Hi Soapers! Here’s a question that we got recently about cold process soap making and I thought I’d drop my solutions in this article.
“Jenna, I’ve followed some of your recipes and I get the end result I like, but how do I get my soap to be bright popping white without using heaps of titanium dioxide in my recipe?”
Yup, I’ve seen this question before. Well, I do know that experienced soapers have work-arounds for this, but I’d like to drop my ideas about getting that white looking just the way I like it.
First of all, as some of you already know it's titanium dioxide powder that makes your soap white. Titanium dioxide is also a common ingredient in sun tan lotion. It's in the thick white cream that leaves a coat over your skin and blocks the sun from harmful UV rays. Titanium dioxide does the job when you want the color white, but there are two concerns that people have when using it in your soap.
- Is this a safe ingredient to put in your skin products?
- Recent studies have implied that titanium dioxide is a carcinogen and applying too much to your skin may create skin care health concerns about its safety. As of right now titanium dioxide is regarded as an inert, non-toxic substance by American standards, however, Canadian officials have recognized that inhaling the dust is a health hazard and carcinogenic and has officially listed it as such in their country. So far, your sun tan lotion is still chock full of the colorant in both the US and Europe.
Titanium dioxide is listed as a safe pigment, with no known adverse effects when used in cosmetics, and approved by the FDA when 99% pure. It is not listed as a carcinogen, mutagen, teratogen, comedogen, toxin or as a trigger for contact dermatitis in any other safety regulatory publications beside the NIOSH
So for my family, I fell like this is perfectly fine to add to my soap, knowing full well that some consumers still do feel wary, so it's important to make sure your products are clearly labeled and let people decide for themselves.
2. Too much titanium dioxide makes my recipe crack while it is curing.
-Yes, this is a common complaint. There is a limit to how much you can add to your recipe. Usually you can't just keep piling spoonfuls of white dust into your soap batter to make it brighter. No worries, we have some ideas.
First, the main way to control your lighter colors in cold process soap is to use base oils that are as light or close to white as possible. Yup, this is where your lard recipes work well. Lard or Manteca seems to be the oil soapers avoid because it seems so common, almost cheap, and even smelly. Well, lard is white, and its terrific for cold process. Let's not forget most of your commercial brands use straight lard in their recipes, because it makes great soap. Creating a recipe with a base of lard will be a bonus for anyone who wants to get the best result out of their micas and pigments. Following lard as the first choice, is coconut oil, palm oil, light colored vegetable oils, and shea butter. If you stick with a combination of these in your recipe you should get a result that looks like the photo.
You want to stay away from the vegetable and fruit oils with a heavy color. Olive oil is the most popular that comes in a heavy green or dark yellow. There is no chance of getting a stark white bar if you create a base recipe with dark colors from the onset. Avocado oil would also be a no go for white soap.
Here's an example of a base cold process recipe that will give you a good result.
You may need to adjust your amount of titanium dioxide powder to get the result you want, because different brands produce a slightly different result and you will have to play with the brand you get your hands on. Here is a good choice that I pick up sometimes.
Base Cold Process Recipe for 1 lb. (Multiply x3 for a 3 lb. loaf mold)
- 6 oz. water
- 2.26 oz. lye
- 8 oz. lard
- 3.2 oz coconut oil
- 3.2 oz. palm oil
- .8 oz. castor oil
- .8 0z. shea butter
- 1 tsp. titanium dioxide
After you make this base pour it into your mold or alter it to your liking. Add you preferred fragrances, ingredients, petals or colors. Split the batter into two parts and give your bar a contrast color in pink or lilac as shown.
Do you have other ideas about getting those colors to pop and contrast? We would love to hear your ideas.