when to add colorants

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Debs

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Hi
I have been making soaps for about a year now and decided that adding colours would make it easier to see which soap is which rather than numbering them for testing purposes!! So - I have ordered some alkanet root, couldn't find any powder, and nettle powder and i have the usual paprika, cayenne and cinnamon. I have read that adding about 1 tsp ppo is a good starting point but the different ways of adding it to the soap are confusing me. Some say infuse in oil, some add straight to the batter before pouring into the mold and some say put into the lye. I appreciate that the alkanet will need infusing as i am assuming it will be a hard substance,,,,(can you tell i have never worked with it before?!) but does it really make a difference how i add them to the recipe? Advice would be hugely appreciated.

PS - if i have posted this is the wrong forum i apologize in advance!!
 

Obsidian

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I always infuse herbal colorants. If you add the powder directly to the soap, it can be scratchy. Even finely ground paprika is surprisingly scratchy.
The only powder I use straight is spirulina, makes a lovely green but it fades quickly.

Don't use cayenne, it can make the soap burn. Cinnamon may too. It's usually safer to stay away from hot or spicy herbs.
 

Debs

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I always infuse herbal colorants. If you add the powder directly to the soap, it can be scratchy. Even finely ground paprika is surprisingly scratchy.
The only powder I use straight is spirulina, makes a lovely green but it fades quickly.

Don't use cayenne, it can make the soap burn. Cinnamon may too. It's usually safer to stay away from hot or spicy herbs.
hi Obsidian- thanks for the tip especially about potential burning. i haven't heard that anywhere else despite quite a lot of reading?!
i have bought alkanet root and nettle powder that arrived today so i will try them this weekend. What other herbal colourants have you used successfully??? i had a look at some others but either couldn't find them to buy on line or they were ridiculously expensive...well there are in the UK. Any other suggestions greatly appreciated! Debs
 

DeeAnna

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I think Obsidian means cayenne can cause a burning sensation on the skin, especially on mucous membranes and other tender tissues. Haven't you used cayenne or other hot peppers in cooking?
 

CaraBou

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Another natural colorant to use is beta carotene. It makes a lasting yellow or orange , depending how much you use. You can buy it in gel capsules (poke with a toothpick then squeeze into soap) or you can get the juice by shredding carrots with a food processor.
 

Scooter

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Don't use cayenne, it can make the soap burn. Cinnamon may too.
Oh gosh...memories of handling tabasco sauce, then rubbing my eyes. I cannot imagine putting anything like that in my soap. Why would that even come up?
 

nsmar4211

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Because it is a spice that could be used to color soap....or make one heck of a tingly soap!
 

earlene

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Indigo is quite cheap here, I don't know about in the UK. It comes in a powder. Think denim jeans, although I don't actually get quite that color with indigo.
Cocoa powder makes brown, obviously. Manjista powder gives a brownish tan, too, but cocoa powder is more readily available. I've used both.
Tea in place of water for your lye solution will darken the batter to a tan, depends on the type of tea. I've use marshamallow root to make a strong tea for using in soap.
Don't bother with alfalfa powder as it gave me no color at all.
Chlorophyll liquid is supposed to give green, and I've bought some, but haven't yet tried it in soap.
Turmeric gives you yellowish orange, depending on how much you use. It sticks pretty well, without a lot of fading.
Spinach does give you a green, but it fades to whatever natural color the soap would be without it, until you cut into it and the inside has some green. Add boiling hot water to it, and the green comes back, but I only discovered that accidentally when I decided to salt out some soaps and the boiling water brought the green back to the faded spinach soap. It was pretty cool looking.
 

Debs

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Indigo is quite cheap here, I don't know about in the UK. It comes in a powder. Think denim jeans, although I don't actually get quite that color with indigo.
Cocoa powder makes brown, obviously. Manjista powder gives a brownish tan, too, but cocoa powder is more readily available. I've used both.
Tea in place of water for your lye solution will darken the batter to a tan, depends on the type of tea. I've use marshamallow root to make a strong tea for using in soap.
Don't bother with alfalfa powder as it gave me no color at all.
Chlorophyll liquid is supposed to give green, and I've bought some, but haven't yet tried it in soap.
Turmeric gives you yellowish orange, depending on how much you use. It sticks pretty well, without a lot of fading.
Spinach does give you a green, but it fades to whatever natural color the soap would be without it, until you cut into it and the inside has some green. Add boiling hot water to it, and the green comes back, but I only discovered that accidentally when I decided to salt out some soaps and the boiling water brought the green back to the faded spinach soap. It was pretty cool looking.
Thanks for this, very useful. I'd forgotten about cocoa powder so i will add that to my list of trials. Did you add it at trace? Turmeric is also on my list - did you make an oil infusion with it first? I have nettle powder for green so i will try that first and keep spinach as a reserve test! Thanks again - Debs
 

Debs

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I think Obsidian means cayenne can cause a burning sensation on the skin, especially on mucous membranes and other tender tissues. Haven't you used cayenne or other hot peppers in cooking?
Hi DeeAnna - yes of course I have used them in cooking but I have found these spices suggested on several websites as natural colourants and there was no mention of potential problems. But, as you can't believe everything you read on the web, and I am a beginner, I came to the forum to check and will now cross of them off my list of potential trials!!! Debs :)
 

penelopejane

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Hi DeeAnna - yes of course I have used them in cooking but I have found these spices suggested on several websites as natural colourants and there was no mention of potential problems. But, as you can't believe everything you read on the web, and I am a beginner, I came to the forum to check and will now cross of them off my list of potential trials!!! Debs :)
Lots of people even sell soap with natural colour ants that fade in a few weeks.
So not only can't you believe everything on the net you have to decide what is acceptable practice for you.

eg spirulina fades in a few weeks.
Paprika holds and doesn't fade or burn.
 

Debs

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Lots of people even sell soap with natural colour ants that fade in a few weeks.
So not only can't you believe everything on the net you have to decide what is acceptable practice for you.

eg spirulina fades in a few weeks.
Paprika holds and doesn't fade or burn.[/QUOTe

Yes I guess I do and even though I am only at the experimenting stage I know that I want a natural soap that smells and looks good for longer than a few weeks!
I now have 2 tbsp paprika infusing in 5oz OO and the same for nettle powder. I bought alkanet root that is cut, and as i wasn't sure if cut AR is stronger or weaker than powder so i have put in 3 tbsp topped up with 5oz OO...why i went more i don't actually know lol ....guess i now have to wait a few weeks to let them infuse and then I can try testing their colours. Excited already!!:)
 

penelopejane

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I now have 2 tbsp paprika infusing in 5oz OO and the same for nettle powder. I bought alkanet root that is cut, and as i wasn't sure if cut AR is stronger or weaker than powder so i have put in 3 tbsp topped up with 5oz OO...why i went more i don't actually know lol ....guess i now have to wait a few weeks to let them infuse and then I can try testing their colours. Excited already!!:)
You can speed up the process by putting the oil and colourant in a double boiler (or contrive one by putting a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan) and simmer the water for a few hours. Try two test samples: one with the colourant mixed with the oil and one with the colourant strained out using stocking material. Reserve the "pulp" incase you want to use it directly in soap.

Most colourants can be a little scratchy but some people like that in a soap.
 

Gerry

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Annatto seeds are a decent botanical colorant. I have some infusing in olive oil right now. Whenever I'm south for holidays I always bring back 10 pounds or more in my checked in baggage that I buy for like $2 Canadian. I wonder what customs would think if I had to open my suitcase for them? Haha!
 

toxikon

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I got this colour with alfalfa powder: http://imgur.com/q1W3TYv

5 weeks cure and it still looks the same. Keep in mind it hasn't been exposed to sunlight.

I'm curious to see how much it will fade over the months and will most likely stick to mica next time... but for now, the colour is lovely.
 

earlene

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Thanks for this, very useful. I'd forgotten about cocoa powder so i will add that to my list of trials. Did you add it at trace? Turmeric is also on my list - did you make an oil infusion with it first? I have nettle powder for green so i will try that first and keep spinach as a reserve test! Thanks again - Debs

Sorry for not answering sooner. I was gone for a week and just now saw your question.s

Re: my use of cocoa powder: I dissolved the powder in liquid ahead of time. I don't seem to have written when I actually added it, but I don't think it matters much when it is added. It certainly produced a brownie-fudge colored soap!

Turmeric: I have used this two ways; mixed into oil & mixed into a paste with water. Either way does create some tiny specs of darker orange that seem to stay in the soap, but I like the look.

I got this colour with alfalfa powder: http://imgur.com/q1W3TYv

5 weeks cure and it still looks the same. Keep in mind it hasn't been exposed to sunlight.

I'm curious to see how much it will fade over the months and will most likely stick to mica next time... but for now, the colour is lovely.
Those are so pretty! I'll have to try my alfalfa powder again. My only attempt with it was such a major fail I have not tried again.

One of the things I wonder about is the different sources and quality control by the vendors and how that affects different results from different soapers. Plus different recipe ingredients and how they interact with these different additives. For example, I have seen photos of soaps made with alkanet root that looked really purple. I wonder: Where did they obtain the product? How much did they use in the recipe? As well as what other factors in the recipe that may have impacted the result? I used alkanet root in Borax soap; did the Borax alter the resulting color? Would it look the same if I used it in an oils only soap without any other added ingredients?

Also I have read that some botanicals give stronger color when added to the lye water, while others do not. So that was on my list of experiments to try; and I did with spinach, but not with all the ones I have. Or did I say that before?
 

Susie

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Paprika-I put about 1 ounce of paprika with 8-12 oz olive oil into an old jar with a lid, stir to mix. Put the lid on, and screw it down to almost completely tightened, but not quite. Put that into a pot with a wire rack or dishcloth in the bottom, then fill the pot with water about halfway full. Bring the water to a boil, then you can turn it off and allow that jar to sit until the water is completely cool. By then the paprika should have settled to the bottom. You can just pour the oil off without stirring it up. I don't even filter it, there is no need as long as you do not shake or stir the jar. Paprika can be used in varying amounts to get any where from a soft yellow to a brick red. I substitute that for some of the regular olive oil in the recipe. I judge how much to use by mixing all my other melted oils together and adding a little at the time until I get the color I want, then I add the remainder in plain olive oil.

Cocoa-I add this to the oils and stick blend it in. Nothing complicated. You only need about 14 grams/kg of oil. You can also use it to make a cocoa line in the middle of the soap by putting it into a small sifter and gently tapping the handle of the sifter.

Coffee-I use my leftover coffee as a water substitute to make a nice cafe au lait color in soap. This looks nice with a cocoa line. I have even done a plop and sift pattern when I had too thick a trace. I put a plop of soap, then sifted cocoa over the top and repeated all through the loaf. It was interesting looking.

Beta Carotene-Yes, the stuff you buy on the vitamin row. Someone here (pardon my horrible memory, whoever it was?) suggested it, and I have been using it ever since. You snip the end off with a pair of scissors (wear gloves, it stains), and squirt into the oils before you add the NaOH/water. You can use one capsule PPO to get a nice yellow, or more to get a nice orange. This will temporarily stain your spoons and mold, but the color does not transfer to other soaps, and it fades after a few washes.

Pureed carrots-substitute for part of your water amount. I buy the baby food of carrots. Gives an orangey color once cured. This can lead to overheating, so don't use sugar in that batch.

Raw honey-I substitute our local raw honey for sugar, and I get a nice brown. I only did it a couple of times, because sugar and cocoa are cheaper. But if you need label appeal, raw honey could help.

And remember that with the exception of the coffee and the infused olive oil, the others could be added to part of the soap, and used to swirl.
 

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