top of page

Red Sandalwood, (Pterocarpus santalinus), with the common names Red Sanders, Red Sandalwood, Rakt Chandan and Saunderswood.


This tree is valued for the rich red colour of its wood. Red sandalwood is not aromatic and should not be confused with regular sandalwood which is very aromatic. It has cooling properties similar to Sandalwood and is traditionally used for medicinal purposes. It is regarded to have excellent anti-bacterial properties that fight against both gram positive and gram-negative bacteria. It is proven to be effective against bacterial such as Staphylococcus Aureus, Bacillus Subtilis and Escherichia Coli. It is because of these anti-bacterial properties that it is used extensively for skin care. Red sandalwood is also used for religious ceremonious.

Red Sandalwood dye

  • Red sandalwood contains a red dye, which is not soluble in water and an attractive rusty-brown dye which can be extracted in hot water. There are some recipes suggesting to get deeper colours soaking the sandalwood bark or powder in rubbing alcohol.

    Note: Rubbing alcohol is not recommended for use at home due to its high flammability.

  • Botanical name: Pterocarpus santalinus

    Common names: Sandalwood, Sanderswood, Red Sandalwood

    Primary dyestuff: Heartwood (powder)

    Key components: Two isomers of santalol (about 75%).

    Class of dye: Insoluble in water with good tannin content

    Light and wash-fastness: Light fastness improves substantially with mordanting

    Colour: Yields oranges, browns and auburn shades of colour.

    pH sensitivity: Medium

    Dye bath method: Hot dyeing.

    For soft peach and pinks you can unlock the colour by preparing a thick paste adding hot water stiring constantly and then add more water slowly to mix the powder.  You can add modifiers changing the Ph to achieve a wider range of hues.

    For the deepest colours, use a ratio of 1 to 1 dyestuff to fabric, or 2 oz dye to 2 oz fabric, but you can still get good colours using much less dye. We used about 3-4 tablespoons per mt of fabric. The dye bath can be reused to get lighter shades.

    Experimentation is the best way to determine the right amount of dye for the type of fabric you are using and the color.

    We found the silk and bamboo silk absorbed the colors the deepest. Some cottons will yield different and deeper shades using Tara Powder (a form of tannic acid) as a mordant with soda ash as an assist.

    Recommended quantity of dye:

    100% - 200% WOF powder

    Swatch: Organic linen, habotai silk, peace silk, bamboo silk, cotton-silk, and bamboo jersey. Samples dip dyed into modified pH solutions for 5 mins. Colours achieved for reference only and we encourage you to experiment further.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
bottom of page