There are many ways to color soap. Today I’m going to infuse olive oil with herbs and spices, and I will use the resulting infused oils to make soap. The colors will not be super saturated as we see when using oxides, ultramarines, or micas. They are more subtle and earthy, which is a perfect complement to handcrafted soap.
To make the infusions, pour four ounces of olive oil into each of four glass jars. Then add one tablespoon of ground cinnamon to one, one tablespoon of spirulina powder to the second, one tablespoon of paprika to the third, and one tablespoon of ground turmeric to the fourth.
Make sure you label each jar. I put the labels on the lids, as the jars will be in a water bath.
Place a lid on each jar and place them into a slow cooker with some water to create a water bath. Set the temperature to low. I left the appliance on the low setting for about an hour, then I switched it to Keep Warm and left it like that overnight. The oils stayed in the cooker for around 24 hours.
Once the oils cool, carefully pour off just the infused oil, leaving the spice residue on the bottom where it settled. You will not end up with exactly 4 ounces of each oil, as the spices will absorb some of it.
You may use any oil to create your infusions, but think about the end use. My plan is to make soap with these infused oils, so I chose an oil that can be used in a high enough percentage in soap to make the color visible. For example, if you used Sweet Almond Oil, you might not want to put enough in a soap recipe to color it. Other good choices would be Coconut Oil or Sunflower Oil.
Also, you can choose any herbs or spices you prefer. I chose some that were already in my cupboard. Play around with different herbs and spices to see what colors you like and how they perform in cold process soap.
Spirulina powder is such a vibrant blue/green color, but the oil did not pick up much of it. And it smelled fishy. I doubt the odor will come through in the soap, but I plan to use a fragrance that would cover it just in case.
The cinnamon-infused oil was a bit cloudy. It seems like the cinnamon was ground into such a fine powder that it did not completely settle at the bottom of the jar.
Check out the follow-up blog this week to see the soap I made using the infused oils as colorants.