Vanilla Color Stabilizer and Hot Process Soap

I like to make lots of swirly designs in my soaps, using an endless array of colors.  I also like to use different fragrances in my soap, including quite a few that contain vanilla.  The problem?  Vanilla causes soaps to turn brown.  If that fits into my design, great, but more often than not I would prefer my soap to remain the colors I used when making it!! Here is an example of what I mean (obviously not a swirly soap but you will see why i picked this one).  Exhibit A:

Soap after 3 days
Soap after 3 days

And a few months later...

Soap A after 3+ months
Soap A after 3+ months

It was interesting to watch the transformation.  It turned dark brown in sections / chunks / splotches and not in an even light brown to dark brown.  It is very likely that my fragrance was not evenly mixed in and the areas with the most fragrance turned first.

If I had done all sorts of cute swirls in this soap, they would not be visible anymore.  Does this mean that swirls and vanilla fragrance don't mix?  One thing to note - this vanilla business does not just apply to obvious vanilla named fragrances like Vanilla Vanilla.  Scents like Dragon's Blood, fruit scents, sweeter florals and many complex fragrances could all contain vanilla.  All of the companies I buy from indicate whether or not vanilla is part of the formula, and in many cases provide the percentage.

So, you can buy this stuff called Vanilla Color Stabilizer.  Many soap supply places carry it.  However, there are two - one for soap and one for lotion.  My research indicates that the soap version works effectively for melt & pour soaps, however, for cold process reviews state that this simply buys you some time (and the soap will eventually turn brown / tan).  Well, what about hot process?  Does vanilla color stabilizer work in hot process soap?  That is the question I set out to answer.

My plan:  I made  two bars of soap using a vanilla fragrance.  One soap had vanilla color stabilizer added and the other did not.  How do the soaps compare?

Day 1.  This photo was taken a few hours after the soap was made.  Soap on left has an "Y" indicating Yes Stabilizer.  Soap on right has a "N" indicating No Stabilizer.  It is hard to read the letters on the top of the soap.  As you can see, I did not always put the soaps in the same order when taking the pics, but you can see which one is turning and which one remains cream colored.

Soaps on Day 1
Soaps on Day 1
Day 2
Day 2
Soaps on Day 4
Soaps on Day 4
Soaps on Day 13
Soaps on Day 13

As you can see, after nearly two weeks, the soap without the stabilizer is getting progressively darker, while the soap with the stabilizer has no sign of discoloration.  Will that change?  Stay tuned as I update this post over the next few months to watch these soaps to see if  and how they change.

What exactly is vanilla color stabilizer?  I am not sure as the ingredients are not listed on the sites where I buy soap supplies.  Is it harmful?  I don't think so, but it is a chemical.  I read through the MSDS sheet and it did not appear to me that is has any toxic ingredients, but I doubt that this is considered a "natural" ingredient.  You will need to decide for yourself whether this is something you want to use in your soaps.

Have you ever used vanilla stabilizer?  please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Happy soaping!

Molly

*Update.  It has been 8 months since I put up this post and it appears that the stabilizer is still working!

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