choosing colorants

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Feb 10, 2008
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I know this has been talked about, but I need opinions before I buy.

I've narrowed my choices down to 3 that I've read up on.

Celestial Colors from Cherry Tree Scents
Lab Colors from BB
Select Shades at Tradewinds

I also looked at Peacock offered at Souther Soapers, but they don't
seem to offer a "kit" least from what I could see.

It doesn't seem like Tradewinds has updated their pages, no reviews to read...and I've read some not so great reviews on their shipping and stuff on different boards. So I'm apprehensive about buying from them. Any clarification on them, if you've ordered recently would be helpful too.

I want to order some colors in the next day or two as I've been researching for 3 would really appreciate some feedback! TIA :)
I can help you part way. I just bought Select Shades from Tradewinds, got it this previous week, and everything was in order. Tradewinds sent appropriate emails acknowledging my order and telling me when my order was shipped. The tracking wasn't in the email but was available from my account at the site. The package was delivered on the expected day by UPS, and the contents were packed appropriately. The only thing Tradewinds could have done better would be to put the tracking in the email for my convenience, but the rest of the service was absolutely perfect. I too had read the negative posts about Tradewinds but my experience contradicts the bad reports.

I've only used Select Shades twice but they appear to be okay. The liquids are nice because they are easy to mix with soap batter without the problem specks you can get with powders. The color gamut is limited, and for example you won't be able to make blue. Or brown. Visit and look at the selection charts and if you like the colors then you might like the colorants. Be warned that a lot of their colors are just light, bit darker, more darker and darkest. They give the impression of being more colors than there really are. All in all I think Select Shades will be useful to me but will not be a "solves every problem" solution.

You should add another choice to your list: TKB Trading and their powdered pigments. Look at the pop and lake colors. If you're interested then order a sample kit or kits. The colors come out nice--I've used apple green and yellow to good effect although I've done some oranges that got specky due to my insufficient mixing. I think next time I'll hold back a teaspoon of base oil and mix the powder with that before glopping some of my batch into it for mixing and returning to the pot.

I think you should order at least two colorant options, maybe three, and possibly all four. You'll probably get at least some use from any set and more options are always better than fewer options. Oh and check out the powders at WSP too. I'm gonna order some of them tomorrow myself.
I concur with Greg and Paul. I have Select Shades basic set.

But now I spend a lot of time looking over all the colors just to choose the one I want. :D With the basic 8, you can create most any color you can dream up.

I love love love the LabColors from BB. By far the most vibrant color system I have ever used. :D
Who *owns* or manufactures the lab colors? I had an experience a few years back w/ someone selling lab colors & I just wonder if she was athe owner or just a rep or just someone who carried the colors. Anyone now where they originate?
I just want to point out that Select Shades does not cover every color in the gamut. It covers plenty of nice colors and is worth having for that, but it's not a "one stop solution."

Again I say, better to buy two, three or four colorant systems. Stick to ones that offer kits. If you find a specific color that you like alot, then buy more of that one color.
Thanks everyone.

Greg..yep...I forgot to list TKB...I was eyeballing the pop colors also.
I think I'll order their sampler today too. And I did check out many's making my head hurt lol!

I placed an order with BB last night...I ordered 2 mica samplers, the pigment sampler and some TD too. And of course...since I was there I ordered more FO's lol.

I also ordered the Celestial Colors. I ordered the Essential Color Kit and the Sedona Color Kit.

I didn't order from Tradewinds yet, or the lab colors from BB as I'm wondering if BB's lab colors are like what I currently have? I currently have colors that I ordered from The Chemistry Store when I first started M&P. They look like Labcolors descriptions...but I wasn't sure if they are the same or not. I have the basic 12...and also the Tropical Neon colors. They do great in M & P soap....but have not tried in CP.
Deb, you're doing exactly what I did, exactly what I would advise. It's senseless to order colorants one at a time so the very best idea is to order a few kits, or even more than a few, then play with each over several batches.

I suspect we're all going to find out that some colors are better from one system, some colors from other systems, and probably each system will have some colors we don't like and won't use at all. Then if you find a colorant you like and want to use a lot of it you can order the single color.

I ordered TKB's pops and the lakes, and I like some of each well enough to order more when I run out. These little packets last an amazingly long time because they are so concentrated, and the kits are reasonably priced. In fact IIRC TKB has a minimum order size, and the lake + pop takes you over the minimum. Order today and you'll probably get it next Monday. They had my order out the same day because I ordered early, about this time in fact.

I'll probably order either one or two of the colorants mentioned above. I've decided to order the oxides today, bringing me up to three systems on hand. More is better. Bad color can ruin a whole batch unless you want natural, and nothing wrong with that either. Think goat! :)
I agree Greg. I use more than one kind of colorant and I mix them up as well. My favorites are pigments, micas and natural colorants (like ground up carrot root or comfrey root infused into olive oil).

I've used a comfrey infusion and added a smidge of chromium green oxide to give a more stable shade of mossy green.

Ultramarine blue mixed with crimson mica make wonderful purples.

Its fun to mix it up a little. :D

Oh....take notes. It sucks if you get the greatest color ever and forgot to write it down.
I was so excited when I saw this question and then a large response... But then I read through and am now even more undecided! lol
Lot's of good information!
Jeff, please tell us what puzzles you or what information you would like to help you decide. I think the best answer to the OP's question is (D) All of the above. We're talking like $25 or $30 per color system kit (not including shipping) so it's not like any choice you have to agonize over. Pick two or three of your best guesses and you're bound to get some nice colors you'll like.

I bought TKB's pop and lake sample kits, Tradewind's Select Shades, just today ordered oxides from Soap Supplies (not a kit but the individual oxides are not that expensive), and I'll probably buy LabColors from BB. That's four systems and should give me plenty to play with over the summer. These colors are very concentrated so I've probably spent $100 or so with the three systems I have, and another $30 from BB, and that should set me up with enough color for hundreds of 3-6# batches. With that much I shouldn't need any more colorants until 2009. That's a lot of color! :)
Just checking out LabColors at Bramble Berry, apparently a sample kit of all 12 colors costs $62.79 for 10 mL each of all 12 colors. A bit more steep than the other colorants I've purchased. I'm not sufficiently sold to pay money for them.
I've been around many forums for several years now, used mainly marines and oxides for almost 3 years. This topic comes up quite often. While it is a matter of personal choice, saying anything except good about Select Shades is, well, uninformed. I have been using SS for only 3 months, but am so impressed! Many, many seasoned saponifiers have used Select Shades for many years. Their basic 8 set will make hundreds of colours. You can look online, or print out from their website the amounts and which colours are used to make a certain colour. Peacock, Celestial, Lab Colors. are all respected colourant names experienced soapiers recommend.

Paul :wink:
I hope I haven't said anything that would be perceived as negative about Select Shades. I bought it and I got it and I've used it and I'm still optimistic that it's a good system.

I tend to think of colors as gamuts, different shades, and I don't consider lighter and darker of the same shade to be different colors. YMMV

I'm wildly optimistic about the marines and oxides, and hope to have my own within one week. I've seen pics of bars right here at SMF that used the marines/oxides and they were fantastic!
I have used Select Shades for a long time now in CP batches and have found them to be very consistent and close to the colour chart that is provided.
I have tried others (which have been good) but I keep going back to Select Shades.

Just my take......

Lovehound said:
I just want to point out that Select Shades does not cover every color in the gamut. It covers plenty of nice colors and is worth having for that, but it's not a "one stop solution."

Hey, I get lost in an 8 color box of crayons. I bet you were that kid with the 6 tier high box and sharpener on the side that I was always envious of. Then again, I probably would have eaten most of them anyway. :lol: :lol:

I have the SS, mica's, oxides, UMs, crystals, clays and POP's. I am still playing with all of them. I like each (haven't tried the POPs yet) so far for different applications.

I do like the SS for the selection of colors one can make with only a few colors. Like Coral, so far they have been true to the chart for me. It helps that there is a chart to say what to blend for the desired color. Left to mix on my own, I would no doubt have some very fugly colored soaps. :shock: I have not found any variables except with the FO. I am not that experienced, so it is a big enough gamet for me.

With some of the other colorants I have, there have been a few surprises. Not always good. I can't comment on the other systems because I have not used them.

It really does come down to funds, personal prefs and formulas. I bought the SS based on other posts (I believe it was Paul). For myself, I find it to be quite a versatile set. A real plus when first starting out and spending the $$ to try out the myriad of soap making products available.

I agree. Select Shades is going to be a good weapon to have in my soapmaking arsenal. I anticipate using it frequently and agree that the online chart at is a great aid in formulating the colors you want to achieve.

Oh, and yeah, you've got me pegged, but not when I was like that as a kid. These days another interest of mine is doing fine art, fine not meaning how well I do it but rather is an art classification such as drawings, paintings, etc., as opposed to handicraft art which IMO includes soapmaking. I draw with colored pencils, pastels, pen and ink, technical pen, etc. I'm sure I have well over 1,000 colored pencils, pens, markers, inks, pastels and probably closer to 2,000. They are the artist equivalent of our soapmaking base oils, FOs/EOs, additives and colorants: expendable supplies. Now if only I could use them well. :)
So...I just ordered from Tradewinds.... SS basic 8.

I'm guilty of always wanting the biggest box of crayons with all the colors when I was a kid...30 some years ago LOL. I won't deny it :lol: I remember one time sitting out in the backyard at the picnic table coloring with my two friends, DeeAnn and Andrew. Andrew...the boy...had THE biggest box of crayola's I'd ever seen! I was so envious and excited when he let me use some of HIS colors!!! I finally did get my own box....after alot of whining and promises of being good and all that LOL. Too funny!

Thanks for everyone's suggestions!

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