I received an email the other day asking how to make a nice black bar of soap. This person had tried using black oxide but it came off on the wash rag.
My #1 advice for making black soap? Use charcoal powder!
I’m not a fan of black oxide or black mica. Usually when I make a black soap with either, it lathers gray. Charcoal never seems to lather gray.
I LOVE charcoal powder! I use nothing else when making my soap gray or black. You can find it from many soap suppliers including Bramble Berry (affiliate link) here. If you have a local natural health food/herb store, they probably have it.
You also get the added benefits of using charcoal. It is drawing and cleansing, great for acne or oily skin!
How much should you use?
Do you want gray or black soap?
For gray soap, start with 1 teaspoon charcoal per pound of oils.
For black soap, start with 1/2 tablespoon charcoal per pound of oils.
If your soap goes through gel phase, it will help make it dark black!
Add it to the oils before adding the lye solution, or if you are swirling, add it to lightly traced soap.
Here are two blog posts where I used charcoal.
Charcoal and Sea Salt Acne-Busting Face Bar Cold Process Soap
Charcoal Facial Bar with Mango, Avocado and Babassu
For other recipes using natural colorants and essential oil blends, check out my recipe book!
What is your favorite black colorant? What experiences have you had with making a black soap?
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Happy Black Soap Making!
Hello Amanda, thank you for the article. I dilute 1/2 tablespoon of activated charcoal per pound of oils and add it to oils before adding the lye solution but I am only getting a light grey color. Do you have any tips how to get dark black? Can I use as much charcoal to achieve the color I want or will adding more then 1/2 tablespoon per pound of oils be too drying/itchy for skin? Thank you so much, Julie
Hello ! Did you ever use shungite ?
Thanks for the post, and especially part about add the Charcoal to the oil which I will do next time… my soap keeps coming out green …
Thankyou for sharing.
I love Black soaps, I use charcoal activated. The charcoal that I bought, was a little coarse, So I blended it… but I forgot to sifted… and the soaps were very nice but a little scratchy. 🙂
Does charcoal diminish the scent you add, being as it might absorb it? Thank you so much for saying how much to use pp. Nowhere else on the internet could I find that. I bought hardwood kind from WSP.
It has with mine the two times I attempted to scent it. I’ve since made it unscented. The scent will vaguely be there but, why waste expensive essential oil?
I’ve been wanting to try a black bar, just wasn’t sure about the coloring till now. Thanks so much for all the helpful hints!
Thank you for posting this. I only use activated charcoal for my black soaps.
I’ve made an “obsidian” soap by swirling activated charcoal with sparkly mica. And I also make a blackberry soap using a combo of activated charcoal and lavender oxide – comes out very dark blackish purple.
Can i use lump coal, powdered, instead of activated? I cant find that answer anywhere.
U can actually use ashes from your fireplace.
I make natural activated charcoal soap all the time and it also lathers grey. I don’t mind it, it still does its job!
Hey Amanda??. I completely agree with you on using charcoal. I have been using bamboo activated charcoal from Brambleberry for years, with great results every time. It’s so easy to play with color variations, and pretty much what you see at trace, is what you’ll get. Nothing like alkanet where it’s hit or miss! There are different kinds of charcoals too, but this is the only one I’ve tried. Thanks for the post, you’re always so inspiring! Hugs
I love activated charcoal, and I even make my own black and silver micas mixing it with super pearly white mica.
That’s a great idea!
Thanks bunches for this post, Amanda! I’ve never used charcoal powder in soap but now I want to try it. The blackest soap I ever made was with blueberry juice (from a bag of frozen blueberries) that I used as part of the “polyol” mix to make transparent soap. Also, I added a single square of Lindt’s 70% dark chocolate to a batch of liquid soap — it was clear, syrupy dark chocolate brown; looked almost black in the bottle — lathers like a mad dog — rinses clean and leaves my hair soft manageable.
That sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Thanks for sharing. The dark chocolate to the liquid soap is a good idea. Did you use it for superfat? Or as a part of the oil to calculate the lye?
Wow! That looks like a bar of pure dark chocolate! This would be SO relaxing on a cold winter day and really make a hot bath feel very indulgent. Great post!
I have only ever used Charcoal for black/grey. I was thinking of ordering a mica… Thanks for this, now I won’t!
I love using activated charcoal! I think I used a full tablespoon ppo on my first try, and it did lather a bit grey, but didn’t stain. Going down to a half tablespoon next time for sure!
I only use charcoal! I love it so far, makes sponge a little black, but the lather is white!
First, I want to add that, Amanda, you are the best of the best. Your teaching style and all of your help is so wonderful. You have given me answers that I could not find anywhere. I LOVE using charcoal powder. I can achieve the most beautiful soaps using it. It is easy to use and I like the added benefits of the charcoal. Thank you for all that you do!
Hi Amanda, I have already use Activated charcoal from Bramble Berry with amazing results. Before that, I used black oxide from Bramble Berry too and I like it, but I wanted to use something natural, that’s why I prefer charcoal now. Thank you for all your tips! 🙂
Love activated charcoal for its detox properties!
Hi Amanda , if I understood correctly … why do you use 1/2 tsp. of charcoal per pound for black soap and 1tsp. of charcoal per pound for gray soap ? I’ve used black mica before with pathetic results ! I also want to THANK YOU for your generosity with people in need all over the world and for all those wonderful recipes you had sent for free , thank you from the bottom of my
heart. Your student … HIlda Bahner
I only have activated charcoal available to me and it goes in soap, masks, and toothpaste 😀
Charcoal is my favorite also 🙂 I love it so much in salt bars and no colored lather. I’ve used black oxide and said that is enough esp when you have a old white porcelain sink lol.
I have used charcoal for a portion of my soap for decorating. Does the lather turn black/grey when the soap is black?
Nope, no colored lather. 🙂 At least not any of the soaps that I’ve made with charcoal.
Love my charcoal soaps !
I only use charcoal. I love the way my soaps turn out. However, it can get messy.
I have used black mica, but it is messy and you have to use considerably more to get a true black. I have since switched to ground charcoal, and after I use up the rest of my mica (maybe on pencil lines), I will be using charcoal only. It is messy too, and can send up a cloud if you are not careful, but it blends in nicely and makes for wonderful marbling and drop swirls in the soap. You also get the added benefit of oil absorption, pore cleansing, and helps to alleviate black heads – all those things that charcoal is known for.
I’ve only used black oxide as well for small swirls. 🙂 I am going to be trying charcoal instead for sure!!
I only use black oxide for pencil lines. I’ve never tried making black soap yet, but I do have charcoal so I might try it!!!
I am SO glad you posted this! I just made another soap recently using black oxide and because I was afraid it would bleed (like it always has in the past) I used less and it came out like a dark grey instead of the dark black that I wanted. So thank you for posting this information about using 1/2 Tbls per pound of oils for the dark black look! 🙂 I use Charcoal in MP soap a lot and love it.