Soap Making Supplies
Comfrey Soap Making
Comfrey will color your soap anywhere from a light lime green to a dark forest green depending on which comfrey soap making method you decide to use.
This page will be all about how to color soap with comfrey and the different coloring results you can achieve using this botanical! Don't worry; I will go through all the techniques in detail for using this natural soap colorant successfully. Of course, for your convenience, helpful pictures will be included for each method as well!
Comfrey is a really fun colorant to work with, so enjoy!
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The following tutorial is a part of the Soap Making Resource natural colorant tutorial database. It is a free tool that I am creating for you and the soap making community!
We are working on completing lessons very similar to this comfrey soap making tutorial for all the natural soap colorants that are out there. Hopefully this detailed reference will help you immensely when using natural colorants in your products.
Please also share this database with other soap makers if you think it will help them! I would appreciate it and so will they!
Below is a list of all the colorant tutorials that have been created so far. More are constantly being added, so watch this list grow with time!
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Below is a picture of all the comfrey soaps that I made for this comfrey soap making tutorial. As you can see, the shades of green you can achieve from comfrey in soap making vary greatly. This picture features the Soap Making Resource 2 pound acrylic no line soap molds. Keep reading for more pictures and full instructions on how to create each of these colors with comfrey.
Also, I decided to include a table of contents for this tutorial. You can either read it straight through, or click on each link to be taken to each section of the lesson.
In this comfrey soap making tutorial, all the recommend amounts of colorant can simply serve as a starting point for you, if, of course, you want to alter your resulting color.
For instance, if you see a shade of green that I produce that maybe is a little bit lighter than what you are going for, simply add more comfrey or increase your infusion time. Easy as that! The comfrey soap pictures below will serve as a great guide for you!Infusing Comfrey into your Oil
When working with natural colorant botanical powders, like comfrey, I like to infuse the colorant into one of my liquid oils. After the infusion is complete, I then drain out the actual plant matter so that it is not added to my soap. This helps avoid any scratchy feeling that can sometimes occur when adding botanical powders to your product.
When infusing a natural colorant, you are basically using heat to extract the color of the botanical into one of your soap making oils. This newly colored oil is then used when making soap to dye your batch. I like to do my infusions in a crock pot. This extra heat helps the color from the comfrey extract more quickly.
If you don't want to infuse, don't worry! Further down this page, in this comfrey soap making tutorial I will also be demonstrating how to color your soap with comfrey by adding the powder at trace. Although this is not my preferred comfrey soap making method, many people like to use botanical colorants in this way. Plus, comfrey is one of those nicer botanicals that don't produce an overly scratchy product when it is added directly to the soap.
For all the comfrey soap making examples, I will be using the following recipe:
* This recipe has a 5% super fat. * Ingredients are available to purchase at the soap-making-resource.com online store.
This batch has 21 ounces of oils in it, but once the lye and water is added, the recipe will make a total of 2 pounds of soap. For this tutorial I used the Soap Making Resource 2 pound acrylic no-line soap mold.
Our first step is to create the comfrey infusion to use in our comfrey soap making experiments. I am infusing the comfrey at the rate of 2 tablespoons comfrey powder to 1 cup of oil. So depending on how much oil you want to infuse, you need to use different amounts of comfrey powder.
So, how many tablespoons of comfrey would you add, let's say, to 40 ounces of oil? Well... 40 ounces is about 5 cups of oil, so keeping with our 2 tablespoons per cup of oil ratio, you would need to add 10 tablespoons of comfrey to your 40 ounces of oil you want to infuse. Easy enough, right?
If you want a darker soap color, of course, you can always add more comfrey to increase the 2 tablespoon comfrey to 1 cup of oil ratio. If you want a lighter color than what is shown in the following comfrey soap making experiments, then decrease the amount of comfrey in your infusion.
I always like to use Soap Making Resource's grade A olive oil for infusing.
It is easiest to create a bulk batch of comfrey infused oil for your recipe instead of trying to make just enough. This way, you can take what you need to color the batch and won't be caught short in the middle of soap making. That could be frustrating as it takes a while to infuse the comfrey, and sometimes, you don't have the luxury in soap making to wait. You can always store any excess unused oil for the next time you make comfrey soap, so it won't go to waste!
As you can see in the picture below, I have my 2 tablespoons comfrey to 1 cup of olive oil mixture infusing in the crock pot. Be sure to set your crock pot to a low heat setting so that you don't scorch your oils.
For consistencies sake all comfrey infused oil used in this comfrey soap making batch was infused for exactly 2 hours. The longer you infuse your oil, the darker the color will be. Keep that in mind if you decide to adjust the hue of your bars!
By the way, if you don't have a crock pot, you can create your infusion on the stove-top in a regular pot. Just keep the heat as low as possible and be sure to monitor the mixture to make sure it doesn't get too hot.
You can also cold infuse your comfrey into one of your soap making oils, if for some reason you don't want to add heat. With this method, simply place your desired amount of comfrey into one of your soap making oils and let it set for a few weeks. Over this period of time, slowly but surely, the color from the comfrey will extract into the oil.
Every once in a while, give the jar a good shake or two. I recommend using a mason jar so that you can monitor your oil's color as the infusion takes place!
Personally, I prefer the heat infused method as explained above because results are more consistent and are achieved much more quickly.
Below is a picture of what our comfrey infused oil looks like after 2 hours in the crock pot. As you can see, it is ready for soaping!
So let's do some testing! For our first comfrey soap making trial, 5% of our soap making oils will be made up of the comfrey infused oil. For those of you who need a refresher, let me briefly explain the math...
Let's say that your recipe is using 60 ounces of oil total. 5%, or .05 of 60 is 3. So 3 ounces of oil in your recipe will be infused with comfrey while the remaining 57 ounces of oils will not be infused. Believe it or not, using this very small percentage of comfrey infused oil will indeed color the entire batch green!
The recipe, as explained above, is made up of 21 ounces of oil, producing 2 pounds of soap. To experiment with a 5% comfrey infused oil rate, we will need to allow 1.05 ounces of the oil to be made up of comfrey infused olive oil. Again, this is because 5% of 21 ounces is 1.05 ounces. Now, my recipe already calls for 10.5 ounces of olive oil. So, in order to meet our required amount of olive oil, we need to add 1.05 ounces of comfrey infused olive oil and 9.45 ounces of olive oil that is not comfrey infused.
Take a look at the comfrey infused oil next to the non infused oil. Pretty drastic difference, right? The comfrey here looks really dark... almost black... but it will still produce a nice light green when using it at only 5%.
Below, you can see a picture of me adding the 5% of comfrey infused oil to the batch. I like to add it after the other oils are initially mixed in, just so I can see the soap transform to a beautiful shade of green. I am using the cold process soap making method here.
Just a heads up... if you've never made soap and want to give it a whirl, check out my soap recipe library and follow a long step by step with one of my tried and true recipes. It's the perfect way for a new soap maker to learn how to make soap. After you've got the hang of the basic process, you can always come back to this tutorial and try your hand at comfrey soap making.
Here is a picture of the 5% comfrey infused oil soap:
Next, let's see what our soap looks like if 15% of our oils are made up of comfrey infused olive oil. Remember, since our recipe is made up of 21 ounces, 3.15 ounces of oil should be comfrey infused because 15% of 21 ounces is 3.15 ounces.
Take a look at our 15% comfrey infused oil soap. You can see that it is quite a bit darker than the 5% soap as pictured above:
For the next comfrey soap making test, we are going to allow 35% of our oils to be comfrey infused oil. This is a considerably large percentage and I am curious to know if the green color will bleed from the soap when comfrey infused oil is used at such a high rate.
Here is a picture of the 35% comfrey infused oil soap:
The color produced was a very dark forest green. Beautiful! Even at this high percentage of comfrey infused oil, the color didn't bleed from the soap.Adding Comfrey Powder to your Soap at Trace
Next, we are going to take a look at a completely different comfrey soap making method. In this section, we will be experimenting with adding the comfrey powder directly to the soap at trace without any infusion.
As I mentioned before, I usually prefer infusing botanical colorants so that I can avoid any scratchy feeling in my soap that can sometimes result from adding powders to a product. Comfrey, however, is one of the more fine powders out there and, consequently, it does not produce too much of a scratchy feel.
For the first comfrey soap making test using this method, we will add 1 teaspoon of comfrey powder to our batch. We are still using the same 2 pound recipe as described above.
Adding 1 teaspoon of comfrey powder to a 2 pound batch equates to a rate of 1/2 teaspoon per pound of soap. So, if you are making a batch of soap that is bigger than 2 pounds, but want to keep a similar color to that produced in this particular comfrey soap making experiment, then use the same 1/2 teaspoon per pound of soap ratio. For instance, if you are making a 10 pound batch of soap, add 5 teaspoons of comfrey powder because 1/2 times 10 equals 5. Very easy!
When adding comfrey powder to your batch, I recommend mixing it into a small portion of soap that was pulled from the main batch. This technique will allow you to have plenty of time to thoroughly mix in the comfrey powder and remove all the clumps. Once the small portion of soap is smooth and an even green color, pour it into the rest of your soap.
Sometimes when you throw all the powder into the entire batch of soap, it is hard to mix out all the clumps before your soap gets too thick and needs to be poured into a mold.
As you can see in the picture below, I took out about 3 ounces of soap and am mixing in the comfrey powder.
Now that my small portion of soap is thoroughly colored, all I need to do is pour it into the rest of my traced soap to color the entire batch.
Here is a picture of the soap produced by adding 1 single teaspoon of comfrey powder to my 2 pound batch of soap:
Now let's see what color we can achieve from adding 2 teaspoons of comfrey powder to our 2 pound batch of soap. Of course, 2 teaspoons comfrey powder for a two pound batch is a rate of 1 teaspoon comfrey powder per pound of soap. This comfrey soap making experiment should produce a nice medium shade of green.
Here is the resulting soap color from adding 2 teaspoons of comfrey powder to our two pound batch:
For our next comfrey soap making test, we will add 4 teaspoons of comfrey powder to our 2 pound batch of soap. This addition of comfrey is at the rate of 2 teaspoons comfrey powder per pound of soap.
Here is a picture of the resulting soap from adding 4 teaspoons of comfrey powder to our two pound batch:
Adding Comfrey Powder to your lye solution
For our next experiment, we will be adding the comfrey powder to our lye solution. With this comfrey soap making method, simply mix the comfrey powder into your warm lye solution and let it steep for a few hours. Once your lye solution has turned a desired color, strain out the comfrey and include the now colored lye solution into your batch as you usually would to make soap.
Your best bet for this comfrey soap making method is to add the natural colorant to your lye solution immediately after it is created while the solution is still warm. This extra heat will help the color from the comfrey powder extract into the lye solution.
Below is a picture of the comfrey powder soaking in the lye solution. I know... it is such a dark green that it almost looks black!
You can see me in the next picture straining the comfrey out of the lye solution. I like to do this as I pour the lye into my batch of soap. In my opinion, there is no sense in straining the comfrey infused lye into a separate container and then pouring the strained lye into your batch. That would just create double the work!
For this comfrey soap making experiment, I added 1 tablespoon of comfrey powder into my lye solution and allowed it to steep for approximately 3.5 hours. This was a 2 pound batch of soap and I used the same recipe as the one described at the top of this tutorial. 1 tablespoon of comfrey for this 2 pound batch is a rate of 1/2 tablespoon comfrey per pound of soap.
If you want to produce a darker hue, of course you can always add more comfrey and allow it to soak for even more time!
Here is a picture of the soap produced from using this comfrey soap making method:
How will your Super-fat Percentage Affect Comfrey Colored Soap?
Next, let's take a look at how our super-fat percentage affects the soap's hue when it is colored with comfrey powder. If you are not familiar with what a super-fat percentage is, please click here for some helpful information.
It is largely believed that the super-fat percentage of a soap affects the products PH levels. Many natural soap colorants are sensitive to PH levels and may produce a different color depending on whether PH levels are high or low.
For this comfrey soap making experiment, we are going to perform a test to see if a much higher super-fat percentage will drastically change the shade of our comfrey colored soap. For the test, we have kept the recipe exactly the same as the one described at the beginning of this tutorial, only we increased the super-fat percentage from 5% to a very large 12% super-fat.
Below is the recipe that we have been using only converted to reflect the new 12% super-fat. As you can see, everything is exactly the same except that the lye has been discounted to 76 grams, which increases the super-fat percentage to 12%.
In the pictures below, we will be comparing side by side a 12% super-fatted comfrey colored bar and a 5% super-fatted comfrey colored bar. Each soap is made using the same exact recipe and both batches are allowing 15% of the oils to be made up of comfrey infused olive oil. The single difference between the two soaps is the span in super-fat percentage. As you can see, the color produced by comfrey in soap does indeed seem to be affected by the soap's super-fat percentage.
Comparing the two pictures above, you will notice that the 12% super-fatted soap on the left has a bit of a lighter color than the 5% super-fatted soap on the right.How will the Gel-Phase Affect the Color Produced by Comfrey Powder?
The gel-phase occurs in soap when heat produced from the saponification reaction is allowed to build. This is usually promoted through the insulation of your batch of soap with towels or blankets. The gel phase will often drastically affect the soap's final color.
Here is a picture of our comfrey soap going through the gel phase:
For this comfrey soap making test, we will force one of our batches to gel in order to see if the color produced in our soap with comfrey powder is affected by the gel phase.
Here is a picture of our gelled comfrey soap on the left and non-gelled comfrey soap on the right:
Both above soaps have 15% of their oils made up of comfrey infused olive oil. Other then the fact that one of these soaps went through the gel phase, while the other did not, both soaps are completely identical. You can tell that the soap on the left is a very dark hue. A bit darker than the non-gelled version on the right.
I think it is safe to say that the gel-phase causes comfrey colored soaps to be a much darker in color.
In order to preserve the color produced by comfrey for the longest time possible, be sure to keep the soap in a dark area away from all light! This is especially important when using a green botanical colorant as natural green colorants tend to fade and discolor very quickly.
Hopefully, this comfrey soap making tutorial has been helpful for you. If you think other soap makers would like it, please feel free to spread the word and share this tutorial!
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