Using Soap Color

by Donna
(Vancouver, BC, Canada)

Pigment Soap Color

Pigment Soap Color

I'm having a little trouble getting my soap colours to look the way I want.

Sometimes it seems like my soap is totally eating the colours I put in. The soap turns exactly the right shade for a second, then goes *poof* right back to it's original slightly yellow-green colour.

Most of my soaps are very olive-oil based at the moment, but I've just picked up a pail of palm oil, so I'm hoping to change this.

I had one batch in which I was using some soap colourant from my local candle & soap supply company (they don't list what's actually in it beyond "blue soap colour") hoping for a nice minty green. After seeing my lovely colour get swallowed up into the soap 3 or 4 times, I stopped adding more and gave up.

To my surprise, it came out a rather interesting greeny-brown color. Not terribly unattractive (it's a very savory scented rosemary & sage soap, so the earthy colors work) but definitely not what I was aiming for.

I imagine a lot of this is just trial & error both with different soap colourants and different recipes, but... any suggestions?

Do different oils colour differently? Are there any basic colouring guidelines I can follow while I bumble my way through my trial & error? :)


You're absolutely right about some of it being trial and error! This can be quite frustrating to say the least.

Your base oils will definitely have an impact on what your soap colourants will turn out like as well. Olive oil's colour can be from a light golden (usually the A/B grades) to the greens of extra virgin, virgin and pomace.

I purchase the A/B grade cans from Superstore. A/B grade isn't usually stated...they tend to be the ones that don't say anything about the grade. The brand is Montolivo in the yellow striped can and makes a very nice creamy white green. The extra virgin one has a definite green tone.

One problem you may be having with the colourant you are may not be stable for cold process/hot process soap making. It may be that it is intended for melt and pour. That would explain why it is being completely eaten up by the lye.

I tend to use mica, oxides and botanical matter to colour my soaps.

Here are two pages that have some information about ingredients used to colour cold process soaps:

Soap Colourants
Herbal Natural Soap Ingredients

Take a look at the lovely turquoise of "Fresh!" shown on my recipes page here:

Homemade Soap Recipes

The blue colour of Fresh! was created using a mix of 25% ultramarine blue, 25% hydrated chromium green oxide and 50% white mica. I added 3/4 tsp of this mix to 650gr of my base. Be sure to mix the mica into the oxides really well before adding them to the soap base. Use a stick blender when adding the mixture to the base (or add to a small amount of glycerine or oil first).

When mixing in blues especially, the base may look off to start but once the soap gels it usually comes out a nice shade....not always the shade I imagined though since fragrances often effect the colour as well.

Number 1 Rule - take lots of notes every time. I keep a binder with each recipe printed off from SoapCalc and I add notes to the page. That way I can always refer back to see what worked and what didn't.....and I refer back to my notes A LOT!

Good luck Donna and happy soaping!

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Helpful info on soap color
by: Anonymous

Thank you for the helpful information on using soap colors! I definitely need to get the right olive oil for my recipes since my soaps all have a bit of a greenish look.

Using Soap colour
by: Cathy

You're more than welcome! The oils you use in your soap base really do play a big part in how your soap colours turn out! Stick with light coloured oils to get the whitest soap base and your colours will have a better chance of turning out how you planned.

Happy Soaping!

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