Mica, FO & Vanilla Stabilizer Questions?

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McLasz

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Hi All-
I'm new to this forum and to soap making, and like so many others I have watched a year of videos (at a rather obsessive rate), and read and taken notes on all of the books that people have recommended, and I think I am now ready to try my first batch. I have all of the things I need to make it and the correct equipment, but I have a few nagging questions for which I will apologize for up front because I know they've been asked before in various formats and threads, but they are sometimes a few years old and I know smart people are coming up with new things all the time! So here goes:
  • How do you know which mica's and FO's will speed up trace or change colors?
  • How do you know when to add mica's and FO?
  • I got a vanilla stabilizer that someone recommended but don't know where to add that either.
  • Do I add the liquid amount of the VS to the total amount of liquids?
  • If I wanted to add a clay, how would I go about doing that?
There is so much to consider! It would be so much easier if I had a soap making buddy near by that I could get together with-

ANYONE HERE FROM THE FABULOUS JERSEY SHORE (I say that with a touch of sarcasm) WHO IS INTERESTED IN GETTING TOGETHER AND LEARNING SOAP MAKING????

I'd super appreciate some feed back on my questions, or if anyone knows of a book that goes into depth about these topics I'd be appreciative of that too! I've read some pretty good books but they all seem to just scratch the surface of these things...
Thank you in advance for all of your shared wisdom!
 
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cmzaha

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Will try to answer your questions
1. The best way to know about the FO is to purchase from a reputable supplier and read the reviews. Florals, Water types, and spicy are notorious accelerators. As for mica speeding trace that I have never encountered.
2. Everyone has to get their own system for adding micas. I add mine directly into my batter and either stir well with a whisk or hit it quickly with a stick blender. The SB will mix it better. You can also premix your mica with oil or glycerin, many take oil from their batch for mixing mica or other oil based colorants. I do not because I may not want to use all the color I mixed and the oil needs to go back into the batch. Glycerin works well for pre-mixing all colorants but you have to be careful of not over doing the glycerin when adding it since to much can make the soap softer. With normal coloring and up to 4 colors it usually does not cause to much glycerin added.I add in my fo as soon as I hit emulsion and have poured off my batters for coloring. Many add and SB their fo into the oils before add in their lye, and say it helps with naughty acceleration fo's. I prefer to know my batter has hit emulsion first. Best way to know if an fo is going to accelerate is to run a small test batch
3. Vanilla stabilizer is added in equal amount to your fragrance, mix and add it to your batter or oils.
4. I mix my clay directly into my oils and SB. Some actually add it into the lye water, but if using it for coloring that does not work with any clay other that the white clays such as kaolin. Be careful with red clay it is a very strong colorant that can stain.

This is just my way of mixing batter. Others will chime in with their methods.
 

IrishLass

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Welcome, McLasz! :)

  • How do you know which mica's and FO's will speed up trace or change colors?
Like Carolyn above, I've never encountered a case of mica speeding trace, but some do morph, color-wise. I know of only two ways of discovering which micas will morph color- 1) good old-fashioned trial and error and 2) reading other's reviews.

The same method of discovery applies to fragrance oils as well.


  • How do you know when to add mica's and FO?
I've learned through trial and error that I can add micas pretty at any time, but earlier is always best in order that they get mixed in well before trace gets too thick.. I mix mine with a little glycerin before adding to my batter....just enough glycerin to make a smooth slurry is all that is needed.

As for FO.... knowing when to add them depends greatly on the specific FO. With most of my FOs, which by the way are well-behaved, it doesn't matter when I add them- they do great no matter what....... but my small handful of ornery FOs are a different story. Knowing the best time to add those came through trial and error for me. Although reading the FO review sites helps me tremendously in regards to prepping for the worse with an ornery FO, one pretty much doesn't know exactly how bad things may or may not go until you actually soap it, because so much depends on an individual's soap formula. Keep a notebook and take plenty of notes!

  • I got a vanilla stabilizer that someone recommended but don't know where to add that either.
Which one did you get? I personally love Bitter Creek North's VS for CP. I use it when I soap with certain FOs that contain a high percent of vanillin that would normally turn my soap either tan or brown when I would rather have it white or at least light-colored (I'm looking at you Santa's Pipe and Sugared Spruce!).

  • Do I add the liquid amount of the VS to the total amount of liquids?
I can only speak for the brand of VS that I use, but I stick-blend my BCN vanilla stabilizer directly into my melted oils/fats. The directions say to add it to the FO, but it works so much better when added to ones melted fats/oils instead. I add an equal amount of stabilizer as per the amount of FO I'm using for my batch of soap.


  • If I wanted to add a clay, how would I go about doing that?
I add mine just like Carolyn does, i.e., I stick-blend it directly into my oils.


IrishLass :)
 
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earlene

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In my experience, any mica that contains Titanium Dioxide thickens my soap batter faster. TD alone thickens it very noticeably, but so do some of the micas and everytime I notice that I look up what is used for that particular color. It has always contained TD in the list of ingredients. Is thickening the batter the same as speeding trace? I am not entirely sure, but I know that when I separate batter to color each portion for multi-color swirls, I absolutely have to mix TD and TD-containing micas last and only just before the pour. I usually try to avoid SBing those as well if it's going to be an intricate swirl that takes a lot of time, as these always thicken way faster than the other colors.
 

McLasz

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Will try to answer your questions
1. The best way to know about the FO is to purchase from a reputable supplier and read the reviews. Florals, Water types, and spicy are notorious accelerators. As for mica speeding trace that I have never encountered.
2. Everyone has to get their own system for adding micas. I add mine directly into my batter and either stir well with a whisk or hit it quickly with a stick blender. The SB will mix it better. You can also premix your mica with oil or glycerin, many take oil from their batch for mixing mica or other oil based colorants. I do not because I may not want to use all the color I mixed and the oil needs to go back into the batch. Glycerin works well for pre-mixing all colorants but you have to be careful of not over doing the glycerin when adding it since to much can make the soap softer. With normal coloring and up to 4 colors it usually does not cause to much glycerin added.I add in my fo as soon as I hit emulsion and have poured off my batters for coloring. Many add and SB their fo into the oils before add in their lye, and say it helps with naughty acceleration fo's. I prefer to know my batter has hit emulsion first. Best way to know if an fo is going to accelerate is to run a small test batch
3. Vanilla stabilizer is added in equal amount to your fragrance, mix and add it to your batter or oils.
4. I mix my clay directly into my oils and SB. Some actually add it into the lye water, but if using it for coloring that does not work with any clay other that the white clays such as kaolin. Be careful with red clay it is a very strong colorant that can stain.

This is just my way of mixing batter. Others will chime in with their methods.
Thank you so much for your insights and help! I really appreciate it and am so happy to have found this site!
 

McLasz

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Thank you all for your guidance and sharing your experiences with me. I very much appreciate it!
Irish Lass- I purchased my vanilla stabilizer from Crafter's Choice, however I wish I had read this first! A few people have mentioned the one you did- and that one is considerably less expensive at that! I might just order that and keep the one I have as a back up. One other quick questions while we're on the topic: Many have said that add the VS to every soap they make as a formality- Do you recommend that, or should I just stick to when I know there is vanilla in my FO?
 

IrishLass

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Many have said that add the VS to every soap they make as a formality- Do you recommend that, or should I just stick to when I know there is vanilla in my FO?

Heavens no! I'm too fond of not wasting of my money. I only add it when I'm using a discoloring FO in soaps that I want to remain either white or light colored. :)


IrishLass :)
 
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