Diluting Bramble Berry LabColors

Labcolors are a unique and innovative soap, lotion and toiletry colorant system offered by Bramble Berry. The Basic 12 can be used to mix ‘n’ match over 100 different colorant combinations, making Labcolors an economical colorant choice. The colorants are FD&C or D&C Dyes, highly concentrated, in a paste or thick liquid form. To use them, they do need to be diluted. If you don’t dilute them, you can end up with unsightly speckles or colors that don’t quite turn out as planned.

When Blending Goes Bad

Labcolors were not Pre-Mixed

Here is a full primer, complete with photos, on how to properly dilute Labcolors. Have questions after reading through it? Post them and we’ll get you all set up. Labcolors are fun and easy to use. Enjoy!

What You’ll Need

Small bottle of LabColor

4 oz of warm, distilled water

4 oz bottle

Optiphen ND or Germaben

Mini Mixer

Droppers

Funnel

Thermometer

ONE: Warm up 4 ounces of distilled water in a microwave safe container in the microwave for 30 seconds. We’re going for lukewarm, not scalding hot, so 30 seconds should do the trick.

NOTE: Since this blog post was published we have reformulated our LabColors to be better than ever. You can still dilute the small size into 8 ounces of distilled water, but for the best results in you cold process soap we recommend diluting the Small LabColor size into 4 ounces of water. For more information on our new sizes and dilution rates, you can check out this chart:

Small dilutes into 4 to 8 ounces of water

Large dilutes into 8 to 16 ounces of water

Jumbo dilutes into 50 to 100 ounces of water

TWO: Take the cap off of the Labcolor and pop it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Do not over heat. If the glass gets too hot, it will break resulting in a very colorful microwave and an extra 20 minutes of clean up time added to the process.

THREE: Carefully take the Labcolor out of the microwave. The glass may be hot so use a paper towel to hold the container. Put the cap back on and give it a good shake. Then pour the Labcolor into the 4 ounces of water.

See the clumps in the bottom left picture? “Rinsing” the bottle out again with water will make sure all of colorant is mixed in.

FOUR: Use your dropper to suck up some of the warm water and drop it back into the empty glass container. Shake the bottle again to make sure that we get all of the dye out of the bottle. Pour it back into the 4 ounces of water.

FIVE: Use your dropper to add the preservative (either Optiphen ND or Germaben) to the colorful 4 ounce mixture at 1%, which will be about 1 ml.

IMPORTANT: If using Germaben, be sure that your mixture is below 140 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the preservative to ensure effectiveness. If you are using Optiphen ND, you will want to keep your temperatures below 176 degrees Fahrenheit.

SIX: Use the mini mixer to completely blend the Labcolor, warm water and preservative.

SEVEN: Using a mini funnel or a super steady hand, pour the dye into a container for storage. Leave the lid off until cool to avoid condensation.

EIGHT: Make sure to label the colorant. These are strong colorants making it hard to tell some of them apart once they’re diluted and bottled. I didn’t put a use-by date but 1 year from the time you mix is a safe use-by date. Check out the Labcolor Quick Guide for more great information on the fabulous and adored Bramble Berry soap colorants.

 Have a question about this blog post? Come join us at Bramble Berry’s Facebook page and we can help you out with any of your soapy questions!

58 Responses to “Diluting Bramble Berry LabColors”

  1. Juli says:

    Is it ok to use phenonip in this, or should Germaben specifically be used?

    • Courtney says:

      You can use any preservative that you want as long as it will mix with water. We prefer to use Germaben or Optiphen ND as they both work really well for diluting LabColors.

      Courtney from Bramble Berry

  2. Lisa says:

    What would the INCI be for these diluted colorants with the preservative added?

    • Courtney says:

      You would just combine the INCI of the LabColor, which you can find on the site, and the INCI of the preservative that you decide to use.

      The INCI for Germaben is: propylene glycol, diazolidinyl urea, methylparaben, and propylparaben

      Courtney from Bramble Berry

  3. Michelle says:

    Can you use Optiphen Plus instead of Germaben. Also is it possible to get a true red with Labcolours in CP soap?

  4. kelly says:

    I use goat milk in my cp soap and it is a creamy yellowish color. How can I blend the colors?

    • Courtney says:

      If your soap will be naturally tinted yellow because of the goatsmilk, I would go with a yellow, orange or pink color. Those will all blend nicely

      Purple or green mixed with yellow might turn brown or just plain icky. So just stick with colors that will blend nicely with the natural color of your soap.

      Courtney from Bramble Berry

  5. Leslie says:

    Thank you! That is an awesome tutorial. I love the pic with the whisk; such a cool photo!

  6. Margo says:

    If you were to use these Lab Colors in both MP & CP can both still be dilute in water, or for MP do you have to use glycerine?

  7. Debbie says:

    Thank you for this helpful tutorial. I’ve had some issues with learning to use the labcolors. At first, I didn’t dilute. Then when I realized I was supposed to, I diluted all twelve. I refrigerated my diluted colors so did not add a preservative. Do you recommend adding a preservative anyway and if so, can I add to the refrigerated, diluted colorant? I have some confusion about the best time to add the diluted colorants. I made a batch of soap using the Royal Purple in your 2 lb wood mold. I used 3 oz of diluted Labcolor, which I added at medium trace just before pouring. I did a swirl and sprinkled the top with a little glitter. It came out lovely when cut, but it just felt different than the recipe had before. It felt “wet” or a bit watery when cut. As it is curing, it’s slowly turned brown. It’s been about 3 weeks now and it is nearly all brown. Not pretty at all. I have made the same recipe (AM’s Lots of Lather) several times using undiluted Labcolors without this problem, although not with the Royal Purple. However, when I realized I was supposed to dilute, I diluted all of my colors on hand. Any idea what might have gone wrong? It seemed that the 6 oz of colorant added a lot of liquid to the recipe but I followed the usage chart. I did not deduct the 6 oz from the lye/water mixture.

    • Debbie says:

      Opops .. typo .. I meant 3 oz of colorant .. not 6!

    • Anne-Marie says:

      3 ounces of colorant, diluted or not, seems like a lot in a 2 pound batch. Where did you get that usage rate? Or were you just doing a ‘what you see is what you get’?

      When I just made Royal Purple the other day, I used 4 ml of diluted color in 4 ounces so that would be about 32 ml, so just over an ounce, to get a good purple color in 2 pounds of soap.

      As for the brown, I’m guessing it’s the fragrance oil that is going brown and not the colorant. What fragrance is it? Many fragrances (usually ones that smell sweet) go brown in soap over time.

      If it feels wet, it’ll dry and cure out hard – water will evaporate. =)

      • Debbie says:

        I thought it seemed like a lot of fluid, too. I wanted a deep purple so I used the maximum amount listed on the usage chart that came with the labcolor kit. For Royal Purple, it suggests a maximum usage amount of 1 1/2 oz per pound of soap, hence, my 3 oz. The FO may be to blame here. I used a competitors Grape Soda FO. It does not have Vanilla content but it is a sweet smell. You are right, it is drying out nicely and I washed my hands with it and it feels fine. Just looks a little odd! Also, re: a preservative, can I go ahead and add it even though I mixed a month or so agao and refrigerated? Thanks, Anne-Marie!

        • Anne-Marie says:

          Yes, you can add the preservative now but just be on the close look out for any problems with the color or odd odors. =)

          Is the soap lathering purple, out of curiosity? =)

          • Debbie says:

            No, the soap is not latering purple. It’s a nice lathery soap … your lots of lather recipe. I do love that recipe! Thanks!

      • Bubble Up says:

        Anne Marie, I got the same usage rate from the FAQ for Lab Color on your website where it is suggested that you use 3/4 – 1 1/2 ounces of diluted lab color per pound of soap.

        The same FAQ later goes on to recommend not more than 1 teaspoon of diluted lab color per pound. That’s a significant difference!

        • Anne-Marie says:

          Oh dear – that is a typo for sure. I don’t think I’ve ever used that much diluted Labcolor per pound of soap. I’ll go hunt that down and update it. Thank you for being our eagle eye spotter =)

  8. Marcy says:

    What is the shelf life if you refrigerate them instead of using a preservative?

    • Anne-Marie says:

      If there was no contaminants present when you mixed it, indefinitely. Bacteria won’t grow in the fridge very well. That said, we’ve all seen leftovers get moldy in the fridge so given enough contamination, anything and everything will get moldy. For that reason, 3 months max in the fridge.

  9. Jackie says:

    Oh thank god!! I was just thinking the other day that I needed to do this and wasn’t sure exactly what to do.
    Thanks again!

  10. Denette says:

    Yay!! I am so glad to see this tutorial! When you posted your “Let it Bleed” CP tutorial I have wanted to try this! Thanks a bunch!!

    A quick question…in the let it bleed tut you mentioned that you used 20 ml of color diluted in 8 oz. of water, but here you only used 10 ml of color diluted in 8oz of water…is the 20 ml diluted in 8 oz too strong, or not diluted enough? Why the difference in dilution rates? Does this difference make a big impact on the end color result in CP soap? Do you prefer one dilution rate over the other? Sorry, I guess that was more than one question. ;)

    • Courtney says:

      Normally we do recommend the Large Bottle (20 ml) of LabColor to 8-16 ounces of water. We were doing a little experiment to get a stronger color and I love the way the soap turned out. It’s just a smidge darker than normal. I would just stick with the normal dilution rate recommended on the site.

      Good luck with your CP soap!

      Courtney from Bramble Berry

      • Denette says:

        Thanks for answering my questions! Now all I need to do is decide which colors to try first!!

  11. Melissa says:

    Hi, i am not sure how to ask this, but, why would you use labcolors to make the whalesoap?or it was just to show us what not to do?, wouldnt become blue the grey whale, or wouldnt the color migrate: blue in grey and viceversa???
    Thanks :)

    • Anne-Marie says:

      Yes, it was just to show you what not to do. Sometimes, you just have to see the bad results to believe it =)

  12. Melissa says:

    Hehe, great! my brain was about to explote…
    Thanks

  13. Claudia says:

    Dont LabColors bleed?

  14. Gail smith says:

    Do you need to dilute la bomb colors also?

  15. Gail smith says:

    I hate spellcheck….I meant to say “great! Thanks!” lol

  16. Crystal says:

    Question 1.) If you are using distiled water, do you still need use a preservative?

    Question 2.) You said to put the whole bottle of “coloring” into the water, but I really don’t want to do that. I messing around with some of the color and it seemed that it didn’t matter if I used 1 drop or 6… the color seemed to stay that same.
    If I am usuing 8oz of water, what drop’s do you suggest?

    Thank you.

    • Anne-Marie says:

      Yes, you still need preservative because germs can get introduced. But you could skip the preservative if you refrigerated your product after it was diluted?

      If you don’t want to dilute in the full 8 oz. because it’s too weak, definitely dilute in 2 to 4 ounces (4 is better than 2) so you don’t get the speckles that you see in that first photo.

      Usage rate varies on the colorant and the product that you’re using it in =)

  17. Gayle says:

    are LaBomb colors already diluted or do you need to dilute those too to use in melt and pour soap?

    • Anne-Marie says:

      Great question. The LaBomb colors are designed for use in bath fizzies and have been diluted and pre-mixed in glycerin so you can use those straight for MP soap if you’re using the LaBombs.

  18. Mickie says:

    If you use the Germaben Preservative, do you have to refrigerate the diluted LabColor?

  19. Addy says:

    Hi, I’m still pretty new to soap-making and am really nervous to screw anything up. So far, I’ve used a mica, a powder, and activated charcoal to color my soaps. I do so by mixing with glycerin first, then into the soap. Can I not do that if I was to use labcolors? Do I have to dilute(to avoiding speckling)?

    • Anne-Marie says:

      I know the nervous part about messing things but just breathe deep and say “It’s just soap!” =)

      You’re doing the right hing with those powders.

      With the Labcolors, you pre-mix with water and mix up a large batch and then, you draw from that large (pre-mixed) batch each time.

      I hope this answers your question – and welcome to soapmaking! =)

  20. Michelle says:

    I would love to make sure I have this correct. I am new to Cupcake Bath Fizzies and have been using LaBomb Colorants which if I have this correct are ready to use as is with no mixing involved. Most of the above post are referring to Labcolors which you do have to mix. Correct? Just want to make sure I am doing the right thing with the right color for the application! :)

  21. Liz says:

    Ounces of water for dilution purposes – - is that weight or volume?

  22. Liz says:

    Another question: I’m looking for a chart or something to tell me HOW MUCH diluted colorant (again, by weight or volume) to add to my soap recipe. I cant find such a thing. I did read “no more than 1 tsp per pound”, but have also noted mention of 4 oz, 8 oz … I’m confused!

  23. Bonnie says:

    Will Optiphen work as a preservative in in LabColors in place of Germaben. I already have the Optiphen. If so, I much do I need?

    Thank you.

  24. Debbie says:

    I really haven’t tried making soap yet. I make mostely lotions and scrubs. I’m a little confused about the low/high pH. Which category would lotions, sugar and salt scrubs fall into? Are the Labcolor usage rates the same for these? Is this outlined in the instruction booklet that comes with the 12-color Labcolor kit? Sorry for so many questions!

    • Anne-Marie says:

      Lotions, Sugars, and Salt Scrubs fall into low pH category. You can use Low pH and High pH colorants in low pH products. The same is not true for high pH products; you can only use high pH colorant products in high pH products. Labcolors are what you see, is what you get for Lotions, Sugars and Salt Scrubs. I usually drop in Labcolors one drop at a time for Lotions and Salt/Sugar scrubs until I get the color I want.

  25. Lori says:

    I have a order of soap to fill and the customer wants a white soap with red and blue, like the flag, in them. I have gotten colorants from a local dealer and from hobby lobby but have been unable to get a true red and dark blue in my cp soap. my red turns pink or a hot pink and my blues have turned different shades of purple. What would you suggest for these colors so I can order them from you. Your site is great and all the info is wonderful.
    Thank you.

  26. Molly B says:

    Does this apply to the low ph for M&P lab colors as well?

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