Pigments & Another Swirling Method

Using Pigments:

Using pigments to color your soap is easy.  Pigments color by dispersement.   They are not dyes and are less affected by the cold process method of soap making.  While it is best to use a recipe for a white soap base, you can still get the color you want if your finished soap is slightly off-white or "slightly" yellow.  A yellow soap base will affect the color the pigments produce.

Pigments are also great for coloring clear and opaque melt and pour soaps.  Pigments do not bleed like dyes sometimes do.  But, they will affect the clarity of the clear soaps.  So keep that in mind if you choose pigments to color clear melt and pour soaps.

Adding Pigments to CP Soap:  The best way to color your soap using pigments is to mix the pigments with a small amount of warm water.  Distilled or filtered water is recommended.  The amount of water used to mix the pigments can be subtracted from your water/lye mixture of your recipe at the beginning of the soap making process.  For instance, if I am making a 5 pound batch, I use approximately 1 teaspoon of pigments (amount can be adjusted for darker or lighter shades) which I mix with about 1 tablespoon of water.  At trace, I take some of the soap from the soap pot and mix it with the pigment and stir it really well.   Then I add the colored soap to the other soap in the pot and stir those together.   The color disperses nicely.  Try it!

In case you are having problems mixing your pigment/water solution, try putting the pigments and water in a small jar, put a  lid on it securely and shake the jar!

Marbleizing Soap:

This is a two color marbling method using a 5 pound batch of soap, but can be adjusted to a smaller batch or to just one color.

When I make soap, I use 6oz. of water per pound of soap, but it is possible to use more (up to approximately 8oz. per pound).  If I use 6oz of water, I don't worry about the small amount of extra water I add during the coloring process. (see below)

If I am going to use an FO, I usually add more water than the 6oz per pound of soap (helps to keep the soap from seizing).  This gives me little room to add pigments, so If I use more than 6oz. of water per pound I always subtract it from the recipe, otherwise I don't.

So, when the soap gets to a light trace, I add the scent.  Then I get two containers in which I put approximately 1/4 to 1/2 pound of soap each, maybe more, maybe less.

Then, I add the pigment water I have mixed beforehand to the containers of soap.  I usually use at least 1/2 ounce of water (one tablespoon) and about 1/2 teaspoon of pigments in the pigment water solution I add to each container. 

Stir the pigment water solution and the soap in the containers together well.  These will be your colored soap parts.  At this point to make things even, I add a little more water to the base soap that is still in the pot. (maybe 2 to 3 ounces of water, maybe less.. I try to judge by what it looks like, but if you want to do the math you can figure it out exactly.  A few extra ounces of water in a 5 pound batch is not going to ruin (in case you forgot to subtract the water at the beginning).

Again, do worry too much about an ounce or two extra of water, especially if you only use 6oz of water per pound to begin with.  The extra amount of water will evaporate during the curing stage.

The reason you add the water to the soap in the pot is because you want the colored soap parts and the base soap to be of the same consistency. (If one part of the soap is thicker than the other, it is harder to get the colored soap to blend with the soap in the pot.  If they are the same consistency the will blend or swirl by themselves when you add the colored soap back into the pot.)

Now, I pour each container of colored soap back into the pot containing the base soap.  (drizzling it around and not pouring it all in one place)  Then I stir once around the pot with a spoon to mangle it.  This is optional and only stir once around the pot and not more or you will mix the colors together and ruin the marbled effect.  

Sometimes I do not stir at all at this point.

Then, I pour the soap into the molds (Rubbermaid drawer liners... one 15 inch Rubbermaid drawer liner holds 1 pound of soap).  The marble effect happens as you pour the soap from the pot into the molds.  Sometimes I pour the first mold only half full and then fill it up later during the pouring.  I might run a spoon through the soap once or twice when it is the mold (a figure 8 motion makes for a paisley effect).

That's it!  Put that soap baby to bed!

I usually trim the surface of the soap off just a fraction and it reveals the swirl effect better than the soap does fresh out of the mold.  

My favorite colors to swirl like this are hydrated chromium green and ultramarine violet in a white soap base.  Pretty snazzy!

If you have any tips or techniques you'd like to share or see posted here, please send us email.
(©Ellen's Essentials - 1998)

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