Living in New Zealand, the war in Ukraine seems so far away, and yet I constantly meet people who are affected by this terrible war. A good friend of mine is Ukrainian. In my Diploma Course at Formula Botanica, students had to flee Ukraine and leave everything behind. I know this, because despite the war, they are still trying to keep up with their studies. As a bunny person, who belongs to way too many bunny facebook groups, I know of rescue organisations who are trying to save as many pets as they can from the war. It’s a whole network of people and helpers, not only in Ukraine, who are trying to help people and their pets.
The soap I created is a 100% natural soap made with only olive oil. I would have liked to use sunflower oil, as the sunflower is Ukrainian’s national flower, but sunflower oil soaps do not make for good soaps, and I didn’t want to complicate the process by using more than one oil. The colours are gold and blue, which are the colours of the Ukrainian flag, which we probably all know now. But what you might not know is that the golden yellow on the bottom of the flag signifies the wheat fields and the blue is the sky above. Ukraine has long been an agricultural nation since ancient times, and most of the world depends on their crops, like wheat.
The fragrance I am using for this soap is sweet orange, because sweet orange is such a lovely, uplifting and kind fragrance. Sweet orange essential oil is said to alleviate anxiety, anger and reduce nervous tension and worries. It feels like it’s exactly the right scent for this soap.
So make this soap, give it away, and spread the kindness and show that we stand with Ukraine – one soap at a time 💛💙
Using natural botanicals as colourants!
To make this soap I am using natural botanicals as colourants. To make the blue, I used the indigo powder from Pure Nature. For the stunning golden yellow, I used annatto seeds, which I got from my local Mexican store, but I’m sure you can buy it from spice shops or even online.
Indigo (lye infusion) = blue
Annatto seed (oil infusion) = golden yellow
Botanical colourants aren’t as easy to use as your standard mica or soap pigments. Most of them won’t work if you just add them to your soap, they’ll either go grey or brown in your soap, or you won’t get a colour at all. For best results, you’ll need to infuse them. I used the indigo powder in a lye infusion and the annatto seed in an oil infusion. This is not a quick method. The oil infusions need to sit for at least several months to get a good colour out of them. You can speed it up by doing a heat infusion (heating the oil gently on the stove for 30-60 minutes), but it won’t give you the bright vibrant colours like a slow cold infusion.
I make my oil infusions ahead of time. I have big 1 litre glass jars sitting in cardboard box at the bottom of my pantry. They’re all filled with olive oil (which is my main soaping oil), and each is filled with a different plant material. I have alkanet root, yellow dock, safflower, sandalwood, annatto seed, paprika, and some experimental ones like rhubarb and avocado skin (apparantely that goes pink in wool dyeing).
The ones that you can add to and infuse in your lye are not as time consuming. You can infuse them for a short time, until the lye has cooled down, or you can leave to sit them overnight. Infusing them any longer doesn’t make for much of a difference in colour.
The biggest challenge in making this soap is that you are using two different techniques. This might sound daunting, but really all you’re doing is making two soaps, one after the other. Nothing complicated! And if you don’t want to do a layer like I did, you can do swirls instead.
I learned most of my plant-based colouring from Jo Haslauer, who, in my opinion, is the queen of natural colourants. She has just published a follow up book – 222 pages of colouring methods, different plant dyes, including such things like zucchini leaf and rhubarb. Just so you know, I’m not affiliated and I don’t earn any money from it, but I’ve bought the book myself (I also have the first one), and I can really recommend it.
Here’s the link to the book: CLICK HERE
Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!
If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly recommend you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.
For a printable version of this soap tutorial, please scroll down!
Ukraine soap 💛💙
- 50 g caustic soda (NaOH)
- 100 g (distilled) water
- 700 g olive oil
- 15 ml sweet orange essential oil or a fragrance of your choice
- 30 g annatto seed powder
- 1 teaspoon indigo powder
Making the Ukraine soap
Before you start, make sure you are wearing safety goggles and protective gloves, and that you have all the ingredients you need to make this soap.
Preparation: Infusing your oil
Grind up the annatto seed in a food processor (I use my Magic Bullet for this), if you’re not using powdered annatto seed. Add 30 grams to 500 grams of pomace olive oil. Place it in a corner in your pantry, or somewhere in a dark place. Leave for 3 months.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to wait 3 months, annatto seed works really well with a heat infusion method. Add 30 grams of annatto seed powder to 500 grams of pomace olive oil. Heat the oil gently on the stove on the lowest setting. You don’t want the oil to get over 45ºC (113ºF). Heat for 30 minutes and then turn the stove off and let the oil cool down.
>>> Note you will have some of the infused oil left over, which you can use for another soap <<<
Preparing your lye
Prepare your lye as usual. Make sure you wear protective gear and safety goggles.
Using your scales to weigh accurately, separate the lye into two equal portions. If you are using my recipe below, you will need 75 grams of lye solution in each jug or beaker.
While the lye is still warm, add 1 teaspoon of indigo powder to one of the portions of the lye solution and carefully stir it into the water. This will take a bit of time and stirring, because the indigo doesn’t seem be very water-soluble.
Set both lye aside to cool down before proceeding.
Part one – yellow – annatto seed
Weigh out and strain the annatto seed infused oil. If you are using my recipe, you will need 200 grams of annatto seed infused pomace olive oil. Add 1/2 teaspoon sweet orange essential oil or a fragrance of your choice.
Make sure you wear protective gear and safety goggles and that the lye solution has cooled down to room temperature. Carefully add the UNCOLOURED portion of lye to the oil and using your stick blender, mix until the soap is has thickened (medium trace), but you can still pour it.
Pour the soap into the mould and then tap the mould on the surface of the bench a few times to release any air bubbles caught in the soap and to even the surface.
Wait for 30 minutes for the yellow layer to set.
Part two – blue – indigo
Weigh out 200 grams of (normal) pomace olive oil, and add 1/2 tablespoon sweet orange essential oil or a fragrance of your choice.
Wearing your protective gear and safety goggles, add the COLOURED lye solution to the oil. Mix, using your stick blender, until the soap starts to thicken but is still pourable (thin to medium trace).
Your other soap should have set by now, and you can carefully pour the blue soap over the yellow soap. If you pour the soap over the flat part of a spatula, you spread the pour, which helps prevent it from breaking through the yellow layer.
Gently tap the soap on the bench to even out the surface, and then place the soap in the oven at 60ºC (140ºF) for one hour to enforce gel. This will make the colours appear more vibrant. After one hour, turn off the oven but leave the soap in the oven with the door closed overnight.
The following day, cut the soap into bars. They will need at least a further 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready for use. Rule of thumb is the longer the curing the better quality the soap!
If you enjoyed this tutorial, please consider donating a coffee, or a flat white as we call it here in New Zealand! This website is only possible due to my coffee consumption and early morning starts.
Yields 500 grams soap (half of a standard loaf mould) which equals to approximately 4 bars of soap.
- 50 g caustic soda
- 100 g (distilled) water
- 700 g pomace olive oil
- 30 grams annatto seed powder
- 1 teaspoon indigo powder
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) sweet orange essential oil or a fragrance of your choice
- To make the annatto seed oil infusion, add 30 grams of annatto seed powder to 500 grams of pomace olive oil in a jar. Place the oil in a dark place and leave for 3 months. Alternatively, gently heat the annatto seed and oil on the stove top for 30 minutes and then let cool down.
- Measure out the caustic soda and the water. Add the caustic soda to the water and stir until the caustic soda has completely dissolved.
- While still hot, separate the lye into two equal portions of 75 grams each. Use your scales to measure accurately.
- To one portion, add 1 teaspoon of indigo powder, stir well, and set aside.
- Let both lye solutions cool down to room temperature.
- Once the lye has cooled down, strain and weigh out 200 grams of the annatto seed infused oil into a soap pot and add 1/2 tablespoon (7.5 ml) of fragrance or sweet orange essential oil.
- Add the UNCOLOURED lye to it, and using your stick blender, mix until thickened but still pourable. Pour into soap mould and gently tap on the bench top to release air bubbles and even out the surface.
- Wait for 30 minutes to let the first layer set.
- Weigh out 200 grams of pomace olive oil and add 1/2 tablespoon (7.5 ml) of fragrance or sweet orange essential oil.
- Add the INDIGO COLOURED lye to the oils and mix using your stick blender until the soap has started to thicken.
- Pour the blue soap carefully over yellow layer, using a spatula to spread the pour.
- Tap the soap on the bench again to even out the surface, and then place the soap into the oven at 60ºC (140ºF) for one hour and then leave in the oven overnight.
- The following day, cut the soap into bars. The soap bars will need to cure for a further 6-8 weeks until ready for use.