Playing with color.

I decided to play with natural colorants that I had picked up from Soap Making Resources a few months ago, finally. I bought the kit back in August and figured it was passed time to play with the colors and see how they look in a batch of unscented soap. There are a few I would like to further play with to see how they behave with heat/no heat and reduced amounts of the color. For now, is just the first step in seeing what the colors do. Some of them surprised me.

For each color I added about 1/2 tsp or 2 grams of colorant to approximately 40 grams of soap batter, so the colors will be on the dark end, which I knew when going into this. All the powders were mixed in, no infusing involved here. I only made 1 lb batch, and had limited number of cups to use, otherwise I would have had 3 different amounts. Next time.

I used a basic recipe to work with, just so I could get a stable batch without using any of my super fatting oils and butters.

  • 50% Olive oil
  • 35% Coconut oil
  • 15% Canola oil

My little turtle friend from Hawaii posed with the soaps. 🙂 He was a good sport about it. I picked him up when my husband and I went to Hawaii for our honeymoon in 2010. As an aside, M~ and I swam with the green turtles off Waikiki. Rather, I did, and he stayed on the boat and drank beer (because he kept hearing the Jaws theme song). *ahems* Anyway, I wanted a memento of the absolutely wonderful time we had there.

Red Sandalwood Powder & Alkanet Root

Red Sandalwood Powder

“Red Sandalwood powder will produce from a purplish red to a maroon color in your soap.” – SMR

It looks more brown to me, so maybe that’s the maroon since I had 2 grams of powder at the bottom of the cup. The powder is orange, so I was expecting something more orangy-red, but SMR knows their colorants.

Alkanet Root powder

“Alkanet root will color your soap anywhere from a pinkish red to a bluish purple.” – SMR

The alkanet root powder was actually a surprise to me. I didn’t realize it would be THAT purple based on the color of the powder itself, despite SMR stating that it would be, but from the color of the powder, it didn’t make sense to me. Color me surprised. Ha. It’s a very pretty colorant, and I look forward to working with it in the future.  Especially a future sampling of different amounts to see how the color changes.

Indigo & Woad

Indigo Powder

“Indigo powder will create a beautiful blue hue in your soaps. The shade is very similar to that of blue denim.” – SMR

This is a pretty color, but I was hoping for a brighter purple color. However, this is nice shade. I’m sure I can do something interesting with it at a later date.

Woad Powder

“Woad powder can be used to give your soaps a very nice sky blue color.” – SMR

This doesn’t look sky blue to me, but even on SMR’s website, it says not to use much. I might have used to much considering the amount of soap its mixed into. I was seriously tempted to paint my face. Blame that Celtic blood in me. Or Cherokee.

The indigo and woad powders are very similar, but this side by side comparison shows that there is a difference. The woad seems to have a greenish tinge.

French Green Clay & Turmeric powder

French Green Clay

“Unlike most of the other green natural soap colorants, this color is derived from natural clay, not from a botanical.” – SMR

I was hoping it would change into a deeper green, but that is not the case. It’s pretty close to the color of the clay in the bag. I’ll keep an eye on it and see if the shade changes over the coming days and weeks. Otherwise, this is more of a cream color, and if it doesn’t change, I’ll use it as a whitening colorant.

Turmeric Powder

“Turmeric will cause your soap to turn a lovely dark yellow color.” – SMR

Not at all expecting orange with this very bright yellow powder. It’s a gorgeous color, but this is one of those ones I will need to do side by side comparisons with smaller amounts.

Moroccan Red Clay & Madder Root Powder

Moroccan Red Clay 

“Moroccan red clay will give your soap a nice red hue.” – SMR

I was hoping for a more red color, but this is equally a pretty and rustic shade.

Madder Root Powder

“It will give your soap a very nice light pink color to a deep, rich red hue that many will marvel over.” – SMR

I’ve worked with madder root powder before. I added it to my very first batch which gave me a very deep color based on how much I had added, but the essential oils had also darkened it with the added yellow tint of the citrus oils used. This is actually a very pretty red color. I think I will use less madder root next time to get this nice red shade.

Comfrey Leaf Powder, Nettle Leaf Powder, & Spirulina Powder

I was needing a shade of green for batch #7 that would make someone think of peppermint. However, looking at these three colors together, it gives me ideas.

Comfrey Leaf Powder

“Comfrey leaf will give your soap a beautiful natural green color.” – SMR

It seems less green and more of a drab, khaki color. It could go well with something like oats.

Nettle Leaf Powder

“Of all the green natural soap colorants, nettle leaf offers shades closest to lime green.” – SMR

Based on this description, I used this colorant in my batch #7, but I think there was some heavy bleeding from my brown into my green, because the color above is not the color I got. I see this, and I’m disappointed in batch #7. Sadness. But this is still a lovely shade, and with further experience in soaping, I will get better results that does not include bleeding.

Spirulina Powder

“Spirulina powder is an all natural blue-green algae that will produce a beautiful bluish green hue in your homemade soap.” – SMR

I love this color green. It’s the color I was expecting it to be. I thought it would be too bright for batch #7, but now I’m wondering if this would have been a better choice. Love it, so cheerful.

Paprika Powder & Safflower Powder

Paprika Powder

“Paprika will give your soap a peach to melon orange depending on how much is used.” – SMR

I’ve worked with paprika with a couple different batches now and its actually a very lovely shade. I’ve only used small amounts, but this gives me a better idea of what a large amount will do with the soap. Unfortunately, this much would make the soap scratchy, so I would have to resort to infusing the oils first.

Safflower Powder

“Safflower powder produces a pretty yellow in soap when added at trace.” – SMR

Despite SMR’s description, this is another that I did not expect that shade. It’s not exactly yellow, but more of a fleshy color, at least with this amount used. It’s still a pretty color.

Activated Charcoal Powder & Black Walnut Hull Powder

Activated Charcoal Powder

“Activated charcoal powder will give your soap a marvelous deep black color.” – SMR

This one is a no brainer. It was also a no brainer all over my stove top. A no brainer all over my floor. A no brainer on my gloved hands. It got EVERYWHERE! I was trying to close the bag, and it *PUFFED* up and coated everything.  EVERYTHING! Twice! It puffed up all over the place! I treat the activated charcoal with much more respect then I did going into this. That is why the tag isnt showing – when I was putting the bag into the second bag it came with, it puffed up inside the double bag. Gawds, this stuff was everywhere.

Edit: As a friend commented “So the activated charcoal trolled you hard.”

Yes, yes it did.

Black Walnut Hull Powder

“Black walnut hull powder will give your soap a rich brown color.” – SMR

Black walnut hull powder gave me what I expected, a brown powder for a brown shade of soap. It actually looks rather lovely for something rustic looking.

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3 Responses to Playing with color.

  1. soapjam says:

    Thank you for this review on natural colorants. It seems that many of them, especially the greens, turn brownish or a dull color. Which natural colorants would you say are your favorites? 🙂

    • I like the way the activated charcoal comes out, but I dont like working with it because it gets EVERYWHERE. The last time I worked with it, it was only marginally better than the first time. Spirulina is my go-to green color, I like how it comes out. Though I should go take a glance over these now and see how the colors have held up. Heh. I dont normally get that deep orange color with the paprika because it always feels like I’m adding to much, so mostly I get a nice peachy color. The madder root has grown on me, but not too much, otherwise it turns a rich brown color.

  2. Mide says:

    Thank you for this information. It is very helpful.

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