I’ve been itching to try natural coloring techniques on my soaps! After a lot of research, I decided that the best approach would be to use herbs/flowers grown by me or my mother and to infuse them directly into some of the oil that I use to soap. After working hard to collect enough plants and waiting impatiently for them to dry out, I decided to try coloring this past weekend. I wanted to make a citrus-y basil soap, so I elected to try yellow and green colorings. Following the instructions on this wonderful soapmaker’s blog, I prepped to use chamomile for the yellow and dill weed for the green. After several hours in a warm water bath, I checked on my oils….whompity whomp. They both looked exactly the same–unchanged. I think I went wrong because I used full flowers and herbs, slightly crushed. The blogger I followed used powders for her oils. I also didn’t have my own teabags to use, so I used coffee filters. I guess they aren’t as penetrable as teabags. Sad face.
Refusing to be disillusioned by non-colored oils, I moved forward with my soap batch. I cut my recipe in half this time because I wanted to experiment more with aesthetic techniques (I didn’t want to ruin a regular sized batch). This time, I started with pouring only half of the soap into the mold. I then sifted cocoa powder over the bottom layer with the hope that it’d give a cool brown border in the middle of each bar of soap. I mixed dried basil flakes with the leftover soap and then spooned it on top of the first layer. I also tried swirling the two layers slightly by sticking the spatula through the soap in several places.
My results are interesting. First of all, I’m unsure of the scent combination. I hated it at first. Basil essential oil was not what I had hoped. However, my husband seems to really love it, so I’m hoping others out there like it too. Now that the fragrance has mellowed out some, I like it better. The size of my bars are a bit wonky because I’m still figuring out how to set my mold. I was putting it on the 2.5lb mark for my 2.5lb batches, but then was ending up with lots of leftover soap. So this time, I left it around the 2.5lb mark, but I decreased my batch size. Consequently, my batch is made up of shorter bars. Moreover, because the two layers aren’t defined by two distinct colors–one is speckled with basil, one is plain–the layering is far from awesome. The brown line of cocoa is either severe and not super artsy looking or it’s nonexistent (perhaps by the attempted swirling?). Ah well, it’s a good thing I did a small batch and I learned a lot from the experimenting!