Coloring Soap, Do it Naturally!
I hope all of our US readers had a great Labor Day weekend with friends and family. For our friends everywhere else, I hope your weekend was enjoyable, as well.
Today, we’ll explore natural soap colorants. If you recall, in my last blog post I promised to write about them, so I’ve been combing my notes to share information with you. As anyone using natural colorants knows, it’s a complicated topic, and to cover it all thoroughly, I’d be writing a book, not a blog post. Therefore, I’ll keep it to mostly those I’ve personally used.
So many colorants are used, and in several different ways. Some are best infused in water, others in oil and a few in lye water!. Many herbs and such are added as powders or purees at trace. One of the most important things to know, however, is that the colors usually fade in time. Few natural colorants keep their color. If you’re an m&p soapmaker, by the way, powdered colorants are for you, but don’t use much!
Here are some natural colorants commonly used in soapmaking. Most of these, I have tried and have included my results for; but not all:
Yellow – Calendula (I’ve never gotten intense color with an infusion, but more with powder), turmeric, chamomile flowers (powdered), annatto seed (great color, but some are allergic. Infuse in oil) and pureed carrots (yes, yellow)
Orange- paprika (don’t use much!), pureed pumpkin (really nice as a portion of the water amount), safflower petals (haven’t tried it, but sounds good), ground rosehips (peach)
Green – dill weed (bright green that fades quickly), ground parsley (good, but expect fading), French green clay (try infusing in lye water), kelp (be prepared for the smell), ground spearmint (green to brown)
Brown – comfrey root, cocoa powder, wheatgrass powder (green to light brown), beet root, cinnamon and cloves (but I suggest not using them since they are irritants), tea (green, black or white), coffee grounds, berries, corn silk (attractive gray/brown)
Purple – Alkanet (if you’re lucky. Infuse in oil first), Madder Root, Red Sandalwood Powder (brown/purple)
Blue – Indigo (don’t go overboard because it stains), woad (I haven’t used either of these)
Red/Pink – cochineal (yes, ground bugs), Moroccan Red clay (brick red), Rose pink clay (pink, but deeper if infused in lye water)
When it comes to natural colorants, experimentation is to be expected. Depending upon the method used to extract the color or to add it to soap, results vary widely.
It’s also important to note that the FDA requires approved colorants to used in cosmetics, so be aware. Fortunately, most natural colorants also lend cosmetic properties to soap that make them advantageous to use.
If you’re willing to work with the inconsistencies of natural colorants, you’ll find a whole world of possibility at your fingertips. If you’ve used these or others, tell us how they worked for you!
Speaking of fingertips, have you seen your new copy of the Saponifier? Our writers have worked hard to give you a great issue sure to be helpful in preparing for the holidays!
Until next time, may your days be full of bubbles and wax–and colors!
Beth Byrne for the Saponifier