Go Forth and Color: Ultramarines and Oxides

 In three installments, we have reviewed the various types of colorants that can be used in soap and bath and body products.  We’ve talked natural colorants, such as spices and herbs, as well as FD&C dyes and micas.

 

Finally, in our series on colorants, we explore ultramarines and oxides.  Many soapmakers think they are “from the earth” natural, but that isn’t quite true, and it’s a good thing!  At one time, these colorants were used, but it was found that they contained contaminants such as arsenic.  Since then, they have been lab-created, free of toxins, to be what is termed, “nature identical.”

 

 Ultramarines and oxides have long been used in soap and cosmetics.  Users like them because they generally remain true to color in products and are inexpensive considering the amounts needed to provide color.  Use a small amount for pastel color and more for intense color.  These are matte colorants.  Mix ultramarines in a bit of water or glycerin before adding them to your soap base and add oxides to a bit of your soapmaking oils before adding them to your base so that they don’t clump or speckle.

 

They are used for mineral makeup and for bath and body products, but again, test them before you sell to make sure you’re product is not oozing color all over the tub, shower and washcloths.  Customers are not generally happy when that happens!

 

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is often included in this category, but it is unique in that it occurs naturally in minerals and is extracted for use in dozens of applications other than bath and body, from food to siding to paper.

 

Now, you have it.  Go forth and color!

 

Until next time, may your days  be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

The Wonderful World of Colorants: FD&C Colors

This is the third in our series on soap colorants.  We’ve discussed natural colorants and micas; so today, we turn our attention to FD&C colorants.

 

First of all, what does FD&C stand for?  It refers to the FDA’s Food, Drug & Cosmetic approved colorants.  Each color is approved for specific uses and the color title indicates which uses the colorant is appropriate for.  If a color is named, FD&C Red #40, for instance, the product is approved by the FDA for food, drugs & cosmetics.  If it’s labeled D&C Red #34, on the other hand, it’s approved for drugs (used externally) and cosmetics.  Knowing this makes it easy as a formulator to determine which products each colorant may be used in.

 

FD&C colorants:  These are dyes which permeate the product and thus, are likely to bleed in soapmaking.  If your soap is one color, you have no worries.  If you want a distinct pattern, however, you’ll probably be disappointed.  These colors are intense and easy to use, as well as inexpensive, but they don’t always like alkalines, so their use in CP or HP soap is sketchy.  Most manufacturers who sell these also provide or sell charts that instruct how they should be used in soap and other products.  When you see a color followed by a number such as D&C Yellow Number 11, you’ll know this product is a dye.  These colorants, by the way, are often used for melt and pour soaps and other cosmetics, as appropriate, because they color well and reliably; whereas, they are trickier in CP soap.

 

You may have heard the term, “Lake” used in conjunction with colorants.  They are FD&C type colorants, but you will see these labeled like the other FD&C (or D&C) colorants, except for the addition of the metal substrate used.  For example, the additional descriptor, “Aluminum Lake” would be added at the end.

 

As with all colorants, it’s always smart to test colorants out before adding them to large batches of soap or other products!

 

Stay tuned for our final installment, Oxides and Ultramarines.

 

 

PS:  Don’t forget to vote for your favorite design entries in our DesignMania contest!  http://saponifier.com/vote-design-mania-contest/

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Coloring Soap and Cosmetics With Mica

Continuing on in our series on soap colorants:

We talked last time about natural colorants such as herbs and purees.  Today, I’d like to talk about man made colorants, specifically micas.

 

If you want strong color, you’ll likely be using micas, FD&C colors, Lakes or pigments.  Therefore, you’ll want to know the differences between them so that you know how to get the result you desire in your soap and avoid disappointment.

 

Micas are lab created versions of natural micas found in the earth plus oxides, etc. added for color.  The mica itself is called “nature identical,” but the added colorants may not be.  They come in every color of the rainbow, and more–shimmer, glitter and metallic types included.  They may be used without caution for melt and pour soap, but might morph or disappear before your very eyes in cold process/hot process soap!  I’ll never forget the green I once added, only to make a lovely purple in my cold process batch.

 

If you’d like to use your micas in CP/HP, be sure to do a bit of research to find out how each one works in soap.  Some vendors offer lists or reviews on how each mica they offer works in soap.

 

Additionally, some micas bleed, while others do not.  If you see a dye in the INCI, it will probably bleed, so use it accordingly.  (Bleeding refers to color migrating into the the rest of the soap, not necessarily on to washcloths, and such)  Micas are a staple in mineral makeup and other body products, but be sure to ask for recommendations and experiment with small batches to make sure the colorant works.  For instance, you don’t want the colorant from bath salts clinging to the tub. I can pretty much guarantee that your customers will not be happy!

 

To add micas to soap, mix directly into soap or into a bit of rubbing alcohol for melt & pour or a small amount of soap that you add to the batch for CP/HP.  Most soapmakers find them quite easy to incorporate.

 

As for makeup and other cosmetics, research the colorant used in your mica to determine whether or not it is an approved colorant for your application.  For instance, green oxide is not permitted in the US for lip colorants.  Each country and the EU has its own standards for colorant use.

 

Next time, we will talk about pigments.

 

Until then, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

 

PS:  Don’t forget to vote for your favorite design entries in our DesignMania contest!  http://saponifier.com/vote-design-mania-contest/

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

The Wonderful World of Soap Colorants

Color, color, color!  Although I know that some of you prefer not to add color to your soaps, a great many of you wouldn’t make a batch without.  Why is that?  Is a soap not as good uncolored as it is colored?  Of course it is!  A soap’s performance is not dependent upon color; however, our desire to add color is still important to us and often, to our customers or the recipients of our gifts.  

 

As many soap artisans are truly artists, the appeal of color and design is just too important to bypass and half the fun of making soap is creating colorful designs.  Nevertheless, color isn’t important only to the more fanciful among us, but even to those of us who make simpler, one-colored soaps or other not-so-fancy soaps.  If we’re making soap that smells like the ocean for instance, we want color that is reminiscent of the ocean, and it makes sense that a rosemary mint soap be green.  Moreover, we want our orange scented soap to be. . . well, orange.

 

Even still, many of us are still confused by color.  We don’t know which colorants to use or how to use them properly.  Our colors morph or speckle or disappear.  How do these soapmakers do it, we ask?  Seeing the beautifully swirled and otherwise colored soaps of our sisters and brothers in the soaping world, we know it can be done, but how?

 

I can’t do the topic justice in just a blog post, but the most common colorants for soap are:

1.    Herbs and spices (and other natural sources of color)

2.    Ultramarines & oxides

3.    FD&C

4.    Micas

 

Which one(s) you choose depend upon a few different factors, such as the kind of soap you’re making.  Some colorants that work well in melt and pour soap do not work well under the high pH of cold or hot process soap.  Sometimes, for the effect we want, a bleeding colorant will add to the design; other times, a non-bleeding colorant is imperative.  A number of soapmakers want to use only natural colorants obtained by infusing or powdering herbs, spices and other naturally-derived agents, whether for their properties in the soap for strictly for color.

 

Your first task is to decide what is important to you when choosing colorants.  If bright colors and crisp designs are at the top of your priority list, for instance, choose ultramarines and oxides or micas.  If your desire is beautiful coloring that is easily  mixed into the soap, and you’re making a once-color batch or you want your colors to blend a bit, then FD&C colors are just fine.  If you’re looking for natural colorants, it’s herbs, spices, etc.  Once you decide, you can purchase your colorants and you’re on your way to making colorful soaps.

 

In my next post, I’ll go into more detail about natural colorants.

 

Speaking of color and design, don’t forget to enter our contest!  Details can be found here:   http://saponifier.com/design-mania-contest-submissions/

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with colored bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

Design Mania!

By now, we at the Saponifier hope that you have perused and enjoyed this current issue.  We hope that you liked it so much, as a matter of fact, that you’re busily trying all of the lovely soap designs offered.

 

How’s it going?  Are you so pleased with the tutorials and your creations that you’re busting at the seams?  We’re so excited to see what you’ve done that we’re sponsoring a contest we’re calling, Design Mania.  We want you to show off your amazing designs!

 

Here’s how it will work:

 

Submit photos of your best soaps among the tutorials offered in the July/August issue.  You may enter a total of two photos, but they must each be from a different category:

  1. Drop Swirl

  2. Tiger Stripe Technique

  3. Paint Chip Technique

  4. Peacock Swirl

  5. Squeeze Bottle Swirl

You may submit your photos by filling out the form on the website between August 26th and September 9th, 2013.  We will then post your photos on the Saponifier website.  Beginning September 16 and ending September 30, the public will vote on their favorite soap in each category.  The winner from each technique will receive a prize!

 

Note that the form won’t be up on the website until August 26th; so, until then, get soaping and clicking.

 

Until next time,

 

Beth Byrne, for the Saponifier

The Soapmaker’s Sweet Spot

What kind of soapmaker are you?  Do you plan out your offerings far in advance?  Do you spend time developing intricate designs and precise colors?  Or, do you make soap as the spirit moves you?  Do you prefer soap with simpler colors and patterns, either because you’re not the fancy kind or to speed production?

 

A more important question to consider is whether it’s important or not to plan far ahead, to make artistically designed soaps, to be a free spirit or to keep it simple.

 

The answer, of course is, it depends–on a number of factors.

 

For some of soapmakers, simply making soap is the satisfaction, be it fancy or simple, unusually shaped or rectangle, scented or not, it doesn’t matter.  The magic of combining the alkali and oils and getting lovely soap is a reward unto itself.  For others, the design part of making soap is a large part of the attraction.  Artistic souls are moved by the possibilities of making patterns in striking color combinations and it keeps them going.

 

As for planning, well, planners know whom they are and free-spirits know whom they are!  For some, planning is painful and stifles creativity, so they make what they want when the spirit moves them.  Others find that careful planning  is the only way to get soap made and made well.

 

So then, should we all be striving for the same outcome?  Absolutely not!

 

If you’re selling soap, you realize that all things about your nature must be tempered by business demands.  It’s a simple fact that you cannot run a successful business without a good degree of planning, regardless of whether you enjoy it or not.  You also realize that you need to produce soap as quickly and as efficiently as possible in order to maximize time and thus, profits.  This realization usually forces us to streamline our creativity into something that we can do easily and can reasonably replicate.  Hobbyists, on the other hand, you have the freedom to spend as much time as you like to develop your skills and put your artistic abilities to work.

 

Even so, I hope that each soapmaker finds his or her “sweet spot.”  Gorgeous or utilitarian, rectangular or round, full of additives or not, well-planned or by-the-seat-of-your-pants, all have a place and a purpose.  Finding your purpose and working with your personality is the key to success, however you define it.  The Saponifier’s goal is to open you up to the possibilities to help you on your way.

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles & wax.

 

Beth Byrne, for the Saponifier

 

PS – Subscribers, watch your inbox today for the 15th anniversary issue!  If you’re not a subscriber, quick!  You have a little time to make sure you get in on the fun:  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

We Can’t Wait!

We’re so excited about this upcoming issue of the Saponifier!  Due to be released on July 1st, it is our 15th anniversary edition.  To celebrate, we wanted this one to be beautiful, fun and full of design ideas for making cold process soap.  We affectionately call it, “DesignMania.”  Some of the best in the biz are showing off their design tutorials, along with plenty of photos so that you can learn these techniques to try on your own.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?

 

What?  You’re not a subscriber?  You can fix that, you know!  Readers worldwide subscribe to the Saponifier since it’s a digital publication–no shipping to worry about.  You have your magazine right at your fingertips with just a download.  Couldn’t be easier.  If you haven’t subscribed yet, follow this link:  http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/

 

As always, we also feature helpful columnists who teach you, inform you and otherwise help you as a soapmaker, bath & body maker and candle maker.  Melinda Coss is teaching us about balancing design with business, and Marla Bosworth instructs us on writing a business plan.  Yours Truly regaled you with a review of the amazing HSCG conference in Raleigh, NC.  But we also have two new writers.  Sue Finley, our Potpourri column writer and Debbie Sturdevant, our resident herbal expert, who will be sharing with us through her column,  Herbal Wisdom.  Sue is writing about inspiration in soap design and Debbie is revisiting an old favorite, Calendula.  She’s even included a couple of her favorite recipes!

 

Share the fun with us on July 1st.  You know you want to!

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

 

PS – Soap designs just beg for a contest.  Stay tuned.  :-)

March/April 2013 in Review

“Life is so much more complicated these days what with all the new technology to keep up with,” my mother recently stated.  And truth be known, she doesn’t keep up.  Still, she was voicing what many of us feel from time to time, that learning new technology seems complicated and we wonder if it really saves time, money or effort.

In reading Cindy Noble’s article, Digital Library Essentials, in the March-April 2013 edition of the Saponifier, it’s easy to see that going digital can save time, money and effort.  We have so many more resources at our fingertips now, and even digital books are also less expensive than traditional books, not to mention the fact that they won’t fill bookshelf after bookshelf in our homes!  I remember not all that long ago having to make a point of going to the library to look things up that I wanted to know about.  If I wanted to buy a book, I had to either make a trip to a bookstore or send for a catalog, pick out my books, and send the order form and check back in and then wait for a couple of weeks for the books to arrive.  Yes, we are saving time and money when we use our technology efficiently.  Incidentally, Cindy suggestions for books to help you along in your business are outstanding.  If you haven’t read her article yet, you’ll want to.

Are you contemplating selling out of the country?  Tamara Dourney’sUnderstanding ISO Compliance is a must-read to help you get your business ready for new horizons and markets.  Of course, in order to sell, we also need good product photos.  You could hire a professional, and that isn’t a bad idea, but may be out of your current budget.  Tamara’s, Product Photography Revisited will inspire you to improve your photography.

If you’re selling products, you need to know about POS.  You don’t think you have one?  You do!  Quite simply, POS stands for, “point of sale,” and refers to the way you take funds from a customer, whether a cash box at the farmer’s market or a credit card.  Of course, it’s credit cards that have us scratching our heads, wondering if we can afford  to accept them or afford not to accept them and then which one to choose.  It’s a difficult maze, for sure, but Beth Byrne will make it easier for you if you read, POS and the Chandler.  She attempts to take some of the mystery out of determining which credit card company to use.

Should I Quit My Day Job?  Not only the title of Melinda Coss’ article, but a common question for entrepreneurs, it is puzzling to many of us who seek to make our businesses a full-time venture.  We can never be reminded enough of the importance of good, realistic planning in making a successful business.  Be sure to read Melinda’s article and take her advice to heart.

We are living in a time where natural is the buzz word.  If you offer natural products, your customers will be determining–with varying degrees of discernment, just how truthful your statements about your goods are.  If you purchase natural products or ingredients yourself, you are asking the same thing.  Helping you to do that is Tammy Lane in, Sifting Through the Hype.

If you’re a business owner, then you are likely thinking often about how you can get your margins up and your costs down.  To give you some practical advice on increasing your margins without necessarily increasing your prices, Marla Bosworth gives us, Work Smarter, Not Harder–Are Your Margins High Enough?  

Lest you think this issue is only about business, take a look at the fine articles that  Katherine Forrest, Victoria Donaldson and Elizabeth Sockol provided for our reading pleasure.  Katherine shares tips for making beeswax candles, while Victoria teaches us how to make a basic soap mold in just fifteen minutes.  Elizabeth informs us about the common Safflower.  How much do you know about it?  If you’ve read the article, we think you know quite a bit.

Last but certainly not least, pour over the photos in our Readers Showcase Gallery.  Every issues offers a feast for the eyes and inspiration from our subscribers.  Thanks to Fisika, Nancy Reid of Nature’s Soap and Mountain Farm’s soap.  If you’re looking for soap events, be sure to check out our Events page.

What?  You’re not yet a subscriber?  You can fix that!  Just click on this link:  https://saponifier.wufoo.com/forms/subscribe-or-renew/

 

Finally, if you have comments or questions, please feel free to comment here or to ask questions on our Twitter or Facebook pages.  We’d love to hear from you.

http://www.facebook.com/Saponifier

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Are you a Producer or a Processor?

Our personalities vary greatly from one of us to the other, and they extend themselves to our soap, body products and candles.  Even so, it seems to me that we are one of two types:  Producers or Processors.  

 

Producers get their enjoyment out of producing their product.   They do not feel the need to try each ingredient under the sun, nor every product that can be made.  They find a formula and stick with it.  If it’s good, it’s good enough.  Their satisfaction comes in getting that large order out the door, and they don’t mind doing it over and over again.

 

Processors, on the other hand, get their joy and satisfaction from the R&D (research and development) part of the experience.  They are constantly tweaking formulas and trying new things.  If they hear about a new product, they want to try it, and only money and lack of space keep them from buying everything they see.    They live for the experience of creating.

 

 It’s not hard to see then, what challenges face each  type of artisan.  The Producer finds it easier to narrow down products and scents to a manageable number and disciplines herself to stick with the plan.  The daily production tasks are an agreeable challenge that she takes great joy in.  Nevertheless, the Producer may rush into manufacturing a product without thoroughly testing how it performs or knowing whether it is a product her customers will prefer.

 

Conversely, the Processor may take a long time to get a product to market or standardizing his formula, but once he does, it will be a fantastic, well thought-out product.  The Processor is also likely to find time constraints a challenge, and he may get bored of producing the same products over and over until the entire business becomes  more of a grind and less of a joy.

 

Does this mean that one or the other is not suited for business?  Not at all.  Where this insight helps us is in learning to cope with our shortcomings and in capitalizing on our strengths.

 

If you are a Producer, realize that you will get things done, but may need to force  yourself  to curb your enthusiasm to finish and sit down and analyze your formulas, encourage your own creativity and make a plan to test out products.

 

If  you are a Processor, be sure to plan your schedule and business goals with checkpoints so that you don’t get lost in your work.  Give yourself some leeway for creating something different so that you don’t become bored.  Even varying your production schedule may help keep you satisfied.

 

If you get help, choose someone who has skills and a temperament contrary to yours.  This may seem counter-intuitive, but it will keep you on your toes. How much help you need depends upon each person and the situation; however, being honest with yourself about our needs will lead to greater success and satisfaction.

 

Can you identify yourself in these descriptions?  How do you cope and use your personality to best advantage?

 

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

 

Beth Byrne for the Saponifier

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