Soap "Gems" differ from other melt-and-pour soaps by the addition of a 'pearlescent' called mica. Mica has commonly been called "fools gold" because it glitters like gold. It is similar to quartz and can be colored to achieve many beautiful hues.
When adding mica to your soaps, there are a few other differences:
1) Generally speaking, the smaller the flake, the more 'glitter'
2) Pearlescents are more expensive additives than other colors
3) Many of the colors will bleed and stain; read and observe all cautions on the labels *
4) Pearlescents which are brushed on your soaps will come off; to retain your gems' sparkle, add the mica with the fragrance
These glittering little treasures are simple to make and have real "knock their socks off" appeal as gifts, sale items or for your own pleasure.
Pearlescents are available from on-line (sweetscents.com/mica.html) and craft supply stores
Melt-and-pour soap bases (the more transparent the better!) can be purchased in:
• Many sizes/varieties some examples are: 1, 5, 10 and 25 pound sizes
• Glycerin $4/1 pound down to $2.81/pound for 25 pounds
• Clear craft soap $4.45/1 pound down to $3.07/pound for 25
• Castile from $4.28/1 pound down to $1.28/pound for 25 drum* from - libertynatural.com, other on-line vendors or craft supply stores
• Molds can be found items, recycled or purchased; gem-shaped molds are lovely!
• Stir stick/spoon (stainless steel is best)
• Melting container (large Pyrex measuring cup for microwave, double boiler for stove)
• And a rubber, latex or silicone spatula is optional, but handy to scrape out the container
1) Melt soap base (microwave in 60-second increments or melt in a double boiler - NEVER over direct flame). Hint: if you use the large Pyrex measuring cup (4 or 8-cup) it will be easier to pour your finished soap into the molds.
2) While it's melting, wash & dry mold, keep at room temperature, "grease" mold with spray, shortening, or use saran or wax paper (especially if your mold is wood or cardboard).
3) When soap base is melted, remove from heat/microwave and stir in dyes/colors/pearlescents* - a little goes a long way with the mineral additives
4) Next add fragrance (approximately 1/2 ounce essential oil or other natural or purchased fragrance* - some fragrances and additives can affect the 'glitter' of your pearlescent, so always test in small batches first!)
5) Pour into prepared mold. If bubbles form, spritz with a fine spray of rubbing alcohol.
6) Cover with Saran or paper and place in a dry, draft-free place for 8-24 hours
7) When soap is hard, remove from molds and enjoy!
* Before purchasing and using your pearlescents and other color additives, visit: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/opa-col2.html ; U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; U.S. Food & Drug Administration and http://www.colors4u.com/aboutcolor.html
* Prices quoted are from libertynatural.com website and are not guaranteed. Liberty Natural is located in Portland, OR and they have a $50 minimum for on-line orders. Their product quality and customer service are excellent.