Natural dye Indigo

The birthplace of dye from indigo plants is India, where the dye paste is dried into cakes or cubes.

The process of turning green leaves into bright blue dye is called fermentation of the leaves.

The dye in the leaves doesn’t actually exist it has to be manipulated naturally. The chemical responsible for the dye is called indicant. The ancient practice of extracting indicant and converting it to indigo involves the fermentation of the of the leaves.

First, a series of tanks are set up step-like from highest to lowest. The highest tank is where the fresh leaves are placed along with an enzyme called indimulsin, which breaks the indicant down into indoxyl and glucose. 

As the process takes place, it gives off carbon dioxide and the contents of the tank turn a dirty yellow. 

The first round of fermentation takes around 14 hours, after which the liquid is drained into the second tank, a step down from the first. 

The resulting mix is stirred with paddles to incorporate air into it, which allows the brew to oxidize the indoxyl to indigotin. 

As the indigotin settles to the bottom of the second tank, the liquid is siphoned away. The settled indigotin is transferred to yet another tank, the third tank, and heated to halt the fermentation process. The end result is filtered to remove any impurities and then dried to form a thick paste.

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