Many soapers love to infuse herbs for natural soap color for a lot of reasons. One obvious plus is that natural color goes well with products with a natural theme. Another benefit is that natural colors offer shades that other colorants cannot. Rich yellows, muted shades, and more can be achieved by infusing herbs and adding the infusion to cold process of hot process soaps.
Depending on the shade desired, you can add as little as 1/2 teaspoon of infusion per pound of soap and up to achieve the color effect desired. When using natural colorants in hot process soap, the color you add will stay true. However, with cold process soaps, colors can sometimes change during the saponifying process due to the reaction between the lye and fats. Sometimes a beautiful shade of red when you mix can turn into a blue-purple when the soap is ready to come out of the mold. With cold process soaps, test your colorant in a very small batch of soap to make sure that the color will stay the same after saponifying. Although it can be tricky with cold process soaps, the outcome is always worth the effort. When you get the color you desire, the result is a beautiful bar of soap.
In the following, you will find a basic guideline for infusing your herbs, and what colors they will produce. Always test in cold process soap, however, to make sure the color stays consistent after saponification and to make sure the color is as deep or as light as you want it to be.
In the following, you will see the herb name and how much to infuse. These are basic measures. You can infuse more or less herbs to achieve your desired color effect. Infusing herbs for color is much different than infusing herbs for their benefits and scent. When infusing for color, you do not need to let the herbs steep for weeks. As a matter of fact, you only need a few minutes of time to infuse your herbs!
What you will need:
Small coffee filter or cheesecloth
Small jar or bottle (microwave safe)
Herbs to be infused
Oil - Sweet almond oil and olive oil work very well. If using olive oil, any kind will do, virgin or otherwise.
Gather instructed amount of herbs and put into coffee filter or cheesecloth. If you can secure the top of the filter together with something, that is great. Then you won't have to strain the mixture if it doesn't get inside the jar. Pour your choice of infusing oil in the jar, and insert the coffee filter with the herbs into the oil, getting it nice and submerged.
Put your jar with oils and herbs into the microwave for 1 minute. Remove from microwave, and mix the filter around a bit, squeezing it a little to get the color out. Repeat putting it into the microwave for 30 seconds at a time for up to 3 minutes of total heating. If you are making a large batch of color, you may need to microwave longer. (If you prefer, you can also heat your herbs and oil on the stove for approximately 5 minutes.)
Once your herbs are done heating, remove the mixture from the microwave and let sit for 10-15 minutes to cool and further steep. Once this time has passed, remove the coffee filter with the herbs, squeeze well to get all of the color out, and throw the filter with the herbs away.
You can store your infusion in a tightly capped jar or bottle in a cool dark place for 3 months to one year, depending on the herbs. In the following, you will see a list of colors followed by the different herb combinations that can be used to achieve your desired shade.
2 teaspoons Indigo in 2 ounces oil
Need Blue without an infusion? Try these.
1/2-2 teaspoons Blue Chamomile essential oil at trace per pound of soap (WILL scent soap, depending on amount used)
1/2-2 teaspoons Blue Cypress essential oil at trace per pound of soap (WILL scent soap, depending on amount used)
1-3 tablespoons Blueberry puree per pound of soap
1-3 tablespoons Purple Grape Juice per pound of soap
Brew a very strong fresh or instant coffee. Allow to cool, and substitute the water in your soap recipe for an equal amount of coffee.
1 1/2 tablespoons Comfrey root powder in two ounces oil.
1/4-1/2 cup Elderberries per pound of soap. Steep these in your lye/water solution before mixing with your oils.
Need Brown without an infusion? Try these.
1/4-1 teaspoon Cocoa powder per pound of soap
1/4-1 teaspoon Cinnamon powder per pound of soap
1/4-1 teaspoon ground Cloves per pound of soap
Substitute goat or cow's milk for water in lye solution. This will produce a very pretty tan/brown in finished soap.
2 tablespoons Stevia powder in 2 ounces oil
1-2 tablespoons Spirulina powder in 2 ounces oil
Need Green without an infusion? Try these.
1-3 tablespoons French Green Clay per pound of soap
1-3 tablespoons liquid Chlorophyll per pound of soap
1-3 tablespoons Kelp or Seaweed powder per pound of soap
1-3 tablespoons Spirulina Powder per pound of soap
1-3 tablespoons ground fresh Spinach per pound of soap
2 teaspoons Paprika plus 2 teaspoons Turmeric in 2 ounces oil
1 tablespoon Mace Powder in 2 ounces oil
1/2 teaspoon Annatto seeds in 2 ounces oil (When infusing or adding it to your soap, less will give a pale yellow color, and more Annatto will give a more orange color.)
2 tablespoons Calendula powder in 2 ounces oil
Need Orange without an infusion? Try these.
1-3 tablespoons Pumpkin/Sweet Potato puree per pound of soap
1-3 tablespoons ground fresh or powdered Carrots per pound of soap
Red/Pink (use more or less concentration to produce reds or pinks in soap)
1 tablespoon Beet Root powder in 2 ounces oil
1-2 tablespoons Alkanet root powder in 2 ounces oil
2 teaspoons-1 tablespoon Madder Root powder in 2 ounces oil
1 teaspoon Rattanjot Powder in 2 ounces oil (will make a purple color)
Need Red/Pink without an infusion? Try these.
1-3 tablespoons Moroccan Red Clay per pound of soap (Will produce more of a rustic/brick red)
1-3 tablespoons Pink Clay per pound of soap
1 tablespoon Calendula powder in 2 ounces oil
1/4 teaspoon Annatto seeds in 2 ounces oil (When infusing or adding it to your soap, less will give a pale yellow color, and more Annatto will give a more orange color.)
2 tablespoons Turmeric in 2 ounces oil
Need Yellow without an infusion? Try these.
1-3 teaspoons of Yellow Clay powder per pound of soap
1/4 cup Calendula petals per pound of soap at trace