Posted by on 2/14/2021 to Let's Talk Soaping
All About Vanilla Color Stabilizer and it's Use in Soap Making Projects!
If you're looking to make soap at home there are certainly many processes to learn, but on top of that, there are some helpful ingredients to understand when you start running into problems such as scent fading, discoloration, color morphing and so on.
Truth is, soap making is fun! The amount of creativity, artistry and even science into making a batch of soap can in-part such happiness when unmolding your final product.
However, it can also be much more challenging then you may think. Learning techniques, and all the fancy lingo that goes along with soap making, especially cold process soap making, can be daunting at times.
Today we'll talk about discoloration in soap, and one such ingredient that can help prevent it in soap making. That ingredient is vanilla color stabilizer.
Vanilla color stabilizer is used in many DIY soaps and in this post we'll discuss what it is, and how you can use it to help with the finished look of your soap project(s).
"My Soap is Brown! What Did I Do Wrong?"
If you're new to soap making or advanced in the art, you are sure to have, or most likely will run into the issue of your finished soap turning shades of brown. This can happened right away or can happen over the period of days to weeks.
In fact, certain parts of the bar that's exposed to air will turn first, meaning the inside portion of the bar will still be light, and the edges will start to darken until you cut into the loaf.
You may ask yourself, "What in the world just happened, why is my soap brown?"
"Did I do something wrong?"
The answer is you probably didn't do any thing wrong per say. The most "obvious" and common answer for discoloration in soap is because of the vanillin in the fragrance you chose.
Depending on the amount of vanillin can effect what shade and how dark your finished soap actually turns.
Like mentioned above, vanillin is found in many fragrances and depending on the percentage used in fragrance production will discolor the soap many different shades of tan to deep brown.
Is Vanillin a "Bad" Thing?
The answer may be yes and no, depending on your goal. Some soap makers know this is going to happen and actually use it to there advantage when making soap for specific colors or shades of colors, so for them, it may be a good thing.
Most likely, however, this was not what you were expecting to have happen, so it may be considered a bad thing for your finished product from an aesthetic perspective. Truth is, it's a natural process and will not effect the performance of your soap.
Vanilla pods themselves darken with age and as they ripen, vanillin is one of the compounds within vanilla that causes it to turn brown.
So, What is Vanilla Color Stabilizer?
So, what exactly is vanilla color stabilizer, and what is its purpose in soap making?
Vanilla color stabilizer is best used with melt and pour soap making. The ratio of fragrance to the amount of vanilla color stabilizer is around 1:1. Now, keep in mind, it does not prevent color changes or discoloration with any other ingredients you may add that can cause discoloration, besides vanilla.
So can it be used with cold process soap as well?
The answer is yes, but with somewhat inconsistencies, in our experience. VCS works extremely well in melt and pour soaps, however, results of it's use in cold process soap has not been great with our soaping experience.
We have had very few soaps, if any, that has worked as well as it does in melt and pour soaps. Many of the soaps we have tried it in, the VCS has actually only prevented the discoloration slightly or for a short amount of time.
Having said this, we have also seen and heard many talk about VCS working in their CP soaps, as well as other applications, including hot process soaps. According to Wholesale Supplies Plus, their VCS can be used in bath fizzies as well. Interesting....
The scent from vanilla color stabilizer can be somewhat strong, so it is recommended to also make sure you are in a well ventilated area when using.
A Tip for Preventing Discoloration in CP Soap, without VCS
One of the more well known ways to experience with working with discoloration in soap (when not using VCS) is with titanium dioxide.
A general rule of thumb is to mix 1 part titanium dioxide to 1 part lightweight oil (certain titanium dioxide can also be dissolved in water) and then add it to your batter once your lye is added to your oils, or prior to the lye.
The goal here is to lighten up the batter significantly, to a point that when the soap starts to darken it still remains a lighter shade then what it would have been if you didn't lighten the soap.
Why do we say experiment?
Well, it will be an experiment because you really have no idea how much titanium dioxide mix to add because the discoloration has not happened at this point. The higher the vanillin content %, usually means the darker shades of brown.
The discoloration process for some fragrances is fairly quick and for others the soap may take weeks to darken. It is trial and error, and that's a fact!
Also, keep in mind that even though you are adding the titanium dioxide in small amounts of lightweight oil or water, you are still changing the percentages to some extent of "total" oils and/or water/lye ratio. In you end soap, if you add to much, you could get a softer bar of soap, even glycerin rivers.