Soap colour - natural or not
So, my first soaps were just completely naked: Pure vegetable oils, some lard sometimes, Icelandic spring water and lye. And I truly loved them, so it came as a bit of a surprise to observe peoples reaction. This is universal: Everyone seems to pick up a soap and first smell it and then look at it closely. My soaps weren't really sexy so people were less than enthusiastic. They expected colour and scent.
Now the biggest problem that I had when I was starting out was getting ingredients. Palm oils doesn't exist in this country. I was lucky to discover coconut oil (almost in disguise) and but exotic oils (avocado, rose hip, borage, argan) are simply unavailable. Some (almond, jojoba, evening primrose) are obtainable in tiny quantities at exorbitant prices. The same applied to colouring and fragrances. Essential oils are sold in tiny bottles and are very expensive. I found that I needed to use a whole bottle to scent a kilo of soap. But stuff to colour the soaps - well forget it. I searched high and low, but found pretty much nothing. Admittedly I did find a seller of melt and pour bases (with a warning: Can cause itching and all sorts of other unplesantness!) and synthetic colour. I did buy some of the colour since I was desperate and ready to experiment.
I have a love/hate relationship with synthetic colour in soaps. I love colour, don't get me wrong. When faced with having to choose between a selection of colours, I want them all! I look at many of the soap that I see on all these blogs and my mouth waters at the sight of those yummy soaps. And a part of me is desperate to get more colouring stuff to experiment. The other part of me wants to make soaps with only natural ingredients. I have Googled back and forth and tried some of the things that I have found to work as colourants. I ordered alkanet root and some clays the other day. Madder root is on my shopping list, as that seems to be almost the only thing that gives a red/pink that is natural. Some things like spirulina /algae, charcoal, cocoa and coffee I have already tried, but colour continues to
This weekend I tried using hibiscus to colour soap. I had seen it listed as a possible provider of red colour, although somewhere else someone said it didn't work any more than beet root juice/powder. But I had to try it. To make sure that I didn't miss anything I tried to infuse it in oil as well as make tea from it. The tea was a beautiful bright red, but the oil infusion - nothing. Absolutely nothing! I heated it and begged and pleaded, but NO. So I made the soap with the colourless oil infusion and the bright red tea. To try to fool the lye, I had decided that I would add the tea to the soap at trace rather than dissolve the lye into the tea. But lye will not be fooled. When I added the tea to the soap, it turned this gorgeous green! I was thrilled!...but oops, it didn't last! I watched in amazement as it simply disappeared into a light creamy yellow. Not really a remarkable achievement considering that creamy yellow is the default colour of soaps.
So I now can't wait to experiment with natural colour. Not that I think that everything natural is necessarily good and healthy. Plenty of poisons are natural and plenty of synthetics are simply man made identical chemicals to the natural ones. It's just that it somehow feels more naturals to use things that are natural. Naturally!