Hi, there! It’s me, Katie, again. I’ve already told you about my first attempt at soapmaking. and guess what? I made more soap! Or at least tried to. This time I decided to experiment with natural soap colorants in melt and pour soap. (Different soap processes can affect natural colorants differently, but you’re generally OK with melt and pour- read the pages on the colorants for more information.) I wanted to make a color gradient with natural soap colorants, and I had the following powders: Red Moroccan Clay Powder, Orange Peel Powder, Carrot Powder, Rose Clay Powder, and Lemon Peel Powder. I used red clay, orange peel, and carrot in my first soap, and I got rose clay and lemon peel for a pink lemonade soap idea that I had (didn’t work out, going to try again- that blog will be coming soon!).
So, when you want to disperse a powder evenly in soap for coloring purposes, you want to ‘wet’ it with vegetable glycerin. Soap loves glycerin. I got a two pound slab of Shea Butter Melt and Pour, and first cut it in half because I was using a 1lb loaf mold. Then- lucky me- that slab was divided evenly into 20 squares- five rows of four- and I had five powders- so I separated my melt and pour base into five cups of four squares each. Then I measured out 0.1 oz of each powder into separate lil glass bowls. (One tenth of an ounce is the smallest amount [in ounces] that my scale would register.) I added 0.1 oz of veggie glycerin to each of my fruit and veggie powders, but the lemon peel powder was not mixing well- so I added more! I used 0.2 oz veggie glycerin for my fruit and veggie powders. I had to beat out the lumps of the carrot powder but with the extra veggie glycerin, it ended up being a very thin liquid. The others were more like pastes. I added 0.1 oz of veggie glycerin to my clay powders and that was enough to turn them into a workable texture. Woohoo! Here are my powders lined up:
Out of habit, I had originally thought the lemon peel mixture would be the lightest- yellow, right? But it was actually a light brown. Hmm. Well. My eyes didn’t lie. So I lined the powders up this way since it seemed to be the most aesthetically pleasing- looked like a gradient and that’s what I was going for.
This time, I used the microwave for my melting and wow, that was so much faster and easier than trying to use the stove. I still wasn’t 100% sure on my carrot, orange, and lemon powders being in the correct order for a proper gradient (lemon = yellow, right, brain?) so I put my four squares each of melt and pour (cut up, of course, for easier melting) into three glass containers with spouts and thoroughly stirred in my powder-glycerin mixtures.
Lemon was clearly the darkest of the three. It was a close call between carrot and orange, but orange was definitely closer to the color of the lemon powder soap. Well, alright. I had to melt them again because melt and pour isn’t really designed for stopping and taking photos and then I began pouring them into the mold one layer at a time. I poured my carrot layer first and sprayed the top with rubbing alcohol to get rid of air bubbles. I let that sit for.. I’m not sure exactly- about half an hour? It was only 1/5 of a pound so it didn’t take too terribly long to set up. Then I sprayed the top of that layer with rubbing alcohol (it evaporates out- so no worries there) and poured the next layer, sprayed it with rubbing alcohol, and let it set up. I repeated these steps for all five layers.
I let the soap sit for a while before I popped it out of the mold to admire it, and then waited even longer before I cut it. I ended up with five ~1″ thick bars. I just cut it on a cutting board with a big knife- nothing fancy, so it’s not exact. And behold these beauties: the dark spots in the middle layers are likely spots where my powder clumped up but the carrot powder also seemed to settle into little specks on the bottom. I like it. It’s super cute. The lemon layer is also the most malleable, the other layers are quite hard and the lemon layer has a small bit of give. This bar smells slightly citrus-y near the lemon and orange layers, but overall, no overwhelming scent – I was more focused on the appearance anyway. It lathers like a dream, though. <3
What did I learn? Well, the concentration of your powder is very important in determining coloring. That failed soap I mentioned above? I used the same amount of rose clay powder (and veggie glycerin to color an entire pound of it and you can really tell the difference 5x colorant concentration makes. The red clay layer actually looks closer to the solid-colored soap. Interesting. I think if I made another gradient soap, I would pick one colorant and do the different layers in different concentrations. No guess work when it comes to the proper order that way. It’s also been brought to my attention that certain non-clay powders may have the tendency to oxidize and eventually turn brown. I think they worked well in this soap not to mention the added benefits, but I may stick with clay for colorants in the future.
Here’s my first soap side-by-side with my second soap. So cute! Different combinations and different concentrations make different colors. I can’t wait to experiment with this further!