June 13, 2013

Natural Colorants: (Not) Seeing Red

I wanted red for an upcoming soap project. Red is not an easy color to deal with. Ever. And I've now learned it's especially difficult in soap. Particularly if you're using natural colorants.

My first attempt was using tomato paste in hot process soap. I figured using hot process would be kinder on the color. I knew I wouldn't get red/red from tomato paste, but the red I was looking for was supposed to represent a pimento so a tomato-y red would be OK. But, as you can see, it produced something peachy/pink.

I then scoured the internet hoping to find something. There are micas and liquid colors available, but I really wanted to stick with something natural and/or something I didn't have to order. I live in New York City, damn it. The center of the universe. I should be able to find something to turn my soap red.

At one point, I wondered about buying a few bars of red soap and melting them down. Red soap though is also hard to find. Wonder why.

Finally, while in Westerly—after (unsuccessfully) looking at their vast collection of soap for something red, I spied some insanely expensive Moroccan red clay. I had seen red clays on the internet, but the finished soap looked more orange than what I wanted.

Still, I kinda wanted to get on with my life and perhaps find something new to obsess with. So I bought it.

This is red clay in cold process. I dissolved the clay in some olive oil before adding it.

I wasn't too happy with the results. (You'll see scraps from this experiment in Mommie Dearest aka Bed of Roses. When it finally cured it was definitly pink.)

So tried using the same clay-in-olive-oil in some clear melt and pour.

Not bad. Definitely useable. And now I have nearly 6 ounces of expensive Moroccan red clay for other projects.