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Natural Soapmaking (once Soap Naturally): Soap making information
Soapmaking colours/colors from herbs and spices

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Back in the early days of the Internet, when knowledge was freely and generously shared with no strings attached, lists of natural colours for soap used to be available from a couple of Websites, which used to be referred to in the soap making resources section on Natural Soapmaking (once Soap Naturally).

With the Internet being progressively transformed into a worldwide storefront for purely commercial activities, those sites are no longer active. To make up for this disappearance of free reference sources, and of the old natural color charts in particular, we have collected in this page a list of herbs and spices that can be used in soap to confer some shade of colour, or colored "speckles".

If you know of any herbs or spices that could be added to the following list, and would like to share your findings publicly, please send us an email so we can update this page.

Herbs and spices for coloring CP (Cold Process) and HP (Hot Process) soap

Please note: Most of these natural colours tend to fade over time. Soapers are often tempted to add larger amounts of spices and herbs in order to obtain stronger or longer lasting colours. This practice is however not recommended, both because high amounts of some types of botanicals can give unwanted side reactions (e.g. skin irritation), and because they often produce "tinted suds", which are rarely (if ever) welcomed.

Our usage ratio recommendations are specified below for each herb and spice. Usage ratios in the following chart are the maximum suggested amount based on total weight of the oils/fats in your soap batch.

Abbreviations:

  • g = grams
  • kg = kilo
  • lb = pound
  • ml = milliliters
  • oz = ounces (weight)
  • ts = teaspoons (1 ts = approximately 5 ml)
Herb/spice common name
    Botanical name
Part/form used Colour Usage ratio
(metric)
Usage ratio
(US)
Alkanet root
    Alcanna tintoria
Dried root (infused in oil) Mauve/lavender, fading to grey see note see note
Annatto seeds
    Bixa orellana
Dried seeds (infused in oil) Yellow to orange see note see note
Calendula
    Calendula officinalis
Petals only Yellow or orange 40 ml per kg 4 ts per lb
Chlorophyll
    n/a
Industrially made liquid Green, fading to grey 40 ml per kg 4 ts per lb
Cinnamon, cassia
    Cinnamomum zeylanicum, C. cassia
Powdered bark Pale to medium brown 10 ml per kg 1 ts per lb
Cocoa
    Theobroma cacao
Powder Brown 30 ml per kg 3 ts per lb
Comfrey root
    Symphytum officinale
Powdered root Light brown 20 ml per kg 2 ts per lb
Dark (bitter) chocolate
    n/a
Blocks Brown 60 g per kg 1 oz per lb
Henna
    Lawsonia alba
Powdered leaves Murky green 10 ml per kg 1 ts per lb
Honey
    n/a
n/a Pale ivory to medium brown 60 g per kg 1 oz per lb
Kelp (sea weed)
    Fucus vesciculosus
Dried plant Murky green 20 ml per kg 2 ts per lb
Madder root
    Rubia tintorum
Powdered root Pink 10 ml per kg 1 ts per lb
Mints
    Mentha piperita, M. spicata, M. arvensis
Crushed or powdered leaves Green, fading to grey 40 ml per kg 4 ts per lb
Paprika (sweet)
    Capsicum annuum
Powdered fruit (seedless pod) Pale to medium pink/orange 10 ml per kg 1 ts per lb
Parsley
    Petroselinum, Carum petroselinum
Crushed or powdered leaves Green, fading to grey 40 ml per kg 4 ts per lb
Poppy seeds
    Papaver spp.
Seeds Black "dots" 40 ml per kg 4 ts per lb
Rose hips
    Rosa rubiginosa, Rosa spp.
Powdered hips Reddish tan 15 ml per kg 1 1/2 ts per lb
Saffron
    Crocus sativus
Dried stamina or stigma Yellow 2 ml per kg 1/10 ts per lb
Spirulina (fresh water algae)
    Spirulina
Industrially made powder or tablets Murky green 20 ml per kg 2 ts per lb
Stinging nettle
    Urtica dioica
Crushed or powdered leaves Green, fading to grey 40 ml per kg 4 ts per lb
Turmeric
    Curcuma longa
Powdered rhizome Ochre yellow 20 ml per kg 2 ts per lb

Note: The dried plant material is infused in warm oil, and then the colored oil is added to the soap mix at trace. Remember to take this coloured oil into account when calculating the amount of caustic soda (NaOH) required for your soap batch!


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Contributor: Carol Benoit, New Zealand

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