One of my favorite things to do as a soap maker is to mix colors! I’m by no means an expert but I wanted to share how I mix, test and use colors. In this post we’ll focus on oxides and ultramarines. Oxides and ultramarines are my favorite type of colorants to use because they are stable, easy to predict (what you see is usually what you get) and they don’t usually fade, bleed or cause other issues. The only problem I’ve had with them is using too much and having it come off on a wash rag…especially reds. So I’m going to show you my process for coming up with and testing new color combos.

During this tutorial I only use yellow oxide, brick red oxide and ultramarine blue. That gives us our base colors of red, blue and yellow which we can mix to create a rainbow of colors. It’s good to have a little color theory knowledge. I might go into that in a future post but for now do a little research on color theory and paint mixing and you’ll find some great info online.

First we need to setup our base colors. People color mix two ways. They simply mix dry powders or they wet/suspend them and then mix them. I prefer mixing wet. I just think it’s easier to see what you’re going to get and to also add additional parts of a color if needed. I simply mix about 8 tablespoons of glycerin with 2 tablespoon of pigment. I didn’t have glycerin today but used sunflower as it’s a nice light oil. You can even do 4 tablespoons glycerin to 2 tablespoons pigment; just a matter of preference. Give these a good mix. I love using the little frothers. I buy mine at Ikea but I think Bramble Berry might sell them also. The pigment will start to sink down if left alone too long so always give it a good mix before you start measuring them out into the little cups to color mix.

Now for the fun part! Its time to mix colors!  I like to mix colors in the little plastic bathroom cups. I use teaspoons and keep track of “parts” so the color recipe is easily scaled up or down. For example if I want to mix a purple, I will measure 3 teaspoons of blue and 3 teaspoons of red into a little cup. These are equal parts so the color recipe is 1 part red and 1 part blue. Be sure to keep track of the parts; I like to write on the cups with a marker to keep track.

Where do you start? Some simple and common combos are blue and yellow to make green or blue and red to make purple. I start with equal parts and then go up or down to create different hues.

For example, take a look at the colors below. The one on the left is 1 part blue and 1 part red. The one on the right is 5 parts red and 2 parts blue. Usually I would have flipped that and done a 2 parts red and 5 parts blue…but I didn’t this time. You can be methodical or just throw parts into a cup to see what you come up with! Have fun with it!

To get a better idea of the color you can dab a little onto a paper towel.

Once I get the colors where I want them, I test them in MP. This gives me a better idea of how it will come out. My soap recipe is not as white as MP but it is pretty white. You can skip testing it in MP if you want. I just prefer too.  Here you can see I’ve tested them in MP.

Then it’s time to test in CP. Use your standard recipe. Please note that the colors of your oils will affect the colors you end up with. My recipes tend to be pretty white, barely creamy. Some people use olive oils that have a green tint to them. This is why it is important to test. I usually test about 5 colors at a time so I make a 1 pound test recipe. I use a silicone muffin pan as a mold. I also like to see what the color difference will be between ungelled and gelled soap. Gelled soap seems to be more vivid and slightly darker. So I use a heating pad to force gel on the muffin pan and I’ll pour little sample sized amounts into a brownie pan which will not gel. This way I can see the color difference between gelled and ungelled…simply a matter of preference.

I’ll also test them to see if the lather is colored. If it is…I’ll know to use less next time. Usually I only have this issue with reds.

So here are some color recipes that turned out great.

From left to right:

(1) Green – 1 part ultramarine blue / 4 parts yellow oxide
(2) Blue – 3 parts ultramarine blue / 1 part yellow oxide
(3) Purple – 1 part ultramarine blue / 1 part brick red oxide
(4) Maroon – 5 parts brick red oxide / 2 parts ultramarine blue
(5) Orange – 2 parts brick red oxide / 4 parts yellow oxide
(6) No color

(Ignore all of the ugly bubble marks in the pic above.  I mixed using the frother and that just added tons of bubbles.)

I went a little heavy handed with the colorants.  I used about 1 teaspoon of the mixed color per 4 oz of raw soap.  I kinda thought the maroon would bleed/have colored lather but it actually didn’t.  See below.

Once you find color combos that you like…you can make up bigger batches of them and keep them in bottles already mixed and ready to go.

Do you have any oxide/ultramarine combos that you really like?  If so…let us know so we can give them a go!