Natural Colorant Chemistry!

I’ve been trying to color my soap naturally for over a month now.  There are several different ways to color soap naturally.  You can add powdered herbs, flowers, and clay directly to the soap at trace.  You can replace your liquid with a colored liquid such as coffee or carrot puree.  Or you can infuse botanicals into some of your oil beforehand to transfer color directly into the oil.  Because I make goat milk soap, the milk is my liquid and I’m not at a point where I want to try substituting part of the milk with other liquids.  I’ve also read that putting powders directly into the soap can sometimes leave a scratchy texture.  While as a soap user the texture wouldn’t affect me because I use a bathing pouf, I don’t want customers who will use the bar directly on their skin to have to deal with a gritty bar of soap.  Therefore, I chose to infuse color into my oils before soaping.


Calendula infusion

I followed this awesome tutorial (this soapmaker is one of my favorites to follow–she’s wonderful!) to begin my infusions.  I started with my mother’s homegrown chamomile in one jar and dill in the other.  I was hoping for a buttery yellow oil and a light green oil.  Instead I  got…well… no change.

The only reason I can think of as to why the color didn’t infuse is because I used whole flowers and leaves rather than powder.  The next infusion I tried was with MY homegrown dried calendula.  I had my heart set on getting a nice orange soap.  I got the same outcome (a month later, the oil is slightly more yellow).  Again, I don’t know what went wrong.  My mother has made similar calendula infusions for medicinal purposes and gets the color transfer.  Even though my oils didn’t color, I’ve held on to the chamomile and calendula.  I’ll let them infuse for a couple more weeks and then I’ll use them.  Their medicinal properties will have infused into the oil so I can make a medicinal soap.

After my failed first few infusions, I went ahead and bought some powdered herbs.  I started my infusion of Alkanet powder on Monday.  Check out the GORGEOUS oil.


Alkanet Infusion

I was able to soap with it today (excitement!) and the results were crazy.  You see what a brilliant magenta the oils were?  Now check out the soaping process and outcome.


After a few seconds of blending


Once thick trace was reached


I used the color infused oils as 10% of my total oils (tutorial here!).  At first, I was afraid that there wouldn’t be much color change because when the regular oils mixed with the colored oil, the effect was minimal.  However, when I added the lye/milk solution and started blending, the color CHANGED and popped!

It’s quite beautiful, I think, but I’m surprised by such a drastic color difference between the colored oil and soaped oil.  I scented it with Rosemary essential oils.  The fragrance doesn’t quite match the color of the soap, but, oh well, it was an experiment!  I’ll just give it a creative name–any suggestions?

Topped with Rosemary

Topped with Rosemary


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