Colouring your soap
Lets start with colouring your soap, a perfectly sensible thing to do when you are using our high-quality ‘melt and pour’ soap.
You have two main colouring ingredients: mica and titanium dioxide. Mica gives the colour, and titanium dioxide changes the opacity – how transparent your soap is.
Mica is a shiny, glittery naturally occurring mineral, and we stock all the colours of the rainbow (it’s true!) plus silver and gold and bronze in different sized particles.
Titanium dioxide is a white powder that is unreactive.
Both these ingredients have been used in all kinds of products for a long time, and are considered to be extremely safe. (Titanium dioxide in nanoparticle form may be less desirable – nanoparticles are incredibly tiny, and may be absorbed by our bodies in ways that ordinary particles can’t. Yet another reason to make your own skin care products!)
Time to choose a colour. The trick is to select one that complements your perfume (next time we’ll talk about making soap smell nice). Lavender is purple, rose is red, mint is green – or maybe you’d enjoy mixing it up! What perfume is black?
Soap made with mica alone can have a translucent look that can be attractive. It looks more watery, somehow – less substantial.
But you can also add just mica to get a colour you want. For example, when Chelsea was making a black soap for Valentine’s Day, she used only black mica, adding it until it was the depth of colour she wanted.
Add only titanium dioxide, and you have a solid-looking white soap. Adding goats milk is another way to make a soap look white.
In between is an infinite range of possibilities! This is where your creativity gets to flow.
Once a soap has titanium dioxide added, the colour from mica will be more muted. The same thing happens when you add mica to goats milk soap.
If you want delicate pastel shades, use more titanium dioxide and less mica.
If you want a brighter colour, use just a touch of titanium dioxide, or none at all.
For a translucent colour, add a touch of mica.
For a clearer colour, add more mica.
What sort of ratios are we are talking about ? In our melt & pour kits, we include 10g of titanium dioxide and 20g mica to a kilogram of soap, for you to add as needed. That’s a maximum of 1% titanium dioxide, and a maximum of 2% mica – quite small amounts.
Some colours are pretty much impossible to achieve in soap: we have never seen a truly red soap. All shades of pink, from pale and delicate to robustly reddish, but not a bright red.
Some silicone moulds have a figure of some sort on a plain background, opening up the possibility of using layers of colour: eg a pink fairy (arriving soon) on a white background. And some people make amazing soaps with layers of complementing or contrasting colours.
Our melt and pour soap with mica is very good for this – we have had no sign of ‘bleeding’ from one layer to the other, which can be an issue with vegetable dyes. The only tricky part is preparing just the right amount of coloured soap for each layer! But at least leftovers can be reheated and reshaped.
Colour and pattern
Patterns show up more strongly with darker colours. Somehow the shadows are more pronounced. So if you want the design to stand out, choose a fairly solid colour – and if you want something more ethereal, keep it pale.
If you are making soap as gifts, you may like to dust the end product lightly with a gold, silver or bronze glittery mica – you can use a cheap little paintbrush to waft some on. Sparkle and satin will give different effects on different coloured soaps, though the satin may show up better. Experiment – and have fun!
Remember melt and pour soap needs to be wrapped until it’s in use, or it will pick up moisture from the atmosphere and start to feel damp and sticky.
Here's Chelsea's Valentine's Day melt & pour creation, just in case you haven't seen it.
Have a wild and wonderful time!
Adding perfume to your soap.