Easter is just around the corner and has always been one of my favorite times of year. Growing up I loved dying hard-boiled eggs all different shades of colors with patterns, glitter, or just bright solid colors. It was so exciting to see the plain white eggs shells take on a completely new look with simple store-bought dye, but as I got older I realized how dangerous those dyes really were.
Why Store-Bought Food Coloring Is Dangerous
Food coloring and dyes that you will find in the baking aisle of your local grocery store seem reasonably safe to use, I mean, why would they sell it if it was really dangerous? Well, they also sell sugar…and we all know the effects that has on the body.
Studies have shown how dangerous food coloring and dyes can really be on the body, internal organs, and your brain, so much so that the European Union has placed regulations on food dye labeling to inform consumers of the health risks.
Unfortunately the United States has no such regulations, so it’s up to us to educate ourselves on the dangers. You may be shocked to discover how these seemingly safe colors may be doing way more damage than you ever imagined.
Let’s dive in deeper to the dangers of food coloring according to the Food Freedom Network:
Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue)
Studies have suggested a possibility that this specific Blue #1 dye causes kidney tumors in mice. The majority of food this dye can be found in are baked goods, beverages, dessert powders, candy, cereal, pharmaceutical drugs, and other products.
Blue #2 (Indigo Carmine)
Blue #2 dye has shown a statistically significant incidence of tumors, particularly brain gliomas, in male rats. This dye is commonly used in colored beverages, candies, pet food and other food and drugs.
Citrus Red #2
Citrus Red #2 has shown to be toxic to rodents at modest levels causing tumors of the urinary bladder and potentially other organs. This dye is surprisingly used in the skins of Florida oranges to enhance their bright orange color. Ick!
Green #3 (Fast Green)
Studies have shown that Green #3 caused a significant increase in bladder and testes tumors in male rats. This dye is used in drugs, personal care products, lipsticks, cosmetic products, candies, beverages, and ice cream.
Red #3 (Erythrosine)
Red #3 was recognized in 1990 by the FDA as a thyroid carcinogen in animals and is banned in cosmetics and externally applied drugs. However, it can sometimes still be found in sausage casings, oral medication, maraschino cherries, baked goods, and candies.
Red #40 (Allura Red)
Red dye #40 is one of the most-widely used and consumed dyes we have on the market, and also one with the most controversy. Studies have shown that it may accelerate the appearance of immune-system tumors in mice. It’s also known to cause hypersensitivity (allergy-like) reactions in some consumers and trigger hyperactivity in children. Red dye #40 is commonly used in beverages, bakery goods, dessert powders, candies, cereals, everyday foods, drugs, and cosmetics.
Yellow #5 (Tartrazine)
Yellow #5 can potentially cause severe hypersensitivity reactions and may trigger hyperactivity and other behavioral effects in children. This dye is commonly found in pet foods, bakery goods, beverages, dessert powders, candies, cereals, gelatin desserts, pharmaceutical drugs and cosmetics.
Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow)
Yellow #6 has shown to cause adrenal tumors in animals and occasionally causes severe hypersensitivity reactions. It can be found in colored bakery goods, cereals, beverages, dessert powders, candies, gelatin desserts, sausage, cosmetics, and drugs.
As you can see, food coloring and dyes can have dangerous consequences from their usage and is an important reason to always check your food labels before purchasing.
Never Use Conventional Food Coloring For Easter Eggs
Some people might feel that it’s safe to use conventional food coloring for their Easter eggs since they’ll just be removing the shell before eating, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Raw eggs have a natural protective barrier around the outside of the shell to prevent bacteria from penetrating the membrane and yolk, however when you boil an egg, that protective barrier gets destroyed leaving the shell very porous. That porous shell will allow anything you dip your egg into to absorb into the membrane and eventually into your body.
So using conventional dyes for your Easter eggs can end up absorbing those harmful chemicals that you or your children will end up consuming. What’s the alternative? Natural homemade dye with simple fruits, vegetables, and spices you have right at home!
How To Make All Natural Easter Egg Dye
I want to give a mild disclaimer about using natural dye versus conventional dye: your colors won’t be as bright and brilliant as conventional dye, but will be more subtle and rustic looking. I actually prefer the rustic look of natural dye as it really gives a homemade feeling to your Easter eggs!
Here are a few simple ingredients you’ll need for your desired egg color:
- Yellow to Dark Orange = Yellow Onion Skins
- Bright Yellow = Turmeric or Cumin
- Orange = Chili Powder
- Pink to Red = Red Beets
- Pink to Purple = Raspberries or Blackberries
- Pale Purple to Red = Red Onion Skins
- Blue = Red Cabbage or Frozen Blueberries
- Yellow-Green = Yellow or Green Apple Peels
- Green = Spinach
- Lavender = Purple Grape Juice (do not dilute)
- Tan to Brown = Coffee (do not dilute)
How To Make The Dye
- 3 Cups Veggie/Fruit/Spice of choice
- 3-4 Tbsp of Spices
- 3 Cups Water
- 2 Tbsp White Vinegar
- Large glass bowl
This recipe is super easy to make! Simply take 3 cups of chopped, mashed, or sliced veggies and/or fruit and boil them in 3 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. If using spices, 3-4 tablespoons of spice in 3 cups of water will be your measurement.
Let that simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes, or longer if you want a richer color. After simmering, strain the fruits or vegetables out and you’re remaining liquid will be your dye.
Soak your boiled eggs in the dye overnight, the hotter the water, the better. If your dye color isn’t intense enough the next day, heat the dye up again and soak the eggs for another 30 minutes or so. Your results will vary depending on the strength of your dye and how long you let the eggs soak in the dye, but you’ll still get a very beautiful pastel colored egg!
Add A Design Or Pattern
If you’re feeling more creative, you can add stripes, polka dots, or other patterns easily to the egg by using a white crayon or some beeswax to block out portions of the shell you don’t want the dye to touch.
Your finished result will be a matte finish, but if you’d like something more glossy, simply rug a bit of olive or vegetable oil to the egg-shell and polish with a soft cloth for a shiny finish.
Have you made your own natural egg dye at home? What are your favorite recipes?