Standards for Indian henna powder (and the dye is: *drum roll*)
Posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on September 16, 2002 at 20:39:08:I got the article on the quality of henna exports from India, and
thought you'd enjoy this even though the publishing date is 1989
"Study of Quality Characteristics of Henna",
Chourasia, Sardar, Patil, Mathew,
Kanpur, India: Essential Oil Association of India
The article surveyed henna leaves and powder commercially produced in
India, for the Department of Marketing and Inspection, Central Agmark
Laboratory. 36 samples of henna leaves and 49 henna powders were
analyzed ans subjected to microscopic inspection.
"Major contaminants /adulterants in henna leaves are stems, dirt,
plant waste and other leaves. However in case of henna powder
admixture of dyed sand is observed. It shas been reported that for
adulteration, finely ground local sand is used. It is first dyed with
auramine yellow (C.I. No. 41000) and then green diwht diamond green
(C.I. No. 20440). This is then mixed with pure henna powder. The
extent of adulteraion is viarable in accordance wiht the proce of the
powder reflected therein.
"Added azo dyes were not found in henna leave samples, but yellow and
green coal tar dyes were observed in powdered samples. As mentioned
earlier, this may be due to the presence of (the afore mentioned dyed
sand). Unlike Lawsone, the natural color of henna, these added
synthetic azo-dyes used for dyeing the sand or for polishing the
leaves are having harmful effect on the skin. It is, therefore,
necessary to ensure that these artificial dyes are not there in the
The paper goes on to list a standard for henna leaves and powder in
terms of color, organic extraneous matter, inorganic extraneous
matter, total ash, , acid insolubles, Lawsone content, moisture and
Special class is termed "bright green", good is "green" and fair is
The recomendation to the Directorate of Marketing and Inspection for
henna powder is that 99% shall pass through a 500 micron I.S. sieve,
that the powder be free from extraneous matter and added colouring
matter, and that it be obtained form dried leaves of Lawsonia.
That was as of 1989.
God bless the gradgrind and the academic infopipeline that allows me
to get my hot little hands on otherwise unobtainable articles like this!
Every blessed sample of henna I've got from India shows green dye
under the microscope, most of them have chunkymatter that's not going
through a 500 micron seive no way, and I know of at least one that was
shipped out as 100% henna powder when it was mixed by half with
another leaf. Hello? Samples from Morocco, Pakistan, Yemen and Iran
came up a helluva lot cleaner! And ... it's for durn sure that
"bright green" has precisely JACK to do with stain results!
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