How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart

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Plant-based and natural ways to color handmade cold-process soap. Tint your soap with brilliant hues from roots, leaves, flowers, clays, and more! Includes natural soap colorants listed by hue, ingredient, and how to use them.

Natural soap making is an exciting craft anyone can do from the comfort of their kitchen. Here at Lovely Greens, I share many small-sized cold-process soap recipes for beginners, and after making a few simple batches, you might be interested in unique ways to scent and color your bars. You’ll find that the soaping world is filled with colorful and exciting design inspiration. Vibrant reds, swirls of sparkles, and layers of every color imaginable. But what if you want to keep your soap 100% natural?

The guide below gives you different options for naturally coloring handmade soap. They are all plant-based or use natural substances like clay and sugars. I’ve collected the ideas from around the web, and when I’ve tried one out and liked it, I’ve shared a link to the recipe in the chart. Though the color guide is for cold-process soap, you could also use the ingredients in hot-process and sometimes in melt-and-pour. Shades, amounts, and techniques will vary.

Mineral Pigments and Dyes

First off, let’s chat about mineral pigments. They include oxides and ultramarines, which can give you beautiful soap colors. I use mineral pigments myself and am happy with their level of skin safety and color — they are, after all, the basis for mineral-based makeup. Even though cosmetic minerals are perfectly safe to use and identical to minerals found in nature, they aren’t considered natural. Natural minerals are often contaminated with heavy metals, so the ones you can purchase for cosmetics are man-made to be ‘nature identical.’

Micas are even less natural than ultramarines and oxides. Each type is different, and though they do have a mineral-based component, they are often dyed with synthetics. Again, micas are skin-safe and can create amazing colors, but they are not natural. Some micas can also misbehave in cold-process soap and give you unexpected colors. I don’t use micas in my soap recipes.

Soap dyes, such as lab colors, are entirely synthetic. Though they are considered skin-safe, they are not natural and are not used in natural soap making. Glitter is also not natural and should be avoided in naturally coloring soap. Even the so-called bio-degradable stuff is not natural.

Madder root can be used in different ways for different shades of pink soap.

Naturally Color Handmade Soap

Below are various ingredients you can use to color your soap naturally. Categories are based on the final color, and the INCI and brief notes are listed beside each listing. Unless otherwise stated, the maximum amount you should use in your soaps is 5%. Some of the best colors come from roots and seeds like turmeric, annatto, alkanet, gromwell, and madder. If you’re interested in learning how to mix more than one color together, check out these tips for swirling soap with natural colors.

Lavender soap naturally colored purple with alkanet root.

If you use any of the clays, mix it into your lye solution or with three times its volume in distilled water, and add at trace. For example, mix 1 tsp of clay with 3 tsp of water. Clay can cause soap to crack (imagine a face mask) without dispersing it properly in water. I also have a full article on how to color soap with clay. It includes different techniques and types of clay, along with quite a few clay soap recipes. As an aside, I also have a piece showing how to use vegetables, fruit, and foraged plants to dye Easter eggs.

How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart: Plant-based and natural ways to color handmade cold-process soap. Includes natural soap colors listed by color, ingredient, how to use them #soaprecipe #soapmaking #handmadesoap
Use woad, indigo, or Cambrian blue clay to create natural blue soap.

How to Make Natural Soap

If you want to use natural soap colorants, I’d advise using a soap recipe that makes pure white bars. Soap recipes that include dark or golden oils create soap bars that are also dark or golden. This natural color of the soap bars will interfere with any additional soap colors that you add. For example, mix woad with a castile soap recipe, and you might get green bars. For those new to making soap, please look through my four-part soapmaking series listed below to learn how to get started.

  1. Soap Making Ingredients
  2. Soap Making Equipment
  3. Easy Soap Recipes
  4. Step-by-Step Cold Process Soap Making
How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart: Plant-based and natural ways to color handmade cold-process soap. Includes natural soap colors listed by color, ingredient, how to use them #soaprecipe #soapmaking #handmadesoap
Infuse some soap colorants in liquid oil, and they will tint the oil and, eventually your soap bars. From the left, calendula flowers, alkanet, and annatto seeds.

Naturally Color Soap Using these Instructions

  • 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 solution in your recipe are mixed together.
  • Infuse with oils: add the dried material to oils that are liquid at room temperature. Either allow them to infuse for two to four weeks or heat gently until the natural color has been released into the oils. More on how to make infused oils.
  • Puree: soft plant material that is blended into a puree with a small amount of distilled water. Some plant materials, such as carrots, will need to be cooked or steamed first. Others, like avocado, are ready to be mashed up without cooking. Stir purees into soap batter at a light trace.
  • Water infusion: infuse the material into water and use the infusion to mix into your dried lye. This is essentially herbal tea.
How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart: Plant-based and natural ways to color handmade cold-process soap. Includes natural soap colors listed by color, ingredient, how to use them #soaprecipe #soapmaking #handmadesoap
Make homemade carrot soap using carrot puree

Natural Yellow Soap Colorants

The natural soap coloring world is your oyster when making yellow soap. Use pumpkin or carrot puree (or juice), goldenrod, turmeric, or annatto to achieve everything from a soft pastel shade to electric yellow. Many of the shades listed for orange can give you shades of yellow if you use less of the ingredient.

IngredientNotes
Annatto seeds Bixa orellanaColor: Buttery Yellow to pumpkin orange. Usage: Infuse the seeds in liquid oil and then use a small amount of the strained oil to color soap yellow. 1 tsp PPO is recommended as in this Annatto soap recipe.
Carrots Daucus carotaColor: Yellow to yellow-orange. Usage: It’s possible to use either carrot juice or puree in/as the lye solution or to add the puree at trace. See the Carrot Soap Recipe
Curry PowderColor: Light to deep yellow. Usage: Add 1/4-1 tsp powder PPO mixed in a little oil at trace. Be aware that it can add an exfoliating/scratchy texture. You can also infuse liquid oil with the powder and use the oil as part of your soap recipe.
Daffodil flowers Narcissus tazettaColor: Pale to buttery yellow. Usage: Create a puree of the yellow flower petals as directed in this daffodil soap recipe. Avoid using any parts of the plant that are green as it contains a milky substance that can irritate the skin. Add the puree to the lye solution or stir it in at trace.
Goldenrod Solidago virgaureaColor: Pale to buttery yellow. Usage: Create a pureed infusion with the fresh flowers like you would for the daffodil soap recipe above. Use it as the water ingredient for your lye solution, or stir it in at trace.
Lemon zest Citrus limonumColor: Pale to dark yellow. Usage: add 1/2-1 tsp finely grated lemon peel, either fresh or dry, after trace.
Pumpkin Cucurbita pepoColor: Yellow to light orange. Usage: begin with pumpkins with deep orange flesh. Cook and puree the flesh and use it to replace up to half of the water content needed for the soap recipe. Stir into the oils just before adding the lye solution or at a light trace. Pumpkin soap recipe
Red palm oil Elaeis guineensis kernel oilColor: Yellow to pinky-orange to deep orange. Usage: For yellow, add as a small part of your solid oils at 1-10% of the total recipe. Ensure that you’re using sustainable palm oil.
Rudbeckia Petals Rudbeckia HirtaColor: Pale to sunny yellow Usage: Add direct to the lye solution or create a pureed infusion with the yellow flower petals like you would for the daffodil soap recipe above. Use it as the water ingredient for your lye solution. Rudbeckia is also called Black-Eyed Susan.
Safflower Carthamus tinctoriusColor: Yellow to orange-yellow. Usage: Add 1-2 tsp powder PPO at light trace. Mix the powder into a Tablespoon of reserved liquid oil and mix thoroughly before adding to avoid clumps.
Saffron Crocus sativusColor: Soft to vibrant yellow. Usage: This is an expensive ingredient, so do be aware. You can either infuse the saffron into liquid oil before soap-making or add it directly into the lye solution. A pinch PPO is all that you’ll need.
Turmeric Curcuma longaColor: pale yellow to pink-yellow to burnt orange. Can also cause an attractive speckle to your finished soaps, but this can be controlled. Usage: add to lye solution or at trace. Use 1/32 tsp PPO for a soft yellow and premix it in a little oil before adding. Does not disperse well in water.
Weld Reseda luteolaColor: Soft to muted yellow. Usage: Add up to 3 tsp of dried weld at trace.
Yarrow Achillea millefoliumColor: Muted yellow. Usage: Infuse dried yarrow leaves and flowers into a liquid soaping oil or add the powder directly to soap at trace.
How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart: Plant-based and natural ways to color handmade cold-process soap. Includes natural soap colors listed by color, ingredient, how to use them #soaprecipe #soapmaking #handmadesoap
Oil infused with annatto seeds produces this naturally orange soap

Natural Orange Soap Colorants

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 from annatto seeds. Used in Indian cooking, you infuse the dark seeds into a light oil before soaping.

IngredientNotes
Annatto seeds Bixa orellanaColor: pale yellow to pink-yellow to burnt orange. It can also cause an attractive speckle to your finished soaps, but this can be controlled. Usage: add to lye solution or at trace. Use 1/32 tsp PPO for a soft yellow and up to 1 tsp PPO for a burnt orange. Turmeric soap recipe
Buriti oil Mauritia flexuosa fruit oilColor: Light yellow to deep orange. Usage: This is not one that I’ve used before, but I understand that you can add the oil after trace.
Calendula flowers Calendula officinalisColor: Ranges from yellow-orange to pink-orange. Usage: Infuse in liquid oils, add directly to soap (for colored petals throughout), or infuse in lye solution. Check out this Calendula Soap Recipe
Carrot Daucus carotaColor: Yellow to yellow-orange. Usage: It’s possible to use either carrot juice or puree in/as the lye solution or to add the puree at trace. See the Carrot Soap Recipe
Orange zest (peel) Citrus aurantium dulcisColor: Sunny yellow to orange Usage: Use finely grated zest/peel at about 1/2 to 1 tsp per pound of soaping oils as in this Orange Soap Recipe
Paprika Capsicum annuumColor: Peach to light orange to orange-brown Usage: The best way is to infuse paprika in liquid oils, strain, and discard the actual spice, or your soap may be scratchy. Adding the spice directly will also result in less vibrant hues.
Pumpkin Cucurbita pepoColor: Yellow to light orange, depending on the pumpkin or squash variety. Usage: Stir in as a puree in at light trace or add to melted oils before adding the lye solution as in this Pumpkin Spice Soap Recipe
Red Palm Oil Elaeis guineensis kernel oilColor: Yellow to pinky-orange to deep orange Usage: For orange, add as a large part of your solid oils at up to 10% of the recipe.
Tomato Solanum lycopersicumColor: Light to medium orange Usage: Stir in as a pure tomato paste at a light trace using 1-3 tsp PPO.
Turmeric Curcuma longaColor: pale yellow to pink-yellow to burnt orange. It can also cause an attractive speckle to your finished soaps, but this can be controlled. Usage: add to lye solution or at trace. Use 1/32 tsp PPO for a soft yellow and up to 1 tsp PPO for burnt orange. Here’s one way to use turmeric to color handmade soap.
How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart: Plant-based and natural ways to color handmade cold-process soap. Includes natural soap colors listed by color, ingredient, how to use them #soaprecipe #soapmaking #handmadesoap
Natural pink soap colored with an infusion of cochineal

Natural Pink Soap Colorants

Pink is quite an easy color to achieve with natural ingredients, and any of the ingredients used for purple and red can also produce pink. 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 molded will intensify the pink.

IngredientNotes
Rhubarb Rheum rhabarbarumColor: soft pastel pink to coral pink. Ordinary garden rhubarb roots can be dried and infused in liquid oil to create one of the most beautiful natural pinks. Here’s my rhubarb soap recipe.
Hibiscus flower Hibiscus sabdariffaColor: Dried flower powder can be added to melt-and-pour soap for a soft pink. Color does not survive CP/HP soapmaking.
Lady’s Bedstraw Galium verumColor: Coral pink Usage: Infuse the dried roots in liquid oils.
Cochineal Cochineal/CarmineColor: dusky pink. Usage: simmer the cochineal in water and use it to replace some or all of the water called for in the soap recipe. Please note that this is not a vegetarian or vegan ingredient. Cochineal soap recipe
Madder root Rubia tinctorumColor: pink, purple to red. Usage: Use 1/2-2 tsp powdered madder root PPO. Add directly to your lye solution or mix with a Tablespoon of distilled water and add at trace. Alternatively, you can infuse the whole roots in a carrier oil and use that oil in soapmaking for a true pink. There’s also concentrated madder powder available through some natural dye suppliers, and using 1/4 tsp PPO will give you a very dark purple. Madder soap recipe
Pink Clay Kaolinite (Rose Clay)Color: Pink to Brick Red. Usage: Use 1/2-2 tsp PPO. Add directly to your lye solution or mix with distilled water and add at trace. Pink clay soap recipe
Sorrel Rumex acetosaColor: Warm to salmon pink. Usage: Infuse the dried roots in liquid oil and use them as one of the main soaping oils in a recipe.

Natural Red Soap Colorants

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to get a true red when using natural soap colors. Most plant-based colorants will be closer to deep pink, reddish-brown, and mauve, with the exception possibly being Himalayan rhubarb. It’s more of a vibrant pink-red in my experience, though some soapmakers have reported getting a scarlet red with it.

IngredientNotes
Himalayan Rhubarb Rheum australe / Rheum emodiColor: pink to intense magenta. Infuse the dried rhubarb powder in a carrier oil (which will appear yellow) and use it as a partial or full replacement, as you can see in this Himalayan rhubarb soap recipe. Adding the powder directly will result in a murky red-brown hue.
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 cochineal soap 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: Pink to Brick Red. Usage: 1 tsp PPO gives a soft pink-brown hue. For deeper colors, use 2-3 tsp PPO and premix with 1-2 TBSP of distilled water before adding at trace. You can also add the clay to the lye solution.
Pink Clay Kaolinite (Rose Clay)Color: Pink to Brick Red. Usage: 1 tsp PPO gives a pretty pink color. For deeper colors, use 2-3 tsp PPO and premix with 1-2 TBSP of distilled water before adding at trace. You can also add the clay to the lye solution.
St Johns Wort Flowers Hypericum perforatumColor: Red. Usage: Infuse fresh flowers in liquid oil and use the strained oil as part of your soap recipe. Though the oil is bright red, I’ve only ever seen it stay red in a few cases that were not my own recipes. Usually, St Johns Wort oil turns soap brown.

Natural Blue Soap Colorants

You can get pretty shades of sky blue to denim blue with natural soap colors, including indigo, clay, and small amounts of activated charcoal. One of my favorites on the list is indigo since it’s a plant you can grow and harvest color from.

IngredientNotes
Activated charcoal CarbonColor: black to soft denim blue when used at 1 tsp activated charcoal PPO. I think the color of charcoal soap depends on the charcoal that you use and the color of your base oils. When used in small amounts in recipes high in yellow oils, I’ve been able to get blue.
Blue Chamomile Essential Oil AzuleneColor: Blue Usage: Add a drop or two at trace. Blue Chamomile is extracted from German Chamomile flowers and is quite expensive.
Cambrian Blue Clay LiliteColor: Shades of soft gray-green to gray-blue, depending on the color of your soaping oils. Use 1-2 tsp per pound of oils and premix in 1 TBSP distilled water or add to the lye solution. See this Cambrian Blue Clay Soap Recipe
Indigo Indigofera tinctoria or Persicaria tinctoriaColor: Dark blue or green to light blue or green Usage: There are several ways to add it, including at trace, to the lye solution or with an infused oil. I have further information on how to make indigo soap if you’d like to learn more. 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. If you have gardening experience, you can also grow and extract indigo pigment yourself.
Woad Isatis tinctoriaColor: Green-blue to grey-blue Usage: Add 1-2 tsp powder PPO to the lye solution or mix a small amount of liquid oil before adding to the pan. You can also infuse liquid oils with woad powder and use it as whole or part of your soap recipe. Woad soap recipe
How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart: Plant-based and natural ways to color handmade cold-process soap. Includes natural soap colors listed by color, ingredient, how to use them #soaprecipe #soapmaking #handmadesoap
Natural purple soap colored with alkanet root

Natural Purple Soap Colorants

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. A note on alkanet, though — I’ve had quite a few orders of it turn up recently that were of very poor quality. If your alkanet-infused oil isn’t a vibrant red at the time of soaping, then your final soap bars will not turn purple. They’ll turn out more of a light, warm gray.

IngredientNotes
Alkanet Root Alkanna tinctoriaColor: Pale lavender to deep purple. Usage: Though you can add dried and ground alkanet root directly to soap recipes, this tends to result in a gritty texture and dull color. It’s better to make an alkanet-infused carrier oil using around 3 TBSP dried roots per pint (454 g) of liquid oil and then use the strained oil in the soap recipe. Learn more about using alkanet root for deep purples in this lavender soap recipe.
Gromwell root Lithospermum erythrorhizonColor: Natural purple Usage: Similar in shade and usage to Alkanet root. Cold-infuse 30g of dried root or powder into every 454g (1lb) of oils for one month. Strain and use the oil as part or all of the soap recipe. You need at least 20% of your soap recipe to include the infused oil to achieve a good purple color.
Red Sandalwood Pterocarpus santalinusColor: Muted purple, burgundy to mauve, and brown. Usage: Add 1/4-1/2 tsp powder PPO at trace after premixing in a little oil. Can be very scratchy if you use more than this.
Brazilian purple clay KaolinColor: a soft gray-purple when added to soap at 1 tsp PPO. Premix in 1 TBSP distilled water and add at trace. Alternatively, add the clay powder directly to the lye solution.
How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart: Plant-based and natural ways to color handmade cold-process soap. Includes natural soap colors listed by color, ingredient, how to use them #soaprecipe #soapmaking #handmadesoap
Adding honey to your lye solution can give a natural golden brown color.

Natural Brown Soap Colorants

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

IngredientNotes
Beet root Beta vulgarisColor: Warm to dull brown. Usage: Add as a powder, juice, or infuse dried material in liquid oils. Unfortunately, beets do not color CP/HP soap red.
Black Walnut Hull powder Juglans nigraColor: Deep brown. Usage: Add powder at trace and be aware that they create a scratchy or exfoliating texture.
Chamomile flowers Anthemis noblis or Matricaria chamomillaColor: Yellow-beige to light brown. Usage: Infuse flowers in distilled water and use the strained liquid to make the lye solution
Cinnamon powder Cinnamomum zeylanicumColor: light to medium warm-brown. Usage: use up to 1 tsp ground cinnamon powder PPO. Be aware that cinnamon leaves a slightly gritty feeling in the soap, which could be used as an exfoliant.
Coffee Coffea arabica seed extractColor: Medium to dark brown Usage: Use brewed coffee instead of water to make the lye solution and/or add up to 1 tsp PPO spent coffee grounds at trace. Coffee grounds add speckles but also can be very exfoliating.
Comfrey Symphytum officinaleColor: Light brown, though this is not one I’ve yet tried. I’ve only found the vaguest reference to comfrey in soapmaking.
Cranberry Vaccinium macrocarponColor: Red-brown with specks. Usage: Add up to 1 TBSP puree PPO at trace. You can also add dried cranberry seeds as a botanical decoration or up to 1 tsp PPO if you want to mix them in at trace.
Green Tea Camellia sinensisColor: Brown-green. Usage: Infuse in hot distilled water, then cool before using the liquid to make the lye solution. If unstrained, the soap will have speckles of tea leaves.
Henna Lawsonia inermisColor: Green-brown Usage: Add 1-2 tsp PPO at trace after premixing in oil.
HoneyColor: Light to dark brown. Usage: add 1/2-1 tsp to hot lye solution as described in this honey soap recipe.
Milk (cow, goat, generically mammal)Color: Light to dark brown. Usage: 1-3 tsp per pound of oils and added to the lye solution. Milk can scorch and create an unpleasant scent in your soap if you use too much. For a white soap, see this goat milk soap recipe.
Molasses Saccharum officinarumColor: Chocolate brown. Usage: Add at trace or add to the lye solution. Use 1/2 to 1 tsp PPO.
Olive leaf powder Olea europaeaColor: Warm brown Usage: Add the powder at trace. Not an ingredient that I’ve used before.
Peppermint leaves Mentha piperitaColor: Beige to light brown or green to brown speckles. I tend to use peppermint leaves in soap in two ways, and both begin with dried leaves. The first is to make a standard peppermint herbal tea to replace the water for the lye solution. This results in a beige soap throughout. The other is to add 1 tsp PPO finely ground peppermint leaves at trace. If the leaves are still green, they’ll keep their green hue for some months after the soap is made before darkening. A golden halo of color can form around each piece of peppermint.
Moroccan Red Clay Red Kaolin ClayColor: Milk chocolate brown Usage: typically, 1 tsp PPO is added directly to the lye solution or premixed in 1 TBSP distilled water and added at trace. You can see the color in this natural cinnamon soap recipe.
Rhassoul Clay Moroccan lava clayColor: Brown. Usage: typically 1 tsp PPO. Premix in 1 TBSP of distilled water before adding to your main soaping oils.
Rose hips (ground) Rosa canina or Rosa rugosaColor: Tan to brown speckles Usage: Up to 1 tsp ground rosehip powder PPO and stirred in at trace. Rose hips add exfoliation and can be too scratchy in feeling for some people.

Natural Green Soap Colorants

There are many natural green soap colors; however, plant-based greens tend to be fugitive. That means that they fade relatively quickly, especially when exposed to light. Natural green soap colors can give you anywhere from pale pastel to vivid grass green and come in a range of plants and clays. My top pick would have to be French green clay, which gives a soft and natural gray-green.

IngredientNotes
Alfalfa Medicago SativaColor: Bright green to muted pastel green. Usage: Alfalfa is one of the best plant-based green soap colorants I’ve used. I’ve used it in the form of liquid chlorophyll, and I’ve had some stunning greens from using about 1 TBSP PPO (be aware that not all liquid chlorophyll is made with alfalfa). Though it can fade into a greeny-yellow, the color holds better if soap is stored in the dark. I’ve had some beautiful results when mixing chlorella with French green clay.
Avocado puree Persea GratissmaColor: Shades of yellow-green. Usage: Use up to 3 tsp puree PPO and stir in at trace. Avocado soap is initially green but usually fades to a muted yellow, especially if stored in a bright place.
Burdock leaf Arctium lappaColor: Natural green. Usage: I’ve read that you can infuse dried leaves in liquid oils, but I’ve not used this one before.
Cucumber Cucumis sativusColor: Bright Green. Usage: Add the peels as a puree at a light trace. Cucumber soap is initially green but usually fades to a muted yellow. You could use cucumber in soap along with green clay for color, as in this cucumber soap recipe.
Dandelion leaf (powder) Taraxacum officinale weberColor: Muted brown-green. Usage: Stir in as a powder at a light trace. I’ve not used it before, personally, but I’ve seen it used in this way in another person’s recipe.
French Green Clay MontmorilloniteColor: pale pastel green to earthy green. Usage: mix up to 1 tsp clay into the lye solution or with 2 tsp distilled water and add at a light trace. I use French green clay in this seaweed soap recipe.
Grass (Barley) Clippings Hordeum vulgareColor: Green. Usage: Replace the water called for in the lye solution with the juice. Alternatively, you could infuse fresh clippings in distilled water, strain, cool, and use in the same way.
Kelp Fucus versiculosusColor: Dark green. Usage: Add dried and powdered to liquid oils or at trace at up to 3 tsp PPO. Pre-mix in an equal amount of distilled water before stirring in. You can also use fresh kelp, as in this seaweed soap recipe.
Nettle leaf Urtica dioicaColor: muted green. Usage: Premix dried and powdered nettle leaf with a little water and add at trace. Use 1-3 tsp PPO. Alternatively, you can make a nettle leaf puree with fresh leaves and stir it in at trace.
Parsley Carum petroselinumColor: Green – I’ve come across instructions to add to liquid oils or at light trace and to use fresh, powdered, or dried flakes. However, when I tried using parsley in cold-process soap making, the green color faded from the bars within days. The best way I’ve found to use parsley as a natural soap colorant is in this rebatch soap recipe, but again, the color will fade with time.
Sage Salvia officinalisColor: muted green that fades with time. Usage: either make a puree with fresh or dried sage leaves and add it at trace for overall color, or add 1 tsp PPO dried sage at trace for dark speckles throughout the bars.
SpinachColor: Light to a vivid green that usually fades with time. Usage: Use as a puree or powder and stir in at light trace. Up to 1 TBSP PPO.
Spirulina Spirulina maximaColor: Dark green. Usage: Add dried and powdered to liquid oils or at trace at up to 3 tsp PPO. Pre-mix in an equal amount of distilled water before stirring in. You can also use fresh kelp, as in this seaweed soap recipe.
Wheatgrass Triticum aestivumColor: Deep, vivid green that fades with time. Usage: Use a full replacement of wheatgrass juice for distilled water when making the lye solution. The color can fade with time, but I’ve seen some soap batches that haven’t.
How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart: Plant-based and natural ways to color handmade cold-process soap. Includes natural soap colors listed by color, ingredient, how to use them #soaprecipe #soapmaking #handmadesoap
Use activated charcoal to naturally color soap gray to black.

Natural Black Soap Colorants

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 from light grey to dark black. You’ll need to use quite a lot of it to achieve darker shades, though. Using smaller amounts gives you blue.

IngredientNotes
Activated CharcoalColor: Deep black. Usage: use powdered activated charcoal and add up to 3 tsp PPO to liquid oils or to soap at a 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 before stirring in.
Black Brazilian Clay KaolinColor: Smoky black. Usage: use 1-2 tsp PPO in soap recipes. Either stir this into the lye solution or premix it with water (use 3x the amount of clay for the water amount) and stir in at light trace.
Coffee Grounds Coffea Arabica seedColor: Black specks throughout the soap. Add fresh or used coffee grounds to your soap at trace. A teaspoon per pound of oils is plenty, but be aware that coffee grounds can be quite rough on your skin.
Dead Sea Mud Maris limusColor: Grey. Usage: mix 1 tsp dead sea mud powder PPO into the lye solution. Alternatively, premix with distilled water (use 3x the amount of clay for the water amount) and stir in at light 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. Poppy seeds give a lovely speckled effect, as you can see in this hand soap recipe. They can be rough or exfoliating on the skin, though, so keep this ingredient for scrubby hand soaps.
How to Naturally Color Handmade Soap + Ingredients Chart: Plant-based and natural ways to color handmade cold-process soap. Includes natural soap colors listed by color, ingredient, how to use them #soaprecipe #soapmaking #handmadesoap
To get naturally white soap bars, use white to light-colored base soaping oils, such as in this eco-friendly recipe.

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 fewer yellow oils.

Another way to keep your bars as light as possible is to make soap at low temperatures — between room temperature and 100F. Refrigerating soap afterward will stop gelling and help ensure your bars are as white as possible. This goat milk soap recipe is one of the whitest soap recipes you can make, along with the eco-friendly soap recipe.

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92 Comments

  1. Thank you Tanya for being so generous by sharing your recipes. This is quite an extensive list. I’m looking forward to experimenting.

  2. Satyajay Mandal says:

    I am surely going to use such processes in making soaps

  3. Thank you so much for putting this article together. I’m excited to try some of these, but I have some questions. Why does cinnamon reference making a puree? How would you do that? And why include cranberry seeds with the cinnamon? The Cranberry entry mentions using the leaves. Where would I find cranberry leaves? And how fine should peppermint be ground before measuring and adding it? The entry recommends a tsp, but wouldn’t too large of pieces be overly scratchy?

    1. Thank you for drawing my attention to this, Tora. I recently reformatted these colorants and put them into a type of coded chart. Obviously, a few got mis-pasted! I’ve updated the three you mention now and will have a look through the other colorants today.

  4. Hi Tanya
    Thanks for sharing this lovely article. I have a question about adding tomato to colour soap.
    How do you add it? Is it tomato pureée shop- bought, is the whole tomato juice or any other way? And how much to add ppo soap?
    Thanks
    Maria

    1. Hi Maria, adding tomato paste from the supermarket is the best way to get great color from tomatoes. It’s concentrated tomato and a small amount of citric acid that won’t affect the soap recipe much. There’s no need to adjust the lye if you use tomato paste in soap recipes.

  5. Hi…I just ran across this and I love it…I’m new to soap making…like just a few days ago NEW…most recipes I followed and made (2) take MORE than 24 hours even tho theirs was ready at 24 hours…idk if I’m doing something wrong or if I’m not blending quite enough but I let it get to light/medium trace then pour in my molds…I heard adding some salt will help firm them up quicker..is that true?…also imma be trying to make a scrub bar with coffee and cinnamon cuz I think it would be fantastic 😍

    1. There’s a learning curve when you learn any new skill, including soapmaking! I’ve tested many of the soap colorants in this article with this eco-friendly soap recipe. I recommend you make it next because it includes a full DIY video you can follow.

  6. Love your site, and I am so very grateful for all the wonderful information you share! I have a question with regard to using avocado powder. I purchased in the soap making aisle in my local craft store. Is this all natural colorant? Also, how much to add this to melt and pour per pound. I found it did not disolve and was very clumpy? for melt and pour, could I mix with a drop of alchohol or distilled water? If adding to cold process, I guess this would also be added at light trace? Thank you in advance :)

    1. Hi Carol and yes, that’s right :) You can use it in m&p by mixing it in with a mini whisk. Add it in cold process soapmaking at trace but it’s best mixed with distilled water first to form a liquidy paste. The color will most likely fade over time to a yellowy tint but can start off quite green!

  7. William Alexander Jr. says:

    Hi, I have a question.
    I’m a Melt and Pour soap maker, as in like i make my very own melt and pour soap bases from scratch for a different type of natural, organic, vegan or hypoallergenic soap bases; Made for people who either have skin conditions that any so claimed to be natural soaps but isn’t just to make a sale for that just doesn’t benefit their skin health, vegan for people with a vegan lifestyle, organic for eczema + specific skin conditions that react badly to specific ingredients in soap that can irritate to inflammatory reactions and for people with eczema.

    But my MAIN question is, is there any food products that can be used to make white color for made from scratch glycerin melt and pour soap base? The reasons i asked is because any butter that’s white is getting expensive over where i live to no free shipping unless i pay over $25, But sometimes i feel like using powdered milks to butters is getting tiring and i wanted to try something new for my soap projects from alice in wonderland themed to commissions that asked for white but not from what i originally make.

    1. Hi William, I’m not an expert m&p soap maker and have never tried making it from scratch. Must try one day, though! As for ingredients that will make it whiter… The main one is titanium dioxide, which is not considered a natural ingredient by purists. Have you tried using white kaolin clay before, though? Or cornstarch?

  8. I recently took a local soap workshop and now I am OBSESSED. Your site is so informative! Thanks. I am curious if you have ever experimented with avocado pits and skins for colouring? In the fabric dye world, they make a beautiful pink, and I’m wondering if it would withstand the changes in the soap making process.

  9. Angela Purifoy says:

    Please please help! help! My 20lb batches of spiriluna goats milk soap turns gold after a week of curing!! I’m the soapmaker for a large company and have no idea why it oxides. Is it a ph issue? Any help you could give, I will thank you forever.

    1. Hi Angela, unfortunately, spirulina soap turns yellow if left in ordinary daylight conditions. It’s one of those (along with spinach, parsley, and most leaf-based colorants) that you need to cure and store in the dark. Chlorella lasts a lot longer as a green color than spirulina and might be something to try next time. As a small test batch first, then if you’re happy with the results you can go on to use it in larger ones :)

  10. Hi, can you confirm if natural soaps can be made without using lye?

  11. Darlene Dean says:

    Where can I purchase the Ultramarine violet mineral colouring please x Love the site x

  12. Very informative, if you could also include the shelf life of soap made with this natural colorant that would be great. Will it spoil? Like for carrots puree or other vegie items you put into your soap.
    Thanks.

  13. Great informative blog post. I’m wondering if wheatgrass powder be used instead of wheatgrass juice to get a great grean color? Thank you!

  14. Tranquil Acres Michelle says:

    Hi Tanya,
    Thanks for such an informative and creative page. I’m loving trying out your recipes as well as experimenting with different scents and natural colourings. I’d really like to make a translucent soap and wondered if this is possible with cold pressed soap? I grow Luffa and would like to make a soap with a luffa sponge visible within if this is possible. Any advice please? Thanks

    1. Hi Michelle, and yes, there is a way to make clear cold-process soap although it’s advanced soapmaking. It involves using alcohol and a sugar solution and you can find a recipe over here.

      1. Tranquil Acres Michelle says:

        Thanks Tanya, I look forward to trying this when I’ve had a little more practice with your recipes!

  15. Hi Tanya,
    I’d like to color my soaps with seabuckthorn oil. Do you know how much to add and at what stage?
    Many thanks
    Aurelija

    1. Hi Aurelija, you will need to work sea buckthorn oil into the soap recipe as you formulate it. 5% or less of main soaping oils and you add it either to your melted oils or at trace. If you’re making hot process soap, add it after the cook so that the soap retains all its beneficial properties and the best color possible.

  16. Hi Tanya,
    I want to create a wine and/or beer soap with melt and pour soap. What’s the best way to do this? Do you boil it down and add that to the base?

    1. Hi Sheila and as far as I’m aware, you can only make beer soap if you’re making soap from scratch. It probably wouldn’t work with M&P since it could turn it into a liquidy mess that wouldn’t firm up.

    2. Is all this information located in the ebook offered at the top? Thanks!

  17. Karine Gagnon says:

    Hi Tanya

    I emailed you few days ago on your though on butterfly pea powder in soap to see your thoughts. You may didn’t had the chance to work with that plants but from what I am reading you can make lots of stuff from cocktails to soap and bread and cosmetics. I order some and will be testing just a little stress ( not sure why.. must be the age ;) ) will let you know. But if you try it I am looking forward to see and know your thoughts on it

    Kindly
    Karine

    1. Hi Karine, I’ve not used butterfly pea powder in soap yet. But since it stays blue in high pH environments it’s certainly worth a try!

      1. Karine Gagnon says:

        Hi Tanya
        I can by seed for the Woad ( pastelle des teinturier i would out it’s called in French) but nowhere can I find the powder. So i will grow some in my back yard and make the power like you show. I am excited about it. And yes I will be trying that butterfly pea also.. looks so pretty in soap I saw online. Will see how it’s turn out. Thank you for everything again

  18. Karine Gagnon says:

    Forgot to say about the butterfly pea powder.. is if it infuse the colour is a rich Blue but if you drop a little bit of lemon it turn red. But I never used it .. I am kind too scare and wanted to know your though

  19. Karine Gagnon says:

    Hi Tanya
    Would you consider butterfly pea powder (Clitoria ternatea ) for a blue coloration? It’s often used for tea and apparently very good for hair, blond hair for some reason, and the colour blue is just so rich and beautiful? Very Rich antioxidant also. I can’t find woad at all in Canada unless I grow them myself .. and I will coming summer.. but in the mid time, I ran into that and wondering if you knew about it and your though on this.

    Kindly Karine

    1. Check to see if it’s legal to grow woad in your area — woad is a noxious weed in parts of North America. If you’re having difficulty finding it, or indigo, try Etsy.

  20. Hi Tanya
    Thanks so much for this precious information. I love your website, your wonderful soaps and all your tips and ideas that you generously share with us.

  21. What a super post! You worked so hard on it, and gave us so much great information. Love your blog and videos. Thanks, very much!

  22. Can cocoa powder be used as a colourant in CP soap? I.m just starting my soap-making journey and need to know. I have seen videos where it is used, but I like to err on the side of caution.

    1. You can, but it does have a slightly gritty texture. Try making a small batch and see if it feels okay to you before investing in making more.

  23. Satyajay Mandal says:

    Why don’t you update this site with many such more exotic ideas to color soap?

  24. KRISTEN D. says:

    I have a question about Red Sandalwood. I used some in a soap but my testers said it was too scratchy. I tried to make an infusion, however the soap came out more maroon. Any ideas why? And have you ever used an infusion? Any advice on how to make the red sandalwood less harsh?

    Thank you!

  25. Satyajay Mandal says:

    i would like to use this recipe

  26. Elana Lombard says:

    Could you tell me what each of the beautiful soap colors you show here (there are 8) are obtained from? I wish that they were labeled in the photo.
    Thank you!

  27. Natalie Lassman says:

    Hi there
    Some years ago I bought some of the colbalt blue powder they sell in Egypt, in the markets, I was wondering if this is suitable to use in CP soap? Thanks

    1. Hi Natalie, the short answer is no. Never use ingredients in skincare or soap making unless you know exactly what it is, and that it’s certified as skin-safe, non-poisonous. It should also preferably come via a soap making supplier with an MSDS sheet. Cobalt, cobalt chloride, (if that’s even what your powder is) is listed on the EWG Skin Deep Database at having a mid-high risk of being a carcinogen (cancer-causing) and expected to be toxic or harmful to human life. Unsurprisingly, it is banned or found unsafe for use in cosmetics.

  28. Lydia Saunders says:

    Hi and thank you so much for this guide! I will treasure and refer to it for many years! Could you please tell me how did you get that lovely robbbin’s egg blue that is next to the purple soap on your first image? Thank you again! So grateful!

  29. At what point would you add bentonite clay?

  30. Sorry for the really dumb question, but what does PPO stand for? i am hoping it is per pound of oils but just want to make sure

      1. BABAR KHAN says:

        Hi I wanted to find out if I could use methylene blue to color soap safely? And thank you for a wonderful list of colors.!!!

        1. I don’t have any information on that, but can say that it would not be a natural soap colorant.

    1. Matija McCarthy says:

      PPO means per pound of oils.

  31. Hi Tanya,

    I am wondering if you can you use these colorants for handmade lotion as well as handmade soaps? And if so, which ones would you recommend? Micas? Clays?

    Thanks,

    Kai

  32. Hello to make the 3 oil soap what temperatures do have to keep.
    Thank you in advance.

  33. Have you tried using Butterfly Pea Flower for coloring? I’m new to this and don’t have experience yet how stuff works…
    Thanks for your wisdom.
    Carla

  34. Are mica’s actually considered natural? I know they are naturally mined but it was my understanding that dyes were added to most of them to get those bright vivid colors?

    1. Micas are a tricky one to give a label to. Some are made using only ‘nature identical’ micas and pigments. Others use dyes which are definitely not natural or nature identical.

  35. Subena Bailey says:

    Hi, im so blessed to have found your website. I am creating a natural at home skincare line that i would like to sell to my community. I have the products i would like to make and oils along with it. I wanted to know do you mentor?.

  36. I didn’t see measurements for Rhassoul clay. I want to assume it’s the same answer as French green clay. I’m trying to achieve a brown color with it.

  37. 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.

    1. 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?

      1. I hand mill soap and get a lovely brick color with hibiscus…dark red

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

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

    1. Red Iron Oxide mixed with Ultramarine Violet or Blue could give you the shade you’re after

      1. Thanks for the quick response. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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

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

    2. 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.

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

    1. I’ve not yet tried but have seen it referenced as a natural soap colourant.

  42. mnmalatras says:

    very nice suggestions for natural soap coloring

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

  44. 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??

    1. 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.

  45. michelle macdonald says:

    Can I use these colorants in melt & pour soaps

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

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

    1. Thank you so much Anne-Marie :) I really like subtle and feminine colours and think natural ingredients can be so effective in creating them.

  48. 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?

      1. 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.

        1. 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.