Look at that Lake!
Oh the beauty of Lakes, and no I am not referring to beautiful bodies of water. I am talking about the pigment known as a Lake used to color your bath bombs. These pigments are best known for their color stability, helping to avoid your colors from doing unpredictable things that dyes get a bad rep for. Lakes are predictable and reliable, that is why so many people love using them to color their bath bombs.
Lets unlock what a Lake is exactly. To keep it short, a Lake is a pigment that is created by precipitating a dye, commonly with a metallic salt. When mixed together this creates an oil dispersible pigment we call a Lake. Lakes require oils to disperse, unlike dyes which require water. Lakes are true to color unlike most water-soluble dyes, which is great when selecting the color you want to use in your bath bombs.
Due to their non-water soluble formula, Lakes require a little bit of extra attention to avoid having the color stick around (no pun intended), longer than anticipated. If you have ever accidently stained your tub using Lakes you know that these colors will stick to your skin and your bathtub if not used correctly. Have you ever tried to mix oil and water? It just doesn't work, and if you do not use Polysorbate 80 in your bath bomb recipe you will see this pigment stick.
Let me explain why, Poly 80 is a surfactant and emulsifying ingredient. Lakes require a surfactant to avoid the pigment from sticking to other surfaces once put into water. You will notice that Lakes tend to create less colorful bath bomb water than a bath bomb made with water soluble dye, however when Poly 80 is added it helps the pigment stay incorporated with the water longer, instead of falling and settling onto the bottom of the tub quickly.
It is most commonly recommended that you use at least half the amount of Polysorbate 80 in your recipe of your total oils. Meaning if you are using 5 tsp fragrance oil, and 5 tsp carrier oil, you should use at least 5tsp Poly 80. Remember that Poly 80 is a wet ingredient, so account for extra moisture in your bath bomb recipe when using it. Luckily, Lakes require no water for the color to activate so if your recipe usually includes water you could omit it from your recipe when using Lakes.
When incorporating oils into your bath bomb mix it is important to mix your wet ingredients together before adding them into your recipe. This ensures that all of the ingredients have time to successfully incorporate together. Pre-measure your wet ingredients into a glass measuring cup and give them a good mix before pouring into your dry ingredients. This should include your fragrance oil, any carrier oils you use in your recipe, and the Polysorbate 80. We recommend using ½- 1 tsp of Lake per 2 cups of baking soda to start in your recipes. You can add more to achieve deeper shades.
Unfortunately, the fun stops at bath bombs with these beautiful colors. Lakes do not perform well in cold process soaps, hot process soaps, melt and pour soaps and any products with a Ph level higher than 7.6%. Most soaps are created with a Ph level of 10 or more. Most bath bombs average a Ph level of around 6.5%. Lake pigments perform best in products with a Ph level between 3.5%-7.5%.