Over the last few years, I’ve watched plenty of food documentaries and read dozens of articles devoted to the study of things we put into and onto our bodies every day. These videos and articles were what originally inspired me to make my own soap. I wanted to undo some of the brainwashing that had me convinced that my shampoo had to smell like candy in order to get my scalp clean, and that if a cupcake tasted like banana, it had to be yellow. As nonsensical as it sounds, the mindset runs deep!
I recently got some great soaping ingredients from Nature’s Garden Candles and my plan was to create a Blood Orange Soap colored with beet root powder and amped up with luxurious oils like shea and mango butter. When the goodies arrived, I got right to work. I wanted to end up with a bright red bar of soap scented with the sweet zing of blood orange essential oil and a gloriously moisturizing lather. However, when I added the beet root powder to my soap mixture, it didn’t turn red. It turned brown! I deflated. Nature’s Garden Candles clearly communicates this color shift on their website (in the beet root powder description, actually), but I didn’t read very closely. I knew that Cold Process could cause colors to do funky things, but I really wasn’t expecting such a deep cranberry to go brown!
I seriously contemplated tossing the entire batch when it occurred to me — the soap smelled amazing, and when I tested the lather after 2 days of curing, it was even better than I expected. The color was a light yellowish-tan with little speckles from the beet root powder that hadn’t mixed in fully, and overall… it was a pretty bar of soap! I still found myself thinking, “Who in the world wants a Blood Orange Soap that isn’t pink or red?” Well, my candy-shampoo-loving-yellow-banana-cupcake-needing self wouldn’t approve of this bar at all. But in the interest of further undoing “the mindset”, if blood orange essential oil and beet root powder combine to make a bar that looks like this, I’ll take it and I’ll love it.
I’m calling this recipe the “Wake-Up Bar” for 2 reasons: 1.) The fresh citrus scent really does wake you up, and 2.) I think it’s really important to embrace natural colors and fragrances when creating your own bath and body products, and to forget everything we learned about how our products should look in order to be considered appealing. We’re all DIYers, so we can afford to cut ourselves some slack when it comes to making soaping errors. The beauty of it is that because we’re going all natural, we should never have to throw out a whole batch! The worst case scenario is that we get our measurements wrong and have to re-batch, but for something like this where the color isn’t what we wanted or there are a few speckles we didn’t expect… embrace it and enjoy your soap! Aside from this super duper life lesson, I’ve also learned to read descriptions more thoroughly when making all-natural colorant selections. Hehe.
I absolutely LOVE Nature’s Garden Candles for their base oils, essential oils and additives. Their customer service is phenomenal and you can tell that they truly care about their customers receiving a quality product and being able to create healthy recipes for bath, body and home. You may remember them from my Cold Process Soap Making for Beginners tutorial, where I shared their incredibly helpful chart detailing base oil properties. They are truly a great resource, so definitely bookmark them!
How do you feel about the colors of your food and bath products? Do you find yourself leaning towards bright (yet sometimes deceiving) artificial colorants, or do you prefer natural hues, even if they aren’t as pretty? Let’s discuss! I’d love to hear your thoughts!
*To complete the recipe below, check out my full Cold Process Soap Making tutorial for detailed instructions and terminology!*
Wake-Up Bar Recipe
Yields 12 bars weighing about 3 oz. each.
8.5 oz. water
3.8 oz. lye
The linked ingredients above are all from Nature’s Garden Candles.
Notes about adding Beet Root Powder:
Once your soap mixture reaches trace, remove about 1 cup of the mixture to a separate small bowl, and slowly add the powder to that portion using a small sifter, stirring constantly. Blend well to remove all lumps and then add the beet root/soap mixture back to the big bowl and blend well before pouring. For my bars, I didn’t mix thoroughly which is why there are speckles of powder throughout. If you like the speckles, just add the powder to the big bowl directly and mix with the stick blender.
If you would like to experiment with another all-natural colorant to achieve a redder/pinker hue, try Hibiscus Flower Powder. If you do try this one, please let me know how it turns out!
If you choose to skip the powder altogether, your soap will be a pale beige color, also very nice!