A few day later I was surfing the Internet and saw a chat thread that talked about colouring soap with the root of Yellow Dock. Oh, another exotic plant, I thought, but I Googled it anyway, clicked "images" and... saw: Njóli! I had to laugh. See, this is why I hate to throw things out! You just always find uses for stuff when you've given up on it.
Anyway, I put on my Wellies and headed down to the allotment armed with a shovel to find the few remaining plants. I found quite a few and dug them up. I cut the roots off and headed home. Once there, I washed the roots, grated them in the food processor and chopped up the bits that had stubbornly refused the treatment. Then I put the yellowish mush into a jar and poured Olive oil over it, careful to cover the whole lot in oil. This is then shaken or stirred every day to make sure that it all stays covered and doesn't develop mold.
After a short time the oil takes on a lime green tinge. I looked at that thought: Huh! pink, eh! I had to try, so the other night I went ahead. The recipe is a fairly regular one. It is small only half a kilo, about a pound. The oz. are approximate, I use metric measurements, so always check in a Soapcalculator:
30% Coconut oil - 150 g / 5.3 oz
20% Olive oil - 100 g / 3.5 oz
20% Lard - 100 g / 3.5 oz
10% Sunflower oil - 50 g / 1.8 oz
10% Soybean oil - 50 g / 1.8 oz
10% Cocoa butter - 10 g / 0.35 oz
72 g / 2.5 oz of lye.
175 g / 6.2 oz water
I measured 20 g / 0.7 oz of the Njóli oil.
When I added the lye water it turned orange-y, muddy kind of red or pink. Quite a strong colour. I was a bit disappointed because I had wanted a Raspberry colour that someone had talked about. However I thought this was too good to be without a scent so I hastily added Orange and Clary Sage EO to it. Smells nice and I hope it lasts.
But the colour was to surprise me. After sitting for a few days it had turned this blue-ish Raspberry red. The cut surfaces are a warmer tone which I suspect will turn the same as the surface. I really, really like the colour, but next time I think I'll use half the amount of coloured oil to get a lighter pink colour, just to experiment a bit. But what remains to be seen is how the colour holds up while curing. I have witnessed many pretty soap colours turn to nothing while curing. So I'll make sure that I post additional info. I'm also waiting to hear about The Soap Sister's trial with Yellow Dock root and Jenora's Alkanet experiments.
The funny thing is that as it turns out, Yellow Dock isn't Njóli. They look the same in photos, but this is where Latin names come in handy. Yellow Dock is Rumex crispus, while my Njóli is Rumex longifolious or Dooryard Dock/Northern Dock. These plants are closely related and Njóli has been used here as a medicinal plant for ages as has Yellow Dock where it grows. But the roots of both are yellow and both work as a soap colourant. I read somewhere that there is more colour in the roots of the plant if it is growing in poor soil. So pick it where it is growing in sand and gravel rather than a grassy meadow if you have a choose.