14 July 2011

Making Hot Process Soap with Alkanet

I have wanted to use Alkanet Root to color soap for some time now and a recent wholesale inquiry spurred me into motion.

Alkanet is a plant in the borage family and the dried, ground root is used to color soap, fabric, lipstick and lotions. Typically the color ranges from reds to blues to purples depending on the item being colored and the amount of alkanet being used.

I quickly needed a lavender soap colored purple and I wanted to use botanicals that could grow in the Pacific Northwest. Alkanet orginated in Europe, but it does grow here in Oregon. The neat and scary thing about alkanet is that it changes color in different phs, so the final soap color can be surprising.

Here is the first color right after I mixed my alkanet infused oils and lye solution together:

The infused oil was a deep plum, but it changed to gunmetal grey when mixed with the lye-water solution. This is because the soapy solution is at a low ph, but it was still a bit heart dropping as a grey lavender soap would not go over so well.

After a few minutes, another color change occured. Cornflower Blue still wasn't the color I had in mind. 

When it was time to add the lavender essential oil and plop the soap into the mold, I had an unsightly, dark gelatinous soap to work with.

                                               My heart was slowly sinking, but I still had hope that I would get the beautiful purple I was looking for once the soap cooled.
Luckily, after cooling I ended up with a color somewhere in the realm I had initially intended.

Making soap is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you're gonna' get!


  1. Thanks for sharing your experience with Alkanet! I have some infusing in oil right now so we shall see how it goes with my try tomorrow.