by Nan Hawthorne
"Baby oil" can mean a lot of different products. For use with polymer clay it is the better known, widely available product that is essentially mineral oil with the addition of other oils and additives such as aloe vera extract, vitamin E, acetate, and fragrance. Just plain mineral oil will do what you want to do to the clay, and it is much cheaper, so you can avoid the cost and the risk of having those other ingredients affect your artwork.
Mineral oil is used as a "release" for molds or stamps with polymer clay. The auto cleaner product ArmorAll is also used for this purpose, as is a fine spray mist of water. If you are using mineral oil, use a tissue with a small amount of oil on it and rub lightly over the surface of the mold or stamp that will come into contact with the clay. Your clay should come out of the mold intact and easily.
Mineral oil has other uses with polymer clay. It can act as a diluent to soften clay. It can be used on unbaked clay to smooth it, although some report that it creates bubbles on the surface of the clay.
You can use mineral oil to clean the rollers on your pasta machine. This can be important to avoid discoloration of clay. Elizabeth explains in "A little about pasta machines" at Polymer Clay Express, explaining why black streaks sometimes appear on clay put through the machine, "(Pasta machine maker) Atlas says that it's a chemical reaction between the steel rollers and the plasticizers in the clay.
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BABY OIL TIPS
From Randee M. Ketzel
Tip: "Mineral oil also acts as a wonderful quick cleaner for your mini or other food processor, (if you use that to condition large amounts of clay, of soften crumbly clay)--once you have finished processing the clay, a tiny amount of mineral oil on a tissue or paper towel will clean off the clay residue in the bowl instantly and easily."
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