Soap Challenge: Mica Topped Cold Process

We’re hooked on the Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenges! They’re a great way to practice new techniques and learn from other soapers, and this particular challenge was all about finishing off the soap with a mica swirled top. It’s a relatively simple yet beautiful technique that adds the perfect finishing touch. For the base of the soap we did a simple spoon plop technique, which closely resembles the faux funnel pour. The good thing about the mica top technique is it can used with any cold process soap, no matter what technique was used in the base.

If you’d like to check out our other entries to the Soap Challenge, take a look at our Leopard Spot, Mantra Swirl or Elemental Swirl tutorials.

What You’ll Need:

33 oz. Swirl Quick Mix

4.5 oz. Sodium Hydroxide

11 oz. distilled water

Aqua Pearl Mica

Amethyst Purple Mica

Black Oxide

Titanium Dioxide

1.1 oz. Blueberry Fragrance Oil

1.1 oz. Pineapple Cilantro Fragrance Oil

10″ Silicone Loaf Mold

Click here to add everything you need for this project to your Bramble Berry shopping cart!

Don’t want to buy the Swirl Mix or want to make a recipe up from scratch? I’d recommend at least 60% liquid oils and no more than 40% (total) of solid oils and butters to give yourself a long time to work with this intricate design.

If you’ve never made Cold Process soap before, stop here! I highly recommend checking out our FREE four part series on Cold Process Soapmaking, especially the episode on lye safety. And if you’d rather do some reading, Bramble Berry carries a wide range of books on the topic, including my newest book, Soap Crafting. You can also checkout the digital downloads for that instant gratification factor.

SAFETY FIRST: Suit up for safe handling practices! That means goggles, gloves and long sleeves. Make sure kids, pets, and other distractions and tripping hazards are out of the house or don’t have access to your soaping space. Always soap in a well-ventilated area.

COLOR PREP: Disperse 1 teaspoon of each pigment into 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil. Prepping your colors in the beginning will allow you to work quickly and give you more time to work with your soap. Use the mini mixer to get all those clumps worked out smoothly.

ONE: Slowly and carefully add the lye to the water, and stir until clear. Set aside to cool. If you’d like a harder bar of soap that lasts longer in the shower, you can add Sodium Lactate to the cooled lye water. Use 1 teaspoon of Sodium Lactate per pound of oils in the recipe.

TWO: Melt the entire bag of Swirl Quick Mix and portion out 33 oz. in a large glass container. Once the lye water and the oils have cooled to 130 degrees or below (and are ideally within 10 degrees of each other), add the lye water to the oils and stick blend until thin trace. You can use any standard recipe with this design if you don’t have the Swirl Mix on hand but keep in mind that you need a lot of working time with multiple techniques.

TWO: Split the batch into two equal portions. Eyeballing it is okay! After the split, you should have about three cups of batter per container.

THREE: Add 3 teaspoons dispersed Titanium Dioxide to one cup and 1/2 teaspoon dispersed Black Oxide to the other. Mix the colorant into the batter with a wire whisk or spoon. After the colorant has been incorporated, mix the Pineapple Cilantro Fragrance Oil into the white batter and the Blueberry Fragrance Oil into the black batter.

FOUR: Using a spoon, start with the black soap and plop three spoonfuls into the mold. Do the same with the white soap, layering the spoonfuls on top of the black soap. Repeat this process until you’ve emptied both containers of batter.

SIX: Insert a chopstick or dowel about 1/2 inch into the top of the soap. Beginning in the top left-hand corner, make a figure eight pattern through the soap, working your way across the mold.

SEVEN: Using a dropper, drizzle the Aqua Pearl Mica across the top of the soap. We drizzled the mica in loop-de-loop swirls, but you can create your own design too!

EIGHT: Repeat the process with the Amethyst Purple Mica.

NINE: Once all the mica has been drizzled on the soap, use a chopstick or dowel to make small loop-de-loops across the length of the mold. When you reach the edge, begin your curve again and make a second set of loops under the first.

TEN:  Spray the entire top with 91 or 99% Isopropyl Alcohol to reduce soda ash. Cover and insulate for 24 hours and unmold after 3-4 days, and allow to cure for 4-6 weeks and enjoy.

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  1. Katie says

    So I jumped from a beginners soap making kit to this advanced process, but I’m hopeful! It was also my first time using a stick blender, so I may have been a little excited…it reached a pretty thick trace and continued to thicken as I worked with it. I was able to finish off the mold though and it stayed a smooth texture; I’m thinking there might be a lot of air bubbles?

    So now, I have so much of the materials left over! I know I could just make this same bar again, but do you have any other suggestions or techniques for how to use the left over colors, mica and scents? Thank you!

  2. Sarah says

    I love the mica swirl tops! When I made mine I swirled the top, sprayed with 91% alcohol, covered and insulated for 24 hours. When I went to cut it, some of the mica looked dull, and there is ash on the soap surrounding parts of it. Also the soap looks a bit mottled or cloudy. Is this just normal? Should I use steam to tackle the ash or is there a better technique to preserving the mica swirls so they look as fantastic as they do right after the soap is poured and swirled? I use 1 tbsp almond oil to 1 tsp mica. Thanks!

  3. Kate says

    I just made this soap tonight. It was my first CP soap outside the beginner’s CP kit! It was a ton of fun and I think it will turn out great. I used gold sparkle mica and pearly white mica on the top. It’s gorgeous! Thanks for all the recipes and tips. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to try something like this without these soap queen posts!

  4. sharron says

    I love the mica swirl…..I just tried it for the first time and everything turned out beautifully but the mica has not absorbed. How long should it normally take for it to be dry to the touch? I used 1tbsp of oil to 1/4 tsp of mica

  5. Leanna H says

    Okay so I have been dying to ask something silly! Every time I watch soap queen tv I love the cute colored mixing bowls and knife sets and stuff! Super cute and colorful! I’m looking for something similar for my business but I can’t find anything quite like it? I’d love to know where to get them! I want colored ones to separate from food prep items.

  6. says

    That’s as great question! Anywhere that the soap touches will end up morphing the mica so since the mica doesn’t touch the soap too-too much, we chanced it and phew, it turned out great.

    I just had someone blind sniff the bar for me and asked if they smelled Pineapple or Blueberry and Kevin (Hi, Customer Service Coach Kevin!) and Kevin said ‘Blueberry.’ And, when I smelled the bar, I agreed. So the Blueberry shines through in my nose =)

    • LuAnn says

      When I did Amy’s challenge with this technique, I made lavender soap, and had a beautiful mica swirl. Until day 2. It started turning brown, from the purple mica, so for that one in particular, it morphs A LOT. It just looked icky, and I ended up planing the whole top off! So I would be really careful, some might work, but some do not! Lesson learned! :)

  7. Sly says

    Beautiful Mica top!
    Two questions:
    Does the purple mica morph to another color or stay purple? If you are using a mica that normally morphs in CP, will it do that if it’s just on top in a mica swirl?
    I find that the Blueberry scent is very mild, while the Pineapple Cilantro is strong. How does this soap smell with these two together at a 1:1 ratio? Does the pineapple overwhelm the Blueberry?
    (OK, not strictly two questions


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