I already gave you some great ideas on how to use ground herbs and spices from your kitchen like paprika, nutmeg, turmeric, and cocoa powder to color soap in Adding Color to Homemade Soap. Today, I want to go a step farther and talk about herb that can be infused in oil or added to lye water for a brighter color so you can color soap naturally and organically.
Three Ways to Color Soap Naturally
These methods are for hot or cold processed soap.
Melt and pour soap is already soap. You cannot infuse oils or lye water, because it’s already been mixed. Stick to colors that can be added at trace for melt and pour since most of these will blend more easily with melted soap.
- The lye water – Some herbs become much brighter when added to the lye water instead of simply added at trace or even as an oil infusion. The idea is to make a tea and allow it to cool. Use this as part or all of the water in your recipe. Once it combines with the lye it often changes color and continues to do so after added to the oils and saponifies.
- At trace – Adding color at trace is what most people start with when adding color to soap. This involves removing a small amount of soap batter at light trace, whisking in the natural colorant, then adding it back to the main batch, swirling it in, or creating layers.
- Infused oils – Infused oils can often bring the brightest colors. The hot oil or cold oil infusion process is very simple, and colors can be made ahead of time and kept to be used for multiple soap batches.
You simply infuse an oil that you will be using within your recipe. Either add hot oil over herbs and allow it to cool while shaking and stirring, or add cold oil over the herbs and set the sealed jar in a sunny window sil and allow it to infuse for up to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally.
Olive oil is in most recipes, so it makes a great choice for oil infusions. So, for example, if you have 8 oz of olive oil in your recipe, you may want to infuse 4 of those ounces or even all 8 of those ounces with your colored oil. Obviously, how much you add will effect the color.
Herbal Soap Coloring Chart
If you want a more detailed chart with more herbs, more colors, and exact measurements to use, check out my book, The Natural Soapmaking Book for Beginners.
Orange Moroccan clay
How Much Do I Add?
In general, start with one teaspoon of a ground herb per pound of soap when adding to lye water or at trace. Some may require less, some more, but it’s a great place to start. Add more if you want to, but remember that some colors deepen as they go through the process (like alkanet), others lighten (most greens). Clays, charcoal, and cocoa stay pretty much true to what you started with when adding, so feel free to adjust them right then and there.
For most oil infusions you can fill an 8oz jar with the fresh herb before pouring oil over it. If using powders, ground herbs, or seeds, you will often use a mounded tablespoon in an 8oz jar and end up with a bright and beautiful infusion.
Don’t forget that you can still get into the Soap Making Bonus Collection for a few more days and get
- Printable Soap Labels
- Helpful Charts
- Bonus Recipe
- A Discount to my Etsy Shop