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Old 10-19-2017, 01:14 AM   #1
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Default Questions about masterbatching oils & micas

I'm hoping some of the experienced soapers can help out with this one, I have some questions about working ahead.

Because I have rheumatoid arthritis, I tend to tire easily; I definitely don't have the stamina of a typical person my age (42). Hobbies are really good for RA, provided whatever you're doing doesn't make your body hurt more or take so long that you end up exhausted.

What I'm wondering is if it's okay to mix up batches of oils ahead of time and store them in Mason jars -- I've been measuring out, say, 4.5lbs of a recipe that's made up of five different oils/butters, and then once it's melted just enough to mix evenly I'll split it into three 1.5lb jars to make 3 future 2lb batches of soap. I guess it's a tiny version of master batching?

Is it okay to mix up micas ahead of time as well? I find it labour intensive to mix colours, in that I have to get out all the micas, choose some, open them, prep an area (micas are messy), get out the little containers, the oil, do the mixing, put everything away...

I got the idea to buy tiny bottles at the dollar store, each holds about 1oz, and mix up a whole bunch of colours at one time. This way I only had to prep the area once, and then I could sit down and just go to town, mixing colours.
The bottles have lids that screw on tightly and I used castor oil, mixing each colour as a very thick paste.

My thought is that they'll sort of be like a colour platform I can use when I'm soaping; an easier medium to start with than the mica powders.

AFAIK it's okay to masterbatch ahead of time as long as everything is clean and used within a reasonable amount of time... anything I am missing here, or should watch out for? Thanks


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Old 10-19-2017, 02:48 AM   #2
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Yes you can do all those things SoapEh, and many people do. Masterbatching can be at whatever scale makes sense to your production. You can also master batch lye - just make sure you use an appropriate container that won't get brittle or break, and also, clearly mark its contents and keep out of reach of kids & pets. There are several threads here that provide a range of options for lye. I use a #5 bottle with a spout of that previously held liquid laundry detergent.


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Old 10-19-2017, 03:23 AM   #3
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A colour palate of mica's in oil is a terrific idea!

A suggestion I have is you could look at replacing castor with something that has an even longer shelf life (without the need for cool storage or antioxidants). This is, of course, not necessary at all if you will be using up your colours quickly.

Because you would be using a tiny amount, jojoba would be doable. Jojoba has a room temperature shelf life that you can count in years, and is very nice in all sorts of skin products, so it might be good for your coloured mica pots.

Edited to add:
Obsidian has a picture of her beautiful soaps in this thread, so hopefully she might chime in also (as a person more expert than myself on the subject of micas in oil): http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=65410
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Old 10-19-2017, 04:21 AM   #4
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I generally don't pre-batch my micas, mainly b/c I have too many colors. But I do keep squirt bottles with other things - one with activated charcoal in olive oil, and one with titanium dioxide in water. Olive is nice because it is relatively cheap, it is quite fluid to mix and pour, it won't have a sticky side effect if you accidentally use too much, and it has a reasonably long shelf life.
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Old 10-19-2017, 12:32 PM   #5
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Until recently, I just bought my colorants pre-mixed with glycerin (ultramarines and oxides, no micas so far). I'm starting to accumulate dry colorants now that I do more decorative work and am using more colorant than I used to.

The problem I see with making water/oil/glycerin pre-mixes is that you still have to shake them really well before use, and that takes time too. So it's a trade-off with pros and cons on either side.

I think CaraBou's solution is probably the tack I will gradually be taking as I use up my store-bought pre-mixed colorants -- pre-mix colorants that benefit from that the most (titanium dioxide for example) and leave the others dry until I want to use them.

I personally would not use jojoba as a pre-mix oil even though I have it on hand and know about its long shelf life -- it doesn't saponify well, and it's expensive. So far, I've been having good results from glycerin. I'd also use olive or another high oleic oil like HO sunflower or HO safflower.
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Old 10-19-2017, 02:46 PM   #6
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Hi again SoapEh!

Originally I'd gone to write olive, and it was while I was considering your arthritis that I got to thinking there might be times where you might need to leave some things for a little while and come back to them and have them still in good condition, so I thought of a carrier that would last even longer (hence the jojoba).

I personally adore a small amount of jojoba in soap. I suspect that the price here is not so prohibitive, and I had not taken that into consideration.

Having said that, I agree that Olive is better for this job and will certainly last a good couple of years from harvest.

All the best!
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Old 10-19-2017, 03:49 PM   #7
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I have micas mixed in olive oil in little 1oz containers from the dollar store too. I just give them a quick stir when I use them. I like having them ready to go so I can change my design plans on the fly depending on how my fragrances behave. Jojoba would probably be fine because you'll be using such a tiny amount. I also happen to love a smidge of jojoba in soap, but not everyone notices the difference, so if it all feels the same to you it would be wasted.
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Old 10-20-2017, 02:00 AM   #8
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Thank you all for the thoughtful replies

I think the reason I had thought of castor oil for micas was twofold -- one, because it's thick and sticky, it doesn't really separate the way other oils seem to if I mix it sparingly (loads of powder with a little oil). This seems to take all the lumps out of the powders if there are any, and makes a paste that mixes into soaping oils quite readily. The idea actually came (for a paste) from one of the YouTube videos I watched -- someone used a TD paste rather than either the dry TD or liquid in a squirt bottle, and it was the first time I'd seen someone ever prepare any colorant that way. I wish I could remember the video or YouTuber

The second reason I gravitated towards castor oil was because we tend to only want a tiny bit in a recipe. I figured if I was using a recipe that didn't have any castor at all, adding the small bit with the micas might add a percent or less and either make no difference, or just enough that it would help with bubbles. Either way, no harm done

I never thought of shelf life... Given that I'm a pretty heavy experimenter right now, the 10 or so colours I have mixed up will likely be used up within the next couple of months. After that, I'll move to a different oil so I won't have to worry about them going off -- losing a bunch of colorant and oil that way would be a bummer.
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Old 10-22-2017, 03:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoapEh View Post
I got the idea to buy tiny bottles at the dollar store, each holds about 1oz, and mix up a whole bunch of colours at one time. This way I only had to prep the area once, and then I could sit down and just go to town, mixing colours.
Good thinking! I did something similar once when I was first starting to soap. I was gifted some pigments. I diluted them and put them into 1 oz. dropper bottles. One additional thing that I did that you might want to do is, I colored a cutip with each color and attached that to the bottle with a rubber band so I could easily see what color was in each bottle.

With micas, I'm thinking you'd hafta find a way to make 1/2 oz. or 1 oz. sample soaps. I use re-purposed molds from Nancy's Mini-Quiches to make 1 oz. discs of butters like cocoa butter. I melt the butter and pour into the mold cavities. Put in the freezer and pop them out an hour or so later. Put in a freezer bag. Write the date and ID the contents and store in the freezer until I'm ready to use them. Makes it easier to measure the amount I need for whatever I'm making. (Usually lip balms.)

One more thing (that I can't get my head around but I'm sure you can figure out) is the correct ratio of mica to castor oil that it's diluted in??? To make sure it's the density needed for the intended purpose. Or am I overthinking? (I do that sometimes. )


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