Talk It Out Tuesday: Colorants

Welcome to the first in a series of posts we’re calling Talk It Out Tuesday!! This is going to be in basic Q and A format, and we’d love to know what you think! And, of course, what questions you would like answered.

This Talk It Out Tuesday, we’re going to explore some frequently asked questions regarding colorants. They can add character to both melt and pour and cold process soaps, and even to your lotions and lotion bars. But have you ever run into a coloring situation and not known how to proceed? Check out these answers to the most common questions we get about colorants!

What type of colorants does Bramble Berry carry?

Bramble Berry carries a wide variety of colorants, including Oxides, Micas, and LabColors. Check out this video on Soap Queen TV. It’s all about the different colorants that we carry. And you can see them in action! All of these colorants can be used in soaps, lotions, scrub and other bath and body products but while they all work, some are better for certain types of products than others. We also sell LabBomb Colorants that are specifically designed for bath bombs and Candle Colorants that are specifically designed for candles and are not skin safe.

Does Bramble Berry carry natural colorants?

Pigments and Oxides are considered “nature identical” meaning they are the exact same chemical structure as the platelet minerals found in the earth. But they are created in a lab to ensure purity. Oxides and pigments are the same product that mineral make up lines use to achieve lovely natural hues. Manufacturing nature identical products keeps the bad stuff, like lead and arsenic for example, out of the colorants.  Industry wide, pigments and oxides are labeled as natural in all types of mineral makeup and soaps for this reason because they are nature identical and many don’t contain any synthetic dyes.  The word ‘natural’ is not a regulated or defined term in the soap and cosmetic industry.

Some micas are natural and some are not. It depends on where their source of color comes from. Our micas that aren’t considered natural would be the ones that contain FD&C dyes. The Cellini Red Mica, which you will see on the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) the description page, contains D&C Red 7 which makes this colorant not natural.  Copper Sparkle Mica, on the other hand, only contains mica and iron oxides, which both readily occur in nature so it is considered ‘natural’.  As another example, the INCI for Red Blue Mica is “Carmine, Titanium Dioxide and Mica”.  Carmine comes from the crushed shells of beetles so this mica is also considered natural (although it wouldn’t be vegan).  If the INCI is not listed for a mica, it is implied that the only ingredient would be ‘mica’ and same for oxides, if no INCI is listed, the ingredient would be ‘oxide’.

Since oxides like titanium dioxide are industry wide accepted as natural, our opaque melt and pour bases are also considered natural.  Our liquid colorants are just our oxides diluted in a vegetable based glycerin so, using the same definition of natural, they would fall under that category.

If you want colorants that are derived straight from the earth and not synthetically created, I would suggest using colorants from our Herbs and Botanicals section, where we have 100% natural powders and clays that can be used as natural colorants: AlkanetSpirulinaAnnattoKaolinOrange peelRose ClaySea ClayYellow Silt ClayGreen Zeolite Clay and Activated Charcoal

Activated CharcoalActivated Charcoal

Also be sure to check out our Natural Colorant E-Book for more helpful tips and tricks on naturally coloring your soap!

Naturally colored cold process soap.

Tips for using Oxides

Oxides and Cold Process: 

  • We like to premix oxides into fixed oils for cp soapmaking. Add 1 tsp. of oxide or pigment to 1 tbsp. of a carrier oil (like Sweet Almond or Olive) and mix well using a mini mixer. Make sure all the clumps are evenly stirred into the solution before using.
  • Some customers choose to add the pigment and oils to a small baggie and squish the baggie with their fingers to get an even mix. Then you add the colored oil to the soap batter at trace. Be sure that you factor this oil in to the recipe and the lye calculator.

Oxides and Melt and Pour:

  • Add pigment directly to MP and stir, stir, stir. This may cause speckling in your soap.
  • Add pigment to a small baggie and mix thoroughly with glycerin. This way, you can make sure to squish any speckles out. Then, pour the mixture into the melted soap base, reseal your baggie, and save the rest for next time! Or mix the pigment and glycerin in bowl with a mini mixer.
  • Make a giant color chip! Mix a small bit of pigment, glycerin or oil (1/2 tsp to 1 Tbsp works fine) in a small plastic cup. Make sure it’s mixed well, until all the pigment is totally dispersed in the oil. Then add clear melt and pour to the cup and stir up well. Let sit for a few hours and voila, large color chip! The larger the container you’re filling up, the more pigment you should add initially to be sure your color chip has the most color possible. To use the color cube, simply chop off pieces and melt into your soap.
  • Mix the pigment with rubbing alcohol and make a ‘slurry’. Pour this mixture into your soap leaving any clumps in the container.

Tips for using Micas

Micas in Cold Process:

  • Some micas can work in cold process soap and some may not because they have tendencies to morph or fade. Typically, it depends on what type of colorant is used to dye the mica. We recommend doing a small test batch to make sure the color is stable in your particular recipe. Even if a mica does work in CP it often isn’t very sparkly, as there is no light for reflection (since cold process soap is opaque). To use it in cold process soap, start with 2 teaspoon of colorant per pound of soap and feel free to add more if you want a brighter color. Simply add the mica directly to the soap and stir. Make sure you add it at very thin trace so that you have enough time to stir the colorant in.

Micas in Melt and Pour:

  • Most micas are super easy to use in melt and pour soap. Simply add the powder into your melted melt and pour soap base. If pesky little “mica bubbles” float to the top, spritz them with a bit of rubbing alcohol and you’ll see them burst open. Just stir everything in until the mica is well incorporated, then add your fragrance oil and pour the soap into the mold.
  • If you are using a clear, transparent or translucent melt and pour base, we recommend about 1/2 a teaspoon of mica per pound of soap to achieve a nice, strong pearl effect. You can use micas in opaque melt and pour base at 1.5% to 2% of the total weight to achieve a soft color (pastel) but micas work best in clear soap. Light is needed for the true reflective qualities of the micas to work properly.

Tips for Using LabColors

They are great for melt and pour, lotions and cold process. If you are making cold process pick LabColors that are specifically for Cold Process. Next, check out the Quick Start Guide then read through our three fabulous blog posts on how to successfully use the LabColors: Diluting LabColorsLabColor Usage RatesLabColors and Gel Phase

LabColors in Cold Process

What is a bleeding Colorant?

Bleeding colorants are usually dyes or FD&C colors that tend to migrate into other layers of your soap over time. Sometimes it can look super cool if you’re trying to blend your colors (a la tie dyed soap), but unless it’s part of an intentional design, it can look a little sloppy. Bramble Berry carries a number of non-bleeding colorants.

Non-Bleeding Micas: Antique BlueCopper SparkleLight GoldMerlotOpalescent GreenOpalescent TurquoisePatina SheenRed BlueRose PearlSparkle VioletVintage GreyLuster Black Aqua PearlBlue Green MicaCappuccinoMauvey GemSuper Pearly White Mica1982 Blue Mica 

Non-Bleeding Liquids: BlackBlue BrownNon-Bleeding RedLiquid Red (brick red)Non-Bleeding VioletPink WhiteYellowGreenSweet Treat Colorant Set

Non-Bleeding Oxides: YellowBurgundyGreen ChromeBrick OxideUltramarine BlueHydrated Chrome GreenUltramarine Violet Black OxideBrown OxideTitanium Dioxide

Non-Bleeding Pigments: Electric Bubble GumFired up FuchsiaFizzy LemonadeTangerine Wow!Ultraviolet Blue

How do you know if a color bleeds?

First, look at the ingredients. If they contain dyes, assume the color bleeds. But if not, you can do a bleed test on the colorant. For a bleed test, color a bit of clear melt and pour soap with the colorant you want to test and embed  it in a larger amount of uncolored clear soap, and wait. Wait, wait, wait. I like to give the soap a lot of opportunity to bleed, so we feel as comfortable as possible when we add a colorant to our line and call it non-bleeding! After 2-3 days of letting the color test sit (and checking on it obsessively), assess the clear soap around the colored embedded pieces to see if there is any color migrating. The embedded pieces should be colorfast with no fading, and no color “clouds” surrounding them.

The front soap with red embeds is definitely a bleeding Colorant. See the cloud of red that migrated into the clear soap? That’s a great example of a bleeding colorant.

Keep in mind that not all bleeding is bad! You can use bleeding colorants, like LabColors and some micas, to your benefit by incorporating them into the design of the soap. Below are some examples of tutorials I’ve done in the past using bleeding colors to my advantage.

Let it Bleed, LabColors in cold process soap.

Green Machine Tutorial, LabColors in melt and pour soap.

Hope you aren’t feeling overloaded with information! There was so much to include – and I probably could have included even more. Let me know what you think of our new series and if you have any suggestions or questions leave them in the comments below.

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130 Comments

  1. Sabine Hogle says

    Hello,
    I do like the opaque look of white Melt and Pour Soap, but don’t like the effect of the TD in it changing colors into pastel. What colors can I use in clear Melt and Pour Soap Base, which would make the soap non see through opaque, but would be ending up true to the color I added. Oh, they also have to be non bleeding for my projects.
    I tried to make red soap with white base and always ended up with a rose or pinkish soap, that’s why I’m thinking to change to the clear base. But really don’t like see through soaps…
    Couldn’t find an answer to this anywhere yet, hope I didn’t overlook it.
    Thank you in advance

    • says

      Hi Sabine!

      This is a great question. If you are looking for a more intense color, I would recommend using the clear but just using more concentrated color. With a white base the colors will always get lighter and more pastel like, so If you want to avoid this I would try the clear base. Keep in mind that if you use to much colorant you do run the risk of your soap having a colored lather.

      You can see an example of rich colors using clear melt and pour base this in this tutorial!

      Rainbow Spheres:
      http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/melt-and-pour-soap/rainbow-spheres-2/

      You may also find our Melt and Pour Color Blocks to work well for you, they melt easily and result in bright colors!

      Color Blocks for Melt and Pour: http://www.brambleberry.com/Color-Blocks-for-Melt-Pour–C340.aspx

      I hope this helps!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

      • Sabine says

        So you are saying that all colors make a clear MNand P soap opaque ? I understand I get more intense color with the clear soap but I do not want them to be clear anymore, I want them opaque not see through. All colors do that automatically ?
        Sorry in case my question sounds dumb :)

        • says

          Hi Sabine!

          It’s not a silly question at all! Not all colors will make Clear Melt and Pour soap more opaque, but using more color will help make it to become a little more opaque. Unfortunately there really isn’t a way to make Clear Melt and Pour 100% opaque, and white soap base will always result in a lighter color.

          That being said, it’s possible to find a happy medium! Other than using more colorant, you could also try using both clear and white melt and pour to find a good combination that results in a bar that’s more opaque, but doesn’t lighten up the color as much. I hope this helps :)

          -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  2. Katrina says

    I’m a newbie to soap making (cold process) and so far I’ve not been very happy with my color results. I want mine to look more vibrant/richer color… more like the color I see at the start before ever mixing the oxide pigment into the soap batch. The problem is the various instructions are conflicting (website, videos’, book, etc). On your bramble berry website it reads, “add ½ teaspoon of oxide to 1 ounce of a carrier oil like Sweet Almond or Olive Oil and mix well using a mini mixer – add 1 teaspoon of this mixture to your batch”… doesn’t clarify the size of the batch. 1 Tsp per Pound CP? Then there are warnings not to use too much pigment colorant else could have color come out while using it. At least one videos said “what you see if what you get”… but 1 tsp just isn’t making a nice color. Then on comment just above mine here seems can use up to 5 – 6 tsp per pound. That’s quite a range… 1 tsp up to 6 tsp. Anyhow since I’m actually purchasing the stuff from your website it sure would be nice to have more info in the product description. At this point I’m confused and want to get unconfused as quickly as possible so I can start being happy with the colors of my soap. HELP!

    • says

      Hi Katrina!

      I’m sorry to hear all this information is confusing, but I totally get where you’re coming from! Coloring your soap can be a little tricky, because it is part personal preference but it’s also important to not end up with a colored lather! The guidelines are also a little different for melt and pour vs. cold process, so that complicates things as well :)

      It sounds like you are using cold process. One tsp per pound of cold process soap is a good place to start, but if this is not enough color you can add more. There is a certain point where you will get a colored lather, or start seeing color in your sink or tub. While there is no exact amount where this starts happening due to all the variables involved with soapmaking, I would not go above 5 tsp. of colorant per pound of soap. Ultimately, use the least amount of colorant while still getting the color you want. This is generally around 1-2 tsp per pound of soap.

      You may find this page helpful!

      Using Colorants: http://www.brambleberry.com/Using-Colorants-W22.aspx

      I really hope this helps Katrina! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask! :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  3. Jodi berg says

    Hello,
    Thanks so much for all the great info. I have been doing lots of colorant testing lately,I’m down to 1/4 tsp mica per cup and 1/8 tsp of most oxides per cup of soap. Most lather white but as the water rinses off the soap into my white sink I can see it’s tinted with color. Is this normal,it’s driving me nuts. If I use any less colorant I will be working in only pastels. I usually disperse my colorant in oil then add it to my broken out amounts of soap. But I’m finding things like pink neons and blues,brown and black seem to give off color no matter how little I use. I would love some bramble insight,thank you!

  4. Laurie says

    I am making some solid bubble bath balls (NOT bath fizzies or bombs.) Would LaBomb be the best colorant to use?

  5. Shirley says

    Hello,
    I recently made a cold process lovely black and white soap. When I used it, the black colorant was all over the wash towel. I’m assuming that I used too much colorant. But I’m wonder if it will always happen when using black pigment or did it just use too much black colorant?
    Help.

    • says

      Hi Shirley!

      Sounds like there was a little too much colorant in your soap. Which black colorant did you use? We suggest starting out with one tablespoon per pound of cold process soap for most colorants. As long as you don’t add too much colorant, it won’t come off on the wash towels.

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  6. Marisa says

    Looks like my niece is getting the “soap bug” and has a lot of questions. As a relatively new-comer to the soap addiction myself, I really cannot answer many of her questions. She LOVES Bramble Berry and recently told me she’s like to know the basic differences between CP, CPOP, etc. I’m sure there are videos and other websites where she can get the info, but she says that BB is THE place, lol
    So, would it be possible to post something about these types of soaps? I too could use more info. Thank you! :-)

  7. Ran says

    Hi , thanks for answering

    I just used (clear soap+purple mica+lavender essential oil)
    And no i didnt leave the soaps in the sun ,
    But let me tell you about our weather , its hot ,dry and wet , did that weather affect on my soaps???

    • says

      Hi Ran!

      The weather should not affect the coloring at all in your soaps, and if you have a picture, we would love to see it so that we can help you troubleshoot what is going on with your soap! You can send it to us at info(at)brambleberry(dot)com or send us a PM on Bramble Berry’s Facebook page.

      In your next batch, I would suggest adding just a touch more colorant to see if it can stick in your batch. I hope this helps! =)

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

      https://www.facebook.com/BrambleBerry

  8. Ran says

    Mmmmm maybe i used more than half a teaspoon (one teaspoon with 6oz):/ is this wrong?
    And
    How much oz equals 1 lb?

    • says

      Good morning, Ran!

      You definitely used a good amount for your soap. If you could tell us a little more about the recipe that you were working with we can try to help.

      Did you leave your soaps out in the sun? Sometimes if they are left out, the color can begin to fade and we recommend using the UV inhibitor in your melt and pour soaps to prevent that.

      Uv Inhibitor: http://www.brambleberry.com/Uv-Inhibitor-P3563.aspx

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

      P.S. There is 16 ounces in 1 lb.

    • says

      Good morning, Ran!

      What is the usage rate that you are using? We’ve found for melt & pour soaps, that 1/2 a teaspoon of mica per pound of soap is a great usage rate. Are you adding anything else?

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  9. Ran says

    This is so helpful thanks,, i had a problem using a mica , i use purple mica in m&p clear soap ,, the color looks nice pulple ,,but after 3 days the color turns to pastel(more like pink ) :(((((
    why did that happen???
    And did you mean by (light needed) that i have to store them in a light area?or what?
    Please help me,,,

    • says

      Hi Ran!

      Some micas can morph in cold process and low usage rates of purple colorants can especially appear grey, even when using non-morphing colorants. Which colorant did you use?

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  10. pao says

    My oxides don’t seem to dilute completely either in liquid glycerin or oils, any help??

    • says

      Hi Pao!

      We are sorry to hear you are having some frustration with your colorants. If you could tell us a bit more about how your are dispersing them, we would love to help you troubleshoot. Are you making cold process or melt & pour?

      When making cold process, we like to use a bit of the oils from our recipe and disperse our oxides and pigments in it. Using a mini-mixer has really helped us out, and I would definitely suggest getting one if you don’t already have one.

      Mini White Plastic Mixer: http://www.brambleberry.com/Mini-White-Plastic-Mixer-P4721.aspx

      If you are trying to mix your oxides in your melt & pour soap, we do suggest dispersing it in a bit of liquid glycerin beforehand. Here is a great video that Anne-Marie put together that has really helped me out with melt & pour and oxides:

      Soap Queen Short: How to Use Neon Pigments: http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/soap-queen-short-how-to-use-neon-pigments/

      I’d also check with your vendor to make sure that your colorants are oil soluble (if you purchase them from Bramble Berry, they are!)

      I hope this helps! =)
      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  11. April Dakin says

    How much activated charcoal would you recommend putting in a 2# batch of hp soap being made to treat eczema?

    • says

      Hi April!

      Activated Charcoal is great additive to your cold process soaps for its color as well as it’s skin-loving and exfoliating properties. Because of FDA guidelines you cannot claim that Activated Charcoal (or other natural ingredients) treat or heals any specific skin issues, because once you have done so, it is considered drug by the FDA and will need to be batch tested. For more on what you can and cannot label your soap, I’d suggest checking out
      the Soap And Cosmetic Labeling Book by Marie Gale.

      Soap And Cosmetic Labeling Book: http://www.brambleberry.com/Soap-And-Cosmetic-Labeling-Book-1-Book-P3663.aspx

      With coloring your soap, we suggest adding 1 teaspoon of colorant per pound of soap (oils + water + lye = final weight/soap). I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions. =)

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  12. Debbie says

    I love making sugar scrubs but want more color options. I have been looking and reading everything I can regarding suitable colorants for oil-based products. It’s been really hard to find options. What do you suggest?

  13. Juli says

    There are so many posts, here, I started reading through them, but didn’t finish… sorry if you’ve answered this question before… I have people selling my soap (and lip balm and perfume, etc.) They are making claims that these are “all natural products.” That makes me nervous, because I don’t understand the definition of “all natural”. Can you give me one?

  14. Adrienne says

    Hi. I used oxide colour for the first time, and just used as much as I do with micas or spices….. now my bubbles are the colour of the oxide. I read your post and see that I was supposed to use way less colourant. Can I still use this soap? Will the oxides have a reaction to skin if there is too much?
    Thanks for your help, I love your site, best one I have read by far.

    • says

      Good morning, Adrienne!

      It sounds like you have over-colored your soap, but that is totally okay. It isn’t going to harm the soap or you (as it is a wash-off product). If you are worried about the oxides reacting with your skin, I’d test it on a small patch of your skin first. I hope this helps! =)

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  15. Lila says

    You mention mixing titanium dioxide in an oil to mix into soap but I was just looking at your pumpkin puree soap instructions and you mixed the powder directly into 1/3 of the batch after trace. It looked like it came out fine. Please can you explain why would you mix it in oil or just mix directly to a traced batch? Thanks for your patience in answering the soaping community’s questions.

    • says

      Hi Lila!

      We typically suggest mixing Titanium Dioxide with an oil or glycerin because it can be a little tricky to use in some soap recipes. Most of the time we do premix the Titanium Dioxide with an oil when making cold process, but the Pumpkin Puree recipe was one we did not. If you want to be extra-safe (which we have done since) and not have any issues with the TD (Titanium Dioxide) causing any clumping or issues in your soap, I’d premix it with an oil. I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions. =)

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  16. says

    I have got to get this info in writing so I can read it again and again. Coloring seems to be my biggest challange (or headache. I want to make a line of “football” soaps and Steelers are big in PA so my black & gold must be spot on. The batch I made Monday has the look of concrete gray and light orange. I was WAY to timid with the coloring

    • says

      Hi Diane!

      Sometimes coloring your soap can be a little frustrating, but I know you can do it! What colorants are you using for your soaps? I’d love to help give you troubleshoot a bit, so your fun creations come out with those deep and dark colors you are looking for! =)

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  17. Patricia Hess says

    Hi There. I made a chocolate and orange CP soap. The chocolate part (used your dark chocolate fragrance and cocoa for coloring)turned out fine, but the orange part ended up looking weird…sort of crackled or streaked and has a clearer, opaque look surrounding every chocolate glob. I was intending the soap to have a spotted horse look, so I mixed the soap pretty thick and put it in the mold in spoonfuls without swirling. I used 1 oz. per PPO of sweet orange EO ( 2 1/2 oz.) mixed with 1 T cornstarch and 1 tsp. per PPO of titanium dioxide (2 1/2 tsp) mixed into about 1 T. or less of glycerine to try to whiten the orange soap some. I’m thinking this has something to do with the titanium dioxide because I put some in some other soap to have a white contrast top and it also has that same crackled look but not as bad. I bought the titanium dioxide from you and I thought it was both oil and water soluble. Any suggestions or help would be appreciated. I could send you a photo if that would help. I think the soap is fine to use and smells exactly like a tootsie roll but wish it didn’t have that weird look to it. Thanks!

    • Anne-Marie says

      It’s the heat – glycerin rivers is what I call it – if you decrease the heat when you’re making soap, it will help decrease these lovely glycerin rivers.

      • Patricia Hess says

        Thanks for the reply Anne-Marie! I kept my oils and lye water pretty cool-around 100 degrees because I didn’t want to “fry” to orange essential oil. I have been putting my 5 lb. block on a heating pad (set on medium) for and hour or two and also have it wrapped in towels to insure gel. Was that too much? Would I be better off mixing the titanium dioxide and other oxide colorants in some castor oil instead of the glycerin? Thanks again!

        • Anne-Marie says

          The heating pad is probably allowing your gel phase to get up to 180 (which is typical for a gel phase). You could try the heating pad on low, try to get the whiter color with clays or micas or not gel at all to help decrease those rivers. Titanium Dioxide makes those lovely ‘rivers’ no matter what it’s mixed in but I imagine the extra glycerin doesn’t help so yes, I’d switch to a light oil like Sweet Almond Oil or Avocado Oil. =)

  18. wendy says

    I recently made a soap with stripes, ultramarine blue pigment was used along with activated charcoal. My suds are blue and black, is this bad for you or will it cause staining? I am just wondering if the batch is ruined because of the colorful suds!

    • says

      Good morning, Wendy!

      You soap isn’t ruined at all! The black and blue suds just mean that your soap was over-colored, but there isn’t anything wrong with it. Next time, just try adding a little less colorant in your soap. It shouldn’t stain anything, but if you are selling it, just be sure to let your customers know about it so they aren’t surprised when they start using it in the shower or bath! :)

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  19. Jen says

    Well, this was a little misleading!

    “Oxides and pigments are the same product that mineral make up lines use to achieve lovely natural hues. Manufacturing nature identical products keeps the bad stuff, like lead and arsenic for example, out of the colorants.”

    This statement is so false! All mineral pigments including the ones manufactured in a lab contain lead, arsenic, mercury and many other heavy metals. Any supplier and manufacturer of these pigments will tell you that. The FDA allows for up to 10 ppm of lead in mineral pigments although many in the market are known to contain up to 30 ppm. Checking the MSDS fact sheets will provide any user with this information.

    • Anne-Marie says

      So you’re suggesting changing the sentence to read:

      Manufacturing nature identical products keeps the bad stuff, like lead and arsenic for example, to legally allowable levels.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Always great to get constructive feedback.

      Here’s some more information about oxides/pigments:

      Oxides and pigments are considered natural colorants. At one time in their existence, they were mined directly from the earth. However, anything mined from the earth tends to have heavy metals, like lead and arsenic in them. Thus, most of the pigments and oxides on the market today are manufactured in labs and are natural identical to what used to be mined from the earth. The colorants are considered mineral and are derived from the oxidation of iron, with different colors coming from the different oxidation states of iron. According to the US Code of Federal Regulations (Part 21, Section 73.2250), natural iron oxides cannot be used as color additives in the United States. This is because lab created minerals typically have a higher degree of chemical purity and, as a crafting plus, are also more regular in size, which gives them a more even, bold color pay-off.

      Reference: http://www.cosmeticsandtoiletries.com/formulating/ingredient/pigment/118610674.html

  20. says

    How much oxide do I add per pound of oils? I’m using brick red, burgundy, and green chrome for my Christmas soaps. It’s my first time using oxides. I’m having a hard time finding out exactly how much. I’ll be making five pound batches.

  21. says

    Hi there. I apologize if this question has already been discussed, but I didn’t see it in the article or comments thus far…

    I used your ultramarine pink along with titanium dioxide in a grapefruit HP soap. I added the pigment to the warm oils until incorporated. The color was perfect. Then after adding lye, tracing, and cooking, the color turned a drab gray color. I saved the batch by adding madder root at the end. What went wrong?

      • says

        Hi Becky, it was a 4lb HP batch using .5 tsp titanium dioxide and 1.5 tsp ultramarine pink. Side note: after cooking for about 20 mins, the soap also gave off a noticeable sulfur smell that I haven’t gotten with your ultramarine blue or chrome green.

        • Anne-Marie says

          I have never ever seen Pink Oxide/Pigment/Ultramarine not stay stable. It was from Bramble Berry, right? And it was the gentle, sweet pink from this page: http://www.brambleberry.com/Ultramarine-Pink-Pink-Oxide-Pigment-P4039.aspx Was the color perfect AFTER you reached thin trace before you started cooking or was the color perfect when mixed with the oil? If it was just when it was mixed with oil, it’s possible it wasn’t enough.

          Sulfer smell happens with some of the lower pH pigments. You’ll get it if you use some pigments in bath fizzies too. It’s quite a shock in the tub! LOL!

          • says

            Yes, it was bramble berry’s pink oxide, the same one in the link you provided. I added it to the warm oils and stick blended till dispersed. The color was just right. Then I added lye to trace; the color was the same. Only after the cook began did I notice the gel portions, and eventually the whole batch, turned a drab gray. I’m shooting for a light, pastel pink, nothing super rich.

          • Anne-Marie says

            It sounds like you may not have used enough. Pink Oxide and Violet Oxide both tend to go grey if the usage rate isn’t up enough. Generally, with traditional cold process soap, what you see at medium trace is what you get and in this case, if you add the colors and you’re happy with it but the soap isn’t fully traced, you aren’t seeing the final product (which is an opaque soap that needs extra color to over-color that natural white/cream/yellow/greenish tinge the soap can get uncolored). I hope this helps!

          • says

            That does help, thanks. I’m actually glad it’s as simple as adding more pigment. I was afraid the high temperature of HP cook was killing the pigment.

            I’m thinking adding the pigment to the lye water instead will give me a better idea of the final color. Are the pink oxide and ultramarine violet water dispersable?

  22. Robin says

    I have a chemistry question. I want to make a recipe that will stay thin for swirling purposes. I was advised by another soap maker to use “full water” so it is thin to begin with and start with no trace? Does this mean full water to increase water percentage when running through a lye calculator or decreasing superfat percentage. If increasing the water percentage what is a safe amount?
    Also I understand using a higher percentage of Olive Oil will help reduce trace time.
    Thank you your expertise is appreciated. I am really curious about the water percentage and can’t find any answers online.

  23. Terri says

    What is the recommended usage of activated charcoal per pound of oils? I don’t want to over do it and get black lather! Thanks much.

    • says

      Hi Terri!

      With almost any powdered colorant, Activated Charcoal is WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), but you don’t really need a ton of it to get that gorgeous black color. I’d stay at a range of 1 teaspoon per pound of oils. I hope this helps! :)

      -Becky with Bramble Berry

  24. Vicki Legault says

    Hi! I was wondering if it is “normal” to have oxides come out of the soap onto a light colored washcloth. I seem to haves this problem when using them. I tired dissolving in oils first but maybe I did not mix enough? Or maybe the color was too concentrated? They don’t seem to stain the washcloths but the color does linger there until the washcloth is laundered.

    I also am having problems with soap getting too thick before I can get to the color swirling. I am always afraid I haven’t mixed the lye and oils togther enough if it doesn’t thicken somewhat. I also get like a marbled look in my soaps like the pigments are not mixing properly with the oils or something and its unattractive. Is this a mixing issue? Any advice?

  25. Diane says

    Is there any reason you can’t mix up larger amount of the oxides for CP colors with the carrier oil and store in sealed jars until you want to use them? Or would it be best to mix as needed?

  26. Jazmenn says

    My question is in reference to lab colors…..I want to produce bright colors in my soap, not really neon colors but just vibrant colors, is that possible with the lab colors? For a 5 lbs batch of soap, how much color would I need to produce a bright color?

  27. sharon says

    Hi, I was wondering, if you are using bleeding dyes, is there anything you can add to them to help stop or even slow down the bleeding.? such as salt, white vinegar.? Thank you so much for your help. Sharon.

    • says

      Hi Sharon!

      So far we haven’t found a product that will stop the migration of bleeding colorants in soap. If we ever find one, we’ll defintley let you know! =)

      ~Becky with Bramble Berry

  28. Nancy C says

    What is the ratio of pigments/oxides to glycerin when premixing them? I would like to make liquid colors up in advance. I have your oxides and labcolors and really like them.

    Thank you for all the videos and information you provide to customers.
    Nancy

  29. Colleen says

    Hi! Thank you so much for your marvelous videos, they are really inspiring, and make the Cold Process so much less scary!

    I was wondering, how do mix water soluble Titanium Dioxide, for use in CP?

    Thank you so much!
    Colleen

  30. Anna says

    Hi!
    Thanks so much for putting this information together, very helpful!

    I was wondering for melt & pour, how do you make your colors more vibrant and bright, or even almost a florescent color with oxides?
    I’ve tried using titanium dioxide and it makes colors more vibrant, but is there any other ingredients to make oxides brighter as well?

    Ive been trying to search around, but cannot find my answer.

    Thank you so much for your reply in advance!
    Sincerely

  31. Lucilu says

    I WANT to bleed some colors into one of my soaps. I want to know how to make a cloudy look. Can you tell me?

  32. Lili says

    Hope you understood last sentence.. What I wanted to say is: I mix part of the base oil and pigment, put it in part of the batch and mix it in, then pour it in the main batch to make a swirl? Will swirl turn out too greasy?

    Thank You in advance?

  33. Lili says

    Hi,

    first thank You for so needed advice :)

    I would like to make pastel color swirls in my soaps with mineral pigments (oxides). I have never used mineral pigments before, just natural colorants from my kitchen.
    Now I have ultramarine blue, yellow mineral pigment, red mineral pigment and titanium dioxide. So, I would like to know is there a chance that I will get violet color by mixing ultramarine blue and red pigment or get green color by mixing blue and yellow? Will i get nice pastel blue if I mix ultramarine blue and titanium dioxide?
    And yes, your advice is to put mineral pigments in oil. If I want to make a swirl, should take some of the base oil, mix it with part of batch where I put pigment and at a light trace just pour it back to the main batch?

    • says

      Hi Lili!

      You can definitely mix the different pigment colors together to make new and exciting colors. It is so much fun to play with them and see what you can come up with.

      Swirling is so much fun, but it can be a bit advanced if you’ve never done it before.

      First off, you will want to add your colors in at light trace. Seperate your soap into smaller containers (the amount of containters depends on how many colors you want) and add in color and fragrance for each. This is advanced technique, so I would start out with a couple of colors on your first try to make sure you can get it all done. :)

      You can check out this great blog post by Kat from Otion in which she step-by-step explains how to do a cold process Linera Swirl.
      http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/cold-process-soap/linear-swirling-cold-process/

  34. Stephanie says

    I’m having a heck of a time using titanium dioxide pigment. It keeps speckling in the final soap and I can clearly see small bits in the mixture. I’m mixing the pigment with glycerin and a mini mixer. Am I doing something wrong? :(

    • says

      Hi Stephanie! Are you making MP or CP soap?

      If you are making CP, premix the titanium dioxide in your oil with a mini-mixer. Make sure it is fully mixed in or you may end up with glycerin rivers in your CP soap.

      If you are working with M&P, you can premix the titanium dioxide with glycerin. When using glycerin, try 1 Tablespoon of glycerin to 1 teaspoon of titanium dioxide (which is what we like to use for a good concentrated mixture). If you are still having problems, you can try a slurry with rubbing alcohol!

      I hope this helps. :)
      -Becky with Bramble Berry

      • Victoria says

        Usually my soap turns out very white using the lightest oils, as well as milks (goats, buttermilk etc) I recently purchased some titanium dioxide as I have noticed that the color contrast is more prominent when swirling. However, with no instructions on how to prepair it for use I guessed at it. Everybody says to mix in (some) glycerin or (some) of your oils, but nobody says how much TD to mix with how much of your oils. I am make cp soap, and do not gel. I have premixed 6oz of glycerin to 6tbls of TD. I have not tested it yet, and would like to know if I used the right ratio and how much per pound do I use in the soap?

        • says

          Hi Victoria!

          Typically we like to do 1.5 teaspoons of TD in 1.5 Tablespoons of lightweight oil for cold process. Glycerin is fine this time around, but you don’t want to use it all of the time because it can cause glycerin rivers.

          Check out this video on Soap Queen TV. It’s all about the different colorants that we carry and how to use them. See them in action on our YouTube Channel for free:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3VbeNl1Nqg

          -Becky with Bramble Berry

  35. Manon says

    I am wondering is non bleeding colors are less incline to fade in sunlight? or do I need to use UV inhibitor as well?

    • Anne-Marie says

      All the colors can fade in the light though I have noticed that non bleeders tend to fade a little less. Also, doing a higher usage rate also helps.

  36. Deb Martens says

    I am pretty new to soap making. I am wondering what would happen if you used strongly-brewed Red Zinger herbal tea in place of the water in a CP soap recipe? Would it work to color the soap pinkish-red? Red Zinger contains hisbiscus, rosehips, peppermint, lemongrass, orange peel, “natural flavors” (?? whatever that means), lemon myrtle, licorice, and cherry bark. It smells wonderful and is a nice red color when brewed. I was hoping the soap would be colored and possibly even retain some of the fragrance of the herbs. What do you think?

    • Anne-Marie says

      It works – but the soap doesn’t stay red. Teas generally go brown in soap (it’s the lye). If you want a natural colorant that’s a red, annatto seed can get you a lovely deep orange (close to red!) and alkanet root will get you to purple (close to red!). Madder root might be where you try with the natural reds.

  37. says

    Hello! This is a timely article for me since I’ve recently had some colors morph unexpectedly when making CP soaps. After reading this, I went through and pulled all my micas and checked them against your website to see if there are any issues with using them in CP soap. I did find a few of them do have issues so have written notes on the jars to remind myself.

    I have a couple of your micas that I can’t find on your site and am guessing they were discontinued. One that I used recently, Deep Blue Mica, morphed on me so I guess that one is not stable in CP soap (turned gray/beige). Do you know how Lavender Mica will perform in CP soap?

    I also have a Purple Oxide purchased from Bramble Berry and can’t find any info on it so guess it was discontinued as well. Do you know if there are any issues with this oxide in CP soap?

    Thank you for the articles and videos. I hope you will respond!

  38. Ginny says

    I can’t thank you enough Ann-Marie for the first of what will undoubtedly be a great series! How DO you think this stuff up??!! Always coming up with new ideas to transfer your knowledge to all of us…awesome! I love that the info is all there in one place. I will print it out for sure. What’s even better is I always learn something from the post and your answers. Thanks so much for all you do.

  39. Colleen says

    Thanks Ann-Marie for putting all of this information together. I consider myself color challenged with regards to cold-processed and CPOP soap. How do I take into account the oils used in my formula? I was reading the comment pertaining to the color of the goat milk soap and I recently encountered the same thing. I guess I didn’t realize this until it was too late. I was trying for a sky blue and ended up with green. Is there anyway, besides the water trick, to get the color that I’m looking for? I once was making a non-milk soap and wanted pink, but ended up with orange? I’d love to see some tips and tricks for achieving the colors that I’m looking for. How would I go about testing my colorants in a particular formula?

  40. says

    Thanks for the post, it does help when trying to match an idea to what products to use. I’m still questioning how to get a rich milk chocolate for M&P without resulting in a tub ring.. any suggestions?

  41. Christy says

    I began using pigments in my goat’s milk cold process soap. However, they are turning due to the yellow base of the soap. Our pretty pinks turn an orange, blues to green, etc… Any advice would be great!

    • Anne-Marie says

      To keep your GM as white as possible, have you considered doing a 50% water discount at the front and then adding the additional 50% back in at the end (at trace)? That would keep your soap more of an ivory and allow you to color your soap any color you wanted! =) Because, the sad answer that I don’t want to have to give you, is that counteracting the natural yellow of GM soap (the yellow is from the milk proteins scorching) is virtually impossible. I’m sorry – I wish I had a better answer.

      • Stacy says

        @ Soapqueen

        I’ve also run into the same problem using Goats or Coconut Milk; red Mica= Brown soap. Purple Mica= Brown soap. I love the creaminess Milk adds so would love to find a way around this color problem.

        1) You mentioned 1/2 “water” before and 1/2 at trace. Did you mistakenly mean Milk? Or are you using 1/2 water, 1/2 milk recipes?

        2) Should I dissolve the lye in Milk or add the milk at trace? The last two batches I did a full Milk/lye and a 1/2 water/milk and lye, I’ve never added at trace.

        Lastly, I would really like a red swirled soap and a violet/blue; I’ve had no luck with the two Mica’s, any other tips for obtaining these colors with a Milk soap. I have clays, oxides and many other Mica’s to use as colorants, along with a few liquid dyes.

        Your guidance and expertise is GREATLY appreciated!

  42. Catherine Witt says

    Thanks for all the info, but kind of a mish-mash, hard to absorb it all presentation. And for those who make many different products, a little time consuming to go back and search for a blog post. Any chance info. like this could be summarized on each product’s web page. I know there’s some info. on some pages, but not all. A summary for how each product does in cp, hp, mp, lotion, bath bombs, etc. would be EXTREMELY helpful:)

  43. Audra says

    Fantastic idea! I loved the examples of how to test for color bleeding and the list of BB colorants that do not bleed. Definitely will take the guess work to a minimum. Bring on all the info you have, having it in one place is awesome! It will be going in my soaping file.

  44. Mariah says

    Fantastic post…think I might print it and stick it in my soaping notebook. Thanks so much and I look forward to this new series!

  45. wendy says

    I think this is a great idea-THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL YOU & YOUR YOUR CO.DO.
    Sometimes you make statements about your products that seem a little unclear-i.e.”You can add a little castor to your soap for more lather” does that mean ALL soaps?, or add some palm to make your ‘soap’ harder, again would that be any kind of soap?

    P. S. Your BLOOPERS are so funny. Thanks for including those.

    • Anne-Marie says

      He he, glad you like the bloopers. The videos are super fun to make. The team is AWESOME!

      All CP recipes will get fluffier, bigger bubbles using castor oil at 3%. Palm oil will always make your bar harder. You can use it up to 35%. And Palm oil also contributes to lather in all CP recipes. =)

  46. says

    This was a great refresher to read! Thank you so much! I generally stick with Pigments and Oxides for my CP as they seem to be the most reliant on colors. Plus you offer a great selection! Although your copper mica looks amazing in CP too!

    As for natural colors I do use several natural colors and find them to be a wonderful addition although some are known to fade over time. My best success is with Cocoa Powder, Active Charcoal(also has amazing detoxing benefits!), and liquid annatto(this stuff is powerful!).

    P.S. When mixing my oxides with oils I generally use some of what I would have used for superfatting. Seems to work great, especially with your cute mini stick blender you sell! Love it!

    • Anne-Marie says

      I love Copper Mica in CP – and when the soap is wet, it’s such a beautiful sparkly look.

      Cocoa powder does make for a great soap and I love the deep black you can get without the black bubbles with charcoal.

  47. says

    I made some beautiful brown bath bombs with cocoa butter using the cappuccino mica. Looks great until the ring in the tub. I didn’t see a brown in the labombs….any suggestions?

    • Anne-Marie says

      Any color used heavily will leave a ring in the bathtub if there’s any oil in the tub. Cappuccino mica is actually better than an oxide =) Even Labcolors will leave a ring if there is too much color used. That said, LaBombs are really strong and you’ll usually get brighter colors from LaBombs than a mica.

      With the Cappuccino, use a bit less next time and that should solve the ring issue.

  48. laura turchetti says

    regarding the natural colorants, what effect do they have on the skin, i.e. are the clays drying, is the orange peel an exfoliant and how about the activated charcoal? thanks so much for the info. you guys are the best!

    • says

      Clays are a bit more drying than a normal colorant – good question. Orange peel will be a little bit of an exfoliant. Activated charcoal might also be a little drying but not as much as clays. Any other natural colorants you’re interested in knowing about? Ask away!

  49. Renee says

    GREAT blog post! Thank you SO much! This will be so very helpful when choosing colorants for my soap. Love that it’s all in one place and now easily accessible! wonderful!

  50. says

    When adding the oxides to the fixed oils in CP, is that oil part the original recipe, or is it additional oil when added?

  51. Stacy Durham says

    wow, Thank you so much! Being a newbie this has been huge on my mind. I need to read and re-read this info. can’t wait to hear and see more!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Once the mixture is cool, but still pours easily, add an essential oil of your choice or a blend of essential oils.  Stir gently until well mixed.  If you desire you can add color to the base by using safe soap color additive like mica colorants  which can be purchased online or in craft stores.  Be aware that not all Mica colors are natural ingredients.  There are other colorants you can use like Oxides and and Pigments.  Find out more about soap coloring here. […]

  2. […] Once the mixture is cool, but still pours easily, add an essential oil of your choice or a blend of essential oils.  Stir gently until well mixed.  If you desire you can add color to the base by using safe soap color additive like mica colorants  which can be purchased online or in craft stores.  Be aware that not all Mica colors are natural.  You could use other coloring like Oxides and and Pigments.  Find out more about soap coloring here. […]