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Making a Prereduced Indigo Vat

This is a quick reminder on how to create a prereduced indigo vat. More detail comes with the kits and full length video workshops are on the way!

Pre-Reduced Indigo "C16H10N2O2"  Pre-reduced indigo is fermented, chemically altered and air dried to form crystals that dissolve in water quickly. It still has to be chemically altered further to bond to fibers, but in this form it is easier to maintain and can last a while, but not as long as a traditional vat. Benefits to pre-reduced indigo vats are shorter dips, consistent blues, easier to start, quicker to start. No need to check pH balance, and allows you to use soda ash instead of lye. There is a shorter life to the vat, but I have had successful dips for a month if vat is properly tended to.  Jacquard brand, which I use in  my beginner shibori classes, is 60% pre-reduced indigo and freeze dried, dissolving faster, and still retaining the other unique properties of indigo. However IT IS NOT NATURAL, and don't believe people that say it is.  The chemical compound is exactly the same as real natural indigo, but it is a petroleum byproduct.


Preparing a Pre-Reduced Vat (5 gallon) The ideal container is round, made of hard plastic, glass, stainless steel, or enamel. Container should provide the most room to dye without touching the bottom while limiting surface area exposed to air.  When storing, cover to reduce contact to oxygen.

Pre-Reduced Vat Recipe 

(Always use suggested recipe from indigo source, and then alter as you see fit. Mixing should be some in a well ventilated area and if not with ventilator mask at least a clothe face covering. Children and those sensitive to chemicals or breathing issues should not be in the area when missing occurs.)

  • 20g prereduced indigo
  • 50g reducing agent (Hydro) powdery and sulfur based.
  • 100g soda ash (alkaline)
  • 4.5 gallons warm tap water in 5 gallon bucket 

*Start with recommended and alter as needed to achieve desired blues. Keep the proportions as best you can. Most dye recipes will benefit from weight measurements.

  1. Fill container with room temperature water. Storage temperature between 68-85℉.  Too cold or hot can hinder your blues, but tap water is fine to start you off.
  2. Creating a whirlpool, without touching sides or bottom using a rod or poll (spoons cause to many bubbles), add soda ash, indigo, then reducing agent carefully and with caution.
  3. Once mixed through, stop stirring to slow whirlpool by; pausing in the vat, going the outside edge with poll, then hugging the outside go the opposite direction of the whirlpool slowly.  This will grab the bubbles from the side of the bucket and swirl them to the top to create the "flower" or "bana."
  4. Let vat settle for 15-30 minutes. It will be a crisp green when ready.


Shibori Resist techniques have been in use for 1300 years and break down into a few broader categories:

  1. Hand knotting with tool
  2. Stitching
  3. Pleating
  4. Folding and Clamping
  5. Machine Aiding (starting 1970s)

“In shibori there is a right and traditional way but there rarely exists a wrong way.”

Comes from the Japanese word Shiboru: to tie, squeeze or wring out.

More details coming soon...Proper dipping technique and aftercare HERE.

Prereduced Indigo kit shown available here. You can also purchase the materials separately.

Natural indigo dye kit here. A different recipe is needed, which you are sent with purchase of the kit.





  • Daniel, I know! It’s a shock for many. But knowing what we use I think is really important.

    Chemically an aniline dye and a prereduced indigo dye just work differently. Aniline is actually used to make preredcued indigo. Fun fact; Aniline comes from the word Anil which means indigo in latin. The first synthetic dye (mauve) came from a chemist actually looking to make synthetic indigo! His son years later discovered that!
    Some find either easier to use. Both are petroleum based, and I find that concerning.

    I am pretty confident using my organic all natural vat, so find it easy/easier. Chemical vats tend to oxidize quickly leaving you less time to dye with them in a session.
    I say to everyone working in dyeing, start small working organically. Confidence is what stops many most of the time.

    I think it’s a choice we all must make, how much our work impacts the environment. I’m certainly not perfect, but always try to be better and better, and less and less impactful on the enviroment.

  • what would be the difference between using aniline in dark blue color and fake pre reduced indigo? I did got beautiful blues but I still wonder if I could achieve them with regular synthetic and easier to use dyes… or even if I will ever get those tones with organic indigo if I ever recover from this shock.

    Daniel Alejandro Andrade Torres
  • I feel like a stupid ass, I’ve been telling myself that even though it’s chemically pre reduced, it is still deep down natural from origin. meaning a natural dye. I wish I knew it wasn’t before I went to town dying and thinking it wasn’t the best as organic indigo but still my dying was in part natural. Sooo stupid of me not to research further. I will accept the paler blue tones of the indigo fructose vat as gold from now on.

    Daniel Alejandro Andrade Torres

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