Fun with Natural Colorants

Fun with Natural Colorants

colorful array of natural soaps

If you follow me on social media, you know that I have been embarking on a fun journey to see what natural colorants can do for my soap colors. I have always used clays and some botanicals(turmeric and indigo) in some soaps that I make. In light of a big push towards being truly natural, I wanted to offer some essential oil only soaps that are also purely colored with botanicals or natural colorants.

I like having options, and I think that those who purchase from me do as well. I have also noticed a shortage of help when it comes to botanical colorants online. What I mean by that is that I want to add a color to my soap batter and then move on with my design. I want to have the color prepped ahead of time and I don't want to have to have my entire batch colored the same color- if I don't want to.

 Enter my soap trials:)

These little bars are equivalent to half my usual bar a piece- so 3 oz. I will tell you which colorant is which, and how much colorant I used in relation to my soap. I will be using the measurement of teaspoon of colorant per 1 pound of soap(not pounds of oil). Keep in mind this is 100% goat milk soap (no water added) and i NEVER gel my soaps. So if you don't use goat milk and you do gel your soaps, your colors will probably be different than mine(most likely more vibrant). I have found that when you don't gel your soaps, you need more colorant in order to get that "punch" of color.

As a side note to anyone wondering what "gel" is: it's basically forcing your soap to heat up. It is actually a chemical process. So if you've ever seen homemade soaps with a darker circle in the middle, that is a "partial gel." There is no evidence that gelling or not gelling soap created a better-for-you product. Truly the difference is in the colors. Gelling makes the soap more translucent so that the colors are more vibrant. Think using a white base and then mixing in colors versus using a clear base and then mixing in colors.

pink and red soaps

These first beauties are reds and pinks. Top left:  1 T. Madder Root in oil. Top Right: 1 T. Madder Root in water. Bottom left: 1 T. Himalayan Rhubarb in oil. Bottom Right: 1/2 tsp. Rose clay in water.

orange and yellows soaps

Top left: 1/2 tsp. Paprika in water. Top Right: 1/2 tsp.Turmeric in water. Bottom left: 1/2 tsp. Red Moroccan Clay. Bottom Right: 1 T. Annatto infused oil.

green and brown soaps

Top left: 1/4 tsp. each spinach and spirulina powders in water. Top right: 1/2 tsp. Spinach powder in water. Bottom left: 1/2 tsp. Hersheys Dark Cocoa powder in water. Bottom right: 1/2 tsp. Spirulina powder in water.

blue and black soaps

Top left: 1/4 tsp. Indigo in water Top right: 1/2 tsp. Indigo in water. Bottom left: 1/2 tsp. Deep sea clay in water. Bottom right: 1/2 tsp. activated charcoal in water.

Not pictured:

1/2 tsp. Zinc Oxide in water and 1/2 tsp. Kaolin clay in water. I found that zinc oxide is a bit whiter than kaolin clay, but they both brighten my all goat milk soap base.

A few thoughts.

I discovered quickly that a lot of these are hydrophobic. Yep, afraid of water. They really weren't combining well. So I use a mini mixer (like a frother for coffee) to combine them well before adding them to the soap batter.

The infusions are at different percentages. Remember, I wanted to be able to basically replace adding a bit of mica to my batter in favor of just adding a natural colorant. So the infusions were as follows:

6 tsp. Madder root powder in 1 c. sunflower oil

6 tsp. madder root powder in 1 c. hot water

1 T. annatto seeds in 1 c. warm sunflower oil

26 g. himalayan rhubarb powder in 79 g. sunflower oil

These all soaked for about a week before I used them; straining out any particles.

So what does this mean for your soap?

If the colorant was used at 1/2 tsp., that means you would need 1 1/3 tsp.  for every pound of soap batter. That is to color the entire pound completely with one color.

For the infusions, it works out to be 5 1/3 tsp. of infusion for every pound of soap batter- you may want to decrease your total oils to compensate for the increase due to the infusion. But that's really if you're using a lot of oil infusion for a batch of soap. A tablespoon or two will really just superfat your soap a teensy bit.

And for our outliers- that 1/4 tsp. indigo, you would need 2/3 tsp. for every pound of soap batter. And the 1/4 tsp. each spinach and spirulina would be 2/3 tsp. each for every pound of soap batter.

The easiest way to known how much of each you need would be to find out how many pounds of soap your normal batch is, and then divide it into how many pounds of each color you want. That's it!

I would love to know if anyone else plays around with color and what their results are. My favorite color from these trials is the rhubarb. It starts out yellowish brown and then turns a vibrant burgundy.

Feel free to ask questions!

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