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Rusti

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So, living where I do the people around me would get a big kick out of beer soaps and I've been thinking about making an attempt or two. I've been reading some articles/tutorials about preparing the beer (letting it go flat, boiling it for 30-40 minutes and then adding the lye slooowly when it's time to soap finally), but for you experienced beer users, what thoughts have you about what I should be aware of?

Also, can you use any alcohol the same way? Like, hard cider for instance.
 

doriettefarm

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I've made several beer soaps and have even used mead so hard cider should work fine. I usually cook off the alcohol until the liquid reduces by half and then let it cool. This liquid will contain more natural sugars than just plain water so I usually freeze it before adding my lye or put it in a water bath before adding the lye. Also be prepared . . . some alternative liquids can smell funky once the lye hits it.
 

Rusti

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Oh, another question. I see the Soap Queen has said to measure your beer or alcohol by volume (fl oz measurements on a measuring cup) but that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Does it matter?
 

houseofwool

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I boil/simmer the beer until it has reduced by more than half by weight. I master batch my lye and the use the reduced beer as the remainder of the liquid. Generally, I try to start with the weight of the beer being approximately equal to the total weight of the liquid.

So, if I need 100 gm water and 60 gm lye (totally made up numbers), I simmer the beer until it is roughly 40 gm. I mix the lye with an equal amount of water and then add the reduction to the oils.
 

snappyllama

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I do the same thing - weigh out my beer as though it's the entire liquid portion of my solution. Then gently simmer until reduced by half. I freeze into beer cubes. Then lye gets added to beer cubes along with enough water to bring my liquid to the right portion. I like to do this in my sink with my container sitting in an ice bath. Keeping things really cool keeps down the funky scent and beer sugars from scorching.

I like doing it that since I often borrow some water from my lye solution to premix in various additives like EDTA.
 

Obsidian

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Always weigh your liquid by weight, never by volume. Not sure why soap queen would have it like that but then again, I don't care much for most of her instructions.

I reduce my beer but by a lot more then other people. I will take a 16 oz bottle down to 2-3 oz, take that amount from the water and use what water is left for the lye. The beer "syrup" is added to either the oils or mixed in a trace. That way I never have to bother with mixing the lye into the beer so I don't worry about the smell or burned sugars.
 

KristaY

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The boiling point of ethanol is about 174 F so don't bring it to a full boil. If you get the temp too hot it'll start to smell like burned grains and your soap will probably have some of that smell too. I usually bring the beer or wine up to a simmer at about 180 F and maintain that for about 15 min. By then it'll be reduced by about a third. If you're using a beer/wine/whiskey with a high ABV, simmer longer to make sure you have all the alcohol cooked off. I've had one lye volcano and it was with beer, I think it was a hard cider. Since that scared the crap out of me and took a while to safely clean up, I always put my container into the sink basin before I add lye.
 

Rusti

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I've had one lye volcano and it was with beer, I think it was a hard cider. Since that scared the crap out of me and took a while to safely clean up, I always put my container into the sink basin before I add lye.
Thanks for the heads up Krista. I always mix my lye water in the sink to begin with, but this is still good to know!
 
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