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Indigo Revelations

The wonderful thing about being addicted to soapmaking is that I find myself traveling down paths of knowledge that I wouldn’t have voluntarily tread myself.

Take last night, for instance, when I was agonizing over how I was ever going to make blue soap. I could use iron oxide, but the list of Malaysian suppliers I found on the net didn’t specify anything about their products being cosmetic grade. And I’m not looking to import anything yet–the small quantity I need doesn’t justify the massive shipping costs.

Then I found a site that mentioned Indigo powder as a natural blue soap colourant. That was exciting. Many, many clicks and a couple of hours later, here are a few (possibly eyebrow-raising) facts about indigo I’ve gathered to satisfy your curiosity about the stuff. It’s by no means exhaustive.

Indigo powder is the dried and crushed leaves of the indigofera tinctoria shrub, commonly found in India. And THIS is what the powder looks like:

Yup, it’s green. Not blue. If I’m not wrong, the blue indigo colourants you might come across in soapmaking sites is actually the hydrated indigo leaf powder which is then freeze-dried into crystalline form.

Indigo is known as “neel” in India. It’s used to colour hair (!!) without the use of artificial chemicals, anything from brown to blue-black, to black. I learned that from reading this page at  Joy Minerals.

It’s the same dye that’s used to give jeans that characteristic blue.

Want to see what another soaper has done with indigo in her soap? Check out Southern Soapers’ tutorial here.

I’m hoping to do my own experiments with indigo really soon! Got any stories to share about this ingredient?

6 thoughts on “Indigo Revelations

  1. Hi
    I’m looking dor indigo to dye my hair but can’t find any places in KL. Can you tell me where you bought it?
    Thanks, P

    1. Hi Priyanka, thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately I really can’t recall where I bought it from, it’s been so long! :”) But if I do find a supplier I will most likely put up a blogpost about it. Take care, and I’m sorry I can’t be of more help right now.

  2. By the way, I saw Indigo powder before. It is blue in colour not green. Is this indigo powder for make-up purposes (to apply on skin as shown at JoY mineral)?

    1. Hey Ai Shiang! Yeah man, it’s so hard to find quiet time to write anything meaningful these days, with the kids demanding near constant attention. Last week was a bonus! :p

      Thanks for the tips on mica. I have yet to find a local supplier for cosmetic grade mica (most of the ones I’ve come across are based in China) but will keep looking. No luck on finding suppliers who are familiar with the effects of lye on colourants either.

      Yeah most indigo powders that are sold as colourants are their proper blue colour. I’m not entirely certain of the exact science behind it, but it seems that the blue is only ‘released’ from the ground and dried leaves when water is added to it. The indigo powder I bought is meant to be used as hair dye, not as makeup because it’s such a strong stain! I have to figure out what the correct amount to use for CP soap is, and whether it changes to blue at all! No other option but to try it out and keep fingers crossed.

  3. Wow, so many new posts lately huh? :D

    If you wish to use all natural colourants, try using Mica. They are natural but I don’t use them. Mica is more expensive than any colourants. Do watch out some do run when you add to soap mixture (and so will change colours) when the lye “attacks” the colourants. Choose those mica that are meant for cold processed soaps.

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