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How to Make Beer Soap

beer soapBeer soap is great – if you’ve never made it before (or used it on your skin), here are some reasons to try it:

  • The sugars in the beer give the soap a fantastic lather.
  • Beer soaps are a novelty that make a great gift. Plus if you have an uninterested man waiting for someone he is with to sniff all the soaps at your market table, if you hand him a beer soap, he’ll probably become interested! Beer drinkers are all about the beer soap!
  • Beer is actually good for your skin. Hops contain skin softening amino acids and are known to be antibacterial and soothing to irritated skin.
  • Once you are an expert at making beer soap, you can contact local breweries about private label soaps made with their beers – this can be a major source of revenue if breweries are plentiful in your area! The photo above is a private label soap I made for Lion Bridge Brewery, which is located in my town.

In the soap making world, beer is often considered an ingredient that you should leave alone until you’ve got some experience under your belt. This is true to a point, but if you know what to expect, it’s really not so hard.

First, let’s discuss a couple of myths that I see showing up in Facebook groups and forums on a regular basis.

Myths About Making Soap With Beer:

  • You have to let the beer go flat first
  • You have to cook off the alcohol
  • You have to freeze the beer first

I’ve tried the first two, but all of these things require an extra step and waiting time, and frankly – ain’t nobody got time for that. And really, none of this is necessary. At all. No, really. Keep reading and I’ll tell you why.

How to Add Beer to Soap

There are multiple ways you can incorporate beer into your soap recipe. You can use beer for all or a portion of your lye water. Or you can add the beer at trace, as long as you’ve used some other liquid at a 1:1 ratio (lye:liquid) when mixing your lye water. As long as you do that, you can add the remainder of your water portion at trace, no matter what the liquid is. With beer, I don’t like adding it at trace, because your soap will thicken up fast – I’m talking crazy fast! At first I thought it was because the beer wasn’t as warm as my soap batter, but after cooking the beer and adding it warm, I had the same results. If you want more time to work with your soap, just use the beer as your lye water and be done with it. But keep the following tips in mind.

Beer Soap Tips

When you add lye to beer, it can start to fizz up. So much so that it overflows out of the container and all over your countertop. As far as I know, this is the only reason people suggest following any of the mythical rules I mentioned earlier. Solution: use a larger container than necessary to mix your lye water. And maybe mix it in the sink instead of on a counter, just in case. And add your lye a little bit at a time, very slowly.

Also, lye water made with beer stinks to high Heaven. I highly recommend mixing it outside. If you mix it inside, do it in the basement or a room with plenty of ventilation and wear a respirator that protects you from breathing the fumes. I use this one and it works quite well.

Lastly, darker, heavier beers can lend a bread-like smell to your soap. This smell does not fade with curing. Keep this in mind when choosing a fragrance. Dark beers will also turn your soap a light beige color.

Do you have any beer soap tips or questions? Please leave them in the comments. And thank you for reading!

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Soap Maker Conferences and Gatherings

soap guild conferenceThis year’s Soap Guild Conference has come and gone, and seeing everyone’s photos on Facebook made me wonder if there were any other soap maker conferences or gatherings that I could take part in. I did some research and asked around, and I found that there really aren’t that many. And none of them are near me. But it’s good information to have and to share, so I wanted to offer the list to all the other soap makers out there.

Alabama Soap Meeting, June
Alabama

Annual Ohio Soaper’s Gathering, May
Ohio

Canadian Guild of Soapmakers, Chandlers & Cosmetic Crafter’s Annual Conference, October
Alberta, Canada

Florida Soapcrafter’s Convention, July
Florida

Indie Business Network #IndieCruise, January
Varying locations

Lone Star Soap & Toiletries Soapmaker’s Seminar, June
Texas

NE Bubbles and Blazes Gathering, July
New York

Pittsburgh Soapmakers Gathering, Multiple Dates
Pennsylvania

Soapcon, September
Kentucky

The Soap Guild Conference, April
Varying locations

Tennessee Soap and Candle Social, February
Tennessee

If you know of any other events, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to add more to this list!

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Soleseife Soap Recipe – German Brine Soap

soleseife soap recipeA few months ago, a “new” kind of German brine soap was all the rage on soap making forums, so of course I had to try it out, too. It was called soleseife (zo•luh zigh•fuh). People spelled it all different ways and many were mistakenly treating this soap like a regular salt bar, even though the outcome is very different. Soleseife is different, because the salt is dissolved in the water instead of stirred into the soap batter; so you get the benefits of bathing with saltwater without the exfoliating dimension of using undissolved salt. I think salt is too scratchy for soap, and prefer sugar scrub bars instead, but I was intrigued by the idea of a different kind of spa bar.

I developed my own soleseife soap recipe after dissecting two others that I found online:

Both of these seemed just like any other soap recipe, except for the sea salt mixed into the water and that the coconut oil was on the higher end, at 25-30% (my usual recipe is only 15%). Saltwater and sea salt soaps tend to have less lather, so that is why these recipes have more coconut oil. I couldn’t find any resource that told me how to know how much salt to use, so I just did some math to figure it out. If you divide the ounces of salt by the ounces of water, both of the above recipes used what came to 25% of their water amount for salt concentration. So that is what I went with, also. By the way, don’t try to do this soap recipe using the hot process method. The salt in the water causes it to dry out and harden up very quickly, so the results are unattractive. I used cavity molds for my soleseife soaps.

Soleseife Soap Recipe

Yield: 36 oz (oils)

  • 9 oz Olive Oil (25%)
  • 9 oz Coconut Oil (25%)
  • 5.4 oz Avocado oil (15%)
  • 4.7 oz Shea butter (13%)
  • 5.4 oz canola oil (15%)
  • 2.5 oz castor oil (7%)
  • 2 T goat milk powder (not required)

Lye solution:

Fragrance:

  • 2.25 oz essential or fragrance oil

I scented mine with a mix of peppermint, lavender, tea tree and Himalayan cedarwood essential oils; and as you can see, it turned out very white. It was fun to try a soap recipe from another country – I wish they were easier to find! While I’ve only made this recipe twice, I have started using brine water in my Dead Sea Mud Facial Bar recipe – I use a lot less salt, just over 3% for this purpose, but my skin absolutely loves it.

Have you made soleseife soap? What did you think? Do you have another favorite recipe from another country?

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Small Business Saturday Sale

This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 29th (the day after Black Friday), and I wanted to make sure to give my customers a reason to participate in this important event. So I’m having a sale!

Why Small Business Saturday is Important

  • For every $100 spent at locally owned businesses, $73 will stay in the local economy, versus only $43 if spent at a national chain.
  • Small businesses rely heavily on sales during the holiday season to fund their business throughout the rest of the year.
  • Flourishing small businesses donate far more to local non-profit organizations than chain businesses (up to 250% more!).
  • Small businesses create seven of every ten new jobs.
  • And the best one, in my opinion: You don’t have to go to any big box stores and risk getting trampled to death on Black Friday!

soap gift setMy Small Business Saturday Sale Includes:

Free gift wrapping on 3-bar gift sets.
Bars will come in the box you see pictured, with a pretty ribbon and gift tag. Gift sets will be reduced to $18 with code GIFTW3 (regular price for 3 bars).

Free Shipping on Orders $40 & Up
Using coupon code FREESHIP40 at checkout for free shipping on your order of $40 or more. Cannot be combined with other discounts.

shop small tote bagsFree Tote Bags & Chotchkies
I have 14 Shop Small tote bags and misc. other Shop Small merchandise items to give away for FREE during this sale. While supplies last!

Shop Now! And make sure to check back Thanksgiving day to take advantage of these great deals!

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Trials for a Melt Pour Solid Scrub Bar Recipe

After seeing solid sugar scrub bars for sale on Etsy that had been made from a melt pour soap base, I wanted to see if I could recreate the product myself. The only recipe I could find online was for single use solid scrub cubes, but these all had extra oils added to them, and were meant to melt away with one use. I was looking for something that would last a little longer than that. So I started experimenting, using both sugar and salt. Here were my results:

mp solid scrub bars - salt

Recipe 1:  Melt Pour Solid Scrub Bar with Large Grain Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

I used Soap Queen’s instructions for adding my salt to this – I just dumped it into my melted & scented base, and after stirring, scooped out the grains from the bottom with a spoon. It sets up really fast, so two scoops was all that was needed, and then I poured the rest over the top.

Results: While this bar is very pretty, I don’t care for the feel of the larger grain salt. Sure, it dissolves as you use the soap, but you still have some sharp edges scratching you. I don’t think that creating microscopic tears on the skin is very good for it, so I don’t plan on making this one again. As for the lather? It was noticeably reduced.

Recipe 2: Melt Pour Solid Scrub Bar with Fine Grain Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

I meant to use 2:1 as my ratio, but I quickly ran out of soap using a different method of incorporating the salt. This time, instead of stirring the salt into my melted base, I poured a little soap into my mold, then sprinkled salt on top (thanks for the tip, Genny of Naughty Soaper). I alternated these two steps until I ran out of soap.

Results: This was much better. I’m glad I didn’t use more salt than I did, because even with the extra fine grain salt I used, it is still far more coarse than the sugar scrub bars below. I would make this one again, because I know that a lot of people prefer a rougher scrub than I do. And the lather was still pretty decent, because the salt doesn’t make up so much of the bar.

MP solid sugar scrub bars

Recipe 3: Melt Pour Solid Scrub Bar with Sugar

I just stirred my sugar into my base and poured. That was it. This one was the easiest to make and it was also my favorite bar of the bunch (even though I forgot to add my fragrance, haha).

Results: It has just the right amount of scrub – not too hard, not too soft. Sugar is supposed to be lather-increasing, so I paid particular attention to what happened with the lather in these bars; it turned out very lotion-like and creamy. I might continue to experiment with this one, but overall, it’s a solid recipe.

Recipe 4: Melt Pour Solid Scrub Bar with Sugar (Dissolved)

This time I attempted to dissolve as much of my sugar as possible in the soap. Only some of it would, though. In the photo above, both bars look the same, since some of the sugar sunk to the bottom; but if you flip them over, you can see the difference (photo at right).

Results: This one was less scrubby than #3, obviously, but there was a noticeable difference in the later, too. It had big bubbles instead of the creaminess.  It looks like maybe the sugar has to be dissolved in the soap for it to increase the lather. I still preferred #3, despite the lack of large bubbles. This bar is meant to be a solid scrub – exfoliation is more important than cleansing.

coconut-sugar-scrub-barRecipe 5: Melt Pour Solid Scrub Bar with Coconut Sugar and Poppy Seeds

I had some coconut sugar laying around, and since it’s a bit coarser grain and looks different than the white sugar, I thought I would test it, too. And I added poppy seeds just for the heck of it. I basically just wanted to see what they would look like.

Results: This one turned out much the same as #3. I won’t use poppy seeds in these again, because I think they are painful. But the coconut sugar feels about the same on the skin as the smaller grain sugar does. I like that it retained the brown color, so I think I will use the coconut sugar with fragrances that tend to turn brown.

And that’s it! In my experiments I learned that it IS possible to make a salt bar out of glycerin soap (I wasn’t sure, since people seem to always use cold process for them). And I learned that it’s really not hard at all to make a solid sugar scrub using melt pour soap.

Have you ever tried these? Any other variations I should test out?