April 15, 2012

Natural Colorants: Whacky Alkanet

It began as an experiment with rhubarb. I wanted a dusty rose like I saw on Ambra's blog, NaKIN Soap. The plan was for some really feminine color as part of my Myrtle Soap Project for my mom's birthday—which is also close to Mothers' Day.

I bought some rhubarb stalks at Amish Market, dried them in the oven and then infused them in olive oil. It ended up as kind of a dusky, icky pink, but figured maybe when the lye is added it'll become richer, so went ahead and made it into soap. While it was in the pot coming to trace, I decided it was a truly hideous pink. A pink that conjures up images of prom dresses never worn to the prom and blush on old ladies' cheeks.

Fortunately, I had some alkanet infusing in some olive oil as well. I've read that alkanet can go from pink to blue to greyish purple to deep purple depending on the PH of the soap.

Alkanet infusion. With Ouija board.

So I added some to the mix. And this is what I got:

Like the sky right before a thunderstorm.

The soap had already reached a light trace, so most of the lye was incorporated and the PH was on the low side. No pink. And not a color I was happy with. Poured some of it into a mold (for future use) and then added more alkanet. Results:

Better, but still a little too gray.

I don't like muddy colors—or pastels for that matter. And neither does my mother, so I figured I'd add some more alkanet oil (and have uber-super-fat). Also threw in some white scraps from another project and got this:

At last a rich purple.

What this boils down to is I'll have to try doing rhubarb again. Maybe I needed more or for it to infuse longer. And maybe I'll try using alkanet oil at the beginning and see how it reacts with the lye. In any case, my mom isn't a fussy-pink mom anyway, she'll like purple more.

If you like this blog, check out my new one: The Haley Maxwell Soap Making Mysteries

April 7, 2012

Olive Oil Soap

Simple soap. Simple recipe.

100% olive oil.

Each layer infused with different herbs: golden oregano, sage, rosemary, star anise, bronze fennel, lemon balm, lemon thyme, cilantro, Mexican cilantro, Thai basil and nettle. A tiny line of powdered sage for a little contrast.
Everything except the star anise was grown in the Readers' and Writers' Subplot of Oasis Community Garden.

Unscented. Super mild.

Wish it didn't look like bacon.

If you like this blog, check out my new one: The Haley Maxwell Soap Making Mysteries