• ravenandtwig

Soap Making Basics: Colors and Fragrance

Soap making in its entirety is a useful art. The blends of scents, colors and ingredients is absolutely endless. Your only limit is your own imagination, and some good calculations.

Let me explain.

When making soap, it’s recommened to use a fragrance calculator and stick to the manufactures usage rates for micas, dyes, lab colors etc. They have tested these products, so it’s best to heed their warnings and recommendations.

Too much FO (fragrance oil) can lead to a number of issues in your soap. It can slow down trace or speed it up, it can make your soap sieze, or rice. Too much FO can be harmful to your skin, causing irritation or worse, a bad rash! Too strong of a scent can give your customers headaches and that’s not a good marketing strategy if you ask me. Word of mouth is THE best advirtisment, so be sure it’s good things your customers, friends and family have to say about you! Use a frangrance calculator.

The general rule of thumb is about .5 - 1oz of FO to 1lbs of oils in your Cold Process recipe. For MP (melt and pour) the general rule is about .3oz for 1lbs of soap base. Again, use the calculator. There’s many out there, but I like to use

Too much EO (essential oils) can do about the same things as too much FO, but what’s different is that EOs are extremely potent! A little goes a long way, never think otherwise, unless it’s orange... then you’d be right and you’ll need a better EO to hold up in your soap making. has a wonderful 10x Orange that lasts nicely in CP and MP. Since EOs are derived mostly from plants, bark, leaves, and gum resin doesn’t mean they can’t pack a punch. I once OD’d on Mullen Root. That’s a story for another time. Too much EO will most likely cause skin sensitivity, irritation, and possible rash. Just don’t go there. It’s also important to know the benefits and special precautions for each EO before dabbling. There are only so many that are safe for babies, children and pregnant mothers and only so many for people with skin issues. Choose wisely. Take a course if you’d like, like I did. I got a Natural Holistic Essential Oils certification, just to educate myself on the different uses for EO.

The general rule of thumb for EO is a little different. Seeing that each EO is unique in its makeup and strength, there’s a website that addresses these concerns for handmade items using EO. This blog talks about the usage rates that she’s had personal success with What most people go by is about 2% to 1lbs of oils. Again, some EO will vary greatly. Although you can add a BUNCH of lavender, the same does not apply to let’s say anise or peppermint. If you’re curious on how I know, refer back to my Mistakes blog.

Natural scents as in ground powders made from plants, spices, herbs, teas, coffee, etc. have a hard time making it through the CP. Anything “natural“ that hasn’t been concentrated (EO) will most likely vanish when making soap. Keep that in mind. That doesn’t mean you have to use more, because again, less is.. well more. Check out my other blog posts about fresh ingredients in MP soap.

Colorants can be so so fun and wild! Anything you dream up, it’s out there. Be sure to read the instructions for each colorant based on the manufacturers recommendations. The general rule of thumb for micas is 1tsp to 1tbsp carrier oil for 1lbs of Soap. Adding too much colorant can do all of the above, and as an added bonus, can stain towels, clothes, and porous materials. Definitely not what you were going for! Then you have clays, powders, oxides, labcolors, liquid dyes, and glitter. When you’re mixing your colors in whether it’s CP or MP, always start with a few drops or HALF the recommend amount. That way you can adjust accordingly.

Remember, it’s like cooking, or anything scientific based on weights and quantities, you can always add more but you can’t take out!

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