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Question re creating colorants using organics

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gigisiguenza

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Ok, since it appears it's going to be yet another week or so before I can make my first batch of soap (I forgot some supplies and ingredients, so have to do some ordering), I'm going to use the delay to begin making colorants. This means I've got yet more questions LOL. (You are all gonna get sick of my questions soon, so I'll apologize ahead of time for my geeky tendency to investigate everything hehehe)

My oodles of research has given tons of info, and out of all that I think there are two methods I want to try - pureed/liquefied organic material, and infused oils.

Purees/liquefied - If I wanted to use fruits/veggies juices or purees to color my soap, do I need to add a preservative to them to prevent them from going funky over time in the soap, or would the saponification process itself take care of that? And, if a preservative is the answer, what are the natural substance options? or would I need to use a synthetic preservative?

Infusing - I've got avocado oil available (not a huge amount, but some), and I figured it would be good for infusion. If I'm wrong in this thinking, or if there is a more economical oil option, please let me know. My question is, what is the best ratio of organics to oil to use? I've got a bunch of options available, such as saffron, achiote powder, turmeric powder, etc, and I'll definitely be ordering some organics when I order my missing ingredients, so I'll soon have others, but I want to get some started now. - Also, do I have to use heat to infuse, or can I set the jars in a sunny window and let natural heat and time do it?

Thanks in advance for your patience with my tons of questions and your help :)
 

Susie

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You need to make a batch or four using nothing but the basic oils and scents. When you complicate the recipe with purees and infused oils, you up your chances for disaster. Save the more complicated stuff for down the road a bit.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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^^^^ seconded. Just make an uncoloured batch to start off with, that way you know what your recipe itself is doing before adding too many variables in to the mix. Colours are great, but a soap is soap without them
 

Obsidian

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No preservative needed when using juice/puree, the high PH of soap keeps it from molding.

I generally use olive oil for infusing. Use plain olive oil or pomace, not virgin. I never really pay attention to how much of the infused oil I use, guess it depends on how dark it is to start with. I'd start with 5%-10%, see if you like that color.
Making soap and getting it the way you want is a lot of trial and error. Make small batches to start with, 1 lbs is plenty. That way if something messes up, you didn't waste too much of your supplies.

You can infuse your oils in a sunny window, thats how I like to do it. I don't see a issue with using colorants in your first soap but I would stay away from juice/puree and any other additives like sugar, honey and milks. All those can cause your soap to overheat.

Make sure the herbs you order will keep their color in soap, many will turn brown.
 

gigisiguenza

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Susie and TEG - I've no intention of messing up my first batch with anything that might make it fail, so no worries there! I'm eager to make pretty things, but not at the risk of discouraging myself unnecessarily by over complicating something I don't even have basic skills in yet. I'm approaching this the way I did my bread baking all those years ago - got my basic bread under my belt well enough that I felt comfy, then I started with fancy stuff. I'm simply wanting to get these colorants started so the colors are rich and deep by the time I've made enough batches to feel comfy stepping up a notch.

Obsidian - awesome - that's what I'll do with the oils. I was hoping the whole preservative issue would be moot, and am happy to hear that's the case. I'm afraid of sugars after seeing some of the epic fail soap pics , so I think it will be a while before I go near them :D Thanks for the help!
 

Seawolfe

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I find that using infused oils for colors takes more planning than batches that use oxides or micas.

For instance on this batch, when I mixed up the lye and oils I held back 8 ounces of olive oil (on a 2.5 lb batch). Then I split the batter in half by weight, and then one half in half again. To the half batch I added 4 ounces of plain OO (for the uncolored part that would end up white), to one quarter I added 2 ounces of OO infused with spirulina and nettle for the green, and to the other quarter I added 1 ounce of OO infused with alkanet and 1 ounce plain OO for the purple. That way no section was heavier or lighter in lye than the others.



There are lots of natural color choices - but many turn brown in the lye reaction (green tea, hibiscus), some are persnickity (indigo), and its all a learning curve, but a fun one :) I keep a batch of jars of OO infusing on a shelf so they are always ready, to those I add a drop or two of ROE (Rosemary Oleoresin, an antioxidant) because they may be sitting about for a while.
 

not_ally

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I mostly use commercial colorants - micas, oxides, pigments, liquids, etc - b/c they are easier to just grab, but do have a few infused oils (annato, paprika, safflower) that I use on occasion. I actually think that they are less likely to speed trace than the store-bought ones, but I have a harder time adding them in the right amounts to avoid upsetting the oil mix (unless I am doing the whole batch in the same color so use the infused oils for the whole thing).

The soaps of people who are good with them - I have several of Seawolfe's - are absolutely beautiful. Sea, you should post some more pics so Gigi gets a sense of how pretty they are.
 
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dixiedragon

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Purees and juices are tricky - they can burn and smell yucky. Also, most of them are going to turn brown in your soap.

While I do think you should save your infusions and purees for when you are more experienced, there are some easy natural colorants you can try.

From the grocery store:
Beta carotene capsules. 1 capsule in 20 oz of soap gives a lemony yellow color. More will start to move towards orange. I love beta carotene - it's well behaved and it lasts. But be aware - the soap won't dissolve the capsule! Snip and squeeze!

Cocoa - Try it at 1 tsp per pound of oils (PPO). This one tends to clump, so be prepared to do extra mixing.

Parsley is great too. It will fade with time, but it stays green for several months.
 

Seawolfe

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Sea, you should post some more pics so Gigi gets a sense of how pretty they are.
Oh you flatterer you turn my head! You can play with my knives next time that youre over :D

This one was easy - activated charcoal you can just blend in well straight from powder, the red was Morrocan red clay and madder root infused in OO


This one the orange is red palm oil, so again with the <keep XX oil out of the original batter, split in half and then add X oil to part and X to the other>, the black was charcoal again.


This one the blue is indigo and I wanted a bright blue but it went denim (because indigo behaves like a dramaqueen middle schooler), and spirulina in the middle bit:
 

not_ally

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Sea's soaps are also lovely to use, you guys. Unlike my eo soaps the fragrance sticks like glue (don't know how you do that, Sea), the lather is great, and they are hard as rocks. I have that yellow one and don't want to use it and have it melt away. Now that you have extended the knife invitation I might do it and get another one when I am there :)
 

topofmurrayhill

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It seems like some of this stuff is murder on oils.

High heat for hours will cause some damage for sure. Water, as from fresh herbs. Leaving it sitting in the sun (even diffuse daylight lowers the shelf life of oil compared to darkness, let alone full sunlight). Putting chlorophyll into it (It's a photosensitizer, so light and chlorophyll are a bad combination).

I'm interested in this subject because I've been working on how best to design a natural soap line. With my previous stuff, I was always concerned about making a stable product. It's hard to change the mindset. Finding natural coloring materials and techniques that don't morph or incur oxidation seems to narrow the options a fair amount.

Speaking of morphing, I love how madder root comes out, but it morphs pretty fast. Annatto morphs. I'm looking forward to trying beta carotene.

I have half a mind to cherry-pick a few of the most reliable natural colorants and use some oxides in addition.
 

not_ally

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Sea, how old are those soaps? The colors in the ones you gave me don't seem to have morphed at all yet, just wondering what the time frame on those is.

TOMH, I think the idea of mixing natural colorants and oxides/micas is a good one w/r/t "anchoring". Just wonder if the buyers that want natural everything (and don't really understand the idea of nature identicals) will be on board. What have you been thinking about that w/r/t your natural line?
 

Seawolfe

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I like using oxides as well, and they mix well with natural colorants IMHO.

Not_Ally - none of my soaps have really faded. The green in the challenge soap is spirulina and nettle - I have heard that spirulna can fade to brown, but Im hopping the nettle will keep it on the green side, but we shall see.

I use dried botanicals just so I dont have to worry about moisture, and I always add ROE to my infusing jars, but what ends up happening is that all the solids settle out on the bottom so that theres very little organic bits IN the soap. The only "wet" organic infusion I've done was carrots, and that was quickly done in the microwave and filtered out.
 

galaxyMLP

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TOMH, I don't think beta carotene (even the concentrated stuff) will give you a reliable, lasting color. It oxidizes very quickly in light. I did my undergrad research with it and you had to keep everything foil wrapped to prevent oxidation. I would think 1) the lye would destroy it or 2) it would not last long unless it is kept in the dark and dry.
 

not_ally

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K, tried PM'ing you but your mailbox is full ....

Sea, that is why I was wondering how old those soaps were. I seemed to remember that they were pretty well cured, and I know I have seen pics of soaps w/natural colorants that faded much more than yours did. Curious if you did something different to keep them that way.
 

Seawolfe

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Yeah they are 4 months old or more, kept in my fancy shoe box. But my palette is pretty limited - the ones you saw are just red palm oil, charcoal, alkanet, annatto, red clay and madder root, hemp oil and french green clay, and indigo. Those all hold really well. If this new spirulina & nettle green sticks Ill use it more too.
 

TeresaT

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I used parsley once and it made a pretty green. I made up my lye solution then put in a tbsp and left it overnight. The next day I strained the lye through a sieve and put the parsley in some cheese cloth and squeezed out the rest of the lye solution. I didn't worry about lost lye because I figured it would be negligible and just up the SF a bit.
 

topofmurrayhill

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TOMH, I think the idea of mixing natural colorants and oxides/micas is a good one w/r/t "anchoring". Just wonder if the buyers that want natural everything (and don't really understand the idea of nature identicals) will be on board. What have you been thinking about that w/r/t your natural line?
I was thinking of being able to say all-veggie and all-natural. Oxides don't seem so bad for the ingredient list, but you lose the all-natural if you're honest about it. So yeah, that could be a significant decision.

The EO soap line I initially looked at as a model (stuff a friend likes) was uncolored, so evidently they avoided a lot of hassle. I thought it would be cool to do some natural colorants.

While I didn't think it would be a cakewalk, it is a bit of a hassle. Besides issues of stability, the fact that many of them can't or shouldn't ideally be added to soap batter makes it more complicated to color part of a batch.

I think I'll content myself with selecting a limited number of natural colorants to create some variations in how the soap looks. I'm not really trying for a super colorful line, so I'll probably skip the oxides. But I still could lose the all-natural if I decide to use EDTA in addition to ROE.
 

topofmurrayhill

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TOMH, I don't think beta carotene (even the concentrated stuff) will give you a reliable, lasting color. It oxidizes very quickly in light. I did my undergrad research with it and you had to keep everything foil wrapped to prevent oxidation. I would think 1) the lye would destroy it or 2) it would not last long unless it is kept in the dark and dry.
That sounds perfectly plausible, but dixiedragon caught my attention by saying it behaves well and lasts using the supplement capsules. Also Seawolfe's soaps features a rich yellow from red palm, and that would be from beta carotene. How to reconcile these realities?
 

gigisiguenza

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I find that using infused oils for colors takes more planning than batches that use oxides or micas.

For instance on this batch, when I mixed up the lye and oils I held back 8 ounces of olive oil (on a 2.5 lb batch). Then I split the batter in half by weight, and then one half in half again. To the half batch I added 4 ounces of plain OO (for the uncolored part that would end up white), to one quarter I added 2 ounces of OO infused with spirulina and nettle for the green, and to the other quarter I added 1 ounce of OO infused with alkanet and 1 ounce plain OO for the purple. That way no section was heavier or lighter in lye than the others.



There are lots of natural color choices - but many turn brown in the lye reaction (green tea, hibiscus), some are persnickity (indigo), and its all a learning curve, but a fun one :) I keep a batch of jars of OO infusing on a shelf so they are always ready, to those I add a drop or two of ROE (Rosemary Oleoresin, an antioxidant) because they may be sitting about for a while.
Seawolfe - what pretty soap! I'll keep that rosemary oleoresin in mind for the future :)
 
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