What’s the madder with my madder?

Discussion in 'Lye-Based Soap Forum' started by Mobjack Bay, Jun 8, 2019.

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  1. Jun 8, 2019 #1

    Mobjack Bay

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    I made an infusion of 2 Tbs of Madder root powder in 1.5 cups of olive oil. It was in a hot water bath for 2 hours. The powder in the oil suspension looks deep merlot red, but when the powder settles out, the oil itself is more of a gold color (with some contribution of the slightly green olive oil).

    Based on this link, I was expecting the oil to turn red. Or did he use the powder-oil mixture in his recipe? If so, does anyone know if madder root powder in an oil infusion is scratchy in the soap? I was going to use it to get a med-light pink in my first run of Genny’s shampoo (facial) soap, but I don’t want scratchy facial soap.

    Has anyone added the madder powder to the lye as suggested by Jo at Modern Soapmaking here? And, if so, did you get pink or red soap? Was it scratchy feeling?
     
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  2. Jun 8, 2019 #2

    Dawni

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    Mine's the same. Been leaving it alone in case it needs more time but I'm wondering if it needs more madder root. I'm very curious about what your results will be..
     
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  3. Jun 8, 2019 #3

    Mobjack Bay

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    Partial post deleted by me. See the next post!
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  4. Jun 8, 2019 #4

    Mobjack Bay

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    Dang, I just wrote a post that vanished due to clumsy fingers :beatinghead:

    Found this at Mad Micas: Madder powder is scratchy and produces speckles when added to soap at trace, but infusing in oil for a few day eliminates scratchiness and speckles (website).

    Dyers use madder and the Dharma Trading website offers a number of prep tips that seem transferable:

    “Pro-tip(s): Most natural dyestuffs like to be soaked overnight for some of the darkest shades. We prepped our dyestuffs in a blender with water and let them soak overnight. We used 50% weight of goods for the ground madder and 20% weight of goods for the cochineal. We also strained the dyestuffs and made “tea bags” with some scrap muslin so there wouldn’t be loose floating plant matter when we added our yarns. Check out these great videos from Kimberly Baxter Packwood for more tips and tricks to get the most color out of your dyestuffs:
    Prepping madder root

    Edited to add that in the video the instructions are to heat the madder in water, very slowly to “coax out the red colors” otherwise you will get oranges, yellows and brown. She said to bring it to a simmer over 1-2 hours.

    “Pro-tip: Keep the madder below 200 degrees, around 180 is best. Any hotter and the red dye compounds will break down and your color will shift towards yellow and orange.”

    “Something fun to try:

    Madder will shift color as you change the pH of the water. Try dyeing up some samples in mason jars and vary the pH of the water with a little citric acid or soda ash. A lower acid pH (citric acid) will shift the color more orange, and higher more alkali pH (soda ash) will shift the color to bluer/darker hues.”

    Has anyone achieved a blue soap this way?
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
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  5. Jun 8, 2019 #5

    Mobjack Bay

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    Time to coax the reds out! Madder root powder in distilled water in a water bath on my stove:

    D577C058-C458-48D7-8AB4-154CBCED7AD8.jpeg
     
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  6. Jun 8, 2019 #6

    earlene

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    Like forcing color changes in hydrangeas. Change the pH of the soil and it goes to either pick or blue. Cool stuff, chemistry!
     
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  7. Jun 8, 2019 #7

    Mobjack Bay

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    @earlene My madder from BB is INCI Rubia tinctorum. The scientific name for Manjistha or Indian madder is Rubia cordifolia. So, they’re closely related, but different species.
     
  8. Jun 8, 2019 #8

    Mobjack Bay

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    The madder has been simmering in distilled water on my stove for two hours now. I was shooting for 180F at this point, but it’s only at 130F. I’m doing laundry and cleaning house so figured it would be better to go up slowly in case I forget to check. The red is getting more intense :thumbs:

    0028A46E-D06C-4A90-8264-7B5BB95AC718.jpeg
     
  9. Jun 9, 2019 #9

    Mobjack Bay

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    Caught this new information just in time! My water bath just reached 155 F and apparently the red changes to brown at 160F in the madder I’m using (Rubia tinctorum), where the primary red pigment is alizarin. In Manjistha or Indian Madder, the primary red pigment is Munjistin, which is less heat sensitive according to this site. It’s interesting that the critical heat degradation temp for both madder pigments and chlorophyll is right in the range at which soap goes into gel phase. There’s more information on the various pigments in both of the madders at the Maiwa link. They sell buy both kinds and also sell a “madder-rich extract.”
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
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  10. Jun 9, 2019 #10

    Mobjack Bay

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    Anne Watson’s website has photos of soaps she made using madder different ways. The soap made with infused oil turned out grey and the one made with madder powder mixed with a little oil and added at trace was pink with speckles.
    Then she tried it one more way and produced a peachy pink bar of soap using “madder tea,” which she added at trace as a replacement for some of her water. Based on her results, I’m more confident that I have a chance of success with the dye I made.

    She also provides information on using alkanet and other natural colorants like turmeric and annatto.
     
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  11. Jun 9, 2019 #11

    Mobjack Bay

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    edited to delete duplicate info from previous post... :eek:

    Here are color samples of my dye and the oil infusions I made yesterday, and the powders left over for the madder dye and oil infusion:

    16639F53-EF9B-44AE-A30B-2695E4D8A631.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
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  12. Jun 9, 2019 #12

    JuliaNegusuk

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    I've used madder root added at trace and as a tea with the lye. Added at trace it produces a white soap with pink speckles. The soap turns pinker over time and by the end of cure you should have a light pink soap with dark pink speckles. Very pretty but yes a little scratchy which I can live with but I know some can't bear.

    Best way I think is to add to the lye. At first I added the ground root to the ready made lye, still hot and seived the root out using a jelly bag. Fiddly and I didn't like messing about with lye in this way. Now I make strong tea with boiling water, sieve the root out when cool, you lose some water so I add a little water at this point to bring it back up to quantity to mix with the lye or you could add a bit extra to start with. Then make the lye with the madder root tea as if it was water. Make the soap normally. It will start off an impressive and slightly scary raspberry pink at pouring stage but mellows to a medium pink as it cures. It does provide a good, long lasting pink colour without waiting weeks for steeping in oil. I have used similar methods with calendula petals for a good yellow (just added to the hot lye and left in, though you could probably sieve out if you wanted) and paprika for an apricoty orange colour, though I have only tried leaving the parika in which did leave speckles and very slight scratchyness. I would certainly recommend this method as a quick way to get long lasting, good pink colour.
     
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  13. Jun 9, 2019 #13

    Mobjack Bay

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    I just made a lard rich soap with the madder dye I made yesterday. I used dye water that was passed through a coffeee filter into a small pitcher, which means I had few if any particles of the powder in the dye water. It looked red, but on the weaker side. I used 2/3 of my water weight for the lye water and the remainder, as dye water, was added to the batter before full emulsion. It was not much dye water (only about an ounce) because The batch was small and I use 37% lye concentration when I make soap for individual molds. I think the soap is going to end up pale pink at best.

    @JuliaNegusuk Thanks for sharing your methods!

    The Dharma Trading website I linked above states that madder dye is pH sensitive. That’s why I didn’t just mix it in the lye water. Has your madder tea water ever turned blue when mixed with the lye? Based on your good experiences, I will try it in the lye water the next time. According to what I read at the DT and Maiwa sites, the dye temp should stay at 160 F or below for the kind of madder I’m using. I guess I could super chill the dye water and set the container in an ice bath when I add the lye. Do you know what kind (species) of madder you use? Apparently, Indian madder (Manjistha) can withstand higher temps. And, one more question! How do you sieve your tea?
     
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  14. Jun 9, 2019 #14

    JuliaNegusuk

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    If it helps further I use 172 grams of boiling water to 6 grams of ground madder root (I grind it up in an electric coffee grinder) and use a jelly bag to sieve out the madder root from the cold tea before adding the lye. At this point I reweigh and add a little more water as I lose some in the sieving out process. I always give the jelly bag a good squeeze to get as much colour and liquid out as possible - easier to do before you add the lye rather than after! The calendula petals just 2 grams (or a big pinch) added straight to the hot lye. I can't remember the quantities for paprika but it wouldn't have been a huge amount. This is based on an oil weight of 600 grams and a water/lye ratio of 2:1.
     
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  15. Jun 9, 2019 #15

    earlene

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    I only have the powder, but should have no trouble making that into a tea to add to the lye solution. Thank you for your information, Julia!
     
  16. Jun 9, 2019 #16

    JuliaNegusuk

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    No it's never turned blue. I'm afraid I don't know the type of madder root. I buy from an English company called Summer Naturals and they don't specify. It comes in little bits of red root which I grind to powder in the coffee grinder. Interestingly the seller says you should steep in oil for weeks to colour soap. But I have made soap using the madder tea method about a dozen times so far and it has never failed me. Good luck.
     
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  17. Jun 9, 2019 #17

    Mobjack Bay

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    Little cubes of leftover batter from the soaps I made today. Left to right:

    Madder dye added to batter, MMS Osmanthus FO - its very pale pink and the scent also seems subtle at this point
    Indigo dispersed in oil added to batter, MMS Jacob FO - should be bluish, but not quite there, nice, but subtle scent
    Matcha-infused olive oil, used instead of olive oil in the recipe, MMS Green Tea FO - love the color and it smells great!

    8E507498-170E-451D-841F-E92AE1F376CE.jpeg
     
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  18. Jun 9, 2019 #18

    Mobjack Bay

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    Thanks so much for this. Do you think its possible that any very fine particles in the tea make it through the jelly bag? Is that what you mean by “colour” as opposed to liquid? Anne Watson filtered her madder tea through fabric, which I’m guessing is more like your jelly bag.
     
  19. Jun 9, 2019 #19

    earlene

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    Jelly bags are a very fine mesh fabric. I don't know about where Julie lives, but the ones I use look like this:
    [​IMG]
    I don't normally have many particles getting through the mesh, unless they are super tiny and I force them through with a spatula or by squeezing.
     
  20. Jun 9, 2019 #20

    JuliaNegusuk

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    The jelly bag is pretty fine. I guess you could use muslin or something similar instead. It is possible that a bit of fine powder gets through the bag, but unlikely in any quantity I would have thought. If you are suggesting that the colour is fine powder in suspension in the water rather than actual coloured water, then no. I think the colour has definately stained the water if that's the right word. It has also stained the jelly bag which is now permanently dark pink, and even slightly stained my white rubber spatula that I stirred the mixture with. It hasn't stained my silicon moulds but they are red and brown so it wouldn't show. When you make the tea it should be a fairly strong red. It goes raspberry pink when you mix the red lye with oils and slowly mellows to a medium pink as it cures. It isn't bright pink, it is very slightly dusky pink, but nevertheless definately PINK. I'm afraid I don't seem to have a photo. It is also pretty consistently the same colour every time I make it. I know some people find natural colourants unreliable but I haven't found it so for my chosen colourants. I do get ash though, which is my personal bugbear. But so far not badly on my pink soap. I do find that my yellow and green soaps (calendula and green tea wax) are worst for ash. But I wouldn't have thought the colourant would affect it. But who knows.
     
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