What exactly is a natural colorant?

The term “natural” means something derived from a plant or animal (or grown), and “organic” means “from a living source” – these terms would include seeds (annatto), roots (tumeric), vegetables (red cabbage, beet juice), algae (beta carotene), insects (cochineal beetles), fruits (grape juice), etc.

Instead of coloring our soaps with synthetics and dyes used by many soapmakers, Blue Mountain Soapworks uses Mother Nature’s bountiful gifts to enhance, brighten or deepen a soap’s natural color. We use these natural and organic herbs, flowers, plants, barks, beans, roots, woods, leaves, kelps, grasses, fruits, and spices, and we actually prefer the beautiful colors created by Mother Nature!!

Depending on the fats and oils we use to make our soap, the mixture may already tend toward a certain color. Sometimes we add spices; for example, soaps containing spices like allspice (‘pimento’ in Jamaica) or cinnamon will have brown tones. Cornmeal will give soap a pale yellow color while rosemary will give it green tones. Paprika will turn soap peach. Adding herbs, flower petals or oatmeal will give the soap its own unique colorings and add some texture.

A few of our products are colored with clays that come from the Earth but are inorganic (meaning “non-living”). These include French Green Clay, Moroccan Red Clay, and Red Illite Clay. We rarely use oxides (also inorganic; see bottom of page) & will clearly list them in the ingredients. We never use dyes or natural micas (because they have impurities).

Here are many of the natural colorants you will find in Blue Mountain Soapworks’ soap:

  • Activated Charcoal (Powder)
  • Azuki Bean Powder (Vigna angularis)
  • Allspice (Pimenta officinalis)
  • Alkanet Root Powder (Alkanna tinctoria)
  • Annatto Seed (Bixa orellana)
  • Beet Root (Beta vulgaris)
  • Calendula Petals, whole/powder (Calendula officinalis)
  • Callaloo (Xanthosoma)
  • Carrot Juice (Daucus carota)
  • Carrot Root Oil/Powder (Daucus carota)
  • Chocolate, baking
  • Cinnamon Powder (Cinnamomum)
  • Cloves, ground (Syzygium aromaticum)
  • Cocoa Powder (Theobroma cacao)
  • Coffee/Coffee, ground (Coffea arabica)
  • Comfrey Leaf, powder (Symphytum officinale)
  • Cornmeal
  • Cucumber Puree (Cucumis sativus)
  • Curry Powder (Murraya koenigii)
  • French Green Clay (Montmorillonite)
  • Hibiscus Powder (Hibiscus rosa sinensis linn)
  • Indigo Root Powder (Baptisia tinctoria)
  • Kelp/seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosom)
  • Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
  • Madder Root Powder (Rubia cordifolia)
  • Moroccan Red Clay (Moroccan Lava Clay)
  • Mustard Seed, ground (Sinapis alba)
  • Nettle Leaf Powder (Urtica dioica)
  • Nutmeg, ground (Myristica fragrans)
  • Orange Juice (Citrus sinensis)
  • Orange Peel (Citrus Sinensis)
  • Paprika (Capsicum annum)
  • Parsley Powder (Petroselinum crispum)
  • Pomegranate Juice (Punica granatum)
  • Pumpkin, puree (Cucurbita)
  • Ratanjot Root Powder(Onosma hispidum)
  • Red Illite Clay (Illite)
  • Rhassoul Clay (Moroccan Lava Clay)
  • Rose Pink Clay
  • Rosehip Powder (Rosa canina)
  • Rosemary, ground (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Safflower Petals/Powder (Carthamus tinctorius L.)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Sandalwood Powder, Red (Pterocarpus santalinus)
  • Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
  • Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)
  • Spirulina/Blue-Green Algae
  • Stevia Powder (Stevia rebaudiana)
  • Tomato, puree (Solanum lycopersicum)
  • Turmeric Powder (Curcuma longa)
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Woad (Powder) (Isatis tinctoria)


On very rare occasions, a customer requests a color that simply doesn’t exist in nature or can’t be recreated using organic plant products! Following are the only inorganic or synthetic pigments we ever use and they will be clearly listed on the ingredient label:

  • Chromium Oxide Green
  • Iron Oxide
  • Ultramarine Blue Pigment

These are all oil-dispersible pigments; they will not dissolve in water. They are not mined but are synthetically manufactured in labs (regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration) to control their purity. They contain no harmful compounds like lead, copper, cadmium or mercury. They are non-toxic and approved for use in soap and cosmetics.