Have you ever had beer in your soap?
This post was originally posted in 2012.
I love to make soap as a hobby. I’m not talking about the melt and pour stuff (which is nice enough), either. I’m talking about good old lye soap. Cold process style. Now, this might be lye soap BUT it ‘ain’t yer Granny’s soap’! It won’t take the hide off ya.
It is actually fabulous if I do say so myself. If you’ve never tried a bar of handmade cold process (or even hot process) soap, you don’t know what you are missing out on! I love to add wonderful oils to my soap like shea butter, cocoa butter, Babassu oil, jojoba, etc. They condition my skin and don’t leave it dry.
I had heard about adding beer to soap but I’d never tried before. My curiosity finally got the best of me and I tried it in a batch 2 weeks ago. OH MY GOODNESS! I don’t know what took me so long. It hasn’t even finished curing yet and it is already the best batch of soap I’ve ever made! And I just used my regular recipe and swapped the water with beer.
It was stinky making it, but, man, it made a perfect lather and it leaves my skin silky and soft. And it smells heavenly now with the Oatmeal Stout fragrance i used. And it still has a couple of weeks until it is at its mildest and longest lasting self. And my hubby even said that this is his favorite so far. SCORE! I love this beer soap! Wanna see it?
I do apologize for the quality of these photos. I was alone and it is hard to keep things rolling in the soapmaking process while also taking photos.
Handmade Beer Soap
First, I measured out all my oils that I use in this recipe. You MUST weigh everything that goes into soap. When you decide what oils to use, run the recipe through an online lye calculator so you’ll know how much lye and water to use. NEVER make soap without using the lye calculator and then weighing your oils, water and lye. Just don’t. Soapmaking can be dangerous. You are using a caustic chemical (lye) after all and it can burn you.
Then I donned my gloves and some socks that I cut the toes out of to protect my bare arms.
Along with the rest of my safety gear including a mask so I don’t breathe in any fumes and my safety goggles. The lye fumes trigger my migraines and allergies so I have to wear the mask. Some people just hold their breath but I suggest the mask. It really helps. And if you do it inside, like I do, open a window for ventilation! Trust me! It’s caustic and the fumes and smell are horrible when the lye hits your liquid. Then it calms down and you are ok. Also, KEEP THE KIDS AND PETS AWAY!
So, after I had my oils weighed and starting to melt, I measured my flat and boiled beer and then my lye. If you don’t let your beer or other alcohol go flat and then boil the alcohol off first, it can volcano when you add the lye. It heats up REALLY fast when you add the lye. I had cold beer and the bowl was in an ice bath and it still went to almost 200 degrees in seconds. So be very careful! And ALWAYS add your lye to your liquid, not the other way around. It can volcano as well.
Ok, so next, I added my lye/beer mixture to my oils. The oils were a nice, creamy white until I added the lye/beer and then it turned an orange-y color. This wasn’t an indication of the final color though. Soap can go through many changes as it works through the saponification process. It is really a cool thing!
Next, I had to mix the lye/beer mixture and the oils really well so everything was incorporated and then I had to bring it to what is called ‘trace’. You can see that in the photo above. See how the soap peaks and leaves a trail when I lift the spoon out. That is trace. Beer soap goes to trace really, really quickly. I wasn’t really prepared for how fast it would trace or I wouldn’t have even bothered with the stick blender. I’d have just stirred it all by hand.
But never fear. I got it into the mold without any chunks or major squishing. It actually poured in pretty well and then started to thicken more as I was smoothing out the top. Isn’t it pretty already?
Then I put the lid on and wrapped it in a blanket so it would go through a full gel stage. I like my soaps to gel all the way through. It just seems to be fully ‘done’ to me that way. I let it set for 24 hours before unmolding and cutting into bars. Then I set them aside for 6 weeks to cure or harden. In that time, all the excess moisture will have evaporated and we’ll have nice, hard, long lasting bars that have the best conditioning. I always sample a bar myself at 2 weeks though so I can compare the difference. I don’t see how it can get any better though. It is awesome already! Not bragging, i am just really proud of my first beer soap attempt!
The little flecks of white that you see in the soap are oatmeal. I might not make the prettiest or fanciest looking bars, but they serve us very well. I use them on everyone from our 2 year old and up. We all use the beer soap I make and enjoy it so I guess I’m doing something right!
SAFETY DISCLAIMER: DO NOT make soap without learning the proper and safe way FIRST. It can be dangerous. Keep all chemicals in a safe location away from children and pets. Please, if you ever decide to make cold or hot process soap, make sure you know what you are doing and are fully prepared!