Pigment Lady's Tips for Using Pigments

Before you begin, you'll need to sit down and examine your soap recipe to determine what color, if any, your particular blend of ingredients brings to your batch. If you use beeswax, wheatgerm oil, milk or even a high percentage of olive oil (and don't forget, some essential and fragrance oils may also impart color), your soap base may be a shade of yellow. Therefore, it's important to remember the color of your oils will interact with the colorants.

For example, if you add ultramarine violet to yellow base oils, you will end up with a gray soap while adding ultramarine blue to yellow base oils will result in a green soap! Even a pale shade of yellow will affect the final shade of your soap. Therefore, I strongly recommend you test the colorants with your particular combination of ingredients before coloring an entire batch. The next time you make soap, simply pour 2 ounces or so of raw, traced soap into a Dixie cup and add color to just that 2 ounces to see how the colorants react with your recipe.

Now, let's get down to the nitty-gritty! Please note the following information is calculated for a one pound batch. If you are coloring only a portion of your batch or are using a larger recipe, remember to adjust quantities accordingly.

1. With the exception of some of the Lakes, the dyes in the Un-Natural Pak are water-soluble and color by dissolution. On the other hand, the pigments in the Natural Pak and the Lakes in the Un-Natural Pak are insoluble and color by dispersion. Even though some of the colorants are not soluble in water, I recommend adding the colorants to 1/2 ounce of warm, distilled water as the water serves as a carrier to disperse the insoluble colorants. (Remember to reduce the amount of water to be mixed with your lye by 1/2 ounce.)

2. If you are working with oxides or ultramarines, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of pigment to the warm, distilled water. If you are working with D&C or FD&C dyes, add one .15cc scoop of dye to the warm, distilled water. Remember, more IS NOT better when using the dyes.

3. Stir until the water-soluble dyes have thoroughly dissolved into the water. Since the pigments and Lakes will not dissolve, simply swirl the water/colorant mixture around in the container. Please note the colorants may be added at any time during the soapmaking process.

4. Until you are comfortable working with the colorants, I recommend using a pipette to add the tinted water. Simply add one dropperful at a time of tinted water to your batch, mixing well after each addition. This technique allows you to control the final intensity/shade of color. Remember, if you eventually use all the tinted water, you can always mix and add more. However, if you immediately pour all the water into the batch and end up with too much color, you're stuck with it!

Have fun experimenting and be sure to try your hand at blending colors as well as marbeling! And, if you run into trouble or have a question, just give a holler.


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