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

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