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Xazo

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I LOOOVE the look of a mica swirl top. However, I have had a series of frustrating attempts at different effects. I am hoping someone can shed some light on this for me? When I use a specific mica, I get these "divets" or pits or pockets or holes, however you want to describe them. Sometimes, I don't. What causes this? Am I using TOO MUCH mica in my oil? I have had a few successful attempts at the mica swirl staying nice and even on top... Any Ideas?

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KristaY

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How are you using your micas? Are mixing into a portion of soap batter then swirling the tops (and does the batter have fragrance added or no fragrance) or are you mixing into a carrier oil then dripping that on the top?
 

not_ally

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I think you might be using too much of your mica oil mix, and maybe the trace of the soap is too thick? When I do them (I usually do logs, not slabs), I dot/drizzle the top of the soap fairly sparingly with mica mixed into castor oil at a texture like "thick nail polish" (description from a tute done by Emily Shieh/Soap and Restless blog, who is pretty much the master at these) and then use a chopstick to pull a pattern through. Below is a good link on this (Emily had a great video tute on this on line somewhere, but cannot find it now.)

https://sironasprings.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/easy-does-it/

ETA: Also, after swirling the log I usually put a thin white/solid colored top layer on it and do the mica oil swirl in that, using just one or two colors, otherwise I find it is too busy looking. They are so beautiful just by themselves.
 
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newbie

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When you use oil in mica for a top, there will usually be an indentation where it is as the oil gets absorbed into the soap, leaving only the mica behind. It's worth it though!

I agree that it looks like you are using too much. A slight drizzle or sprinkles of color will do the trick but it works best when your batter still has some fluidity about it. If the batter is too thick, the effect is not the same.
 
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Xazo

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Thank you SO much for the input!!!! It has HELPED!!!!
The first soap is a slab, the second is a log mold. These were two of my first soaps. I have been reluctant to try the mica swirl again, because I despise the look of the pitting.
I was thinking maybe I used too much MICA in the oil. In one of my recipes I use sweet almond oil. Rather than dump all my oils in my batch, I reserve a portion of my sweet almond oil or olive oil for colorants. Then a TINY bit for a mica swirl. I believe the "gold" one is a bit busy, but that soap was a "special request." it's a 7 color swirl inside (what a challenge!)
I am starting to think that different oils saponify at different speeds. If I use a slower saponifying oil to mix with my micas for the swirl on top, the soap will mostly set up before the oil in the mica swirl starts to absorb. Thus, eradicating this eyesore. Ick! I wonder how to calculate the saponification times of oils....I need to log in some soap time in my "lab."
 

newbie

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Different oils do saponify at different rates but I think the indentations are mainly an issue of weight and volume. I would be interested if you found that one oil in particular leaves less indentation than another and I will have to watch for it myself but whether I have used olive, avocado, rice bran or any other liquid oil, I still get the indents.
 

Xazo

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I am doing a small batch tonight to try castor oil as mentioned in Not's reply above. I've never tried such a thick oil before. I will be testing various oils with the same micas that pitted on the same recipe...just a basic 30-30-30-10 coconut, palm olive and castor.
 

not_ally

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That will be interesting, xazo, will you post about your results? I think I have tried mixing micas for these swirls in SAO, olive and castor, liked castor the best b/c it seemed to leave a bit more mica on top. Maybe imagining it. I found the bigger difference w/r/t indentations came from heat, I usually CPOP and it seemed like the ridges got a bit bigger w/longer heating time (never v. big though.) I usually CPOP for about an hr at 150, although the heat is probably even lower b/c I use a non-well insulated small rotisserie oven.
 

Xazo

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Yes! I plan on posting. It is intriguing that I am unable to find tutorials or info on this pitting from micas. How interesting, not_ally, that heat makes a difference. Curious. I will now have to do two additional series of these tests...cpop and insulated. I just finished the first test. My poor soap is sitting on the counter, bare to the world. I actually just pulled some of the melted oils. I wanted a "baseline." I will post info tomorrow. Thank you!!!! :)
 

Xazo

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So, this is definitely not the best soap I've ever made. ugh. It was so rushed. I almost forgot the main reason for even doing the soap. I was putting some of the black and while soap on top (rather than one color) and realized I still had a mica swirl to do :/ aww, jiminy cricket...
It tried to unmold too soon and it cracked as I was taking it out of the mold. :/ jeeze...lol
but I DID get SOME pitting. I pulled some of my melted oils and used a minute amount of mica.
That certainly helped. The next soap will be with the castor. I'll post as well.

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not_ally

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Actually, I think it looks really good, Xazo, the gold is certainly showing up very well, sometimes mine fades more in the oil. What mica did you use for that?
 

Xazo

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Thank you, dixie and not! I wasnt really going for a "pretty" soap. Tried out a "hanger" I made for that particular mold. I wanted it thicker so it would drag more soap. Several variables. Not, I used one of brambleberry's gold micas. Heavy metal, I think? :)
 

not_ally

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I love BB's heavy metal gold! I have never used it in cp b/c it is supposed to be for mp only, all those micas which contain metal powders say that. I thought that the lye - even on top - would make it go funky, it is good to know that I can use those in top of the loaf oil swirls. I love them even though they are expensive (TKB has some too.) I definitely will on the next oil swirl.

Have you tried the HMG in clear melt and pour? If you mix it w/an oxide it in clear mp it will give you a beautiful jewelled metallic finish, it really is gorgeous.
 

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