Sunday, July 11, 2010

Raspberry pink soap - Yellow Dock

We had a weed clearing day at the allotment the other day.  The target was "Njóli" a tall perennial weed that was growing in the periphery of the area in great quantities.  As I was pulling out the weeds which another woman had dug up with a shovel, I said to her:  "I just know I'm going to find a great use for this stuff as soon as we've hauled it all to the dump".  Well, guess what!

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:

Rumex soap:

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.

The photo: This is the best colour I have gotten with the Rumex oil. And it lasts well. One of the cake dishes I picked up for the wedding. This one a bit retro with a 60's flower pattern. 



  1. Now I have yet another reason to wish that yellow dock grew around here. I have never seen it =( Please keep us posted on how the pink color sticks in your soap. Very cool experiment, thanks for sharing!

  2. Another lovely post Ambra I love reading your posts as they are so interesting!and your soap is beautiful just love that colour...

  3. Ambra, that color is absolutely LOVELY! You've renewed my hope in that yucky looking color that's still "steeping" in my laundry room. How wonderful that you can harvest it yourself -love it! (Your photo really shows off the color as well -great job!) ~Becky

    p.s. Thanks so much for the link! : )

  4. Michelle - are you in the US? Yellow dock seems to grow in every state according to this: Whereas R longifolius grows in northern regions. Sorry, I'm a bit of a nerd.

    Edith, Thanks, I think this could make beautiful shades of pink in different doses - if the colour lasts.

    Becky - Can't wait to see how your soaps turn out. Be sure to post it.

  5. Love that color, it's so pretty, hope it lasts. I have real problems getting a nice natural yellow that lasts, I've tied a couple but they disappear and take the essential oils with them:)a real pain!

  6. I LOVE this pink. It is sensational! What a find! It is a variation of Yellow Dock? Have you found out what benefits Njóli to the skin? This is one of my favourite photos of yours! xo Jen

  7. Aroma Beauty Natural Soaps - I did a yellow soap with Sea Buckthorn some time ago. it was much to soft, but I just rebatched it and the colour is lovely. I think I used less than a teaspoon of the oil and the colour has stayed. I have some Annatto seeds that I'm waiting to try, have you tried that? But EO's - they disappear on me so quick. We need to experiment with some natural fixatives. There must be some.

    Jen- I know, this colour is really good. What a surprise! My immediate thought was: Why isn't everyone using this?
    The two plants are closely related (Both Rumex's) and seem to have most of the same benefits, although I read somewhere that Yellow Dock leaves are poisonous, but Njóli is considered a healthy salad. It is very good for acne and boils, eczema and psoriasis and itchy skin. It is also well known as a remedy for Nettle stings. So not too shabby credentials :)

  8. Thank you Ambra! Yes, I'm in Minnesota. I've not seen it or maybe I've confused it with other plants. I'll keep an eye out for it. I'd love to try it as a soap colorant, it is very pretty.

  9. Thank you:) I have some sea buckthorn berry so I might give that a go. Annatto seeds was one of the ones I tried that faded and took my EO's with it. It was a premade one from annatto seeds, so I don't know if making it with the real thing might be different. I've never heard of Njoli, does anyone know if it has another common name? not sure if we have it here.

  10. Muy lindo y elegante jabon.
    un abrazo

  11. ABNS - Njóli is Dooryard Dock or Northern Dock and grows in colder climates. It belongs to the species Rumex and I think there are Rumex plants that grow in Australia. I think I saw something called Swamp Dock and I bet that if you check pretty much any plant that is called "something Dock" you will find that it has yellow coloured roots when you cut them. Grate those or chop them up and put the in oil for a few days and use the oil.
    texia - Takk :D


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