Alkanet, the moodiest plant in the botanical kingdom, (thus far). Alkanet, formally known as Alkanna tinctoria. promises a light purple to your soaps and delivers… well, as you’re trying to come to trace a pale green and after a couple of days while you are cutting it looks like a cookies and cream colour. Maybe, just maybe, it will cure purple and if you are an antsy soaper, like me, you get concerned at the green and throw in a couple of tablespoons of the nearest clay to get… what??? red???. The second time you promise yourself you won’t panic and just throw clay in so you make the soap exactly the same way and again you are thrown off by the light green colour, throw in some Bentonite clay to get a purpley, albeit beautiful, grey so you haphazardly throw together a woodsy mountain scent to make it something else entirely. Finally, you carry out your promise, slog your way through the recipe one more time, don’t panic, follow through, and get a cookies and cream colour. Oh alkanet, why do you mock me so! One good thing is I loved the grey so much I am trying to replicate the panic I felt and create a lovely grey soap that looks like a mountain and smells like cedar woods. We will see :).
Alkanet is also called blugloss and is a Mediterranean plant. which is rather pretty and unassuming.
The actual part of the plant that gives colour to wines, wool, vegetable oils, and varnishes is the root.
And, look at this lovely soap that drove me to harness it’s elusive purple colour.
While it apparently has many health benefits for issues like high blood pressure, it’s astringent taste leave it more desired for it’s ability to be used as a dye in a variety of products. Apparently it works for some rather well and there is a ton of information on whether to infuse it in oil and use at full strength or partial strength or whether to make a tea with it and use it as your liquid. Either way, it remains forever moody, and depending on the day may or may not decide to be purple. As for me, I will either use Brazilian Purple clay (which I am finding is hard to source), or throw the dice to see if blackberry juice as my liquid will give me the desired purple. At least, and cross our fingers here, the alkanet infused oil at full strength with Bentonite thrown in will give me my purple mountains majesty.
Can I replicate the experiment gone wrong to make this colour again?