Natural Soap Colorants
Many people these days are into using products that are natural or organic. The move towards using and eating only natural products gained popularity a few years ago, and has been steadily increasing in popularity ever since. Perhaps people are drawn to natural products because they are becoming more aware of what harm chemicals or synthetic products can do, or maybe they believe that natural products are just healthier and better.
Organic soap making is one of the ways in which soap makers are able to meet their customers' or client's demands for natural products. Most people who buy organic soap do so because they are trying to stay away from chemicals as much as possible, or they have sensitive skin and are allergic to an ingredient in most soaps. Sometimes, people are allergic to the dye used in making soap. In response to this, organic soap makers have come up with natural soap colorants, or natural dyes for their soap.
Natural soap colorants are derived from plants, fruits, or vegetables which posses deep enough colors to stain a soap mixture. Some common natural soap colorants you can use include: shredded carrots (makes yellow orange), cinnamon (makes tan or brown), crushed beet root (pink to red, depending on how much you use), and cucumber (makes green.)
Now, before you go and grab just about anything from your kitchen to use as a natural soap colorant, you have to make sure, that the plant, fruit, or vegetable you are using passes soap making colorant standards. This means, it will have to go through two ingredient tests, and one test run. The two ingredient tests are with lye and oil, and the test run is with an actual batch of soap.
First, take half a cup of water and dissolve one tablespoon of lye into the mixture. Make sure the lye completely dissolves and cools down. Then, add a fourth of a teaspoon of your natural soap colorant. Remember to crush the fruit or vegetable and mince up the leaves of the plant. Add this into the solution, stir, then observe.
You are looking for a violent reaction like the glass heating up again (slight heat is okay but reaching the same heat levels as a simple lye and water mixture is not) or bubbling. If nothing happens and the water is slowly becoming colored, take this as a good sign. However, wait a full day before making the final assessment. Sometimes, colors can change overnight, so you will want to make sure this natural soap colorant will give you the color you're after.
Next, do an oil test. Heat up a few ounces of coconut oil. Put in a fourth of a teaspoon of your natural soap colorant and stir. Watch to see if the oil takes on the color. If it does, check to see if the color deepens over time. Like the lye, leave the oil overnight to see if the color alters at all. Remember to use coconut oil so that the oil doesn't add it's own color to the soap (as some oils do.) If you plan on using an oil that has this property, however, be sure to test with that too so that you have an idea of what your resulting color will be.
Finally, make a test batch of soap using your natural soap colorants. During this test run, see if everything goes smoothly. Add your colorant at the same time you would have added your commercial soap dyes, and remember to stir. Throughout the soap making process, check to see if the colorant gave you problems you don't usually encounter. For example, did it give the soap air bubbles?
You will know your soap colorant is successful when you have the end product (after hardening and curing.) Check your end product to see if it smells funny, looks weird, is cracked, or if there is anything else wrong with the soap. If everything looks alright, wash your hands with the soap. Assuming your skin doesn't itch after a few hours, it should be safe to use!
Using natural soap colorants can be a lot of fun and a new way to experiment with your soap making hobby. Check out this list of natural soap colorants, and try them out soon!
Pumpkin (pureed): makes orange
Calendula petals (ground): makes yellow
Curry powder (ground): makes green
Spirulina: makes a bluish green
Indigo root: makes deep blue or indigo
Rattanjot: makes lavender