Color soap – what not to do

It is difficult to get the beautiful swirls and patterns in soap without using color.  However, not all colors are created equal.  Not only have I learned how to color soap, I’ve learned how NOT to color soap.

I’ve learned the hard way that some colors just can’t handle to alkalinity of cold process soap.  If you see one of these compounds on the list of ingredients of your colorant you can be guaranteed it will change color, or completely loose color in your soap.

Don’t Use These to Color Soap

  • Iron ferrocyanide (or any ferrocyanide for that matter.)  But oh the beautiful shade of prussian blue.  Unfortunately you can’t use anything with prussian blue to color your cold process soap.Do not color soap with prussian blue
  • Carmine – another natural colorant that does not handle the alkaline soap batter.
  • Ultramarine Violet – A lovely purple that tends to fade to a muddy mauve in cold process soap.  When used at high levels it can stain your wash cloths.

Use caution with Vanillin

Vanillin – okay, not a color but it is in many fragrance oils.  When you use a fragrance oil with vanillin your soap will turn brown.  It may not happen at first, but eventually you will see your soap turn colors.  You have a couple of choices when using a fragrance oil with vanillin.  You can use a vanilla stabilizer that can help prevent (or slow) the color change of vanilla, or you can make your soap knowing that the color WILL change.

brown discoloration of vanillin soap color

These are just a few of the problems I’ve run into when making soap.  I am sure this is not a complete list and I will continue learning as I keep making soap, but I sure wish I knew how NOT to color soap before I spend money on some of my pigments.