Dye is a substance that has affinity to the substrate to which it is being applied. Such as, textile fibers, foodstuffs & powder. From archeological evidence, it is seen that in India & in Middle East dyeing has been carried out for over 5,000 years, which were obtained from animal, vegetable or mineral origin. The greatest source of this dye was mainly from plant kingdom; mainly roots, bark, leave & wood. Dye from Bixa (Annatto) seed is one type of natural dye which can be used as dyeing agent for coloring textile fibers like cotton, wool, silk & for making colorful Gulal as well as in food industry. Bixin, the pigment extracted from the red-colored seeds, can be used as coloring agent for this purpose. It is non-carcinogenic in nature & so does not affect human body or environment. An attempt is being made in laboratory scale to extract the natural pigment from the Bixa seeds & its application in different fields such as textiles, Gulal & food Industry.


Chemical dyes & coloured powders are made from chemical reagents. These chemical reagents are harmful towards the human body & have toxic effects on skin. As a result of which, there is a demand for dyes & coloured powders (gulal) being produced from natural sources. Being natural in origin these herbal dyes & gulals do not pose health hazards1,2,3,4,5 & are safe for human use. This project work focused mainly on the production of dye & gulal from Bixa seeds (Annatto sp). Experiments were also done on the extraction of flaral dye from marigold, hibiscus etc. In the laboratory scale , dye was extracted from flowers ( marigold, hibiscus etc ) & seeds ( bixa ) by water extraction method. Fabrics ( like cotton, silk) were dyed & coloured powder ( gulal ) was produced with these dyes. The TDS & Metal Concentration in these samples were measured. Finally, bacteriological tests were conducted on these samples , the bacteria being isolated & identified.

Experimental procedure:


Bixa Seeds:

Bixa is a small tree found throughout the hotter parts of India. Bixa is cultivated for its seeds in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala & West Bengal as orange-red colour is found from its which can be used as dyeing materials for colour fibres and making colourful powder. It occurs in two forms: White flowers & green capsules other with pink flowers & red capsules. The seeds which are dry, hard, bright red & have a characteristics smell are considered good for dyeing. The unmordanted cotton gives dull shades but using proper mordant, the colour & brightness of the colouring cloth is increased. The colourful dye extracted from bixa is non-carcinogenic. From Literature, it is seen that due to its non-toxic nature, dye is extensively used in dairy-industry for colouring butter, ghee, cheese, margarine, ice cream, chocolate, meats, cereals, confectionary, spices etc. In Latin America, the seeds are fried in fat & the colour part is used to tent rice, gravies & stew. It is used as an ingredient in hair oils, shoe-polishes, soap, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals ointments. It can also be used in adsortion-indicator in agrentometric titrations.


Common Name




Parts used for dyeing

Colour Index

: Annatto, Arnato, Chinese Dye Tree, Lipstick tree, Saffron Tree.

: Bixaceae

: Tropical America, Brazil, East West Indies

  & widely cultivated in Asia & Africa.

: Seeds, Dried pulp of fruits.

: C.I. Natural Orange 4 (C.I. 75120)