Using a Crock Pot / Instant Pot is an easy and foolproof way to dye release your henna or other herbal hair colors!
I’ve been recommending this method to my customers for a few months now, and I’m happy to share it with everyone!
IMPORTANT!: Read all of these instructions–some people have been overcooking their henna because they are not checking the temperature of their crock pot. We’re aiming for about 110F-115F (37F-46C). This is a very, very low heat. If your henna is getting too cooked, your crock pot is likely too hot. You can also pre-warm the crock pot on the lowest setting, put your henna in and turn off the crock pot and let the radiant heat do the work for you. If you do this, check on it often and give it another nudge of heat if it starts to cool down to room temperature.
We’re aiming for “a sunny window in a warm place in the world where henna grows natively.” This method was designed by someone who lives in Minnesota and has a cold house in the winter–so cold that proper dye release was a challenge. So the goal isn’t to cook the beejezus out of your henna, it’s to create a nice, moisture-locked toasty place to dye release.
In the free full-color brochure that comes with all my herbal I recommend to set the bowl someplace warm, ideally, a temperature of about 100°F (~38°C) for 2-4 hours; the time and warmth releases the dye and conditioning elements. I do get questions about the best place to do this, however, especially from people who keep their houses cool. Crock pots and Instant Pots to the rescue!
If you have a programmable crock pot or Instant Pot this method is fan-freaking-tastic for being able to have your henna ready and waiting for you when you get home / wake up. You can just mix up the henna, set it in the room-temperature crock pot, and set it to come on a few hours before you’d like it to be ready.
All you need is a Crock Pot / Instant Pot, water, and henna!
The great thing about this method is that it’s so self-contained. I used to set my henna bowl on top of my computer tower because it was nice and warm, and my cats have nearly, and successfully, knocked it over more than once. Other methods, like preheating the oven, turning the oven off, and letting the henna sit inside work, too, but this method uses much less energy.
Step 1: Mix up your henna / herbal hair color like normal
Just add water, your favorite herbal rinse, or, in my case, water and a shot of Selkie Herbal Detangler. If you missed my post about henna & Selkie, check it out, it’s fantastic for making your henna extra-hydrating and easy to rinse out. And it smells great, too.
Step 2: Fill the Crock Pot / Instant Pot with water, and set your henna bowl inside
Add water (I used warm tap water) to the bottom of the crock pot. I added about 1/2-1 inch, but anything lower than the lip of your bowl is fine.
There’s no need to cover the bowl with plastic wrap. The lid of the crock pot or Instant Pot will keep everything nice and hydrated!
Step 3: Set your Crock Pot or Instant Pot to “Warm”
Put the lid on your crock pot or Instant Pot and set it to ‘warm’ or ‘keep warm’. The exact temperature of this is going to vary with each device, so either use the included probe to check the temp, set it manually if your device allows, or put a baking thermometer inside and check on it until you get a feel for what temperature your device works at.
If you’re using an Instant Pot, the yogurt function keeps the temp at around 110F-115F and is perfect for this. Make sure you’re using the yogurt and it shows the time, not ‘yogurt and boil’ which goes up to 180F.
Step 4: Wait 2-4 hours
My crock pot crept up from room temp to 98F all the way up to 120F where it held steady. Inside was a nice, warm, moisture-rich environment for my Fire Genasi to dye release at. I left mine in there for 3 hours (vs the 4 I normally do on the warming burner on my electric stove), and had beautiful dye release!
The only caution is not to over-cook it. Doing this method gives you fast, beautiful dye release, but if you keep the henna warm like this too long, it can and will accelerate the rate at which the dye demises. If your crock pot or Instant Pot has an auto-off or timer feature, you can set it to turn off entirely after 2-4 hours.
Give it a try!
If you use this method, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Also, if you know other hennaheads or henna artists that might like this method, please share it with them.
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3 thoughts on “Crock Pot / Instant Pot Henna for Perfect Dye Release”
I did Fire Genasi in my crock pot today. I might have cooked it a bit ( newbie) as the mud was a dark chocolate brown, with no red in it but it has dyed my hair a very unusual but nice colour- I’m hard pressed to describe it- a sort of tawny copper ( with the grey in my hair sparkling gold). It’s night time right now, so I’m looking forward to seeing it in daylight.
I tried this method, and I think I might have gotten my henna mix too hot, but my color dyed beautifully! I made a double batch and froze it in portions, as usual. The only thing is, I found that the Instant-pot lid dripped some extra water into my mix, but it wasn’t enough to spoil it. I’ll just cover it next time. Thank you or this method!
That makes me SO happy to hear! I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on it, so I’m thinking I might update the instruction brochure with this method before I reprint it next time!