How To Color Soap With Kitchen Ingredients

Want to find out how to avoid artificial colorants in your handmade soap? It is really fun to use kitchen natural ingredients to color your soap! Fun and healthier, more natural. Find out what ingredients work as good soap colorants. In this post, I am showing you how to color soap with kitchen ingredients and how my soaps ended up when I’ve used them.

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Coloring Handmade Soap

It’s really challenging and fun to try how plant-based, kitchen ingredients like spices, herbs and even certain foods can color your soap. Many times they end up being slightly different from what was expected. Sometimes they are radically different and few times they end up exactly how you want.

This is how nature works. By not being very reproduceable, the mix of ingredients – oils, essential oils and colorants – always provide unique soaps, making all of them special and pretty. Why did I mention oils and essential oils? Because sometimes they help change colors.

The Influence of Ingredients in Color

Yellow oils like olive oil or hemp oil tend to give a natural yellow-creamish color to your soap by themselves, so it’s normal that they change your soap color. Also bear in mind that, from my experience, most of the times these oils loose they color over time (months) and the resulting soap actually becomes almost white. I think it depends on the strenght and quality of the ingredients.

Pure olive oil soap with a yellow color

If you wish for your natural colorants to produce a truer, original color, you should use white, clear oils, like coconut oil, sunflower or palm oil, castor oil, or even lard. In some recipes, I will use a whitish oil base and will let you know about it.

To be honest, I don’t really mind if I get a grass green, a pale green or a dark-forest green on my soaps. I do like the unpredicability of what will be the final soap. I also love olive oil and it’s cheap in my area, so I value more a relatively cheap and good quality, conditioning soap, than one where I completely control colors.

herbs spices salts

The play of all ingredients, specially if you are using all-natural, is what makes soapmaking so much fun.

Essential oils, especially spicy ones, also might influence the color of your soap. For example, I’ve used turmeric and cinammon essential oil at same time, and I think that was what gave the latte-like color to my soap. Really pretty, but not exactly the orange-like I was looking for. Again, look for the color of the ingredient itself. If it’s clear, most likely it won’t change the color of your soap.

Soap Making Influence In Color

The soapmaking technique also influences the final color of natural colorants. The results shown in this post are all about cold process for the moment, and while you can use them in hot process and melt and pour, the results might vary.

This is a work-in-progress list anyway, as I will update it while I personally explore other natural ingredients on my soaps. I will end up trying melt and pour – made with homemade soap base! – and hot process and showing you the results here.

Why Is It Different?

Because when you make cold process or hot process soap, a chemical reaction takes place, also changing the colorant ingredient structure. Hot process also uses heat, something that contributes to chemically change any substance.

Melt and pour only requires heat, there’s no actually chemical reaction. Therefore, the same spice may give a different color to soap, depending if you are making cold process, hot process or melt and pour.

A final word about natural colorants. Some blogs list natural colorants as giving the X color. While that might be true, they don’t give the actual instructions on how to make it work.

Dried Hibiscus

For example, dried hibiscus is listed as giving a rosy color to your soap in several blogs. I was able to observe that hibiscus reacts strongly with high pH (8-9) and its rosy color switches to a dark blue-violet color.

It might work with a syndet bar (most melt-and-pour soap base are actually syndet bases and not really soap bases) as the pH is usually around 5.5 or even below. But it can’t work on soap as a rose colorant.

What Can I Use To Color Soap?

Micas and Mineral Pigments

I’ve started soap making by using micas colored with mineral pigments, and they are present in some of my recipes.

Go ahead if you wish to buy them, they use similar mineral substances as natural clays. They include oxides and ultramarines and using them can give you absolutely beautiful soap colors. It’s probably the way to start, as they are very reliable, and won’t make your feel frustrated with the lack of off-target results (you want a yellow soap and you get a creamy or orange one).

Mineral pigments have a good level of skin-safety and color — they are, after all, the basis for mineral-based make-up. Even though cosmetic minerals are perfectly safe to use, and identical to minerals found in nature, they aren’t considered natural.

Natural minerals are often contaminated with heavy metals so the ones you can purchase for cosmetics are man-made to be ‘nature identical’. Micas are usually added dispersed in a bit of oil after trace, but I’ve used them in lye water as well.

Here are some of my soaps made with these mineral pigments, or micas.

Mineral Pigments Chart

ColorWhat You AddHow Do You Add ItWhat You Get
VIOLET
Violet-mica
Violet Mica
Ultramarine Violet
Add during or after trace

Recipes:
How To Make Pure Coconut Oil Soap
Best Lavender Soap Recipe With Layers
coconut-oil-soaps-with-lavender
layered-lavender-cold-process-soap-recipe
BLUE
Blue Mica
Ultramarine Blue
Add during or after trace

Recipes:
Peppermint Soap
Cedarwood Soap Recipe – With Drop Swirl
Cold Process Soap Recipe with Layers
peppermint-soap

homemade floral soap
GREENgreen mica
Green Mica
Chromium Oxide
Add during or after trace

Recipes:
Rosemary and Eucalyptus Soap Recipe
Three green soap bars scented with rosemary and eucalyptus
RED
Red Mica
Red Iron Oxide
Add during or after trace

Recipes:
Patchouli Soap Recipe
patchouli soap in layers
YELLOWyellow-mica
Yellow Mica
Yellow Iron Oxide
Add in melt and pour soap

Melt and Pour Recipes:
How To Make Melt and Pour Soap
Yellow melt and pour soap with chia seeds

Natural Colorants

But let’s talk about the actual natural colorants! What are they afterall?

Natural colorants can be food like honey, milk, pumpkin or carrot, spices, infused water or oil with dried herbs or flowers, powdered dried herbs or flowers, or natural clays.

I do like to use the latest ones as they are the most predictable, and still natural ingredients. But it’s really fun to use a carrot pureé and find out how pretty and yellow your soap gets. It’s so simple, made with very common ingredients, and you get a natural soap!!

You can add these natural colorants in several ways:

  • add the powder to lye water,
  • replace the water with a liquid in lye water,
  • add the powder dispersed in a bit of oil after trace,
  • infuse the oil with dried plants or powder.

Below you can find my homemade soaps, where I list the natural colorant, the recipe, how I’ve used the colorant, and how the soap turned out to be.

Natural Colorants Chart

ColorWhat You AddHow Do You
Add It
What You Get
PINK (CREAM)Pink clay
Pink Clay
Add to lye water or after trace

Recipes:
Pink Clay Soap Recipe
Luxurious Cold Process Rose Soap Recipe
pink clay soap recipe
Luxurious cold process rose soap
PINK
(ORANGE)
white spoons of colorful turmeric powder, turmeric root in the background
Turmeric
Add after trace

Recipes:
Turmeric and Ylang-Ylang Soap Recipe
ylang-ylang-soap-recipe
RED (BROWN)Red clay
Red Clay
Add to lye water or after trace

Recipes:
Red Clay Soap Recipe With Horse Chestnut
Patchouli Soap Recipe


patchouli-soap-bar
YELLOWcarrot puree
Carrot pureé
calendula petals
Calendula petals (dried)

Oat flour
Add to lye water
Calendula can be used infused in oils as well

Recipes:
Carrot Soap Recipe
Palm Oil Soap Recipe
Face Soap Recipe with Shea Butter and Oat
pile of 3 carrot soaps colored with carrot, carrot decoration100-palm-oil-soap


GREENfrench-green-clay
Green clay
Add to lye water or after trace

Recipes:
French Green Clay Soap Recipe
french-green-clay-and-olive-oil-soap-recipe
CREAMorange juice
Orange Juice
white spoons of colorful turmeric powder, turmeric root in the background
Turmeric
Add to lye water

Recipes:
Travelling Soap Recipe
Turmeric And Cinnamon Soap Recipe
homemade rosemary soap
pile of 3 pretty golden brown soap bars
ORANGEpaprika-powder
Paprika
Add during or after trace.
You can also infuse oils with paprika.

Recipes:
Paprika Cold Process Soap Recipe
Sweet Almond Oil Soap Recipe


no-coconut-soap-recipe-with-vibrant-paprika
OFF-WHITE
LIGHT CREAM
No natural
colorants
This is soap with its natural color coming from the oils only

Recipes:
Homemade Lard Soap Recipe
Olive Oil Soap Recipe
homemade-lard-soap-recipe
olive-oil-soap-recipe

Like I said, this post is a work-in-progress one. I will be updating it regularly with recipes where I use natural colorants, as there are several ones. I will also post the pictures of the resulting soap. Yes, I know photos can be color-changed, but I promise I am posting the colors pretty close to what I see in reality.

If you want to find another good source of natural colorants for soap, check out this post from Lovely Greens, an organic gardener blog.

2 thoughts on “How To Color Soap With Kitchen Ingredients”

  1. Is it safe to colour your soap with kitchen ingredients? I do not want to have an allergic reaction to this. Also, can you use this soap on your body or is it just for your hands? It is actually pretty cool that you can make your own soap and colour it.

    • Hello Daniel and thanks for your comment.

      There is a chance that if you are allergic to a certain food, you will have an allergic reaction using it in soap. Otherwise, it’s pretty safe, safer than artificial dyes filled with chemicals that will definitely “attack” your body.

      If you are unsure, skip spices like cinnamon or turmeric, those are probably the most prone to cause allergies. But carrot or pumpkin pureé are quite harmless 🙂

      Cheers,

      Sofia

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