Dyes, Micas, or Natural Colorants for Beginners?

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MrsZ

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I apologize if this has already been covered. I tried searching and couldn't find what I was looking for.

I would like to play around a little with simple swirls, or even solid color bars in my basic soap recipe. But, I have no idea what to use for Colorants.

I've seen mica powders, liquid dyes, and powdered herbs all used.

What is your favorite? Any pros and cons of each method?

Also, can the same Colorants all be used with milk soaps?
 

ImpKit

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I've ONLY used micas myself. They seem to be very easy to use, they disperse fairly evenly throughout the soap so you don't get speckles or clumps. Can be added straight to batter or dispersed in some oil and then added (oil can either be taken from base before you add the lye or simply added to your superfat). I've seen them used regularly in YouTube videos by soapers making milk soaps, so should be no issues there. And they are fairly consistent in their colors. Micas can have ethical considerations to keep in mind, since there are places in the world where the mica substrate is mined using child labor. This thread discusses some of that. Personally, as I say in that thread, Nurture Soap and Mad Micas are two suppliers I will still use as they both offer statements of commitment to ethical / responsible sourcing and require statements from suppliers that child labor IS NOT USED.

I've never used liquid dyes or powdered herbs / natural colors (aside from a bit of activated charcoal and kaolin clay).

The problems I have observed from various sources (but again, no first hand experience) with powdered herbs / natural colors is the particle size is larger, which can make even dispersion difficult and prone to speckles. If you like that look, then great! If not (and it drives me nuts personally), then problem! You also don't typically get nearly as vibrant or saturated color with natural colors and they can be finicky. Indigo, for example, seems to provide a range of colors from grey to blue to purple.

With liquid dyes you need to know what the colorant is dispersed in so you can account for the presence of that in your final calculations. It can be glycerin or water or oil. Its usually not a lot, but it can affect things. The few videos I've seen where people use them, it seems like it's not as easy to disperse as micas. The colors ARE rather vibrant.
 

MrsZ

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I've ONLY used micas myself. They seem to be very easy to use, they disperse fairly evenly throughout the soap so you don't get speckles or clumps. Can be added straight to batter or dispersed in some oil and then added (oil can either be taken from base before you add the lye or simply added to your superfat). I've seen them used regularly in YouTube videos by soapers making milk soaps, so should be no issues there. And they are fairly consistent in their colors. Micas can have ethical considerations to keep in mind, since there are places in the world where the mica substrate is mined using child labor. This thread discusses some of that. Personally, as I say in that thread, Nurture Soap and Mad Micas are two suppliers I will still use as they both offer statements of commitment to ethical / responsible sourcing and require statements from suppliers that child labor IS NOT USED.

I've never used liquid dyes or powdered herbs / natural colors (aside from a bit of activated charcoal and kaolin clay).

The problems I have observed from various sources (but again, no first hand experience) with powdered herbs / natural colors is the particle size is larger, which can make even dispersion difficult and prone to speckles. If you like that look, then great! If not (and it drives me nuts personally), then problem! You also don't typically get nearly as vibrant or saturated color with natural colors and they can be finicky. Indigo, for example, seems to provide a range of colors from grey to blue to purple.

With liquid dyes you need to know what the colorant is dispersed in so you can account for the presence of that in your final calculations. It can be glycerin or water or oil. Its usually not a lot, but it can affect things. The few videos I've seen where people use them, it seems like it's not as easy to disperse as micas. The colors ARE rather vibrant.
That makes sense, thank you. :) I will head over to the thread you linked and read it too.

I wondered about the natural herbs, and whether they'd be speckle or not. It seems like they could be a bit splotchy. I may have to experiment a bit. :)
 

giulia

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I like using micas for swirls or designs. I have found they disperse well in the soap batter. I had a difficult time using some of the clays -I couldn’t seem to get them to incorporate all the way.
 

MrsZ

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I like using micas for swirls or designs. I have found they disperse well in the soap batter. I had a difficult time using some of the clays -I couldn’t seem to get them to incorporate all the way.
Thanks! I hadn't realized there were clays used for Colorants.
 

Zing

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I love micas due to all the reasons listed above. For the most part, what you see in the batter is what you get in the final soap.
I also really like to use paprika, cocoa powder (like for baking), rosehips powder, and activated charcoal.
Red palm oil (I use a max of 5%) gives a nice yellow color.
 

MrsZ

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I love micas due to all the reasons listed above. For the most part, what you see in the batter is what you get in the final soap.
I also really like to use paprika, cocoa powder (like for baking), rosehips powder, and activated charcoal.
Red palm oil (I use a max of 5%) gives a nice yellow color.
When you use paprika and cocoa powder, do you use a strained oil infusion, or do you use the powder itself?
 

JazzyC123

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I personally like to use oxide pigments:) I have used mica before (and maybe it was just the colour) but found that it morphed quite so. I also know that there can sometimes be ethical problems with the sourcing of mica (though it is possible to obtain ethically-sourced mica) and thats just something I like to keep in mind, at least for me personally!
 

MrsZ

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I personally like to use oxide pigments:) I have used mica before (and maybe it was just the colour) but found that it morphed quite so. I also know that there can sometimes be ethical problems with the sourcing of mica (though it is possible to obtain ethically-sourced mica) and thats just something I like to keep in mind, at least for me personally!
Another pigment I've never heard of! I'll look up oxide pigments. Thanks. :)
 

Zany_in_CO

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When first starting out, it's best to focus on finding a soap recipe that you, your friends and family, like. Then focus on adding fragrance if you plan to sell.

Many newbies spend hours & big bucks using micas, dyes, oxides, clays, and the like while you can easily learn to add color to your soap from your yard, garden, pantry or spice shelf without going to any extra expense. For example, look at the latest entry to the Grocery Store Challege.

She doesn't seem to use fragrance but in another thread, a member was complaining that the cost of adding EOs was equal to the cost of all the oils/fats/butters in the batch. That is typical. Adding fragrance makes the bar more expensive to make and sell.

I like the look my soapies have when I use natural ingredients as colorants. Early on, I started my own herb garden for that reason. I no longer have a place to grow herbs so I buy them from HerbCo.com. The 4 oz. size is inexpensive. I buy a few at a time to spread the shipping cost over more than one herb. :thumbs:

My Carrot Tissue Oil infusion makes lovely lemon yellow to bright orange colored soap. Just another example of finding things you may have on hand to color your soaps.

Using natural colorants has been discussed many times. Find the magnifying glass in the upper right cornet of this page to search for more info.

I also like this site for ideas. Tanya of Lovely Greens on the Isle of Man is generous with sharing her knowledge of gardening as well as her soap making experiments.
 
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MrsZ

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When first starting out, it's best to focus on finding a soap recipe that you, your friends and family, like. Then focus on adding fragrance if you plan to sell.

Many newbies spend hours & big bucks using micas, dyes, oxides, clays, and the like while you can easily learn to add color to your soap from your yard, garden, pantry or spice shelf without going to any extra expense. For example, look at the latest entry to the Grocery Store Challege.

She doesn't seem to use fragrance but in another thread, a member was complaining that the cost of adding EOs was equal to the cost of all the oils/fats/butters in the batch. That is typical. Adding fragrance makes the bar more expensive to make and sell.

I like the look my soapies have when I use natural ingredients as colorants. Early on, I started my own herb garden for that reason. I no longer have a place to grow herbs so I buy them from HerbCo.com. The 4 oz. size is inexpensive. I buy a few at a time to spread the shipping cost over more than one herb. :thumbs:

My Carrot Tissue Oil infusion makes lovely lemon yellow to bright orange colored soap. Just another example of finding things you may have on hand to color your soaps.

Using natural colorants has been discussed many times. Find the magnifying glass in the upper right cornet of this page to search for more info.

I also like this site for ideas. Tanya of Lovely Greens on the Isle of Man is generous with sharing her knowledge of gardening as well as her soap making experiments.
Thank you for all your input and links. :)

It's tough waiting 6 weeks without trying all the new things. I guess I will just try not to make any more soap until the ones I have done have cured.

In the meantime, I will check out all the resources that you provided.
 

Zany_in_CO

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You might want to follow this thread that's discussing natural colorants:

COLORANTS THAT YOU CAN GROW

It's tough waiting 6 weeks without trying all the new things. I guess I will just try not to make any more soap until the ones I have done have cured.
Haha. VERY funny! If you are anything at all like the rest of us folks, I'll give you 3 days before you give in and at least try to make something! Colored or not! 🤣

Seriously, though, you're overwhelmed by so many choices. I get that. Just take it one step at a time. Try a few things to see what you like. It's not rocket science and it's supposed to be fun. ;)
 

MrsZ

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You might want to follow this thread that's discussing natural colorants:

COLORANTS THAT YOU CAN GROW


Haha. VERY funny! If you are anything at all like the rest of us folks, I'll give you 3 days before you give in and at least try to make something! Colored or not! 🤣

Seriously, though, you're overwhelmed by so many choices. I get that. Just take it one step at a time. Try a few things to see what you like. It's not rocket science and it's supposed to be fun. ;)
I just spent quite a while reading about natural Colorants and they sound and look amazing. Bonus that I won't have to but anything unusual when I decide to use them. I see turmeric soap soon....

I think you are right about 3 days or less. 😁
 

Zing

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When you use paprika and cocoa powder, do you use a strained oil infusion, or do you use the powder itself?
Okay, first off, I just need to proclaim, publicly here, that I am not related to @MrsZ. On this forum I frequently will refer to my awesomtastic wife who is Mrs. Zing. And I say to you, @MrsZ, welcome to the forum. :) ( :secret: Seriously, Honey, it's not really you, right, trying to join me and my virtual friends. Right? I'll log off any second now. Promise. Fer reals this time. I'm coming right away. I said I'm logging off!)

To answer your question, what is this labor-intensive thing you talk about straining and infusing? I am a lazy colorist/soaper, New Friend! I use the powder by itself. Cocoa powder does take a lot of stirring to avoid small clumps. The paprika I've used is pretty finely ground but I do get a slightly speckled look.

Use the search function for posts by @Dawni who is the natural colorant queen.

The secret to not having to wait 6 weeks, is to soap every week so that something is constantly finishing its cure. And no, I don't have a problem, I can quit at any time, get off my case. :)
 
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Aromasuzie

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@Zany_in_CO I am one of those that purchased every type of colourant I could get my hands on. I like the oxides but they are rather limiting in colour compared to the micas. I love my clays for their feel but purple clay looks more brown and it sometimes takes a while to work out how much to use to achieve the depth of colour I want. I've started playing around with natural colorants but there is a time factor involved if you are infusing oils. I liked the idea of cocoa powder but was using heaps to get a pale chocolate colour and my dark brown oxide gave me a better chocolate look. I also made an oil infusion using several packets of paprika, which was strained before adding to the mix, but was really disappointed when the colour started fading after only a couple of days curing. If I want yellow/orange, I have plenty of dried calendula that I processed myself and there's a real sense of accomplishment looking at that soap batch. I am processing dock root at the moment. I thought I would be a person who liked having plant material in my soap, but I don't like staring at it on the shower floor, lol. No more poppy seed soap for me! Anything I do add will have to be finally ground up, except for salt! It's a great learning experience, just don't break the bank to do it ;)
 

MrsZ

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Okay, first off, I just need to proclaim, publicly here, that I am not related to @MrsZ. On this forum I frequently will refer to my awesomtastic wife who is Mrs. Zing. And I say to you, @MrsZ, welcome to the forum. :) ( :secret: Seriously, Honey, it's not really you, right, trying to join me and my virtual friends. Right? I'll log off any second now. Promise. Fer reals this time. I'm coming right away. I said I'm logging off!)

To answer your question, what is this labor-intensive thing you talk about straining and infusing? I am a lazy colorist/soaper, New Friend! I use the powder by itself. Cocoa powder does take a lot of stirring to avoid small clumps. The paprika I've used is pretty finely ground but I do get a slightly speckled look.

Use the search function for posts by @Dawni who is the natural colorant queen.

The secret to not having to wait 6 weeks, is to soap every week so that something is constantly finishing its cure. And no, I don't have a problem, I can quit at any time, get off my case. :)
Lol! Nope, my husband isn't a soaper.

If making a new batch every week is the secret, I think I can do that easily. :)

I will look up Dawni. I think I'm going to do a ground turmeric soap tomorrow, it looks like natural Colorants is what I'll start with for sure.
 

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I often start testing at 2-3 weeks so I can gauge how the soap develops over time. Or maybe because I just like testing the soaps and can't leave them alone!

Like @Zing, I also am about to log off and can quit any time if I wanted. But I'm no quitter; no, I'm committed (probably should BE committed, but that's another post for another day).

Besides, quitting would be such a waste of my "capital investment" into soaping -- two 3'x6' cabinets worth of investment, not counting the 50lb buckets in the pantry (because they don't fit into the cabinets) ... or the curing rack in my office. ;)
 

earlene

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When I started, some natural dyes were easy to obtain without having to wait for an online order to arrive, so that's where I started. Just one example of the ease of use for something I had on hand: a capsule of beta carotene, cut open and carefully squeezed into soap batter would produce yellow soap.

Later, after lots of experimenting with what I could get locally and what I could order online, I switched mainly to micas & oxides for dependable results and ease of use.
 

Zany_in_CO

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Okay, first off, I just need to proclaim, publicly here, that I am not related to @MrsZ.
Thanks for clearing that up. I had been wondering! 😁
I also made an oil infusion using several packets of paprika, which was strained before adding to the mix,
:thumbs: Good thinking. I find it's scratchy if left in the batch. :oops:
 
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lucycat

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I think micas are the easiest for a newbie. They mix easily in batter and you can blend micas for a new color. That allows you a large variety in colors with only a few mica purchases. Most micas will result in soap the color of the mica when dry (which is harder to predict with oxides and dyes). The biggest negative on micas are that they are usually more expensive and if you aren't careful you will go down the rabbit hole purchasing every new color you see.
 
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