Black walnut has many uses both topically and internally. Black walnut hulls can be removed from fresh black walnuts, cut into small pieces, and dried. Alternatively, dried black walnut can be used. Either of these forms can be used to create tinctures or dyes for hair and clothing.

Before Getting Started

Before working with black walnut it is important to understand that the black pigments can dye or stain anything. As such, precautions need to be made.

  • It is a good idea to wear older clothing that you won’t mind staining during the process.
  • Wearing gloves to protect your hands and throwing down a drop cloth is also helpful.
  • Keep in mind that any towels or cloths coming into contact with the dye or the hair immediately afterward may pick up some of the pigment.
  • Keep them out of reach of children in case of accidental internal consumption. Also keep them out of reach of pets as they can be toxic to some animals.

What You'll Need

How to Create Black Walnut Dye

  1. Bring two cups of water to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, add ½ cup of black walnut hulls and stir. Allow this to steep for several hours.
  3. Strain off the hulls, squeezing all of the liquid from the cheesecloth or coffee filter as needed.

How to Use Black Walnut Dye

  • After shampooing as usual, apply this mixture directly to the hair, starting with just ½ cup. Work this into the hair and scalp by massaging with the tips of your fingers. Add more, depending on how long and thick your hair is and how dark you wish to make your hair.
  • Finish by squeezing any excess from the hair and into a bathtub. Dry the hair loosely with a towel and then use a hair dryer to set the color and dry the hair further.

Keep in Mind

Note that this natural hair darkener is not like chemically-laden commercial hair dyes. The pigment darkens the hair for a period of time but will wash out over time, with more frequent shampoos pulling the color from the hair faster.

To maintain the color, a small amount of the remaining black walnut hull mixture can be mixed with shampoo when washing the hair. This will replenish some of the pigment that would otherwise wash away.