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Mixing Micas-With what, and how?

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Susie

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I know this has probably been covered a dozen times in the last year, but I my search-fu is broken. So, my apologies to whomever has answered this before.

I now have all these lovely micas, and just realized I have a few questions:

1.A. What liquid do I mix them with?
B. If more than one answer possible, what are the benefits and drawbacks of each?

2. What is your favorite mini-stickblender, and should I get multiples because they burn out fast?

3. Can I pre-mix my micas in something like foodservice squeeze bottles and keep them for a while so I do not have to mix them every batch?

4.A. To get the sparkle on the top of the bars, do you mix with glycerin and put on right after pouring, or later?
B. If later, when?
C. Will this help prevent soda ash?
D. If it does not prevent soda ash, does it wash off if I rinse the loaf under warm water?

5. Is it really OK to use those clear plastic cups (Solo?) to mix colored soap batter in? I see some people I respect a lot using them on YouTube, so I think it is OK, but I want to be sure from some of our sciencey soapy people. I just do not need more stuff to wash, and I can get lots of those for cheap.
 

lsg

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Can you pull out a small amount of soap and mix in the mica? I still have an old, $19 stick blender from Walmart that works. I do have a heavier stick blender from Cuisinart that I use the most. I would probably just dust a sparkling mic on top of my soap if I wanted sparkle on the top. You can buy spice and sugar shakers from Amazon.com. I have used those large disposable glasses to mix my soap, but I now use the easy pour and mixing containers from Brambleberry.com.


https://www.brambleberry.com/Easy-Pour-Mixing-and-Measuring-Container-P5428.aspx
 

penelopejane

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1 I use 1 tsp mica to 2 tsp of oil from recipe because it mixes easily into that amount of oil and then into the batter. Once it's in the batter SB. I use part of the recipe oil and compensate in every other part for the oil used for colours. Otherwise I end up with soft soap.

2. mini SB is not necessary if you mix at beginning and let sit for 5 mins.

3. Yes glycerine or OO

4. Mix 1:1 with OO. (Advantage of OO over glycerine is it dries faster.). No it doesn't stop ash. Cover and spray with isopropyl alcohol to stop ash. Once it dries you could wash it but it takes a while to dry.

5. Yes or jelly vodka cups (tiny plastic cups) you will need wooden paddle pop sticks to get the mica mix out of them.
 
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IrishLass

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1.A. What liquid do I mix them with?
B. If more than one answer possible, what are the benefits and drawbacks of each?
I mix mine in vegetable glycerin, which mixes well with all my colorants, be they oxides, ultramarines and/or micas (I use my Badger mini-mixer to mix them smooth).

Susie said:
2. What is your favorite mini-stickblender, and should I get multiples because they burn out fast?
I love my Badger mini mixer that lots of hobbyists use for mixing small quantities of paints, such as liquid modeling paints used for airbrushing: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000BROV02/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20 . I also own this one by Norpro: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000E39LYO/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20 I own 2 of each.

For what its worth, I like the Badger much better than the Norpro because it's more powerful, and I don't have to hold the button down to keep it going when using it....although I must say that I do like using Norpro's serrated disc attachment better than I do the standard Badger mixing attachment. Norpro's serrated disc has a larger radius than Badger's and is more efficient at mixing powdered colorants with glycerin, and also at mixing my prepared colorants into my cups of set-aside soap batter that I use for swirling.

I could be wrong, but I believe the Badgers standard attachment was designed for re-mixing already-prepared paints instead of dry powder into glycerin or oil or whatever other mixing medium. It still works fine, mind you, and will get the job done, but I find that the Norpro's serrated disk attachment covers more surface area and gets things smoothly mixed in less time (not that it takes very long, mind you, but comparatively speaking). Thankfully, though, all of the Norpro attachments fit onto my Badger perfectly like a glove. :thumbup:

Susie said:
3. Can I pre-mix my micas in something like foodservice squeeze bottles and keep them for a while so I do not have to mix them every batch?
Yes. I know that many folks pre-mix their micas and other colorants in glycerin, such as Ione from Eve's Garden Soaps. Keep in mind, though, that the mica will settle to the bottom of the bottle and you will need to shake the bejeebees out of it if it has been sitting too long. That's why I personally like to mix mine fresh for each batch with my Badger.

Susie said:
4.A. To get the sparkle on the top of the bars, do you mix with glycerin and put on right after pouring, or later? B. If later, when?
For a top sparkle, just sprinkle the dry mica onto the surface of the soap batter as soon as you've poured it into the mold (no need to mix with glycerin beforehand). If you want to add a sparkle to your bars later on as an afterthought, this is what I do: I take a natural bristle paint brush, such as those used for basting food, and I dip it in the dry sparkly mica (tapping off any excess) and I stipple it onto my finished bars with the brush. Works great to give them a sparkly sheen- even on fully cured bars.

Susie said:
C. Will this help prevent soda ash?
In my experience- no.


Susie said:
D. If it does not prevent soda ash, does it wash off if I rinse the loaf under warm water?
In my experience, yes, which is why if I'm going to add any sparkly mica to my soap, I do it later on to my finished bars with a bristle brush instead of sprinkling it on just after pouring. If my soap develops any ash during cure (rare, but it happens), I just wash any ash off first before stippling the sparkly mica onto the bars.

5. Is it really OK to use those clear plastic cups (Solo?) to mix colored soap batter in? I see some people I respect a lot using them on YouTube, so I think it is OK, but I want to be sure from some of our sciencey soapy people. I just do not need more stuff to wash, and I can get lots of those for cheap.
I've personally never used them, so I cannot say for sure. I use cheapie PP#5 measuring cups from the dollar store.


IrishLass :)
 
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dibbles

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This is what I do, but as with everything, YMMV, and my method isn't necessarily the most 'correct'. I mix my micas each time I soap, and with oil - I do this while I am waiting for my lye solution to cool - in the little disposable condiment cups.

http://www.target.com/p/diamond-multi-purpose-mini-cups-with-lids-50-count/-/A-14465305

I usually am only making a small amount of colored batter, so I guesstimate how much mica I will need and mix in just enough light oil (usually HO sunflower) to get a smooth, pourable mixture (thinner than honey or syrup but heavier than cream). That way if I mix too much, I can cover the cup and save it. I use wooden craft (popsicle) sticks to scoop the mica out of the bag/jar and to mix the mica with the oil. I usually only use a mini blender if I am mixing a larger amount or using TD/AC. If I am splitting my batter into equal parts, I can have a better idea of how much mica I will need to use and will use part of my batch oil. Otherwise I just use a little extra oil to mix the colors I will need. If I'm making a small amount of up to 3-4 colors, I don't adjust my regular superfat (5%). If I am using more colors than that, which doesn't happen very often, I lower my superfat a bit. I didn't have very good luck with glycerin the one time I used it with mica, but I am going to try it again.

I have a mini blender from either WSP or BB and it has worked fine for me for almost 2 years. I just got a Badger mixer for Christmas, but haven't used it yet.

I have never sprinkled mica on the top of a loaf, but one of the reasons I like to mix with oil is that I have to option to add a mica in oil swirl to the top. A tiny bit goes a long way for that. I have tried brushing mica on top of a cured bar, and that works also.

I have used those plastic cups a few times without a problem. If I am using something disposable I prefer the paper Dixie cup/coffee cup ones since I can kind of pinch the rim into a point to pour a thinner stream.

I hope you post pictures!!! Good luck!!!
 

lenarenee

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I've used the solo cups without problems as well, but the batter isn't in them very long - up to an hour at most.

As for mixing micas, I've never used glycerin. If I know I have a good behaving fo, I'll use mica dry in the soap batter. Otherwise I mix in oil. It bothers me to do so, because I use batch oil, so the uncolored base is deprived of a few teaspoons of oil - which is actually quite a few grams of superfat. That superfat them adds excessive superfat to the colored portion. Now, with 2 or 3 colors I don't notice a difference in the soap. But when I use 5 or so colors, I often notice that a cut bar of soap that's cured slightly, develops ridges or texture. It's difficult to see just by looking at it, but when you stroke your finger across the bar....you'll feel the raised texture.

Small downside of mixing micas into batter - must stick blend well. I sometimes still get mica spots - technically they don't bother me because they're pretty, but it does prove that something wasn't mixed enough.
 

Soapmaker145

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If you want to make a larger mix to keep long term, I suggest you use glycerin and not oils. The oils will go rancid fast when mixed with some mica unless used in a day or 2.
 

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I much prefer my Badger mini-mixer over my frother. The Badger is a more powerful mixer and you can use it to mix batter in a cup where the frother doesn't have enough power to mix a cup of batter as well.

I love using paper cups over plastic ones. I like that it's easy to pinch the rim a bit and make a spout on a paper cup, where the plastic cups make split or break. I also feel like the paper cups are more environmentally friendly than the plastic, although I don't have any evidence that that is true. One thing to watch for though is the type of bottom on the 3 ounce paper cups, if you use those. The ones that have just a disc of paper pressed to the bottom get too flimsy and have fallen apart if batter sits in them for too long (I use them for small amounts of colored batter). It pays to get the ones with a sturdier bottom. (Picture of the sturdier kind. I've never seen a 5 or 9 ounce cups with the flimsy bottom. Couldn't find a pic quickly of the flimsy ones)

Mica in oil for the tops is preferable to me over glycerin. You will get an indent or divot after the oil is absorbed but it seems to me less pronounced that the divots from glycerin with mica. Any mica on top of the soap, whether in oil or glycerin will rinse off pretty quickly.

bottom1.jpg
 

TBandCW

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I mix mine with vegetable glycerin. I sift the mica through a tea bag strainer so I don't have any lumps, then mix with a tiny whisk. I mix them in those little plastic condiment cup with lids. Thanks for that idea cmzaha! They aren't expensive and save me sooo much time on dish washing!
 

Susie

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Y'all are all WONDERFUL!!! Thank you all so much!!!
 
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bumbleklutz

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I mix mine in vegetable glycerin, which mixes well with all my colorants, be they oxides, ultramarines and/or micas (I use my Badger mini-mixer to mix them smooth).

I do the same. I have found that I have much better results using vegetable glycerin than oil. It truly revolutionized the way I looked at coloring/designing soaps. Although I'm still somewhat swirl impaired; using glycerin as opposed to oil opened up my horizons artistically. It seems like the powdered colorants regardless of the type, (i.e. oxides, micas, ultramarines) just mix up better in the glycerin than they do in oil. Additionally, it seems like the glycerin mixes into the soap batter more easily. Maybe it's just me, but it also seems like the glycerin gives me a little more play time with the soap, especially if I have a snotty FO. YMMV, however.

As an added bonus, I don't have to worry if I reserved enough oil from my recipe to mix my colorants.

Since I don't have to reserve oil from my recipe, or possibly add more if I didn't reserve enough; I don't have to think about the soap possibly being lye heavy or overly super fatted if I add too much oil or decide I don't need all the colorant I mixed.

As for mixers, this is the one I use. It's cheap, and it does the job.

https://nurturesoap.com/collections/soap-making-tools/products/mini-mixer?variant=20033632902

As a side note, almost all the colorants I have used mix easily in vegetable glycerin. The one exception I have found was a batch of titanium dioxide. I don't recall where it came from, but it would not disperse in glycerin or water; and I was barely able to get it to disperse in oil. Needless to say, I'm not using that batch of TiO2 anymore.
 

cmzaha

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I mix mine in vegetable glycerin, which mixes well with all my colorants, be they oxides, ultramarines and/or micas (I use my Badger mini-mixer to mix them smooth).



I love my Badger mini mixer that lots of hobbyists use for mixing small quantities of paints, such as liquid modeling paints used for airbrushing: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000BROV02/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20 . I also own this one by Norpro: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000E39LYO/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20 I own 2 of each.

For what its worth, I like the Badger much better than the Norpro because it's more powerful, and I don't have to hold the button down to keep it going when using it....although I must say that I do like using Norpro's serrated disc attachment better than I do the standard Badger mixing attachment. Norpro's serrated disc has a larger radius than Badger's and is more efficient at mixing powdered colorants with glycerin, and also at mixing my prepared colorants into my cups of set-aside soap batter that I use for swirling.

I could be wrong, but I believe the Badgers standard attachment was designed for re-mixing already-prepared paints instead of dry powder into glycerin or oil or whatever other mixing medium. It still works fine, mind you, and will get the job done, but I find that the Norpro's serrated disk attachment covers more surface area and gets things smoothly mixed in less time (not that it takes very long, mind you, but comparatively speaking). Thankfully, though, all of the Norpro attachments fit onto my Badger perfectly like a glove. :thumbup:



Yes. I know that many folks pre-mix their micas and other colorants in glycerin, such as Ione from Eve's Garden Soaps. Keep in mind, though, that the mica will settle to the bottom of the bottle and you will need to shake the bejeebees out of it if it has been sitting too long. That's why I personally like to mix mine fresh for each batch with my Badger.



For a top sparkle, just sprinkle the dry mica onto the surface of the soap batter as soon as you've poured it into the mold (no need to mix with glycerin beforehand). If you want to add a sparkle to your bars later on as an afterthought, this is what I do: I take a natural bristle paint brush, such as those used for basting food, and I dip it in the dry sparkly mica (tapping off any excess) and I stipple it onto my finished bars with the brush. Works great to give them a sparkly sheen- even on fully cured bars.



In my experience- no.




In my experience, yes, which is why if I'm going to add any sparkly mica to my soap, I do it later on to my finished bars with a bristle brush instead of sprinkling it on just after pouring. If my soap develops any ash during cure (rare, but it happens), I just wash any ash off first before stippling the sparkly mica onto the bars.



I've personally never used them, so I cannot say for sure. I use cheapie PP#5 measuring cups from the dollar store.


IrishLass :)
I also do all the above. Only thing I do different is premix my micas and oxides in deli cups. I find it easier for remixing since the colorants settle on the bottom.
 
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Susie

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OK, one more question-how much? How much mica colors how much soap? And I am assuming I only add just enough liquid to mix with the mica?
 

bumbleklutz

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OK, one more question-how much? How much mica colors how much soap? And I am assuming I only add just enough liquid to mix with the mica?
I use about 2-3 teaspoons of glycerin to 1 teaspoon of powdered colorant. Make sure you let the colorant sit and start to get wet with the glycerin a bit before mixing. Also start out by mixing by hand with your blender before giving it the power. Otherwise you'll end up with a poof of colorant going everywhere. Ask me how I know. There is a reason why I'm still finding teal mica in my kitchen 2 months after I last used it. :headbanging:

A teaspoon or so of mica will color roughly a pound of soap pretty vibrantly. For more muted shades you can use less. In the picture below, The blue and orange sections are roughly 1 pound each and I'm used 1 teaspoon of mica in each section.

20161204_082043.jpg
 
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penelopejane

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OK, one more question-how much? How much mica colors how much soap? And I am assuming I only add just enough liquid to mix with the mica?
As a general rule 1/2 tsp ppl is very pale. 1 tsp ppl is ok. 2 tsp is vibrant. However, every mica is different. Some morph and some just never get deep enough no matter how much you use. It is $$ to use a lot of mica.

For swirls on top 1 tsp of mica to 1 tsp OO.

Just really watch your soap. If the coloured areas are soft after a long cure then change your method.
 

earlene

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For using food service squeeze bottles, I add a stainless steel sinker (found in the fishing supply area of some stores, I got mine at WalMart) that acts as an agitator when I shake the bottle of colorant. The sinkers are cheap and for me easier to find than stainless steel ball barrings, which is what I wanted. I do know a woman who uses tiny toy cars as the agitator in her colorant squeeze bottles. :)

The caveat to using glycerine is to be sparing when adding it to your recipe as too much softens the soap. I learned that the hard way. So I think the colorant mix needs to be pretty thick inside the squeeze bottle to avoid over-softening the soap when you want more intensity in color using the glycerine-mixing method. I haven't perfected this yet, so more often than not, I just mix into oils from the recipe.
 

dibbles

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OK, one more question-how much? How much mica colors how much soap? And I am assuming I only add just enough liquid to mix with the mica?
I found this video to be helpful when I started playing with color.

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ph6-AMQLkEg[/ame]
 

houseofwool

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I am lazy... I have all of my inorganic colorants premixed with water in squeeze bottles. The colors I use frequently are in big ones for condiments and less frequently used are in travel sized bottles for shampoo and conditioner.

IrishLass is right that the mica settles out, but I put a few marbles in the container and it shaking mixes it up again quickly. The only color that is a pain is my water soluble TD. It clumps like crazy and is awful to mix up. But it is just one color.
 

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All these bits of info are invaluable! I can't thank y'all enough!
 

IrishLass

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OK, one more question-how much? How much mica colors how much soap? And I am assuming I only add just enough liquid to mix with the mica?
That right there is the million dollar question (I was waiting for you to bring it up, lol). Although the place where I buy my mica gives good, general usage rate suggestions (Nurture's- 1 tsp. ppo for the brightest/most saturated shade), I still had to do a bit of trial and error on my own in order to get whatever particular color shades I was aiming for in whatever batch of soap I was making with whatever FO I was using. Thankfully, I wrote it all down so that I can duplicate the results in subsequent batches of soap.

I mix my colorants up fresh for each batch and use only as much of the mixture as required for whatever batch I'm making (i.e. no extra mixed colorant is leftover). Basically, this is what I do- I measure out my powdered colorant into my mixing vessel, and then I add only enough glycerin as will make a smooth slurry with my Badger mixer. To give you an idea of the thickness of my slurry, it's the consistency of maple syrup, or maybe just a tiny bit thicker than maple syrup.


IrishLass :)
 

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