What Are FD&C Dyes And Lakes (and how do they differ)?

And While We're At It, What's A Dye Load?

What's A Dye?

A dye is a chemical that exhibits coloring power when dissolved. Dyes are water soluble, and will not mix with oils.

Dyes must be "bloomed" before use. In their unbloomed state (i.e. in the jar) they are different color than in use. For example, our Bright Green Dye is brown in the jar, then turns a vibrant bright green when bloomed in water.

What's An Aluminum Lake?

An aluminum lake, or simply lake, is an insoluble material that tints by dispersion. Lakes are produced by coloring an aluminum salt (this is not elemental aluminum) substrate using FD&C dyes. They are oil-dispersible and can be mixed with oils and fats.

Lakes do not need to be bloomed, as they've been colored using bloomed dyes; the color in the jar is the color of the lake when it's used. However, when used in bath bombs, Polysorbate 80 must be incorporated into the recipe to allow the colorant to properly disperse and color the water rather than float on the surface.

What's A Dye Load?

The dye load of a colorant indicates the percentage of that colorant that is actually dye. Dyes carry a much higher dye load than a lake, as it's effectively pure dye; some of our dyes have dye loads in excess of 90%.

A lake's lower dye load is due to the fact that the substrate itself is a substantial portion of the material.

Know your dye load! Always check the dye load of dyes and lakes that you're considering buying. Remember: in general, the higher the dye load, the less you'll need to achieve the color you're going for. Don't make the mistake of comparing a 70% dye load product to one with a 90% dye load.

Which should you use?

Whichever you're most comfortable with, of course! Try them both - they both have advantages and disadvantages. After working with them a while, we're confident you'll find your favorite.

Got more questions? Give us a call or shoot us an email - we'll be happy to help you!

Also, you can check out this article about what it means to be FDA-certified.

And by the way, If you're looking at making bath bombs, we do have a collection of products specifically for the bath bomb maker.