Yellow Dock Root in Soap
There are many ways to naturally bring color to soap. Infusing a botanical into a soaping oil is a very common method. Yellow Dock root can bring a pink hue to cold process soaps, and it just so happens to grow wild here.
Of course I was excited to have such a useful plant! The leaves are edible, my rabbits love them, and the seeds are as well, although I have yet to try them. Yellow Dock is an especially special botanical addition to soap. Not only does it bring color, the root has beneficial properties for skin. Yellow Dock Root has historically been used by Native Americans to treat a variety of skin conditions. I was delighted to feel the difference in my hands when working with the fresh roots. My skin felt crazy smooth from getting the juice on me.
Once the roots are cleaned and chopped, they are laid out on a screen to dry. It's really important to make sure that any plant materials you are planning to infuse in oil are properly dried. Any water content can cause mold, bacteria, and spoilage. I find that drying goes well for me in my curing room because it's cool, dry, and not exposed to direct sunlight which can make drying leaves fade. So I keep a screened shelf devoted to drying plant materials along the top of one curing rack.
The infusion is going to look yellow, just like these roots and their juice. However the pH level during soaping will make that yellow transform to pink. The intensity of the color can vary depending on how much infusion is used, and if soap goes through gel phase. Some soapers add the botanical directly to the lye solution and strain that into their oils for a darker color result. I prefer infuse mine into oil over the course of 4-6 weeks or more. That way I hope to keep the skin smoothing benefits intact as much as possible.
Here's a look at the result.