Easter is right around the corner and like so many other families, we’re in the midst of figuring out how we’re going to get creative with our favorite Easter tradition – Egg dyeing!
For the last few years, we’ve taken a new twist to this Easter tradition and have begun dyeing our eggs not with boxed dyes, but with silk ties! The process is surprisingly simple and the results are absolutely stunning. The best part is, you only need a few basic ingredients, starting of course, with the ties!
You can pick these up at any thrift store or second hand store, where you can get them for about a dollar each. Just make sure that you get 100% silk ties, as the dyes that are used on these will work the best on the eggs! When shopping for ties, the more outrageous the print, the better the results will be for your eggs! Feel free to pick out the loudest, craziest ties you can find. Also, if you find any silk ties with small characters on them (we’ve used Winnie the Pooh previously), those will also transfer onto your eggs!
Once you’ve amassed your outrageous tie collection, it’s time to gather the rest of your materials!
100% Silk ties
Light colored linen (an old pillowcase, the inside of the tie, or an old white T-shirt!)
String or twist ties
At least 1/4 cup of white vinegar
Water (enough to cover your eggs)
Turn your tie over and begin cutting up the seam. Cut the labels and tags off as you go.
Take out the inner lining of the tie and set it aside. If you don’t have any extra light colored linens on hand (like an old pillowcase and an old T-shirt), you can use this to wrap your eggs in for dyeing. Trim off any black or additional colored silk (that isn’t a part of the print on your tie) as these colors will interfere with the dyeing process.
Take a section of your tie and place your egg in the middle of it. Wrap your egg as tightly as you can, with as much of the outer part of the fabric (the good side) as possible pressing down on your egg.
Once you have your egg wrapped in the silk, tie it off with some string or a twist tie. There will be some wrinkles in the fabric and that’s okay. They’ll end up resulting in some lovely blended white spaces on your egg.
Once you have your eggs are all wrapped up, it’s time to put them in a large pot! Cover them with enough water to cover the eggs, and add at least 1/4 cup of white vinegar. Bring this to a boil, and then turn it down to simmer for at least 20 minutes.
After you have simmered your eggs for 20 minutes, remove them from heat and let them drain in a colander. Allow at least 15 minutes for the eggs to cool before handling them.
Now you’re ready to unwrap your eggs! This is our favorite part, as the wrappings make it seem as if we’re unwrapping little presents of beautiful eggs! Your kids will delight in all of the lovely markings, and will be excited to see how the ones they made turned out!
These eggs are all from the same ties shown above! It’s incredible to see the different designs that result from this! Some of the eggs look like watercolor paintings, while others have really striking details! Some of the spaces and wrinkles make for a swirled tie-dye effect, while others are imprinted with the exact prints from the tie! Unwrapping each egg is so much fun, and the result is really just stunning! We’ve been doing this for four years now, and it’s always a huge hit at Easter!
Now let’s take a look at some of the science behind the project!
These fabric dyes work in a similar way to boxed dyes at the store, food coloring dyes, or onion skin dyes. The special ingredient in all of these is the white vinegar. When we add the dye into the water, some of the ions on the molecules of the dye end up breaking apart, creating a negatively charged molecule! The vinegar gives additional protons in the form of Hydrogen ions. Now, the dye has a slightly positive charge. The dye is then attracted to the slightly negative charge of the calcium carbonate in the egg shell, and bonds to it! Thus, the dye essentially becomes a part of the outer egg shell!
Take It Further!
There are a lot of projects you can do to explore the egg-citing science of egg-speriments! Here some ideas for further explorations with all of the eggs you’ll have on hand for Easter!
Floating Eggs: Explore density with eggs and water! If an egg sinks to the bottom of a cup of water, can you make it rise to the top by changing the density of the water?
Naked Eggs: Can you take off the eggshell while leaving a raw egg intact? You sure can! Explore how chemical reactions can remove the hard shell, while leaving a giant rubbery egg behind!
Egg in a Bottle: Can you push a large egg into a smaller bottle without breaking it? Explore air pressure, density, and physics with this fun and dramatic experiment!
There are so many things you can do with Easter, eggs, and science! No matter how you choose to explore, make it fun, and get creative!