How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart

How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart
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Ingredients to Naturally Color Soap

Herbs, Minerals, Micas, Flowers, & other ways to naturally color handmade soap. Includes natural soap colors listed by color, ingredient, how to use them.

Natural soapmaking is an exciting craft that anyone can do from the comfort of their own kitchen. Using oils, essential oils, and the extracts of plants, flowers, minerals,  and spices, you can be on your way to creating beautifully scented and colored soap for yourself and loved ones.

Listed below are various ingredients that you can use to naturally color your soap. Categories are based on final color and the INCI and brief notes are listed beside each listing. Some I have used and have a lot of experience with and some are ideas I’ve found mentioned elsewhere. Unless otherwise stated, the amount you should use in your soaps is 5% or 2 tsp.

Natural Soapmaking for Beginners Series

For those new to making soap, please have a look through my four-part soapmaking series listed below to learn how you can get started.

MY LATEST VIDEOS

1. Ingredients
2. Equipment & Safety
3. Basic Recipes and Formulating Your Own
4. The Soap Making Process: Make, Mould, and Cure

Soap making instructions and what they mean

  • Add to liquid oils – mix with liquid oils before pouring them into your melted hard oils.
  • Add at trace – add the natural coloring ingredient after the oils and lye-water in your recipe are mixed together.
  • Infuse with oils – add the material to oils that are liquid at room temperature and either allow them to infuse for two to four weeks in that way or heat gently in until the natural soap color has been released into the oils. If you’re choosing the longer and room temperature method, make sure to shake your container everyday.
  • Puree– add at a light trace
  • Water infusion – infuse the material into water and use the infusion to mix into your dried lye. This is essentially a tea.
How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart

Honey gives this soap a natural golden color

Naturally Color Handmade Soap

This post lists many of the extracts you can use to create vibrant colors in your soap without the need for artificial additives. Many might be in your kitchen cupboard or growing in your garden already. Others are more obscure and should be sourced from a cosmetic supplier or herbalist.

How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart

Soap colored with Ultramarine Blue, a nature-identical mineral pigment

Natural Blue Soap Color

Pretty shades of sky blue to dark grey-blue can achieved with natural soap colors. My favourite of the list is Ultramarine blue but the most interesting is Woad. I’ve grown and extracted the powder in the past and you can see more about that process here.

IngredientUsage and notes
Blue Chamomile oil AzuleneColor: Blue - Add a drop or two at trace. Blue Chamomile is extractred from German Chamomile flowers.
Indigo Indigofera tinctoriaColor: Denim blue to dark green - Add to liquid oils. Used traditionally to dye fabrics, Indigo is what gives blue jeans their distinctive color. Be careful when sourcing Indigo since many of the dyes today are synthetic versions and not suitable for soap.
Ultramarine Blue ci 77007Color: pastel to vivid blue. Add to liquid oils or at trace. A vivid blue mineral powder that can give a wide range of blue shades. Use 1/16 to 1 tsp PPO and I recommend premixing it in a little oil and then straining it through a sieve whilst pouring into your soap batter. Tiny clumps of un-mixed pigment can leave speckles in your soap if not strained out. This color is considered 'nature identical' but has been created in a controlled lab environment. This is because the truly natural mineral also contains traces of toxic heavy metals that cannot be used in skincare.
Woad Isatis tinctoriaColor: Green-blue to grey-blue - Add powder to a small amount of liquid oil and add at trace. Woad is a blue dye plant used traditionally in textiles. Learn how to extract woad powder from fresh leaves. Use 1-2 tsp PPO

 

Annatto Soap Recipe -- a natural orange colored soap

Oil infused with annatto seeds produces this vibrant shade of orange

Natural Orange Soap Color

Bright vivid orange is very easy to get using natural soap colors. You can add specks of orange using pieces of calendula flower petals or go all out for an almost luminous all-over orange. The best orange in my experience is created by annatto seeds. Used in Indian cooking, you infuse the dark seeds into a light oil before soaping.

IngredientUsage and notes
Annatto Seeds Bixa orellanaColor: Buttery Yellow to Pumpkin Orange - Annatto Seed Soap recipe
Buriti oil Mauritia flexuosa fruit oilColor: Light yellow to deep orange - Add after trace
Calendula Petals Calendula officinalisColor: Ranges from yellow-orange to pink-orange - Infuse in liquid oils, add ground to soap, or infuse in lye solution - Calendula Soap Recipe
Carrot Daucus carotaColor: Yellow-orange - Stir juice into liquid oils before mixing.
Orange Zest (peel) Citrus aurantium dulcisColor: Orange - Use finely grated zest/peel at about 1 tsp per pound soaping oils.
Paprika Capsicum annuumColor: Peach to light orange to orange-brown - Infuse in liquid oils and discard actual spice or your soap will be scratchy.
Pumpkin Cucurbita pepoColor: Deep orange. Stir in as a puree in at light trace.
Tomato Solanum lycopersicumColor: Orange - Stir in as a tomato paste at light trace
Tumeric Curcuma Longa Color: a common kitchen spice that tints soap light pink-yellow to burnt orange. Can also cause an attractive speckle to your finished soaps but this can be controlled. This tutorial shows you how to use tumeric to color handmade soap.
Using Cochineal to naturally color soap pink #soapmaking #naturallycolorsoap #soap #soapcrafting

Soap coloured with an infusion of Cochineal

Natural Pink Soap Color

Pink is quite an easy color to achieve with natural ingredients. Many of the ingredients used for purple and red will also produce pink in smaller amounts. Of the colorants listed below, you can get one of the loveliest botanical pinks from Madder root. You can either infuse the larger pieces into a light oil before soaping or add powdered madder to your soap at trace. Gelling (insulating) your soap after it’s moulded will intensify the pink.

IngredientUsage and notes
Hibiscus flower Hibiscus sabdariffaDried flower powder can be added to melt-and-pour soap for a soft pink
Lady’s Bedstraw, Galium verumColor: Coral pink - Infuse the dried roots in liquid oils.
Cochineal Cochineal/CarmineColor: To get a dusky pink you can use an infusion of raw cochineal in your cold-process soap recipes. Please note that this is not a vegetarian or vegan ingredient.
Madder root powder Rubia tinctorumColor: Range of pinks to red/magenta - Infuse in liquid oils or add powder direct
Red Palm oil Elaeis guineensis kernel oilColor: Pink to Pinky-orange - Add to liquid oils.
Rose Pink Clay Kaolinite (Rose Clay)Color: Pink to Brick Red. Use 1-2 tsp PPO. Pre-mix in a Tablespoon of water before adding to your main soaping oils.
Sorrel Rumex acetosaColor: Warm to salmon pink - Infuse the dried roots in liquid oil.
Ultramarine Pink ci 77007Color: pastel pink - Add to soap batter at trace. Use 1/8 to 1 tsp PPO and I recommend premixing it in a little oil and then straining it through a sieve whilst pouring into your soap batter. Tiny clumps of un-mixed pigment can leave speckles in your soap if not strained out. This color is considered 'nature identical' but has been created in a controlled lab environment. This is because the truly natural mineral also contains traces of toxic heavy metals that cannot be used in skincare.
How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart

Soap naturally colored with Alkanet root

Natural Purple Soap Color

You can get some lovely shades of pastel to bright and vibrant purple using natural ingredients. I highly recommend Alkanet from this list though. You infuse the dried, shredded roots into a light oil such as olive oil. After a few weeks, use that oil as a main soaping oil to get a soft, natural purple soap.

IngredientUsage and notes
Alkanet root Alkanna tinctoriaColor: Pink to deep Purple - Infuse in liquid oils. Recipe for Alkanet soap
Rattanjot Onosma echioidesColor: Browny-purple/violet
Red Sandalwood Pterocarpus santalinusPurple when soap is higher PH - Add powder direct to liquid oils.
Ultramarine Violet ci 77007Color: Light to vivid violet. Add to soap batter at trace. Use 1/4 to 2 tsp PPO and I recommend premixing it in a little oil and then straining it through a sieve whilst pouring into your soap batter. Tiny clumps of un-mixed pigment can leave speckles in your soap if not strained out. This color is considered 'nature identical' but has been created in a controlled lab environment. This is because the truly natural mineral also contains traces of toxic heavy metals that cannot be used in skincare.
How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart

Soap tinted a pastel purple using Ultramarine purple

Natural Red Soap Color

It’s difficult to get a true, bright red when using natural soap colors. The ingredients below will give you more natural shades of red-pink to brick red. My favourite in the list is probably Red Iron Oxide. It’s easy to use and reliably gives a pale terracotta to deep brick red.

IngredientUsage and notes
Cochineal Cochineal/CarmineColor: Orange to pink and red - Add powdered to liquid oils or at trace. You can also use an infusion of raw cochineal in your cold-process soap recipes. Using this recipe you can get a lovely dusky pink this way. Please note that this is not a vegetarian or vegan ingredient.
Moroccan Red Clay KaolinColor: Warm-brown to brick-red. Use 1/2 to 2 tsp PPO. Pre-mix in a Tablespoon of water before adding to your main soaping oils.
Red Iron Oxide ci 77491Color: Pale terracotta-pink to deep pink-red. Add to soap batter at trace. Use 1/32 to 1 tsp PPO and I recommend premixing it in a little oil and then straining it through a sieve whilst pouring into your soap batter. Tiny clumps of un-mixed pigment can leave speckles in your soap if not strained out. This color is considered 'nature identical' but has been created in a controlled lab environment. This is because the truly natural mineral also contains traces of toxic heavy metals that cannot be used in skincare.
Red Sandalwood Pterocarpus santalinusColor: Red when soap is lower PH - Add powder direct to liquid oils.
Rose Pink Clay Kaolinite (Rose Clay)Color: Pink to Brick Red. Add to soap batter at trace. Use 1/4 to 1 tsp PPO and I recommend premixing it in a little oil and then straining it through a sieve whilst pouring into your soap batter. Tiny clumps of un-mixed pigment can leave speckles in your soap if not strained out.
St Johns Wort Flowers Hypericum perforatumColor: Red - Infuse fresh flowers in liquid oil.

Natural White Soap Color

If left un-colored, most handmade soap takes on a creamy shade. That’s because it’s picking up on the original soaping oils’ color. If you’d like a bright white soap, use white or clear soaping oils like coconut oil and less yellow oils. If all else fails, you can add a whitening powder to your soap at trace and Titanium oxide is probably the best of the ones listed below.

IngredientUsage and notes
Bentonite Clay BentoniteColor: White to green-white. Use 1-2 tsp PPO. Pre-mix in a Tablespoon of water before adding to your main soaping oils.
White Kaolin Clay KaolinColor: Off white. Use 1-2 tsp PPO. Pre-mix in a Tablespoon of water before adding to your main soaping oils.
Titanium dioxideColor: Bright white. Add to soap batter at trace. Use 1 tsp PPO and I recommend premixing it in a little oil and then straining it through a sieve whilst pouring into your soap batter. Tiny clumps of un-mixed pigment can leave speckles in your soap if not strained out. This color is considered 'nature identical' but has been created in a controlled lab environment. This is because the truly natural mineral also contains traces of toxic heavy metals that cannot be used in skincare.
How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart

Soap colored with daffodil flower petals

Natural Yellow Soap Color

Though one of the easiest natural colors to use to get a soft to vibrant yellow is Yellow Iron Oxide. If you’d like to try something more unusual though, I’d recommend some of the flowers — in particular Daffodils. Although the bulbs and other parts of the plant are toxic when ingested, you can still use the yellow petals to safely color soap a buttery yellow.

IngredientUsage and notes
Annatto Seeds Bixa orellanaColor: Buttery Yellow to Pumpkin Orange - Annatto Seed Soap recipe
Carrots, puree Daucus carotaColor: Yellow to orange
Curry PowderColor: Deep yellow. Add powder mixed in a little oil at trace. 1/4-1 tsp per pound soaping oils
Daffodil flowers Narcissus tazettaColor: soft pastel yellow - use as a water infusion and/or puree. Daffodil soap recipe
Goldenrod Solidago virgaureaColor: Pale to buttery yellow - Use an infusion of the fresh flowers in lye solution. Here's a good recipe for Goldenrod soap
Lemon zest Citrus limonumColor: Yellow - add finely grated lemon peel, either fresh or dry, after trace
Red Palm oil Elaeis guineensis kernel oilColor: Creamy yellow - Use at 1% in liquid oils.
Rudbeckia Petals Rudbeckia HirtaColor: Yellow - Infuse petals in lye solution. Also called Black Eyed Susan
Safflower Carthamus tinctoriusColor: Yellow to Orange-yellow - Add powder at light trace.
Saffron Crocus sativusColor: Yellow. Infuse with oils before soap making or directly into the lye-water.
Tumeric Curcuma longaColor: a common kitchen spice that tints soap light pink-yellow to burnt orange to a dark warm brown. Can also cause an attractive speckle to your finished soaps but this can be controlled. This tutorial shows you how to use tumeric to color handmade soap.
Yarrow Achillea millefoliumColor: Muted yellow - Use dried yarrow leaves and flowers to infuse your oils or add powder direct to soap at trace.
Yellow Iron Oxide ci 77492Color: Vivid yellow - Add to soap batter at trace. Use 1/16 to 1 tsp PPO and I recommend premixing it in a little oil and then straining it through a sieve whilst pouring into your soap batter. Tiny clumps of un-mixed pigment can leave speckles in your soap if not strained out. This color is considered 'nature identical' but has been created in a controlled lab environment. This is because the truly natural mineral also contains traces of toxic heavy metals that cannot be used in skincare.
How to naturally color handmade soap

Adding honey to your lye-water will give a rich golden brown

Natural Brown Soap Color

There are many ingredients that you can use to get soft beiges to chocolate browns in soap. One I use regularly in my own soap is honey. Add a teaspoon of honey to your lye-water and the heat will immediately caramelize it. Not only does it tint soap a rich fudge brown but it smells delicious too.

IngredientUsage and notes
Beet root Beta vulgarisColor: Warm to dull brown - Add as powder or infuse dried material in liquid oils
Black Walnut Hull powder Juglans nigraColor: Deep brown - Add at trace
Chamomile (Roman) Anthemis noblisColor: Yellow-beige/brown - Infuse in water/lye solution
Cinnamon powder Cinnamomum zeylanicumColor: Tan to warm brown - Add to liquid oils or at trace
Cloves (ground) Eugenia caryophyllusColor: Brown - Add to liquid oils or at trace
Coffee, liquid Coffea arabica seed extractColor: Medium brown - Add as part of the lye solution
Comfrey root Symphytum officinaleColor: Light brown
Cranberry puree Vaccinium macrocarponColor: Red-brown with specks
Green Tea Camellia sinensisColor: Brown-green and if leaves left in then soap will be speckled - Infuse in water/lye solution
How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart

Soap colored with Hydrated Green Iron Oxide and decorated with poppy seeds

Natural Green Soap Color

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to natural green soap colors! They can give you anywhere from pale pastel to vivid grass green and come in a range of plants, clays, and minerals. My top pick would have to be French Green Clay which gives a soft and natural green.

IngredientUsage and notes
Alfalfa Medicago SativaColor: Medium green
Avocado puree Persea GratissmaColor: Shades of yellow-green. Add at trace.
Burdock leaf Arctium lappaColor: Natural green - Infuse in liquid oils
Green Chromium Oxide ci 77288Color: pastel to garden green - Add to soap batter at trace. Use 1/16 to 1 tsp PPO and I recommend premixing it in a little oil and then straining it through a sieve whilst pouring into your soap batter. Tiny clumps of un-mixed pigment can leave speckles in your soap if not strained out. This color is considered 'nature identical' but has been created in a controlled lab environment. This is because the truly natural mineral also contains traces of toxic heavy metals that cannot be used in skincare.
Hydrated Green Chromium oxide ci 77289)Color: Minty green - Add to soap batter at trace. Use 1/32 to 1 tsp PPO and I recommend premixing it in a little oil and then straining it through a sieve whilst pouring into your soap batter. Tiny clumps of un-mixed pigment can leave speckles in your soap if not strained out. This color is considered 'nature identical' but has been created in a controlled lab environment. This is because the truly natural mineral also contains traces of toxic heavy metals that cannot be used in skincare.
Comfrey leaf, (powder) Symphytum officinale leafColor: Natural green - Add at light trace or infuse into oils. More on using comfrey leaf in soap
Cucumber Cucumis sativusColor: Bright Green - Add as a puree at light trace.
Dandelion leaf (powder) Taraxacum officinale weberColor: Natural green - Stir in as a powder at light trace
French Green Clay MontmorilloniteColor: Soft, natural, green. Use 1-2 tsp PPO. Pre-mix in a Tablespoon of water before adding to your main soaping oils.
Grass (Barley) Clippings Hordeum vulgareColor: Green - Infuse fresh clippings in water and use in lye solution.
Kelp, powder Fucus versiculosusColor: Dark green - Add to liquid oils or at trace. Pre-mix in a little oil before adding.
Nettle leaf (powder) Urtica dioicaClose to Lime-green - Add direct to liquid oils or infuse oils with the leaf and discard.
Parsley Carum petroselinumColor: Green - Add to liquid oils or at light trace. Use fresh, powdered, or in dried flakes.
Sage - Salvia officinalisColor: Green
SpinachColor: Light green. Use as a puree or powder and stir in at light trace.
Spirulina Spirulina maximaColor: Light green - Stir in as a powder at light trace or infuse into oils. More on using spirulina in soap
Wheatgrass juice Triticum aestivumColor: Deep vivid green
Essential Oils in Soap Making + how much to use in a batch

You might like this article: Essential Oils in Soap Making + how much to use in a batch

 

Natural Black Soap Color

Black soap looks incredible and in some cases can add skin benefits. Activated charcoal is said to have cleansing and purifying properties and can tint soap a light grey to dark black. You’ll need to use quite a lot of it to acheive darker shades though.

IngredientUsage and notes
Activated Charcoal (powder)Color: Deep black - add to liquid oils or to soap at light trace. You have to use quite a lot of it to get darker shades of gray and black. Mix with a small amount of liquid oil first and add at trace.
Black Iron Oxide ci 77499Color: Grey to black. Black mineral powder that blends without any texture. Mix with a small amount of liquid oil first and add at trace.
Coffee Grounds Coffea Arabica seedColor: Black specks. Add fresh or used coffee grounds to your soap at trace. A teaspoon per pound of oils is plenty.
Dead Sea Mud (powder) Maris limusColor: Grey - Mix with a small amount of liquid oil first and add at trace
Poppy Seeds Papaver somniferumColor: Blue-grey to black specks. Add about a teaspoon per pound of soaping oils and stir the seeds in at trace. A lovely speckled effect.

How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart

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23 Discussion to this post

  1. Teresa says:

    FYI, Hibuscis flowers do NOT keep a pink or red color. They turn a dark bluish purple. I hate seeing incorrect information because it makes me doubt everything.

    • lovelygreens says:

      Hi Teresa, natural soap colorants can give differing colours depending on the technique, temperature, and amount used. Saying that, this is one colour that I’ve not yet tried personally. There are accounts online of people using hibuscis and getting everything from a red colour to brown. Dark bluish purple is a new one to me! What technique do you use?

  2. Terri says:

    WOW, SO EXCITED TO HAVE FOUND YOUR WEBSITE!!! THANK YOU!!

  3. Louise says:

    I want to make soap using red wine. Which natural red soap color would you recommend for a burgundy/maroon color?

  4. Kim says:

    I’m curious if I could use zucchini juice in place of water in soap? Or will it do something gross to it?

    • lovelygreens says:

      You could but I can’t really imagine a reason why you would. What’s your idea?

    • Shara says:

      I have found that lightly scented waters don’t really hold up once the lye is made. Things like aloe juice and rose water are overcome by the chemical reaction taking place. You would probably get better results from putting peel shreds into your soap at heavy trace.

      Beer and wine, on the other hand, hold up really well and produce some really interesting soaps. I just made a batch of Tangerine IPA with orange zest and it might be my favorite yet.

  5. doro says:

    hey. whatsup!? have you ever try to make red soap with St Johns Wort infused oil?

  6. mnmalatras says:

    very nice suggestions for natural soap coloring

  7. Kris says:

    Great information. Thank you. How can I print this page?

  8. Heike says:

    I do love the daffodil colour and was all set to pick some this spring. BUT then somebody mentioned that daffodils are poisonous….So, would it be a good idea to put it in soap??

    • lovelygreens says:

      Hi Heike! Many things that are toxic when eaten are safely used in skin and hair care. Imagine what would happen if you ate some shampoo. On the other hand, Daffodil extract is used in many high end skincare formulations and is known by the name narcissus tazetta in the ingredients. It’s used as an antioxidant and is touted as being a youth-reviver. I won’t make such claims though.

      The poison in Daffodils mainly comes from lycorine, an alkaloid that’s most concentrated in the bulb but is also present in the leaves and flowers. When ingested it can cause severe sickness and vomiting. The bulbs also contain oxalates, microscopic needle-like structures similar to the ones that you find on Nettles. When ingested they can cause a lot of discomfort and on the skin they feel like a nettle burn.

  9. michelle macdonald says:

    Can I use these colorants in melt & pour soaps

  10. Terry says:

    Hi Tanya: Thank you for posting these great Soap Making instructions.

  11. Anne-Marie says:

    Love the beautiful, fresh colors of all your soaps. I love making soap with herbal based colorants and essential oils.

  12. Informative as ever ! I made a batch recently using alkanet and its more of a vanilla fudge colour i guess i should have used more?

    • Yes, you could use more but Alkanet changes colour over time so wait first and see what colour it is after about a month.

      • Ashely Earthchild says:

        Just wondering which of these can be used for hot process soap? I have having an extremely hard time finding hot process soap colorant information. Thank you.

        • lovelygreens says:

          I’ve made hot-process Ashely but it’s not my area of expertise. However, I don’t see why you couldn’t use any of these for HP as well as CP. The colour will probably deepen with HP but your best bet is to try and see.

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