Colour Hints & Tips (CP)


We realise it can be quite confusing when you are starting out - hopefully these tips will help you find your way as you start out Cold & Hot Process Soapmaking.

There are no hard and fast rules for the amount of colour for Cold Processed Soap.  It takes a lot more colour to colour Cold Process Soap than it does for Melt and Pour Soap, so if in doubt buy a slightly larger size, and use a little bit more (which does not apply to Melt and Pour Soapers!)  The following is  a quick round up of "rules of thumb":

Our Cold Processed Soaps - Coloured with all sorts of colours

  • We recommend approximately between 5g - 10g (1 -2 teaspoons) of colour per kilo of soap. This will vary widely of course, depending on the base colour of your oils (whether they are dark green or yellow green etc) and whether you just require a pastel all over colour, a dark, deep colour,  or whether you are swirling.  Your personal taste preference will also dictate depth of colour.

  • Always hydrate powdered colours and clays prior to adding to traced soap - each colour has specific usage information on the page you where purchased it.  Again, carriers will vary depending on the colour and type of material.  You can hydrate in oil, fractionated coconut oil, water and sometimes I use Sodium Lactate.  The main thing is to get a slurry of colour that won't accelerate your traced soap. By hydrating the powders you will avoid any speckles and pockets of dry pigment, dye or clay.   We use small medicine cups (from catering outlets) to mix powdered colours in, and also blending colours so you can see if it's just about right before adding to the traced soap.  You can use a little coffee frother, or a popstick or spoon to mix, but start off cautiously and moisten the powder before mixing or squishing out any little lumps.  If I am mixing for a large batch I will use a beaker and often add Sodium Lactate Plus or the fragrance to the powder to ensure it's well incorporated.  Note:  Only hydrate in GLASS or CERAMIC if you are mixing in with essential oils or fragrance oils, both essential and fragrance oils are solvents and will dissolve the medicine cups!

  • You can also try using a little of your traced soap to blend your colour with but you must be quick or your soap will start to set up before you are finished mixing

  • If you are adding colours to a very green, yellow or tan mixture of base oils, this will affect the colour of your soap. Titanium Dioxide can be included so you can start with a nearly neutral colour.  Add titanium Dioxide directly to the lye water (as a powder) or hydrate and add when you combine the oils and lye water.  Use a little caution as it's easy to put too much TD into your soap and it will come out chalky.

  • pH also needs to be taken into account when using some colours including some natural dyes like Alkanet Root - spectacular changes can occur particularly with Brilliant Blue Dye and some of the micas.

  • Oxides are far stronger than Ultramarines, therefore use a little less, and liquids are a good way to go as they are easily squirted into the traced soap. 

  • Cold Process Soap tends to "eat" colour - particularly reds, but also violet's and blues.  I add a little extra than I think "by eye" when using Ultramarines  Red and Pink shades and blues.  it is wise to use these a little more concentrated as too little Ultramarine will result in a grey effect, and red's will pull back to pink.  That said, most of us learn when it's "too much" - you will end up with coloured lather and stained towels.  Though pigments tend not to stain, all colours will stain when too much is used.

  • Have everything prepared ready in case your trace is accelerated or your soap starts to seize.

  • ALWAYS add the colours before the fragrance and/or essential oils are added as some will accelerate trace.  You'll need to use a higher percentage of liquid oils as you progress into more advanced techniques.
  • Some colours can be quite expensive (you do need to use pH stable, cosmetic colours for Cold Process Soap in Australia, so I use the more expensive colours to swirl through my soap, rather than as an all over, or background colour.
  • If using our liquid colours, just drip straight into the pot and stick blend to mix well through - all our colours are concentrated, so go cautiously until you are used to their strength.  If you are a Melt and Pour Soaper, 15ml size is just fine, but for Cold Process we do recommend purchasing the 50ml size of liquid colourants as it uses so much more colour and this makes it more economical over a soaping season.

    Happy Soaping!