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Trials of Mica Colorants in Soap Making (a.k.a the creation of our Whoops! category)

Colors are supposed to be simple…

You just pour Mica colorants in the soap when mixing to get the colors you want…. Sounds simple, right? Well, most of the time it is. 

We seem to have issue getting some colors to work correctly, namely orange or anything with orange in it. /sigh

 

1st try – Our sunrise soap. 

Bright orange juice and black coffee, swirled together to make an uplifting, wake me up scent…. The color turned out milk chocolate and cream…><….. (it didn’t really turn out bad, just not what we were trying for. No worries, it got turned into a Whoops! item)

 

OK, what did we do wrong? Were we not using enough color, not enough water? Too much orange juice? And the brown was supposed to be dark chocolate brown!?!?

/throws hands in the air in frustration…..grrr

 

Since we weren’t sure what went wrong we decided to take out all the additives and focus just on the colors. We were also experimenting with fall colors for soaps as well since it was a little ways away. So we went for a brown with red and orange swirls. We even added extra mica just to be sure.

 

Yeah, that didn’t turn out well either. The brown once again lightened while the red and orange blended together, which we should have expected since they’re so close to each other on the color wheel. So now we were really at a loss.

 

Ok deep breath…. Let’s step back and think. We have just been adding mica colorant until it’s pleasing to look at after we mix our other ingredients…but that is rarely what it comes out for the final product. Maybe we need to be a little more scientific…So we went to a mica supplier’s website we plan to use (Nature soap is awesome) and read their info page. This is where we found the color blender! Oh the fun we had for a few days figuring out what colors we wanted to use vs. the colors we ended up ordering. (so much fun!)

 

Back on topic: we decided to get a mica colorant sample pack (10 – 5 oz. “choose your own colors” for $16; SUCH a sweet deal!) so we could get a lot of colors to “play” with, as the hubby would say. The website recommends using “ 1 teaspoon per pound of oils. With lighter colors like orange and yellow, a little bit more can be used to get a bright color. Darker colors like brown may need a bit less.” from their FAQ page about using mica colorants. We decided we DEFINITELY hadn’t been using enough mica for some of the lighter colors. It also explained why our darker soaps tended to turn out well. /shrug Have to get lucky sometimes right?

 

So we decided to do an experiment with said color sample pack we had bought. There are 10 colors, and we have mini silicone soap molds. Can anyone see where this is going? Anyone?

 

We decided to make “samples” to see how each of the colors match up to the color of the powders as we saw them in powder form. “Waste not, want not” We took the recipe for our 1 pound batch of soap and divided it into 10ths. This allowed us to measure out each “batch” and make it separately. The one drawback to this approach, was how we had to bring the soap to trace… we were using smaller containers to mix in, so the stick blender we usually use didn’t fit (by the time we were done, my wrists REALLY hurt from whisking). Also, our mini molds are not all the same size. We actually got 12 samples by the time we were done, all the base colors as well as 2 “swirlys”! BONUS! 

 

Downside, since the silicone molds WERE smaller, we had some trouble getting the samples out of the mold later in the week. We decided to let the samples sit a few extra days to make sure they set properly. Most of them set well, though I did have to throw the neutral gray into the freezer overnight to get it to set. 

Oh, and one little tip if your playing with soap? Don’t set it to cure on cardboard… apparently it leeches the oils and colorants out of the soap >< 

grr, mutter, curse under my breath, sigh

 

We were actually pleasantly surprised with the results. We decided that we liked the golds, needed more colorants in the reds, blues, and greens; and needed LESS is some of the darker colors, like the cider fire. 

 

So of the 2 golds we tried (Sahara and Shimmer gold) the Sahara was more of a TRUE gold compared to Shimmer gold which turned into more of a cream with gold sparkly glitter. It should be nice for the lighter accents we want to do for a “to be named later” soap design… Check out or Facebook page for batch by batch previews!

 

The blue, gray, and green turned out more of a pastel then the true color we were expecting. That’s OK, we can use them as is, or add more mica powder.

 

The red, yellow, and pink all turned out wonderfully, though they faded a bit after a few days. A bit more colorant, maybe just a pinch (dash, whatever) of activated charcoal to darken them for our fall/winter colored soaps….. 

 

So, if things go well in the next batch or two of soap our current mica problems will be cured. If that’s the case, it is probable that what we were using before was a lesser quality item, which has now been rectified. If not, then it’s back to the drawing board to see what else we can do. Either way let the experiments commence!

 

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