Natural colorants in soap
We love trying to avoid chemicals at every opportunity we can. When we make our soap we use the best oils we can buy, and essential oils for the fragrance. With that going on, we are trying to move to natural colorants in our soap and we have become amazed at what we can add to soap to create a color that is not relying on chemistry. Here are some of the amazing successes:
Annatto Seed – Wikipedia lists this ingredient as “Annatto is commonly used in Latin American and Caribbean cuisines as both a coloring and flavoring agent. Central and South American natives use the seeds to make lipstick. For this reason, the achiote is sometimes called the “lipstick-tree”. Achiote originated in South America and has spread in popularity to many parts of Asia. It is also grown in other tropical or subtropical regions of the world, including Central America, Africa and Asia. The heart-shaped fruit are brown or reddish brown at maturity, and are covered with short, stiff hairs. When fully mature, the fruit splits open, exposing the numerous dark red seeds. The fruit itself is not edible, however the orange-red pulp that covers the seed is used to produce a yellow to orange food coloring. Achiote dye is prepared by grinding seeds or simmering the seeds in water or oil.”
We have used annatto seed, soaked in oil, then added to the soap mixture just before molding it. The soap, Rocky Mountain Christmas, was a woodsy pine and adding the annatto seeds made the soap look like it had wood knots. The annatto seeds also acted as a gentle exfoliant when using the soap.
Cinnamon – Everyone is familiar with the powdered bark that is used in cooking and baking. But did you know that in ancient times it was one of the valuable commodities used to trade throughout the middle east. To this day cinnamon can be found in some of the specialty dishes of the middle east. It was also known as a perfuming agent, sprinkled on beds and people. In recent news scientists are beginning to tout the health benefits of consuming cinnamon.
In soap it allows for marbling, and creating beautiful swirls of color in the soap. We have added it to our Orange Cinnamon Bun Soap in layers, to create veins of cinnamon in the soap. We loved the look, and our customers loved the feel and smell of the marbling.
We have also added fresh herbs and botanicals, like lavender buds, comfrey leaves (ground), rosemary, peppermint, thyme, and rose petals. Some of these botanicals remain suspended in the soap, adding varigation, and highlighting slight color changes. But the list goes on… if you can cook with it, you can probably use it in soap.
Why not enjoy color as nature created it…. and coat tale on the health benefits of avoiding synthetic colorants.