Layered Soap Using Natural Colorants

Today I used the infused olive oil to make soap. Because there were only four ounces of each infused oil, and I did not want to make four separate soaps, I decided to do a layered soap with pencil lines separating each layer.

At first, I considered making Castile soap, which contains only olive oil. It would definitely show off the infused colors. However, the resulting soap would take a long time to become hard enough to get out of the mold I wanted to use (tall and skinny silicone mold).

Instead I used olive oil as 25% of the oils for a recipe. The other oils I chose because they make a white bar of soap. Also, I used Palm Kernel Flakes to help create a harder bar that could be unmolded sooner.

The fragrance oil I want to use is Bay Rum. The scent is deep: musky, spicy, and a little bit sweet.


Layered soap always looks interesting, and it seems like a good way to showcase each individual color. To really define the layers, I’ll use a charcoal pencil line.

I like soaps with a little scrubby feel, so I added Ground Luffa to the soap. I used 1/4 teaspoon in each 8.5-ounce batch of soap.

Here is what you’ll need to make this soap.


Infused Olive Oil
Soybean Oil
Palm Kernel Oil
Shea Butter
Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)
Distilled Water
Fragrance Oil or Essential Oil
Ground Luffa


Transfer Pipettes

Silicone Spatulas

Measuring Cups
Stick Blender
Loaf-style Soap Mold


8.5 ounces (make 4)

3.23 ounces Soybean Oil
2.55 ounces Palm Kernel Oil
2.25 ounces Olive Oil (infused)
0.6 ounce Shea Butter
0.13 ounce Bay Rum Fragrance
1.25 ounces Lye
3 ounces Distilled Water

Percentages of Oils

38% Soybean Oil
30% Palm Kernel Oil
25% Olive Oil (infused)
7% Shea Butter
Please use our Lye Calculator to determine how much liquid and lye you’ll need.
Please use our Fragrance Calculator to determine the usage rate for fragrance.


Before you get started, get prepared to soap safely. Long sleeves, gloves, eye protection, and close-toed shoes are a must. I’m going to skip the soap making steps, assuming that our readers know how to make soap. If you need more instruction, please see this blog post, which is the beginning of a series on how to make cold process soap.

Turmeric-infused olive oil.

Spirulina-infused olive oil.

Paprika-infused olive oil.

Cinnamon-infused olive oil.

Because I have four different infused oils, I’m going to make four separate batches of soap to form my four layers. After working out my soap recipe, I took the amount of oils that would fill the mold I was using and divided it by four. Then I measured the oils into individual measuring cups to melt and also divided the liquid and lye amounts by four.

Into four funnel pitchers, I measured the hard oils and set them aside. I also weighed the lye in four separate containers for each batch of soap.

Here are the ingredients ready to be made into four batches for four layers.

Activated Charcoal is ready for the pencil line.

Adding Bay Rum Fragrance to the paprika batch using a transfer pipette.

Pouring the first layer of soap.

The first step was to create a little ice water bath to help the lye solution cool quickly. I put some ice water in a bowl and set it to the side. Then I created the first batch of lye solution using 3 ounces of distilled water and 1.25 ounces of lye. After stirring it, I set the beaker into the ice water bath to cool.

Now for the oils. I began with one pitcher of hard oils, melting them in the microwave. When they had become liquid, I added the paprika-infused olive oil and stirred well. Then I added the ground luffa and mixed it in with a mini stick blender.

The oils and lye solution were around 85 degrees when I combined them, and I used the mini stick blender to bring the soap just to an emulsion. Then I placed the pitcher on the scale and weighed in the Bay Rum fragrance using a transfer pipette to avoid adding too much. I stirred it well and immediately poured it into the mold.

Finally, make a pencil line. I opened a tea strainer ball and set it in a small dish, then I spooned in a tablespoon or so of activated charcoal and latched the ball closed. I gently shook it over the freshly poured soap. In that shaking, the little chain on the ball dragged through the soap, and as I was extricating it, quite a lot of charcoal dropped onto one side of the layer. With no idea how to remove it, I just left it alone and hoped for the best.

I repeated this process with the other three layers. Happily, the remaining two pencil lines were much more successful!

Paprika was the first layer, then cinnamon, spirulina, and turmeric.

I didn’t do anything fancy with the top of the soap. When the mold was full, I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the oven to process. To do this, I heated the oven to 170 degrees F (the lowest setting), then I turned it off and set the soap mold inside. I left it overnight.


The recipe I used was intentionally crafted to create soap that would harden enough to easily unmold after 12-18 hours, and it worked perfectly. It was almost too hard to cut with my multi-bar cutter, which surprised me.

Making pencil lines is a new skill that apparently takes some time to master. I used a tea strainer ball to sprinkle the activated charcoal over the layers after each pour. The only real problem I had was when the little chain attached to the strainer ball fell into the soap on the first layer. Oops! Activated charcoal is really powdery, making it difficult to contain. However, I persevered, and I am happy with the results.

After trying the soap, I realized it needs more Ground Luffa to make it feel scrubby. The suggested usage rate is 1-2 teaspoons per pound of oils, so I should have used at least 1/2 teaspoon in each 8.5-ounce batch of soap. I was going for lightly exfoliating, but it wasn’t enough.

I’m quite pleased with the gentle colors produced by the infused olive oil at 25% of the recipe. The pencil lines also look good. This is a technique I will use again. I have an ounce or so of each infused oil left over, so I may make an ultra-small batch of Castille soap just for fun.

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About Denise

I'm a crazy goat lady who got into making my own soap with goat milk, found MMS to order supplies, and now I get to combine my love of creating skin care products with a job to pay the feed bill. I live in Alaska and greatly enjoy the unique aspects of my northern home - summer days when it never gets dark and the Northern Lights dancing above in winter. Favorite scents include Wild Mint and Ivy, Rhubarb & Sugar Cane, and Eucalyptus Spearmint.

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