Failed Dyeing Easter Eggs

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Failed Dyeing Easter Eggs

I failed dyeing Easter eggs. I don’t enjoy failed attempts at any activity, but learning what went wrong will prevent repeated mistakes. My egg dyeing went wrong. Now it is time to figure out why.

Gel Icing colors

Why does my egg have what looks like water spots on it–I used a drying rack?

They are water spots. While using a drying rack prevents the water from welling in egg cartons and creating water spots, it doesn’t stop it. If you did not allow the egg to drain well, it would still puddle on top of the egg as well on the bottom. Drain your eggs well. Turn eggs on the rack frequently and wick away wet spots with a paper towel when noted. Pat the egg with a paper towel when you think it is completely dry before returning it to the carton. Make sure the cups in your container are dry.

Why does my egg have scratches?

The scratches are caused by something metallic scratching off part of the dye. The below egg was removed from the cup using a bare metal tong. Use coated tongs or a spoon to remove an egg from a cup.

Why is the color of my egg splotchy?

Old gel dye will cause this to happen as well as failure to dissolve the dye completely. Use just boiled water poured while still steaming into the cup. Stir and stir some more.

Do not contaminate your gel. Use a new toothpick for every dip into the jar.

Failed Egg Dyeing
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Will leaving the egg in the dye for an extended period of time make the colors deeper?

No, once the dyed egg has reached max saturation-the egg is the same color as the dye water-it will not get any darker.

What about the pink speckles and other discolorations?

There are three causes. The dye wasn’t completely dissolved, a reaction to salts or too much vinegar. See the answer above for splotchy eggs that discusses undissolved dyes.

After I cleaned up dye spills created both by the Wilton gel colors and PAAS-which I suspect is using a liquid gel formula-I can verify that once you remove the base color, the stain left behind is pink.

A brief science lesson. Dyes (an acid) are created using salts. Once added to water, the salts dissolve, leaving the color part of the dye. The vinegar attracts the food dye to it. Then the vinegar etches the calcium on the eggshell allowing the egg to be dyed. For a detailed description, see THE SCIENCE BEHIND A PERFECTLY DYED EASTER EGG.

Adding more salt to the water creates problems as it makes it more alkaline. Don’t boil your water in a pot containing mineral deposits (salts). If you have hard water or use a softener, use distilled water.

You could try using more vinegar. See the discussion below under streaked eggs for additional information.

Another cause may be chlorinated city water. Allow your water to sit for a couple of hours before dyeing eggs.

Too much vinegar also creates problems. The vinegar reacts with the egg causing the shell to dissolve too quickly, creating bubbles.

Liquid food dye

Why does my egg have what looks like water spots on it, I used a dryer rack.

See this same question above under gel dyes for the causes.

Why does my egg have scratches?

The reason is the same as why gel-dyed eggs have this problem.

Failed Dyeing Easter Eggs 006
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Liquid food dye

Why are my eggs streaked?

Read about the science of egg dyes above under pink speckles. The bottom line is the pH of your water. If you have hard water, it will take more vinegar to get the dye to bind to the egg. When dyeing the above egg, I used the recommended one teaspoon per half cup of water. My water is hard, and there was not enough acid to allow the dyes to work.

If you have streaks, you shouldn’t use a tea kettle with mineral deposits. You could try distilled water. OR you can buy a pH kit and add vinegar until the water pH is four (the optimum pH for dyeing eggs). OR adjust the amount of vinegar you use until your eggs no longer show streaks. I increased my vinegar to one tablespoon per one-half cup of water and was satisfied with the results.

Why does my egg have white splotches all over?

You used too much vinegar. Reduce the amount you are using.

Why do I have a light spot on one side of my egg?

You failed to stir the egg periodically-about every five minutes. The egg sat on the bottom of the cup where the dye couldn’t soak into it.

Does using more dye help make colors darker and allow them to dye faster?

For most households, the more drops of dye you use, the darker the egg will be and the quicker it will dye to your desired color. I have hard water and discovered less dye and longer soaks work best for me. It is up to you to decide what works.

My dyed egg looks dull.

McCormick makes two different sets of dye-their regular and Neon. Using one type as the base color and adding a few drops of the other usually create vibrant colors. I am not familiar with other liquid food dyes. You can find “recipes” for coloring your eggs with a search.


Why are my eggs splotchy?

Did you add vinegar to the dye water? Don’t! Kool-Aid contains citric acid and usually does not require additional acid unless your water is super hard.

Does your city put chlorine in the water? Allow your tap water to sit for 2 hours, allowing the chlorine to dissipate before using. The rust-orange egg in the cup was dyed using aged water. It does not suffer the splotchy appearance of the same colored egg sitting on the table in front of it.

Did you leave the egg in the dye for an extended period? The citric acid will eat your eggshell.

Why does my egg have white spots?

Are there two of them on either side of the egg? Fingers touching a wet egg will pull the Kool-Aid dye off the egg. Keep touching to a minimum. Gloves seem to cause the least damage.

The white spots may be caused by wet spots on the egg. Use the tip of a paper towel to wick wet spots off the egg and turn it frequently. When you think the egg is dry, wipe it with a paper towel. Make sure your egg carton does not have water sitting in the cup. Any moisture in the cup will cause discoloration.

Allowing the water to cool to room temperature before use helps to prevent colors from being pulled off when handling.

It may also be due to chlorinated water.

Why is there powder on my egg?

My first Kool-Aid egg had powder on it. After I allowed the tap water to sit for a couple of hours before using it, my next Kool-Aid egg did not have this issue. See above.

Take a paper towel and wipe off the powder. The color may be somewhat streaky but it will be pretty.

Will leaving the egg in the dye create darker colors?

After 5 minutes, no, it usually won’t, and it will make a mess out of your egg if left in the cup for an extended period of time-pits and creates “powder” on the egg.

Experiment and see what works for you. If you have a tip, please tell us in the comments below. If you want your eggs near perfection when using vinegar with the dye, buy a pH kit and adjust until you get a reading of four.

My eggs still have issues, but now I have a better idea of what went wrong.

For more information, see:

Boiled Easter Egg Safety

Decorating Easter Eggs

Easter Egg Dye Experiment

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