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Pokeweed Berries for a Deep Fuscia Red

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tbeck3579

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I'm so busy harvesting, drying, making teas, grinding corn flour, etc. Everything seems to happen all at once. While out harvesting I came across Pokeweed and thought, wow, the berries may be the prettiest berries of any when it comes to natures bright, almost neon, colors. Now I'm having difficulty finding sources about coloring soap with the berries.

I'm familiar with pokeberries, poke sallat, how to pick, and DEATH as a result of not knowing what you are doing when making poke sallat. I'm familiar with the gorgeous berries used as a dye for fabric and to make ink. The deep red dye was used as a colorant in food for a long time, and the roots can be a skin irritant (actually it can be worse than irritating if you have cuts on your skin) but NOT the berries.

Soap coloring is a different story. I found one small blurb in an old book and I'm wondering what others think or if they have any more information about it. Here is what I found:
American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record, Volume 63:

Dark Red. Pokeberry juice, black cherry juice. Made by expressing ripe juice and sterilizing juice. Add 20% glycerin.



I can't find any other references on the net. The berries are such an awesome color -- finding that color in nature is difficult. The stems of this invasive weed are the color of the berry juice. Pretty. Here's a pic...




 

TeresaT

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Personally, I would try it in HP first. I usually add my fragrance oils, SF and colorants after the cook, while it is starting to cool down (depending on the flashpoint of your fragrance). By then, all of the lye will be gone and the color should stay pretty close to what I'll eventually get. I might do a simultaneous smaller batch of cold process and add the color after trace, hand whip it in before I poured, just to compare the two side by side as they cured. I do love the color poke berries make. A friend dyed a t-shirt with the juice years ago.
 

Jstar

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I ate alot of that when I was a kid...never thought about the berries for coloring soap..how wonderful!
 

Obsidian

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Try mixing some lye into the juice, that will tell you if it will discolor in CP. Depending on how PH sensitive the juice is, even adding it to HP may cause it to morph. It a really pretty plant, it would be great if the color stayed true in soap.
 

tbeck3579

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What do you think about adding the 20% glycerin to the berry juice? I haven't seen that in a colorant before and I wondered what glycerin would do if added after trace. I'll do a Google search on adding glycerin after trace. When used in fabric pokeberries can take a fairly high heat, but shouldn't be boiled. Obsidian... Thinking... maybe freeze the juice and add it to the lye water that way? Like milk? In fabric, it needs alum as a mordant to be colorfast. No one wants fuscia running down their body in the shower :razz: The glycerin adds a twist to it though.
 

Jstar

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Found something quite interesting...

http://altnature.com/gallery/pokeweed.htm

"The rootstock is rich in saponins and can be used as a soap substitute." Whhaaaa? :eh:

ETA: And also found this...she's fairly wrong in her stating that everything is toxic but the young spring sprout leaves and berries, but she did do a sort of test with lye water.

http://www.ayearinthewild.com/2009_08_01_archive.html

"So today I threw 12 ripe berries into an ounce of lye water to see if poke berries might be a good natural colorant for cold process soap. Soon as I smashed them up and they released their juice the water instantly turned a greenish yellow. This would probably yield a soft yellow green soap, but not the stunning dark purple I was hoping for"
 
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hmlove1218

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I have tons of these plants right down the road from my house. I never knew what they were but always admired how pretty they were. I might have to test them out and see what color it will produce in CP!
 

Spice

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I'm so busy harvesting, drying, making teas, grinding corn flour, etc. Everything seems to happen all at once. While out harvesting I came across Pokeweed and thought, wow, the berries may be the prettiest berries of any when it comes to natures bright, almost neon, colors. Now I'm having difficulty finding sources about coloring soap with the berries.

I'm familiar with pokeberries, poke sallat, how to pick, and DEATH as a result of not knowing what you are doing when making poke sallat. I'm familiar with the gorgeous berries used as a dye for fabric and to make ink. The deep red dye was used as a colorant in food for a long time, and the roots can be a skin irritant (actually it can be worse than irritating if you have cuts on your skin) but NOT the berries.

Soap coloring is a different story. I found one small blurb in an old book and I'm wondering what others think or if they have any more information about it. Here is what I found:
American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record, Volume 63:

Dark Red. Pokeberry juice, black cherry juice. Made by expressing ripe juice and sterilizing juice. Add 20% glycerin.



I can't find any other references on the net. The berries are such an awesome color -- finding that color in nature is difficult. The stems of this invasive weed are the color of the berry juice. Pretty. Here's a pic...




if you do a soap with it post, I would love to see how it turns out. I was reading some post and links that JSTAR shared. I live in NorCali, this plant looks familar, not sure if it grows out here tho.
 

Jstar

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I wanna see too..that lady stated she went no further than the berries in lye water..she didn't continue to soap it so no telling what would happen.
 

Susie

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Only one way to find out. I don't have a yard full of poke plants any longer. Let me know if it works, and I will find some.
 

CTAnton

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this thread has got me thinking...especially when I know know how to check a particular botanical and its compatibility with lye without possibly wasting a batch of soap. I have a client with some ox blood red geraniums..well next week when I deadhead them they won't be heading to the compost pile!
 

hmlove1218

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Well dang it.. I don't guess I'll be the one testing it out.. all of the plants around here are dying
 

not_ally

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I am really curious about where the experiments on this thread go, especially if any one can find a pretty botanical that does not morph color in soap (ie. not just the infused color, but the flower/body of the thing, if someone can do it.)

Despite the abundant advice against it - except with calendula - I still tried, with both CP and MP, it seemed like if it was going to work anywhere it would be there, since added post-saponification, but no go. You guys could be setting new frontiers!
 

Jstar

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Thats it, Im going to my moms and check her plants to see if there are berries...Imma try it on a small batch if I find berries.
 

hmlove1218

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FOUND SOME!!! :D Just got a whole bag full of them!

Also, just doing a little research on the pokeweed plant and found this on Wikipedia: "Since the juice of pokeweed can be absorbed through the skin, contact of plant parts with bare skin should be avoided," and "plant sap can cause dermatitis in sensitive people" and that "it is strongly recommended that the people wear gloves when handling the plant."Would the soap be safe to use?
 

SunWolf

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Nice color...before the lye monster took over. :-( Definitely looking forward to seeing the finished soap. :thumbup:
 

CTAnton

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just picked some red roses that were passing and some red nasturtiums...unlike
poke berries at least I know both are edible....
My experiment with dyers chamomile looks promising so far...it's definitely infusing into the olive oil...2 weeks to go to see if the lye monster has the last laugh; worse case scenario I color up some melt and pour...
 
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