Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Soap How-To: Adding Pigments to Melt-and-Pour Soap

Powdered pigments (ultramarines and oxides) and micas are great -- they give your soaps strong, defined colors with stunning effects.

In clear melt-and-pour, pigments are bright, almost like stained glass.

With a white base, pigments create beautiful pastel shades.

Micas are shiny and shimmery and gorgeous.

Skin-safe pigments and micas are among the best choices for soap colorants. Trouble is, they can be a little tricky to mix into your melted soap base. If you dump powdered pigments or micas directly into your base, they can clump, leaving specks in your finished soap even if you stir, stir, stir until your wrist is dizzy.

So what to do?

Here's a little trick -- dissolve your pigments and micas in a bit of rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol. (Don't worry -- the alcohol evaporates away very quickly and will not adversely affect your soap.) Here's an easy way to do it:

Get yourself a small bowl or cup. I am using a condiment cup here. Pump a few spritzes of rubbing alcohol into the bowl or cup. (You probably already have your alcohol in a fine mister spray bottle. This allows you to easily spritz your soap layers after and between pours. It's also helpful here.)

Add a pea-sized amount of the pigment to the alcohol. (I am using Bramble Berry's ultramarine violet oxide.) Remember, a little bit of pigment will color a whole lot of soap!

Mix the pigment and alcohol together with a spoon or craft stick to make a slurry. Keep stirring to work out any clumps. If your mixture seems dry, add another pump or two of rubbing alcohol.

Once the clumps have been worked out, add your slurry to your melted soap base and stir.

The color should now incorporate smoothly with little speckling. When using micas, it is common for some mica bubbles to rise to the surface. Just spritz the bubbles with alcohol and they should burst.


Now you're ready to pour your beautifully-colored base!

You could also dissolve your pigments and micas in a bit of liquid glycerin instead. Some soapers even add it directly to their fragrance oil to make their slurry.

Pigments are also available pre-mixed with glycerin so all you have to do is shake up the bottle and add your color drop-by-drop without it clumping. This makes coloring your soap super-easy and painless, although not all colorant options may be available in this convenient form.

Oxides and micas are so much fun, and they can add such interesting dimensions to your soaps. Give them a try!