Laundry soap, this time with alkanet root

So I did the laundry soap. All sheep fat, like my paternal grandmother would have made. No olive oil in those days!

Well, maybe not 100% sheep fat but very close. I had steeped the alkanet root in sunflower oils, so I measured it (about 35 g.) and put it into the Soapcalc sheet and did the standard 38% water and a 0% discount. I had steeped about a tablespoon of alkanet root in a 1/4 cup, that seemed to be the consensus of my sources.  Then again, they said to used a tablespoon of the coloured oil to a pound of oil.  This recipe was for 500 gr., so just over a pound.  Having stirreed the soap I rather unceremoniously plonked it into a dairy carton, laundry soap is going to be grated anyway so no need for a fancy mold.

The alkanet root infused oil was a beautiful ruby red, so it was quite a surprise to see it turn a delicate baby blue when I started to blend.  I had expected a lavender or a pinkish tone!  But alkanet takes on a different colour depending on the PH of the solution.  It seems that a PH of 6 would give a red colour, 8 should produce a more purple tone and something like my laundry soap (probably very alkaline - I should test it!) will be blue.  The colour also depends on the amount of colourant used according to the many sources that I have read, but in what way is not clear.  So I shall have to continue to experiment, which is a good thing.  I thrive on novelty.

The soap was also very hard, almost crumbly right away.  I'm not used to that, my soaps tend to be on the soft side to start with.  I often don't cut them until a week or more after I pour them.  That is more down to lack of palm oil than by design.  Most often they cure to be very reasonably hard soaps that last well.

I have to say that I love the endless surprises of lye and how the soaps change with time.  I have been watching my laundry bars with excitement because they are beginning to turn in colour.  Going over to the pink side, maybe.  Or it's probably gray.  But anyway, a thoroughly gratifying experiment that will continue all the way to the washing machine.

The photo. The lovely blue of Alkanet. I would be nice if this colour could last, but it is only blue while the soap is very alkaline. Milk and cream cartons are perfect molds for beginners, one more use before it is thrown out.


  1. Hi! I posted here yesterday but it has disappeared! Just want to say I can't wait to hear more about your experiments with Alkanet Root. I still have not got it figured out. I have achieved some amazing blues and purples (and ugly greys...) but I have no idea how. It is still so hit and miss with me. Let me know how your experimenting goes!!


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