My latest big project is to test natural colorants in cold process soap. Lots of them. I’ve always been a little wary of using natural colorants because there isn’t one good resource that could tell me what they will look like, or how much to use, or which stay looking good. So I’ve decided to become that resource.
Here’s one of the first surprising things that I’m noticing: gelling matters.
For the non-cold process soapmakers: “gel” is that phase that soap sometimes goes through when it gets pretty warm and looks translucent, like a mold full of colored vaseline. It isn’t necessary for soap to gel in order to become soap, but I’ve always known that it will affect how the soap looks in the end. Soap that doesn’t gel tends to look creamier and more opaque, and it will take a bit longer to firm up. But that’s the only differences between the two.
So back to the surprising bit: take a look at this shot of some of my recent tests.
The bars in the left column were colored with the same thing as the ones on the right. In fact, each pair came from the same batch; I just put one on a heating pad and the other in the refrigerator. The ones on the right gelled and the ones on the left didn’t. Quite a difference, huh? This isn’t just a texture difference. Something has really happened to the color in the gelled soap that has made it darker and richer.
I’m thrilled, really. Because this suggests that I have so much to learn about natural colorants. And the only thing I like more than learning something new is teaching it! 🙂
Do you have any favorite natural colorants that you use? Or is there one in particular that you would like me to test?
UPDATE: All of this testing was bound to lead somewhere! Click here to read more about the “Coloring Soap Naturally” eBook that is available now, all about natural coloring in cold process soap. I tested 34 different ingredients and in all kinds of ways. Then I took photos of it all and organized it so you don’t have to do all the testing yourself!