Bloodroot is a woodland herb native to the northern United States and parts of Canada. It flowers in early spring and contains dark red roots. Its usage as a medicinal is well-documented but, with a full slate of warnings and cautions, it is not an herb to be taken lightly. The root portion is used alone, or in other compounds, for several different medicines to treat diverse conditions such as heart problems, sore throat, dental plaque, migraines, skin diseases, warts and tumors. The dark red sap extracted from the root is used as a die for wool, natural cloths and various yarns.
To make powdered bloodroot, don rubber gloves and cut the root into small pieces. Place in dehydrator to dry, then grind to powder with mortar and pestle (or use a small coffee grinder). The powder can be mixed with other concoctions to form a paste or salve. Use carefully.
To use as a dye, don rubber gloves and cut the blood root into small pieces. Tie the pieces up in cheesecloth to keep the dyebath clear and avoid the need to strain the mixture later.
Soak the cut-up roots in water, best to use an enameled pot, for 2 to 3 hours. Use about 2 gallons of water for each cup of root. Less water will make for a darker dye, but may not be as consistent.
Bring the mixture up to boiling and add the cloth. Use as much cloth as will fit into the pot without soaking up all the water. It needs to circulate freely. Simmer for about half an hour, or a little longer.
Carefully lift the cloth above the pot and add the salts, stirring well. The mordant, if used, is added at this time as well. Return the cloth to the pot and simmer an additional half hour.
Let cool. Remove cloth. Rinse and let dry. The mixture can be saved and frozen for additional use later.