstand high temperatures.

Natural Food Coloring

Some natural food dyes and coloring agents can also produce burnt orange shades and are safe to consume. Options for homemade food coloring include:

Turmeric – This bright yellow spice contains the pigment curcumin. It can dye icing, cake batter, yogurt, etc. in golden orange tones. Add small amounts until reaching the desired burnt orange shade.

Paprika – Made from ground dried peppers, paprika lends a burnt orange color to anything it’s sprinkled on. It’s commonly used to dye cheeses, season salt blends, etc. Spanish smoked paprika gives a deeper color.

Carrot juice – Fresh carrot juice contains beta-carotene, giving it a vivid burnt orange pigment. Reduce the juice to concentrate the color. It works great for dying frosting, candy, and more.

Annatto – Derived from the seeds of the achiote tree, annatto paste or powder has an earthy, burnt orange color. It’s used widely in Latin cuisine to add color. A little goes a long way.

Cinnamon – This warming spice contains cinnamic aldehyde, lending its burnt orange-brown hue. It can be used in powdered form or infused into oil/extracts. A small amount of cinnamon colors sugar or icing.

Synthetic Food Dyes

For brighter, more concentrated burnt orange food coloring, synthetic FD&C dye options include:

FD&C Yellow 6 – This dye makes a bright orange-yellow. Combined with a touch of Red 40, it can produce burnt orange shades approved for commercial foods.

FD&C Red 40 – At high concentrations, this dye appears burnt orange. Mixing it with Yellow 6 creates more muted burnt orange hues. It has a neutral pH.

FD&C Yellow 5 – Also called tartrazine, this dye provides a lemon yellow color. When blended with Red 40, it makes orange and burnt orange tones.

Annatto extract – Used as a natural coloring in cheese and butter, annatto extract contains the carotenoid pigments bixin and norbixin in a oil soluble form. It provides a burnt orange hue.

Beta-apo-8′-carotenal – A carotenoid related to beta-carotene, this food coloring is used in butter, cheese, margarine, and more. It delivers strong burnt orange shades.

Dyeing Fabric Burnt Orange

When dyeing fabric in burnt orange tones, always start with undyed, prepped fabric and select a dye variety that works with your chosen material. Natural dyes typically require a mordant pretreatment. With synthetic dyes, follow the package directions carefully. Some tips include:

  • Use protein fibers like wool and silk for natural dyes. Cellulose fibers like cotton work best with synthetic dyes.
  • Mordant wool and silk with alum, iron, or tin before natural dyeing to fix the color.
  • For cotton, rayon, etc., select reactive or direct synthetic dyes.
  • Always add enough dye and stir constantly for even saturation.
  • Simmer natural dyes for 45+ minutes to fully transfer the pigment.
  • Rinse dyed fabric in cool water until water runs clear.
  • Set the dye with heat or other chemical agents as directed.

Test your selected dyes on swatches first to perfect the burnt orange shade before dyeing a whole length of fabric. Be sure to take safety precautions when working with mordants and chemical dyes.

Dyeing Yarn Burnt Orange

For fiber crafts like knitting and crochet, dyeing yarn is a fun way to create burnt orange tones. Use the following tips:

  • Select undyed natural fiber yarns like wool, alpaca, silk, or cotton.
  • Use synthetic acid dyes for wool and other protein fibers.
  • For cotton, linen, rayon yarns, use fiber reactive dyes.
  • Follow package instructions carefully to avoid uneven dyeing.
  • Wind yarn loosely into skeins and secure ends before dyeing.
  • For solid shades, immerse completely in dye bath.
  • For ombre or variegated looks, dip sections of yarn progressively.
  • Rinse skeins under cool water until water runs clear.

Always wear gloves when dyeing yarn. Ventilate your workspace to avoid inhaling fumes. After dyeing and drying your burnt orange yarn, it’s ready for your next knit or crochet creation!

Dyeing Leather and Suede Burnt Orange

Leather and suede can also be transformed into rich, burnt orange hues. Use these tips for dyeing:

  • Select high quality leather or suede without prior treatment.
  • Clean and deglaze the material using acetone or dye prep solutions.
  • For suede, use alcohol-based dyes. For smooth leather, use water, alcohol, or oil-based dyes.
  • Apply dye evenly using sponges, rags, or brushes. Work it into the material.
  • Allow the dye to fully dry between coats for even layering.
  • Seal the color using fixatives like lacquer, acrylic resolene, or wax.
  • Clean and condition the material after dyeing.

Properly dyed leather and suede hold up well to extended use. Take precautions against transferring dye before it fully cures. Test small pieces first. With careful technique, you can get gorgeous burnt orange leather.


From natural sources like plants to synthetic pigments and dyes, there are many options for dyeing fabric, yarn, food, and more in rich burnt orange tones. Always select a dye variety that works for your particular material and follow directions closely for beautiful, long-lasting results. With the right dyes and careful technique, you can add this earthy, rustic shade to your crafts, designs, and edible creations. So embrace the warmth of burnt orange to spice up your next project.