Friday, May 17, 2013

Herbal colourants for soap making

With a view to colouring my next batch of soap, I did a bit of research into suitable colourants. Wanting to keep my soaps as natural as possible (apart from using commercially prepared lye!), I found this great tutorial.

So yesterday I made up 3 different colours - dark orange (from paprika), yellow/orange (from annatto seed), and purple (from alkanet root).

Measuring out the alkanet root - I had to grind this up into more of a powder form before adding it to the jar. It's very papery and light so I needed quite a bowlful to give me the 1oz measure.

I used olive oil as I didn't have enough sunflower oil to hand.

Then I processed my colourant oils in my Fowlers Vacola. First time of using this baby, which I picked up for a song at the local hospice shop. I see online they are over $200 Aus new!! Makes it so much easier having the tap to drain out the water afterwards! The only things I didn't have were a jar lifter (standard tongs are useless!) and a rack to keep the bottles apart during the water bath process, but I managed OK -at least nothing leaked or got dropped on the floor!

Now I have the 3 jars sitting on my windowsill to intensify the colour as much as possible before I try them out in my next batch of soap.

Does anyone else make their own herbal soap colourants and if so what do you use?


Tanya Murray said...

Awesome post! This has opened my eyes to a whole new set of possibilities. Like you, I am reluctant to tamper with chemical additives but I hadn't thought of infused oil colourants. Thanks.

Cabbage Tree Farm said...

Thanks Tanya, glad to pass on the information and that it is of interest to you. I have posted a comment for KK on her YouTube tutorial :-) Hope to try out the colour next week sometime.

HelenB said...

I keep seeing folks saying that they want to avoid chemicals, as you did here. It has bothered me for a long time, but today I just had to comment.

EVERYTHING is made of chemicals, so what we are avoiding by sticking with "natural" substances, is refined chemicals of known composition. Your herbal soap colorants are simply mixed chemicals of an unknown composition.

What you're doing is great, as is raising food without pesticides, herbicides, and refined, but limited nutrient additives.

I simply wish people would stop to realize that "chemicals" can't be avoided, but we can surely avoid the inappropriate use of highly refined chemicals.

For that matter, why aren't you making your soap using wood-ash instead of refined lye?

ms lottie said...

Wow - opened my eyes too. Not that I've ever heard of alkanet or annatto! And good score on the Fowler's.

Cabbage Tree Farm said...

Yes - I'm especially pleased I picked up the Fowlers so cheaply after finding out what they cost new!

Madhu shree said...

Nice Article ! By Glycerine soap

Cabbage Tree Farm said...

Thanks Madhu :-)

HelenB said...

Bridget, since you didn't publish my last comment about "chemicals", I have to believe that you viewed it as criticism, or somehow negative. Be assured that that was not my intent. I simply wanted to "un-demonize" the word itself. For example, water, which is vital to life, is unquestionably a chemical. It's sort of like "radiation", which has become bad in people's minds, because they immediately think of nuclear radiation, X-rays, or other harmful forms, totally forgetting that the most common form of radiation on earth is sunlight, without which nothing would be as we know it.

In no way do I disagree with your point of view, and if you had an e-mail address available, I'd have used that.

Cabbage Tree Farm said...

HelenB, yes you're correct I did not publish your comment (initially) as it certainly did come across as critical, and to be frank, somewhat pedantic and a little patronising.

I would imagine most of my readers understand where I'm coming from in terms of the 'chemical vs natural' issue. I'm not a chemist (perhaps you are?), and this blog is nothing more than my personal diary.

I guess one could refer to the now common use of the word 'organic' (e.g. growing 'organic' vegetables..). Yes of course by nature the vegetables are organic, but most people understand what 'organic vegetables' are. Similarly, the term 'chemicals' in some instances has become associated with 'nasty' chemicals (the ones with undesirable effects that are best avoided).

I would imagine most readers of this blog would understand my posts, even if I'm not 100% accurate with my terminology.

HelenB said...

Bridget, I can totally admit to being pedantic when I believe that some information is needed and would be helpful. It was never my intent to patronize, just to remind everyone of the broader scope of "chemical" to include everything in the natural world.

I am not a chemist, but before I retired 11 years ago, I was a Process Engineer who worked with chemical reactions every day.

Like you, I consider myself to be an organic gardener, and have been for over 50 years.

Your posts were/are perfectly clear and understandable, this was never a part of my contacting you. It's just that I'm an old woman who is really bothered when it seems that people react without thinking.

I'm truly sorry that I managed to offend you, and possibly your other readers.