Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Herbs as Natural Colorants, part 2

Here is the final product in our "Herbs for Natural Colorants" series. This is 'Siren' (pronounced sahy-ruhn), bergamot, ylang-ylang, and amber resin. The color is all natural, as it came from the herbal infusion of alkanet in olive oil. Pretty cool how it begins blood red and turns purple once it's in soap.

The inspiration for this soap is my love of Greek mythology. Here's the defination of a siren and a snippet of a myth:

Sirens are creatures with the head of a female and the body of a bird. They lived on an island and with the irresistible charm of their song they lured mariners to their destruction on the rocks surrounding their island.

When Odysseus' ship passed the Sirens, he had the sailors stuff their ears with wax. He had himself tied to the mast for he wanted to hear their beautiful voices. The Sirens sang when they approached, their words even more enticing than the melody. They would give knowledge to every man who came to them, they said, ripe wisdom and a quickening of the spirit. Odysseys' heart ran with longing but the ropes held him and the ship quickly sailed to safer waters.

I named this soap appropriately as it has it's own siren song, beautiful and tempting, sure to please. Rest assured, destruction will not follow those who choose to answer this siren's call.

Herbs as Natural Colorants, part 1

The picture I've posted today is of an herb that I infuse in oil to get a real nice natural color for soap. This is a shot of my herbs soaking in oil. Initially, the color of the oil becomes a dark red. But once it gets mixed in with other oils and the lye water, it turns a purple-blue color.

The herb I'm using here is alkanet root. According to folk lore, "it helps such as are bitten by venomous beasts, whether it be taken inwardly or applied to the wound" and "It helps bruises and falls, and is as gallant a remedy to drive out the smallpox and measles as any is; an ointment made of it is excellent for green wounds, pricks or thrusts."

That may well be true (or not) but today I'm using it as a natural colorant for my 'Siren' soap. Later, I'll post a picture of the final product.