Our prickly pear wine turned out quite drinkable and we froze the peels with still lots of fruit until I did my twice/year Costco shopping and needed all the freezer space. Unfortunately, Rocket the unruly pig pulled the tub with the prickly pear off a table outside 🙁   Lost a lot of juice.

We just started lime washing some of the lumber in the new shed and it’s a good time to test tinting our lime.

Here’s a great video on tinting lime with cactus juice, but unfortunately they used Type S instead of slaked quicklime:

A very informative post about dyeing wool with prickly pear fruits


I so appreciate people sharing their failures so we can improve our techniques and can avoid their mistakes!

Interesting comments:

I have heard that if you leave the cactus fruit to ferment with the yarn/wool/fiber for about two weeks, it will dye light and colorfast.

I tried it with pomegranate (I have to buy whatever, and the grocery was out of cactus fruit), but got nothing, but it was also cold and rainy the two weeks that I tried it. I didn’t mordant the wool, either.

Another comment:
Living in the southern Utah desert, I too want to use the prickly pear cactus fruit for dyeing. My cousin gave me a gallon of the juice, but I used it strictly for jelly.
I spoke to a man who sells Navajo rugs – he showed me a sample of wool dyed with prickly pear fruit. It was a lovely salmon color. He said to soak the fruit in cold water for 10 days. I don’t know what mordant was used, but another site talking about prickly pear cactus juice dyeing said using tannic acid would produce a red color. I don’t know if that means just throwing in a bunch of tea bags. The site didn’t say anything about color fastness, but it would be worth a try. It’s not like there’s a shortage of the fruit around here. 🙂
And another:
I have used prickly pear dye for many years….i read that it is a fermenting process and I leave the felt in the juice (no water, no mordant, no heat) for up to 2 weeks in a warm location. I squish it with my hands daily. I have great results that do fade over time but are worth the enjoyment as long as it lasts. This year I re dyed a couple of things and they are great, and showing no fade…but all things will fade in direct sun.
I sure wish I’d read that a few weeks ago!

Science with way more info than I understand:

Eco-friendly and protective natural dye from red prickly pear (Opuntia Lasiacantha Pfeiffer) plant


My head is spinning, I can’t even read all that.   Is Tannin “tannic acid?”

A little easier to read here:


And I somehow lost the link where I found this info:

… In our study, betalain pigment extracted from red prickly pear is used for dyeing wool; this dye is water soluble and has to be fixed to make the color fast or permanent, using fixatives or mordents, and it is stable in pH range of 4–7. …

“… dyeing without salt addition is the best condition.”

“… prickly pear dye is highly effective antimicrobial against all tested microorganisms.”

Sadly, most of my prickly pear outside the garden areas died during the 2-year drought.  Had planned on growing lots as they can be eaten and have all sorts of great properties.   I’ll replant.

What is “mordant”?


… A mordant or dye fixative is a substance used to set (i.e., bind) dyes on fabrics. It does this by forming a coordination complex with the dye, which then attaches to the fabric (or tissue).[1] It may be used for dyeing fabrics or for intensifying stains in cell or tissue preparations. …

How does it apply to paint?

A $20 tutorial:

Painting with Mordants Tutorial- One Pot, One Dye: Many Colors


$10/month: https://www.thedogwooddyer.com/workshops1

I’d pay for it if it focused on our desert plants.