There are many variants for soap colorants – Photo courtesy of Flickr user necrocake.
Soap Making Colorants—which one to choose?
There are several different soap colorant options that are available for soap makers.
Natural soap colorants are more favored by expert soap makers as it is much safer to use. You can get amazing results with natural dyes and you don’t need to go the synthetic route to get soap that people buy. The best soap making advice I can give you is to try the natural dyes and see how things turn out. Of course you’ll need some practice but this is part of the learning process when you make your own soap.
For example, saffron can give your soap a yellowish glow, indigo root can be used to give your soap a deep blue color and Moroccan red clay can be used to give your soap a brick red color.
If you prefer using synthetic soap colorants, there are a variety of choices that can be used. By way of comparison, they are easier to use than many natural soap making colorants and provide a much wider range of colors.
FD&C colorants are colors made in the laboratories, usually mass produced and as a result, more inexpensive than the natural colorants for soap making.
It is more popularly used in the food industry but this can also be used in coloring your soap.
FD&C colorants are used in many processed food.
These colorants are available in a wide range of colors and can come in both liquid and powder form.
They are mainly used in Melt and Pour soap making and don’t usually remain stable in Cold Process soap due to its high alkalinity. (Learn more about the different soap making methods here).
In addition to the natural and FD&C colorants, you can also use micas.
Micas are a combination of synthetic and natural materials. Shimmery micas are usually used for cosmetics, but it also can be used for soaps especially if you want your soap to have a little glittery effect on them.
This soap making colorant is best used in translucent soaps.
It is important however to test this first before using large amounts.
Many factors are to be considered when choosing a soap pigment. First and foremost, it is very important to make some tests before you decide on a color.
Some colorants, even if they’re natural, are irritating to the skin. It is also a good idea to mix and match colorants first to see if it is just the right amount of concentration you want on your soap.
Homemade Soap Colorant
You have numerous choices when it comes to soap making colorants form natural dyes. Many common products we use every day can be turned into a great dye for soap.
Some shades of colorants may change drastically – for example when using red onion skin as a natural colorant. The end results depend on the oils and fats used or how the soap colorant reacts to lye, and sometimes the type of essential oils or soap fragrances you’ve used in making your homemade soap.
Light Dark Brown Soap
You have several choices to make this color soap. To get a brown shade to your soap try black walnut hull, ground cloves, all spice, or nutmeg.
For a yellow shade try safflower powder, turmeric, annatto seeds, and calendula petals.
To make soap green use burdock leaf, comfrey leaf, dandelion leaf, or French Green Clay
For red soap use madder root, sandalwood powder, or Moroccan red clay
For purple soap try alkanet root.
So how do you test a colorant?
There are three tests for natural colorants.
The lye test, oil test and finally, testing on a small batch of soap. Also, different types of colorants should be added at different stages of the soap making process.
It all depends on the type of soap making colorants you are using.
Remember to always use safety precautions when handling any kinds of colorants.
Make sure to review first each material if you decide to experiment with different soap making colorants.
You need to be patient and accepting of the results, after all, practice makes perfect.
What to Expect
Your soap won’t have the vibrant colors you see when you buy store bought soap but you can get some nice shades in your soap. You’ll need to practice to get the hang of it but once you start using natural soap colorants you will want keep using them. This is a great way to give your customers something unique in your soap and the fact that you use “natural dyes” is a good selling point for your soap.
Also, you should keep in mind that the shade of these colors can drastically change from recipe to recipe. The final results depend on which oils and fats are used, whether or not you decide to allow your soap to gel, how the soap dye reacts to lye, and sometimes which essential oils or fragrances make up the soap’s scent.
More advice on how to make soap: go over your list of soap colorants you plan to use and see which ones could be known allergens for people. You might not want to use these as colorants or you can mark on the soap that it might be an allergen for some people. Be sure you don’t use colorants that have harsh smells or could cause irritation to the skin.
Work with various colors and just see what you can come up with. It can be frustrating at first to get the color you want. YouTube is a good source of information on soap colorants and how to get them to look the way you want. There’s some great videos there that will walk you through the process of making the soap and then adding in your colors with natural ingredients.
Other Soap Colors
The list above is just a small sampling of the many soap colorants you can use. A quick search online should bring you many more choices for your soap color. Once you find a few that you like you can make them all the time or experiment with scenting your soap and new colors in your soap. You can add in herbs and spices to make your soaps unique too and give them amazing smells.
Over to you: do you have any favourite ingredients used as soap colorants? Let us know in the comments below and share your favourite tricks for how to make soap with our readers!
Take the next step
Download our FREE ebook, ‘How To Make Soap At Home’, by clicking here.