Why Does Colored Soap Turn White?

Why Does Colored Soap Turn White

You may find it quite strange that while soaps come in different colors, there is always a tendency for these soaps to turn white. Maybe you may have gotten so used to this occurrence that you don’t really wonder about it anymore. Well, this phenomenon occurs when a white film coats around the soap, making it appear white. So, why does this happen?

Your soap turns white due to the formation and deposition of soda ash on its surface. This soda ash, also called sodium carbonate, forms when the dyes in your soap come in contact with carbon dioxide in the air. However, the great thing is that you can always use soap coated with soda ash because it is absolutely harmless.

If you enjoy making homemade soap, you surely have encountered this issue a couple of times. Despite the rich scent and the awesome smoothness of your soap, this white residue begins to form just a few days after production. 

Why Does Soap Turn White? 

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Although this occurrence may be a little bit unnerving at first, there is a perfect explanation for it. Firstly, when the lye compound which adds color to your soap is exposed to air, it encounters carbon dioxide in the air.

From here, these two substances react with each other to form sodium carbonate which is layered on the surface of your soap.

The white layer which you see on the surface of your soap tends to be quite light and pretty uneven. It remains only on the soap’s surface; however, when you cut the soap into separate bricks, the white residue spreads to the freshly exposed surface. So, after a few hours, you’ll see that the entire surface has gotten white.

Although it does not pose any harmful effects, it can look a little bit uncool to your sight. Several factors such as the use of impure water in making soaps can accentuate this issue.

Cold temperatures and high level of exposure to air are also factors that accelerate the formation of white residue on your soap.

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Why Do Bubbles Turn White?

Although soaps contain some amount of dyes, these dyes are used in very small quantities. So, their color can get lost when you dilute the soaps in water. This effect is also promoted by the low surface tension of the soap bubbles which allows them to stretch indefinitely.

Soap turns white when you create foam due to the storage of air in the soap bubbles. This is quite pronounced because the amount of air stored in these soap bubbles surpasses the air stored in the undissolved soap material. 

From another perspective, the color of natural light is white. So, because the bubbles themselves do not possess a consequential color of their own, they tend to reflect the natural light present in the environment.

Therefore, the walls of soap bubbles cause visible light to scatter when passing through them, and this creates a white effect.

Well, looking for the color in soap bubbles is a goose chase. This is because soap bubbles placed in a room with red light turn red because they now scatter the red light present in the room.

What Makes Soap Color White?

Several circumstances such as weddings require the use of white soaps. On the other hand, you may probably just need white soap for your specific brand or for personal use.

Nonetheless, there are several ways to make soap color white.

White Or Light Oils And Butters

Your choice of oils and butters greatly affects the outcome of your soap. In general terms, oils and butters that are white produce white soap. Additionally, the lightness of coconut oils, lard and palm oil results to a white soap.

Titanium Dioxide In Your Formula

The addition of Titanium dioxide to your soap’s recipe creates a bright effect, this is quite helpful when you use yellow oils and butters.

Cosmetic powders of Titanium dioxide such as the Matte White pigment powder give a plain white color. However, you can easily lose this color in cold process soap.

Certain Fragrances

Fragrances ultimately change soap colors if used in the wrong combination. For instance, vanilla changes soap color from white to brown or creamy.

In future, use a vanilla color stabilizer to preserve your white color when using vanilla.

Also, use clear fragrance oils; these possess a lesser likeliness for color alteration.

Why Does Bar Soap Leave White Residue? 

Even excellent bar soaps tend to leave white residue on bathroom surfaces after use. This can be pretty pronounced if these bar soaps carry additional nutrients and moisturizers.

Well, this isn’t a bad thing; it is an excellent thing because it is a feature that makes bar soap so great for your skin.

Also, these added moisturizing oils and nutrients give your skin a fresh, glowing, and dewy effect. Of course, the tradeoff here is that you would definitely have to clean your bathroom or tub more frequently because scum tends to accumulate in them. Nonetheless, some warm water and a mild cleaning agent beautifully do that trick. 

Bar soap always leaves a residue, but keep in mind that any soap that does not leave a residue after use is definitely a detergent. These detergents always have high amounts of additives, which are not entirely suitable for your skin. The residue becomes a small price to pay for avoiding these chemically active soaps.

Also, not including the nutrients and moisturizers in the soap recipe can prevent residue formation. However, these components are essential for you. So, entirely avoiding this phenomenon can be a bad thing to do after all. 

Final Thoughts

It can get quite unsightly when the lye component of your soap reacts with carbon monoxide to produce a white residue. However, this isn’t exactly something that you should worry about because, despite the outlook, these soaps are still okay for use.

On the other hand, the surprising occurrence whereby soap bubbles always appear white despite the soap’s color is a simple result of light reflection. The thin walls of these bubbles easily reflect natural white light and give away the feeling that they are white.

Finally, several factors contribute to the white color of soaps. These factors are part of the formulation of these soaps; so, you should always keep them in mind when producing white soap.

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