Coloring Your Cold Process Soap

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If you’ve made the time to experiment and measure out how much color you use each time you make soap, you may know how much color you’ll need to achieve the results you’re looking for. But if you’re somewhat new to the soapmaking world and haven’t made dozens of batches yet, there isn’t a whole lot of information from suppliers about usage rates. I’ve seen things like “add desired amount” or “if your soap lather is colored, you’ve added too much”. Well, that’s not so helpful since you can’t really judge that until after the soap is set up and you’ve already ruined it! Sometimes the supplier will tell you how much color to use per pound of oils. Rarely do I color an entire batch of soap the same color anymore. It’s usually pulling out a cup of soap, or splitting the batch into smaller parts to do a design.

I’ve come up with my own basic usage guidelines for the various types of micas and pigments like oxides and ultramarines. I’ve also experimented with neons which will give a very nice range of color. These are the guidelines I use PER CUP of soap:

Micas – I use 1 tsp. per cup of soap for the most brilliant color
Oxides and ultramarines – Use 1/4 tsp. per cup of soap
Titanium dioxide – use up to 1 tsp. per cup of soap. (Less is better!)
Neons – Use 1/2 tsp. per cup of soap for the most brilliant color, 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. per cup for pastels or lighter colors.

(These are my own guidelines. It’s always a good idea to do your own testing!)

Pre-mixing your colorants: You’ve probably seen soapmakers using glycerin, oil or water. How do you know which one to use? Glycerin is a safe bet because it will mix with both water and oil soluble colorants. That’s why you can buy colorants pre-mixed with glycerin from soap supply vendors. It’s also easy to clean up! The only issue with using glycerin is that you absolutely have to stick-blend the colorant into the soap to get it fully incorporated. This works most of the time – it’s just when you need your soap batter as fluid as possible for an intricate design that you wouldn’t want to stick-blend the color in. It’s also more difficult to tell how much colorant you are using when you purchase it pre-mixed, so you’ll just have to eyeball it.

I prefer to mix my colors with water whenever possible – even micas that don’t seem to incorporate very well. That way any extra liquid I’m adding to the soap will just cure out. You can test oxides and ultramarines to see if they mix better with oil or water. Titanium dioxide will be labeled with its solubility, and I like to get the water soluble variety. Most ultramarines and all neons have to be mixed with oil, however. You can use some of the oil from your recipe if you remember to do it that way, or just add a tiny bit extra to the colorants.

Example of ultramarine violet that didn't mix into the soap.

Example of ultramarine violet that didn’t mix into the soap.

Clumping is another issue you might be having even with pre-mixing – especially with oil-soluble titanium dioxide, oxides and ultramarines. Using a mini frother will help remove all the clumps in a hurry. If you don’t have one, I suggest pre-mixing before you start the rest of your soap preparations and give it a stir every once in awhile as you walk by.

Offsetting yellow tones or discoloring fragrances with titanium dioxide: Titanium dioxide is a strong whitening agent in cold process soap. You can use it to off-set the natural yellow or beige tone of your soap to create a white soap, or use a small amount with your colors to make them lighter or more pastel, and especially if you are using a fragrance oil that discolors to a light to medium tan it will help retain the color of your soap. Using whiter oils in your soap base will also help! If you have a fragrance that is mostly vanilla, or you know it will turn dark brown, it’s an exercise of futility to try to work against it. Titanium dioxide will not offset it, and vanilla stabilizers tend to break down over time. You can either add fragrance to a portion of your soap so that only that part will turn dark brown, or just go with it and have a soap that is completely dark.

Super crackled Lily of the Valley Soap

Super crackled Lily of the Valley Soap


What about the crackle effect from titanium dioxide? Sometimes you will get a crackled soap from using titanium dioxide with a soap recipe that overheated. There are certain fragrances that will overheat your soap, such as many of the florals, as well as certain oils in your soap recipe that can cause problems. For example, after I removed rice bran oil from my recipe, the amount of crackling from titanium dioxide was drastically reduced. Since it’s just a cosmetic issue, you don’t have to worry about it affecting the performance of your soap, and sometimes it just looks really cool! Use the least amount of TD you can. Using too much can cause your soap to become brittle, so no more than 1 tsp. per cup of soap. Seasonal changes can affect your soap, so remember it’s not necessary to over-insulate your soap in the warmer summer months!

How do you get a true red? This used to be a more elusive problem, but I’m seeing more suppliers who carry the true red, non-bleeding colorant. Most of them are pre-mixed, however, so if you want to get more bang for your buck, you can order the powdered form from TKB Trading – red lake #30 – and mix it yourself with either oil or glycerin.

Morphing colors: low ph dyes will morph in a high ph environment. Sometimes you can make the color changes work for you, such as a blue that turns purple. Sometimes a blue will just turn a nasty gray though. If you want a true blue, stick to ultramarine blue or a mica that you know is stable. I have several that I can recommend, and Wholesale Supplies Plus has information about the ph of their colorants listed on their website which comes in handy! Here is a list of micas from The Conservatorie that have been tested by several soapmakers and deemed stable.

Bleeding colors:
Most FD&C and D&C dyes will bleed and/or fade in sunlight. I usually avoid these for soapmaking. If you buy soap colorants from the hobby stores, they are made for melt & pour bases and they are usually FD&C or D&C dye that are highly diluted and will bleed and fade in cold process soap. Be sure to purchase high quality micas, oxides or ultramarines from a reputable soap supply vendor or get the Lab Colors that are specifically for cold process soap from Brambleberry.

If you are more of a visual learner, please watch this video I created for more information:

More resources from Anne-Marie Faiola of Brambleberry:

Soap Coloring Options


http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/talk-it-out-tuesday-colorants/

More information on using titanium dioxide to off-set dark oils from Majestic Mountain Sage:

Neem Oil and Titanium Dioxide in Cold Process Soap

Get hands-on learning with a personalized Mica Class with Kenna of Amathia Soapworks:

http://www.amathiasoapworks.com/product/group-soap-session-using-micas-in-cold-process-soap/

There is so much information around using colors in cold-process soap. I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg, so if you have more questions, please ask in the comment section below!

Soap Challenge 2013 – Leopard Spotted Soap Link-Up

This is it! The final link-up for the 2013 Soap Challenges! I am so excited to see all the leopard spotted soaps out there! I know this was a difficult challenge because I certainly haven’t mastered it yet. It’s such a fabulous concept – especially since animal prints are definitely “in” right now!

Here is my cutting video of the Lavender Leopard Soap:

For those of you who enjoy learning new techniques, I will have an announcement about a new Soap Challenge Club very soon! My thoughts so far are to host one challenge per month. More details to come!

Now it’s your turn!

Bloggers: Create a post about your leopard spotted soap – with photos of course! You can describe how you picked your scent and colors, any problems you may have encountered or advice you might have. Please include a link back to my blog in your post (either the home page, or this post should work nicely!). When you link to your post, be sure it’s the link to the actual post, not just your blog link. Otherwise, when someone clicks on it later, and you’ve made more posts, they won’t be able to find the one you wanted to link with.

Facebook business page photos:
Upload your photo(s) into a photo album, and write a descriptive caption on the photo you are linking up to this post, including the scent you used and any other information you care to share. To link the photo, click on it, then copy and paste the URL into the “blog post URL” blank at the top. In the next step, it will show your photo, and you will need to select it. (If you press the “crop” button instead, you can adjust what the thumbnail of your photo will look like.)

YouTubers: You can create a link to a YouTube video of your soap! UPDATE! If you upload a photo of your soap as your YouTube profile photo, it will show up in the link-up! If you don’t have a profile photo, I believe you can still upload a photo from your computer and use your video as the link. Starting on your video page, click the “share” button and copy the URL. You can use this URL for the “blog post URL” blank. If you have a photo in your profile, you should be able to select it. If not, you can either ignore all the tiny blue boxes and click the “direct image URL” tab across the top and paste the URL of your youtube video in the blank again and hit the “submit query” button OR click “upload from computer” and select a photo from your hard drive.

Uploading a photo from your computer: If you don’t have a blog or business page on facebook or a youtube video, you can still upload a photo from your computer. UPDATE: Put YOUR NAME in the “blog post URL” blank and go to the next step. It will give you an error message, but it will still work! Just click the tab across the top that says “upload from computer” and you will be able to browse your files and upload a photo. I will remove the dead link ASAP.


Soap Challenge 2013 – Final Week

This is it! The final soap challenge! So many of you mentioned that you were looking forward to learning this technique when you signed up – probably because it was something new and different! Leopard spotted soap is created by piping contrasting lines of soap in a particular pattern so that when the soap is cut, it will look like leopard spots! At the very least you will need one color for the base of the soap (could be white or uncolored), one color for the center of the “spot” and another color for the outside of the “spot”.

I don’t know if you follow the Oil & Butter blog, but this is where I discovered this technique. Cee is a very talented cake decorator as well as a soapmaker, so she gets inspired by cake designs. Her leopard spotted soap was inspired by this video:

Now, it took me a couple tries to get this one right. Not because it’s all that difficult, but because I had watched the video so many months ago that I had forgotten how to do it! So, just yesterday I finally made it “correctly”.

I just cut the soap, and the bottom layer of stripes really doesn’t look like leopard spots – more like purple clouds. I think the dark purple soap was just a bit too thick. Also, I think it would have turned out better if I had done the stripes more long-wise diagonal, like corner to corner with a couple more stripes on either side of the long diagonal.

Tips:
1. The only “special equipment” needed is some ziplock bags. I prefer the freezer quart-size.
2. Definitely and for sure you will need a slow-moving fragrance or essential oil!!
3. Soap thickness is key. It has to be thick enough to support layers, and thin enough to remain workable for a fairly long period of time. Having the soap base just a bit thinner than the soap for the “spots” worked really well for me.
4. Color choices are infinite! Just be sure you use some high-contrast colors for the best effect.
5. When using a log mold, you can make your lines diagonal like I did or long-wise down the mold.
6. Have fun!!!

The link-up will open this Saturday at 6am CST and remain open until Saturday May 4th at CST.

Soap Challenge 2013 – Mica Swirled Tops Link-Up

I really am embarrassed to show you the inside of the Coconut Lime soap I made this week for the mica swirled tops challenge! Not one of my better efforts, but I will chalk it up to another experience to add to my “what not to do” list. At least the mica swirls are decent. I will definitely have to try this technique again some time with a better behaving soap batter!

Now it’s your turn! Each participant may add ONE link to their creation. Here are the instructions to add your link:

Bloggers: Create a post about your mica swirled top soap – with photos of course! You can describe how you picked your scent and colors, any problems you may have encountered or advice you might have. Please include a link back to my blog in your post (either the home page, or this post should work nicely!). When you link to your post, be sure it’s the link to the actual post, not just your blog link. Otherwise, when someone clicks on it later, and you’ve made more posts, they won’t be able to find the one you wanted to link with.

Facebook business page photos: Upload your photo(s) into a photo album, and write a descriptive caption on the photo you are linking up to this post, including the scent you used and any other information you care to share. To link the photo, click on it, then copy and paste the URL into the “blog post URL” blank at the top. In the next step, it will show your photo, and you will need to select it. (If you press the “crop” button instead, you can adjust what the thumbnail of your photo will look like.)

YouTubers: You can create a link to a YouTube video of your soap! UPDATE! If you upload a photo of your soap as your YouTube profile photo, it will show up in the link-up! If you don’t have a profile photo, I believe you can still upload a photo from your computer and use your video as the link. Starting on your video page, click the “share” button and copy the URL. You can use this URL for the “blog post URL” blank. If you have a photo in your profile, you should be able to select it. If not, you can either ignore all the tiny blue boxes and click the “direct image URL” tab across the top and paste the URL of your youtube video in the blank again and hit the “submit query” button OR click “upload from computer” and select a photo from your hard drive.

Uploading a photo from your computer: If you don’t have a blog or business page on facebook or a youtube video, you can still upload a photo from your computer. UPDATE: Put YOUR NAME in the “blog post URL” blank and go to the next step. It will give you an error message, but it will still work! Just click the tab across the top that says “upload from computer” and you will be able to browse your files and upload a photo. I will remove the dead link ASAP.

Please note: I will not be available most of the weekend. Hopefully by the third week you’ve all figured out the link-up anyway!

(This week’s link-up will remain open until Saturday, April 27. The final challenge will be posted on Sunday, April 21st!)


Soap Challenge 2013 – Week Three

Wow! That elemental swirl was a huge challenge and a huge success for a lot of people this week! You can check out the link-up here.

We are now ready for our Week Three soap challenge: Mica Swirled Tops. The basic technique is to create a mica & oil mixture and drizzle it over the top of your soap, and then swirl it like you would with a contrasting colored soap. The oil will be absorbed into the soap leaving a beautiful mica swirl on top.

The first place I saw this was on the Shieh Studio Blog. Emily has several photos of her soaps with mica swirls on this post. She also posted a video recently, so if you need to see how she did it, you can check that out!

Still need more? Pipestone Soaps also has some fabulous photos of mica swirled tops on their Facebook page! I asked Sacha for some tips before making my soap, and she recommended starting with just one metallic color to begin with, so I went with gold.

Here are the results of my first attempt at this technique:

Tips:
1. It takes very little mica & oil to create the effect. Even using 1/2 tsp. oil with 1/4 tsp. of mica I still had about half of my mixture left. Of course, it depends on how big your soap is, but just know that a little goes a LONG way!
2. You can use any color mica, but metallic micas will be the most shiny.
3. Stick to one color for your first batch! Because the oil is so fluid, it’s a lot more difficult to maintain separate colors if you do more than one.
4. Kenna of Amathia Soapworks says she textures the soap first, then drizzles the mica & swirls it with a chopstick.
5. I would highly recommend having a little more fluid soap to begin with – medium trace at most! (Feel free to use any technique you like for the inside of the soap.)
6. As always – have fun!!!

Please note: You will actually have TWO WEEKS to complete your soap for this challenge since there will be a break next week. The link-up will still open up this Saturday at 6am CST, but it will remain open for two weeks.

Soap Challenge 2013 – Elemental Swirl Link-Up

So, are we loving the soap challenges so far? I hope those of you who participated in the Tiger Stripe challenge took advantage of the free colorant offer from Brambleberry!

And now it is time to show off our beautiful elemental swirls! Here’s my Apple Berry Picnic soap:

Apple Berry Picnic Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Apple Berry Picnic Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Now it’s your turn! Each participant may add ONE link to their creation. Here are the instructions to add your link (I’ve added two new updates since last week – one for YouTube, and one for uploading a photo from your computer to work around some issues):

Bloggers:
Create a post about your elemental swirl soap – with photos of course! You can describe how you picked your scent and colors, any problems you may have encountered or advice you might have. Please include a link back to my blog in your post (either the home page, or this post should work nicely!). When you link to your post, be sure it’s the link to the actual post, not just your blog link. Otherwise, when someone clicks on it later, and you’ve made more posts, they won’t be able to find the one you wanted to link with.

Facebook business page photos:
Upload your photo(s) into a photo album, and write a descriptive caption on the photo you are linking up to this post, including the scent you used and any other information you care to share. To link the photo, click on it, then copy and paste the URL into the “blog post URL” blank at the top. In the next step, it will show your photo, and you will need to select it. (If you press the “crop” button instead, you can adjust what the thumbnail of your photo will look like.)

YouTubers:
You can create a link to a YouTube video of your soap! UPDATE! If you upload a photo of your soap as your YouTube profile photo, it will show up in the link-up! If you don’t have a profile photo, I believe you can still upload a photo from your computer and use your video as the link. Starting on your video page, click the “share” button and copy the URL. You can use this URL for the “blog post URL” blank. If you have a photo in your profile, you should be able to select it. If not, you can either ignore all the tiny blue boxes and click the “direct image URL” tab across the top and paste the URL of your youtube video in the blank again and hit the “submit query” button OR click “upload from computer” and select a photo from your hard drive.

Uploading a photo from your computer:
If you don’t have a blog or business page on facebook or a youtube video, you can still upload a photo from your computer. UPDATE: Put YOUR NAME in the “blog post URL” blank and go to the next step. It will give you an error message, but it will still work! Just click the tab across the top that says “upload from computer” and you will be able to browse your files and upload a photo. I will remove the dead link ASAP.

Please note: I will not be available until late Saturday afternoon to comment or help with any issues! I will be anxious to see all your soaps then!!

(This week’s link-up will remain open until next Saturday.)


Soap Challenge 2013 – Week One

It’s finally time!! Welcome to the first Soap Challenge for 2013!! We have at least 72 official sign-ups from all over the world, including Australia, England, Macedonia, South Africa, and Canada, not to mention all over the US!

For our first challenge, we will be making soap using the tiger stripe method. Simply divide your soap into two different colors and pour a stripe of soap down the center of your mold, alternating colors each time until you have used up all the soap! I’m giving credit to Kenna of Amathia Soapworks for creating this technique. Here is her tutorial:

You can use the traditional tiger colors, or deviate with any other high contrasting colors. I chose to create a black & white soap with one pink stripe:

Tips:
1. Make sure your fragrance or essential oil is easy to work with! No florals or spices.
2. Color ideas: light and dark version of the same color, colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, or whatever your heart desires!
3. You can decide how much soap you want to pour with each stripe – less for thinner lines, more for thicker lines.
4. You can pour your soap off-center as well!
5. Have fun with it!

You will have until Saturday to make your soap and document it with photos, blog post, youtube video, or Facebook album. I will be posting the link-up on Saturday, March 30 at 6am CST and you will be able to share your creation with everyone at that time. The link-up will remain open until the following Saturday when the new one opens up.

Soap Challenge Winner Announcement

On October 31st, I revealed the cutting video of the Magma soap project I made swirling together cold process and melt & pour soap, which had been sponsored by Brambleberry. I also issued a Soap Challenge for those who wanted to participate and create their own soap combining CP with MP. One participant would win the 5 lb. wooden mold with silicone liner from Brambleberry that I used in my soap project. Deadline to submit entries for the challenge was November 15th and a winner was drawn today!!

You can see all 22 of the fabulous entries for the challenge in the comments section of this post.

Thanks again to all who participated!! I hope you had fun and will try this technique again!

Magma Soap Reveal, Givember, and a Soap Challenge Giveaway!

Hold on to your hats, this is going to be a fun post!! I have the second half of the video ready to go, and I have a coupon code from Brambleberry to share with you, as well a Soap Challenge involving a significant prize that could potentially go to anyone who chooses to participate. Do I have your attention yet?

Let’s start with the video, because it explains quite a bit. Plus, I think it’s super fun to see the soap for the first time as I’m cutting it!

Now, lets talk about Brambleberry’s Givember! <---Click the link for more information, but for Great Cakes Soapworks readers, use coupon code Givember200 throughout the month of November on all your orders with Brambleberry to be entered in a drawing for a $200 gift certificate!!

But that’s not all! As I mentioned in the video, I am hosting another Soap Challenge! To participate, soapmakers must come up with a soap that combines cold-process and melt & pour soap. You can do the same technique as the Magma soap if you like, or come up with something different. By the way, you can use your favorite cold-process recipe. It doesn’t have to be the one in the Magma soap tutorial.

Other tips for using the Magma soap technique:
1. You can also use your normal fragrance usage amount. Although the blend smells fantastic, the recommended amount in the tutorial seemed a bit high – which may be why I didn’t get the full amount of Energy fragrance oil.
2. Work fast because the melt & pour soap will set up faster than the cold-process soap! I kept thinking that I needed to work fast to get done before the cold-process soap set up, and since it was behaving rather nicely, I wasn’t in a huge hurry (although it would appear that I was when you watch that part of the video in fast motion!). Once I started swirling in the mold, I realized the melt & pour soap was definitely setting up, and it felt like I was dragging it around with my spatula – and that’s what felt so weird!!

To enter the drawing for the 5-lb wooden log mold with silicone liner, you must make a blog post showing your soap and describing the process, OR post a video on YouTube. Add the link to your post or video in the comments on THIS post. Deadline is Thursday, November 15 at the end of the day.

INTERNATIONAL SOAPMAKERS: You may also participate in the challenge and enter the drawing, but if you win, I will pay $15 toward shipping and you will be responsible for the rest.

Now, I just need to go figure out how to write out the ingredients list for the Magma Soap…don’t tell them, but I’m probably giving these away to family, friends and my girls’ teachers this year for Christmas!

Magma Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

UPDATE: If you are having trouble posting a comment, try using Safari or another browser. A couple people have had issues using Firefox, and until I figure out what the problem is, using another browser is the best solution!

Magma Soap, Sponsored by Brambleberry!

Ever since Brambleberry sent me one of their 5-lb wooden log molds with a silicone liner after the Soap Challenges, I’ve been looking for a reason to use it! It’s not my usual size mold, but I’ve been so intrigued with the idea of a silicone liner…so when they contacted me about sending me one of their soap kits and doing a post on my blog, I immediately picked the Magma soap kit. Not only did it use the 5-lb mold, but it combined two different kinds of soaps that I had never combined before!

It also gave me a reason to make another video – something I hadn’t done in quite some time. Check it out:

Yes, I’m leaving you hanging for now…tomorrow you can see how the soap turned out, plus I will reveal a coupon code from Brambleberry as well as a Soap Challenge for my soapmaking friends to enter a drawing for a significant prize!