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Topic: The "Official" Colorant Thread  (Read 8737 times)
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Nymeria
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« on: March 09, 2009 09:21:58 PM »

Much like the FO/EO thread, I thought this could be a place to compile information for beginners and advanced soapmakers alike on coloring your soap. PLEASE add any feedback or knowledge you have!! The information below is compiled from a few years of soaping, a few trusted sources and lots of trial and error!

First and foremost, things with which you should NOT dye your soaps:

RIT cloth dye
Food coloring
Paint, of ANY kind (powder or liquid (while paint no longer contains lead, it does contain other metals and chemicals that are NOT safe for skin! Nor would they work with the saponification process!)
Candle dye (unless the specific brand you have bought says otherwise)
Potters' glaze or ceramic paint

DISCLAIMER: As always, check with the supplier/manufacturer of any product should you have questions. This is meant to be a general "rule-of-thumb" guide provided by myself and other Craftsters. Smiley


Natural Colorants:

Natural colorants are exactly that: natural, or non-synthetic. The plus side of natural colorants is that they are natural (for those who like to bear the "all natural" label) and some colorants can have excellent benefits for your skin. The cons of natural colorants is that some can be irritating to the skin (see list) and some can be costly to use because the amount needed to make a decent color is staggering.

Alkanet Root/Powder: A popular dying agent with all kinds of applications, alkanet can be used to create colors anywhere from grey, purple, pink or blue depending on the oils used (it is sensitive to the alkaline levels).  MamaVSoap says: "Steep the herb in olive oil and then use it in place of equal amounts of base oils (4 ounces colors a 6# batch nicely)."

Annatto Seed: A plant from Central America, Annatto seed produces lovely yellow and orange shades.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is one of the colorants you need a LOT of to get a decent color. The problem is that it can then make your soap VERY scratchy. I use cinnamon as an accent piece rather than colorant to give soaps a warm, spicy look.

Cocoa: Regular ol' Hershey's baking cocoa can be used to achieve lovely, rich brown colors. It doesn't make the soap scratchy, and adds a nice cocoa smell. I recommend using it with scents that compliment cocoa! As an FYI, some people who are allergic to chocolate can possibly be allergic to cocoa in soap.

Comfrey Root/Leaf: A plant known for its healing abilities, it creates a lovely sage green color. It should be noted that if you are using comfrey root in, say, a hand salve, lotion or soap, you should plan for that product to be GREEN and not waste colorants trying to die it pink!!

French Green Clay: Talk about luxurious! French green clay has loads of skin benefits (because it draws oil from the skin, it's often found in facial products) and creates a lovely, muted green color. Smiley

Henna: When purchasing henna, make sure you have PURE henna and not some of the other products that add other ingredients. Henna works well as a colorant and generally achieves a brownish-red color (think Burnt Umber crayon). I have heard stories of soapers using a little too much henna and dying their skin when they used the soap, but I don't know if that's soap-urban-legend or not!

Kaolin Pink Clay: A wonderful clay for sensitive skin, From Nature With Love's website sums it up best: "Pink Kaolin Clay is a gentle clay, making it suitable for sensitive skin. It helps stimulate circulation to the skin while gently exfoliating and cleansing it. Pink Kaolin Clay does not draw oils from the skin and can therefore be used on dry skin types."  It does create a lovely pink shade. Smiley

Paprika: Much like cinnamon, a little of paprika goes a long way. It's best to use a smidge and achieve a peachy-red tint as too much (i.e. if you're trying to achieve the actual color of paprika) will make your soap VERY abrasive.

Saffron: While saffron can certainly make a lovely colored soap (I've seen some at craft fairs) it is a VERY pricey herb, and the amount you would need to get a rich color would make the price exorbitant.

Artificial Colorants:

Artificial colorants are man-made and synthetic. Buy them from soap suppliers and make sure they are approved for skin contact!  Also, be sure to check if a given dye is suitable for your chosen application. Some dyes are okay for MP but not okay for CP, while others are not okay for lip balm. So read your fine print! Artificial colorants are FDA approved and while many "granola" folks (I'm sending evil thoughts to a gal from Boulder right here...) will argue that that doesn't mean they are safe... there is no evidence to suggest they are not. The pros of artificial colorants are that they are often affordable, they create rich, vibrant colors you cannot achieve with natural colorants and you can get any color under the rainbow! Smiley 

Artificial colorants come in the following categories:

Ultramarines (powdered):

No, not the army from Warhammer 40,000. Grin Ultramarines are now entirely synthetic (they were originally derived from lapis lazuli) and typically come in shades of blue, pink & purple. A little of these go a long way which means you typically get more bang for your buck. Most purple and violet ultramarines tend to look grey when your soap is curing. Often times this grey period passes. Smiley

Oxides (powdered):

Oxides DO get their name from iron oxide and most oxides do contain iron in them. Reds, especially. They come in shades of red, yellow, green, black & white. While a little green goes a long way, I find that more of the others are needed to achieve rich colors. I have made black soap before, and it took a TON of black oxide to achieve! Some people claim that titanium oxide (white) cuts down on lather and moisturizing but honestly I've never noticed, but I may just not use enough of it. Typically white is used to lighten shades and black is used to darken.

Liquid Dyes:

I'll further break this category into 4 sections:

1) The garbage you buy at Micheal's, Joann's, Hobby Lobby, etc: Don't bother. Much like the fragrances they are weak and do NOT produce good colors. Their idea of "red" is my idea of plum purple...

2) Melt & Pour, Lotion, Salve, etc. Dyes: These colors generally say "not suitable for CP" but work well in other applications. I'm told often times it's the heat of CP that mutates these dyes, and other times that they don't react well with lye. I prefer liquid for MP, scrubs, shampoo, lotions, etc. because they disperse easier. Using powdered oxides in MP is an exercise in frustration sometimes!

3) CP Dyes: There are a few liquid dyes on the market suitable for CP soap. Often times they are merely oxides or ultramarines that have been reconstituted with a carrier oil. I've used the LabColor line from BB and while I was pleased with the results, I didn't like it as much as the powdered variety.

4)Lip balm safe colorants: These are generally liquid (some, like Micas can be powdered) and are safe to use on your lips. Majestic Mountain Sage sells them in a "hobbyist variety pack" and because such a little goes a long way, that HVP has lasted me a good long while. Smiley

Micas:

These generally have a lovely sheen and sparkle to them. My experience in CP with mica has not been favorable. I find that the amount needed to achieve any sort of color is ridiculous and because CP soap is not (typically) transparent, the sheen and sparkle are lost. However in MP & lip balms these colors are fun! Smiley

I'm sure there is a TON I've forgotten, but it's late and I can always come back and edit. Smiley
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009 10:14:54 AM by Nymeria » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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MamaVSoap
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2009 02:48:44 AM »

Under natural colorants, use alkanet for anywhere from grey to purple (it's alkali sensitive). Steep the herb in olive oil and then use it in place of equal amounts of base oils (4 ounces colors a 6# batch nicely).
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« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2009 10:15:07 AM »

Added! Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2009 12:32:43 PM »

Do you know how casein paint would work out for coloring? I know technically it falls under the paint section, but since it's derived from milk protein and is fairly "safe" I suppose, it might hold up in CP?

Also, if Henna is used in a shampoo bar, do you think it could impart enough henna (or at least, keep the existing amounts on hair) to extend the length of the color?
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2009 05:11:22 AM »

does using some of the 'herbs' in your soaps to color transfer a scent..though, noted with the cocoa and cinnamon how about spices like tumeric and such..I'd hate to use those as a colorant to have a scent combo thatll be off..

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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2009 11:48:07 AM »

Has anybody tried Indigo (indigofera tintoria) in soaps?
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madmissylives
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2009 07:46:29 AM »

In the original post it was stated to NEVER use food coloring in soaps. I was wondering why not? I was looking at a site and it listed a soap colorant they offered as Yellow # 5 which is a food colorant. I think.

I am just starting this soap thing and am having a hard time finding colorants that are affordable.

Another question I have is about finding a black colorant. I want to make a black soap. Any ideas? I thought that a black food coloring would have been a good choice. Thanks!
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« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2009 01:53:28 PM »

a lot of the time food colorings are going to mutate into different colors or just not be visible at all. Black oxide is awesome and very cheap.
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2009 07:38:33 PM »

Building on what MareMare said...

Not only do food colorings mutate in soap, they are also very, very weak. So the amount you'd end up using to get a decent color would NOT be cost effective. Not to mention that the amount you'd end up using to get a decent color would probably dye your skin. If you've ever made blue, black or red icing, you know how your mouth looks afterward. Cheesy

Black oxide (soap safe) is cheap, but you will probably need to use quite a bit to achieve black. I think I ended up using close to 2 tablespoons when I made black soap.  Smiley (I have a thing for black or blue soaps, post pics if you get it to turn out!)
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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2009 08:09:11 PM »

Were you coloring the whole thing Nymeria? I have only ever done swirls of black into another color or uncolored soap, I really haven't had to use more than the usual recommendations (1/4 to 1/2 tsp per pound of base oils) to get a good black.
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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2009 08:11:39 PM »

Whole thing; it was for my friend's dad's 60th birthday. Heh, get it? I thiiiiiiink it was a 5lb. batch but it may have been a 7lb. I got lovely shades of grey but getting jet black was a PITA. Hence the gratuitous amount. It was black and patchouli.  Roll Eyes

I'll have to see if I have pictures somewhere so you can see just how black it was. Smiley

ETA: It should be noted that I was using oxides from a company from whom I no longer buy because they were very weak. So it's possible that it was a weak pigment; I don't work much with black so I've not experimented since. Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2009 08:18:48 PM »

Thanks for the help and advice.I just ordered some MP from one of the links I got here along with an oxide or two. All I really want is a light lavender color and a black soap. Will let you know how it goes.
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« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2009 07:50:51 AM »

I remember my mom using a black tar soap for her face when I was a little girl. As I recall it smelled like creasolt (there's no way that's spelled correctly)- you know it smelled like a hot asphalt road or old bridge. Does anyone know if that is just coloring or was there really Tar in it? It was a deep deep Black color.
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« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2009 09:01:39 AM »

The tar. Pine tar soaps are a dark, dark dark brown (almost mahogany) because of the pine tar and smell very close to asphalt, too. Whatever tar your mom was using would have had the same effect. Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2010 06:33:12 AM »

Does anyone know of a supplier who will sell me a package of assorted colors (liquid dyes, oxides, whatever), like a sampler?  I've been using kitchen herbs but want to branch out into less natural colors (blue, black, purple), and it's expensive to build a palette!

Thanks!
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« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2010 11:10:56 AM »

Brambleberry has this oxide sampler pack:
http://www.brambleberry.com/Pigment-Sampler-Pack-1-sampler-pack-P3449.aspx

And I just bought from these guys for the first time the other day, after hearing good things about them for years (and I live in Oregon!) not sure what took me so long! Oregon Trail Soaps oxide sampler:
http://www.oregontrailsoaps.com/products.php?cat=11&scat=34

.2 ounces doesn't sound like much, but that should last you several batches of each color, longer if you're swirling different colors!

HTH!
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« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2010 05:59:08 AM »

Yay, that's perfect!  Thanks! Cheesy
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« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2010 09:55:58 AM »

Majestic Mountain Sage has a Lip Balm Color Variety Pack that is a great value. It's great for coloring anything that is pure oil: lip balms, lotion bars, scrubs, etc. And a little goes a loooong way; my pack has lasted me well over a year. Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2010 08:04:59 AM »

Has anybody tried the Jewelry Box Soap colors from Brambleberry? http://www.brambleberry.com/Jewelry-Box-Soap-Colorants-P4563.aspx# Im looking for a sampler pack also so I can make some soap legos for my nephew.
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« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2010 10:35:21 AM »

I'm making Jasmine Rose soap this weekend (using Ohhappyday's wonderful tutorial), but I don't have time to run to the craft store or get anything online..  can anybody suggest a readily available coloring agent that will produce pink/peach/red?  I'll just leave it natural color if I can't find something cheap/easy..  Beet juice maybe?  I dunno.
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« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2010 11:25:49 AM »

Try paprika!  Grin
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« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2010 11:49:28 AM »

Try paprika!  Grin

K thanks!  I read a few posts, I wasn't sure how well it would work Cheesy

I may throw in some ground rose petal at trace too, just to see...
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« Reply #22 on: March 04, 2010 09:02:54 AM »

I have been using celestial colorings and though some colors I have died and fallen in love with Smiley there are a few that I have having issues incorporating and they turn into speckles in the soap..grrr!!!

thoughts !
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« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2010 01:39:18 PM »

Did a search and couldn't really find an answer to my question, but apologies if it's been asked a bajillion times:

I'm having problems with colors for my CP soaps.  I use olive oil as my main base in all of my soaps, and I got the sampler pack from Bramble Berry, but I can't seem to get any good colors going.  They all have a yellow base to them from the olive oil.  How much of the oxide powder should I be using, is there a way to counteract the yellowing (other than not using olive oil) and would liquid colorants be better than the powder?  I'd love to be able to do a creamy white / swirled with other colors.
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« Reply #24 on: August 20, 2010 02:14:52 PM »

You can use titanium dioxide to get a white. It works pretty well. You could also look into different brands of olive oil that aren't quite as yellow/green. I think the general rule of thumb is to use 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon of oxides and pigments per pound of base oils. I usually mix up the higher end (1/2 tsp p.p.o.) and add about half and if I want it brighter/darker I have it ready to go.

Did you get the pigment sampler or the mica sampler? That's the only other thing I could think of, micas aren't very dark in cp, more of a shimmery color.
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« Reply #25 on: August 22, 2010 08:44:26 PM »

what type of olive oil are you using??

also as Maremare said the brand has alot to do with it too..I know that when I bought one that was a different brand than usual it made my batch yellow ish..

I have used both liquid and powdered colorants..both have done well..how much are you using??

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« Reply #26 on: August 24, 2010 10:56:16 AM »

I don't remember the brand right offhand; it was on sale at my local Kroger and I snatched it up.  It is an EVOO, I remember that much, and is pretty yellow in color.  The last batch I made, just this past week, I was trying to do a lightish purple (lavender soap) and I was getting frustrated at it not doing much more than a muddy gray.  So I kept adding color - BIG mistake!  All of a sudden it all mixed together, and after I cut it Sunday I got concerned that there's too much colorant in there.  I may have to rebatch it with some plain CP soap to spread it out a bit.  I believe I have the pigmant sampler pack from BB.  I'll keep my eye out for a lighter olive oil and go by your calculation, MareMare.  Thanks both for your input.
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« Reply #27 on: February 22, 2011 02:20:59 PM »

Has anyone used anything from TKB for soaping?  i know their pigments are great for makeup but i wanted to know how it was for soaping.  I was looking at getting this color pack but i'm not sure how well it will go into CP soaping.  I know the glycerin is okay but yeah....

Opinions?  Suggestions?  I'm mostly looking at TKB because they are much cheaper than other sources
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« Reply #28 on: February 22, 2011 02:39:32 PM »

I'm not sure about THAT particular set..I do use the pop micas from TKB and I love them.

I'm guessing these are the same micas just in 'liquid' form..I can't vouch for that set..but I CAN tell you that the micas are hopelessly addictive and I LOVE them!
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« Reply #29 on: February 22, 2011 06:27:47 PM »

I'm not sure about THAT particular set..I do use the pop micas from TKB and I love them.

I'm guessing these are the same micas just in 'liquid' form..I can't vouch for that set..but I CAN tell you that the micas are hopelessly addictive and I LOVE them!

Awesome.  I'll give it a shot.  If it works out, GREAT!  if not, then someone will have experience about them and i can just pass them on to someone who does melt and pour.  =)

*edit to add*

I shot them an email about it and they got back to me quickly.  they say that they've had customers use it for CP with no issues that they're aware of.  *impressed by how quickly they responded!*
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« Reply #30 on: February 24, 2011 01:52:18 PM »

oy!! Pop micas are being discontinued through TKB Sad
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« Reply #31 on: February 24, 2011 05:24:08 PM »

oy!! Pop micas are being discontinued through TKB Sad

wait what?  i just got an email from them that the pop micas could be back next week!  in the same email that the answered my other question in
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« Reply #32 on: February 24, 2011 07:23:50 PM »

i just made my very first batch of soap, using Maremare's awesome tute, and I added 2 tsp of tumeric, and it colored it a very pretty dijon mustard color ... I don't think it changed the scent of it ... nope, just checked, it smells like rosemary citrus ... the color has lightened, so it's almost dark lemony, but has tiny little orange freckles in it. It's only been curing a few days, so at the end of the week I'll check and see if it's lightened up a bit more.
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« Reply #33 on: February 24, 2011 07:30:54 PM »

oy!! Pop micas are being discontinued through TKB Sad

wait what?  i just got an email from them that the pop micas could be back next week!  in the same email that the answered my other question in

"The manufacturer has discontinued this product line. We have searched for a suitable replacement and hoped to have good news by March 1, but to no avail. We are discontinuing this item. Of course, we will continue to look for replacements, but please consider the item discontinued."



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its ME!!
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Where is the pony doctor?!


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« Reply #34 on: February 24, 2011 09:07:43 PM »

oy!! Pop micas are being discontinued through TKB Sad

wait what?  i just got an email from them that the pop micas could be back next week!  in the same email that the answered my other question in

"The manufacturer has discontinued this product line. We have searched for a suitable replacement and hoped to have good news by March 1, but to no avail. We are discontinuing this item. Of course, we will continue to look for replacements, but please consider the item discontinued."




crud.  =/
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« Reply #35 on: March 09, 2011 04:51:11 PM »

Just a random note..  a few weeks ago, I boiled down red wine in a heavy sauce pan until it was really thick (but be careful I burned the first batch!).  Anyway, I added the syrup at trace to part of my batch and it was an awesome dark purple color.  Unfortunately the lye turned it a chocolately brown which sucked for a floral batch, but it would be perfect for a cinnamon/coffee/chocolate batch.  Just a head's up, it cost me something like $4 and worked like a charm.. 
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« Reply #36 on: March 12, 2011 10:43:16 PM »

Just ordered 4 different oxides from Oregon Trail. I am a HP Soaper, mainly because my 2 attempts a CP were not good. 2nd one was at least savable. Going to try it again since I have 5 different scents coming in to play with. Will hope to remember to update on the colorants when I get to making CP with them.
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« Reply #37 on: March 19, 2011 03:26:00 PM »

Took 6 days to get here but I got my Oxides in from Oregon Trail. Might try a batch of CP tomorrow. We are set up for Candles in the Kitchen right now..lol.
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« Reply #38 on: March 19, 2011 04:45:51 PM »

Took 6 days to get here but I got my Oxides in from Oregon Trail.

Yeah they suck~ http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=336800.0
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« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2011 04:58:43 PM »

Took 6 days to get here but I got my Oxides in from Oregon Trail.

Yeah they suck~ http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=336800.0

Didn't know about that. I was not going to order from them again because Priority Mail shipping charge and the package came in the time frame of first class.  Brambleberry is where I will order from for soap stuff..except some scents we get from Candle Science (love that place .. great service from them so far).
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« Reply #40 on: March 19, 2011 05:18:52 PM »

Brambleberry is great! Yeah the shipping was bad on my order with OT, besides all the other crap. There are a lot of good suppliers out there Smiley I haven't tried Candle Science, will have to check them out!
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« Reply #41 on: March 20, 2011 08:37:10 AM »

Funny thing, just got the email today stating my order has shipped. Really? I got it yesterday...lol.
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