Swirling Alkanet Infusion


Alkanet is one of my favorite natural colorants to use. You end up with a wide variety of shades ranging from smoky purple to maroon depending on your soap’s PH, base oils and whether your soap gels or not. The most effective way to use it as a natural colorant is to infuse your liquid oil; I infuse my olive oil. I add 1 tablespoon of powdered alkanet and 5 ounces of olive oil into a jar and let it infuse for a week or two shaking it once a day.

Since we’re doing a swirl and infusing our olive oil, we’ll need to make two batches of soap at the same time (split your recipe in half). One batch will use regular olive oil and the colored batch will use infused olive oil for a percentage of the olive oil. I like to use about 15% PPO of alkanet infused olive oil.

The recipe (you’ll make this twice!):

Palm oil – 150g
Coconut oil – 120g
Olive oil – 180g
Castor oil – 30g

Sodium hydroxide – 67g
Water – 150g

I’ve already divided my favorite recipe (above) in half so will need to make two batches simultaneously. One batch you’ll use regular olive oil and the colored batch you’ll add 80g infused olive oil and 100g regular olive oil. You’ll have to experiment with how much you prefer to use…just realize if you use too much you run the risk of a staining and colored lather!

Before I used my alkanet infused olive oil I like to strain it. This is easy to do by using panty hose or other mesh-like material over the jar mouth while you pour it out.

Not it’s time to make our soap! Remember…we’re making two batches simultaneously so you you’ll need enough containers for two lye waters and two sets of oils. Gear up in your goggles and gloves! If you’re new to making soap…be sure to check out Anne-Marie’s cold process soap making videos online on Soap Queen TV.

Step 1: Measure out your lye and water and make your solutions. I like to put mine in a cold water bath to cool them down as I prepare my oils.

Step2: Measure out your solid oils and melt. Melt just until melted…don’t overheat.

Step3: Once your solid oils are melted, add your liquid oils to the solid oils. In one container be sure to add your portion of infused oil. If you are following the recipe above then in one container you will add 80g of alkanet infused olive oil and 100g regular olive oil.

I like to add my fragrance oil to the oils before adding the lye water. I went with Energy.

This is what we end up with…two lye solutions ready to go and two containers of oils.

Pour the lye solutions into the oils and bring each mixture to a stable emulsion or a light trace. If you are doing a swirl…be sure not to over mix.

Once your mixtures are the consistency you’re looking for, it’s time to swirl! Pour the base color into your mold and swirl in the alkanet colored soap. Use a craft stick or skewer to complete your swirl. Need swirling help? Be sure to check out Bramble Berry’s Advance CP Swirl video found here.

One thing to be careful of when using alkanet is to not use too much! It can stain a wash cloth and cause your lather to color. I tested this recipe and here’s what the lather looks like! Check out those suds!

No colored lather and no staining! Whew!

I ended up gelling this batch with the help of a heating pad underneath my Bramble Berry 9 bar slab mold. You’ll find that you get different resulting colors with gelling and not gelling.

Amanda Griffin


29 Responses to “Swirling Alkanet Infusion”

  1. Michelle says:

    This looks like a great tutorial. I’ve made soaps with alkanet before but will have to try your method. Thanks for the great instructions and I loved seeing the bubblage of the finished bar.

  2. Theresa says:

    Such a beautiful color and swirl. Can’t wait to try it!

  3. SARAH JP says:

    Thanks so much for the great tutorial! That’s crazy cause I just posted on BB’s Facebook a week or so ago about doing this exact same thing! I’m glad I’ve got my questions answered now! :)

    • Anne-Marie says:

      Great minds think alike =) LOL!

    • Amanda says:

      I actually saw that post, Sarah but I was out of town at a conference and couldn’t answer your questions the way I wanted! I knew this blog post was coming up soon and hoped you would see it! :) So glad you did!

  4. That is just gorgeous!

    • Anne-Marie says:

      I brought the baby goodies you sent me to Washington DC and they’ve been to the White House! =) XXOO, A-M

      • Yea! I have been reading your tweets and I am in LOVE with his little tie outfits! He could not be any cuter! Congratulations again on your award (you must be exhausted though!).

  5. Denny says:

    Pretty! Saving this one!

  6. toni says:

    Thank you very much for all this wonderful information!! I really appreciate it. I want to make my first cold press soap bars, but am a little afraid to take the plunge, but am determined to “just do it” today! I am excited to use the natural colorants. My question is…I would like to use tumeric or curry powder, as I love deep yellow, but I am worried that there will be a smell from the spice that will make the fragrance that I use in my soap smell awful. I’ve looked numerous places, but no one mentions that there isn’t a scent from any of the natural colorants to the soap. Would you please let me know? Thank you and have a lovely and restful weekend with your beautiful family! Toni

  7. Courtney says:

    Tumeric gives a great orange color but can be a little irritating to the skin so use sparingly (it’s also pretty scratchy). It may leave an odor so try a small test batch using different quantities to see what you like. You can also experiment with different fragrances that will go with the scent. Patchouli or Lemon maybe?

    You may like reading through our new E-Book on Infusion http://www.brambleberry.com/E-Book-Infusing-Herbs-Spices-Teas-Clays-P5040.aspx

    Courtney from Bramble Berry

  8. Cody Wellard says:

    Love the photos, good clear explanation.

  9. Cody Wellard says:

    I enjoyed your demo on the Alkanet soap. Does the Alkanet bleed in the soap?

    • Courtney says:

      The alkanet does bleed a little bit as you can see in the picture above. The soap has a slight halo look to it.

      Courtney from Bramble Berry

  10. Cody Wellard says:

    Thanks Courtenay, I think the Alkanet would be lovely in a soap with a lavender scent. What are your thoughts?

    • Courtney says:

      Amanda used Energy which is a really yummy citrus. What about a combination of Energy and Lavender? Citrus and lavender go really good together.

      Courtney from Bramble Berry!

  11. RO says:

    I love seeing beautiful soap, but am a bit of a purist! This got me excited because of the natural igredients. I APPRECIATE your time and effort to share ideas and “teach” us handcrafters new things! God Bless!!

  12. Ashley says:

    How long should I wait till I unmold the soap?

  13. [...] Friday, July 20, 2012Cold Process Soap DIY Picture Tutorial Alkanet (Smoky Purple) http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/cold-process-soap/swirling-alkanet-infusion/ The Homestead Survival: Cold Process Soap DIY Picture Tutorial Alkanet (Smoky [...]

  14. IdahoLaura says:

    Have you ever used herbs with goat milk? I make strictly wonderful goat milk soaps, but find using some colors, don’t take very well or at all.

    While most of my customers prefer the natural look (various shades of tan), some have seen others colored soaps and would like colors. Gold and Green work okay, blues and reds don’t…so not sure if it’s me or the fact I use goat milk. Any suggestion would be helpful.

  15. Mark says:

    Hi there – How much soaps does this produce? If I wanted to make a small batch, would I just reduce these ingredients proportionally and check the mixture on a lye calculator?


    • Hi Mark!

      This soap is going to make 697 grams or 25 ounces of soap. Depending on which mold you pour it into, you could probably get about 8 bars that weigh in around 3 ounces. If you are wanting to reduce this recipe to make a smaller batch, all you would need to do is use the Lye Calculator and input the entire recipe. Once it has been calculated you will be able to reduce the size in the calculator. I hope this helps! :)

      Lye Calculator: http://www.brambleberry.com/Pages/Lye-Calculator.aspx

      Happy Soaping!
      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  16. Randall LEONE says:

    Greetings Love the swirling designs.
    Are these products without Animal byproducts.

    • Good morning, Randall!

      All the ingredients in this particular recipe are made without animal byproducts and this would be a vegan-friendly soap! Let me know if you have any other questions. :)

      Happy Soaping!
      -Becky with Bramble Berry

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