Beer Soap?

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Gryphonisle

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I’m going to make a beer soap next weekend, setting out a medium colored beer, probably an IPA or Pale Ale, on wednesday to begin conditioning. Questions abound. A lot of the recipes I see call for oils I don’t use (avocado) or colorants so sparkly and “pretty” they just seem out of place in anything made with beer. Of course assertions of medicinal properties abound while science seems absent.

Having spent the last year, my first, making some 80+ batches of soap, I’ve found that a lot of the oils that come so highly recommended (jojoba comes to mind) add nothing olive oil isn’t already bringing to the batter. I hope beer isn’t going to join this category.

Can you adapt any recipe to a beer soap? It sounds like great lathering is a given, so would I omit the castor I’m currently using to that end? My go-to recipe currently has 53% olive oil with 20% each of palm and coco. Is anything in that going to fail with beer? And what of scents, if hops is coming through, it would seem some EOs would fit better than others...

Any other tips and suggestions from your own experience would be interesting to read.
 

TheGecko

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Any other tips and suggestions from your own experience would be interesting to read.
I haven't made any beer (or other alcohol) soap myself, but I have been watching a lot of videos on YouTube (search for "beer soap cold process") and taking notes.

Can you adapt any recipe to a beer soap?
Based on what I have seen so far...yes and no. I know, not helpful, but I think it's going to depend on what your current recipe is. I've seen beer soaps thicken quickly...almost to the point of concrete. I'm seen overheating. And I've seen some beautiful beer soaps. I've been writing down recipes, but haven't gotten to the point of comparing them to mine.
 

KiwiMoose

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I just use my standard soap recipe, but replace the water with beer. I make it look like beer for the pour ( darker on the bottom and lighter on the top). The fragrance tends to go brown, but I add a little bronze mica to help the bottom layer along - and use TD for the top. My go-to fragrance is Cypress and Bayberry by Candle Science. It compliments the beer smell nicely (n.b. the beer smell dissipates somewhat after cure). Oh - I still use the castor.
1CE176B3-B17F-4824-A7AB-B99BA65008A4_1_201_a.jpeg
 

DeeAnna

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I do the same as Kiwi -- my usual soap recipe except I use beer instead of water. The color of the finished soap is golden tan or a little darker, depending on the color of the beer.

I do not notice any acceleration or any other changes while soaping, but I do take the time to simmer the beer to remove carbonation. You could leave the beer at room temp to go flat if you don't want to heat it.

There are zero health benefits for using beer in soap. None. The only legitimate benefit is that beer increases the amount of lather. The Lather Lovers soap swap (in 2012 I believe?) demonstrated this, and I'd agree based on my experience with beer vs no beer in otherwise the same soap recipe.

SMF member BrewerGeorge explained why a year or two ago. Sugars, definitely, but he talked about other chemicals in beer that would boost the lather as well. I don't remember the conversation well enough to say much more than that -- I'd just be guessing.

Other than the added lather, beer is simply fun to add. A selling point. Something different to do.

edit -- Here's the one-year-later results at Kenna's website Modern Soapmaking -- https://www.modernsoapmaking.com/updated-lather-lovers-additive-testing/ See Sample #12. Kenna's comments -- "It’s interesting that after a year of aging, the beer soap sample seemed to have a little less lather than it did originally. It’s still a huge improvement compared to the control sample, though!..."
 
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Gryphonisle

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I do the same as Kiwi -- my usual soap recipe except I use beer instead of water. The color of the finished soap is golden tan or a little darker, depending on the color of the beer.

I do not notice any acceleration or any other changes while soaping, but I do take the time to simmer the beer to remove carbonation. You could leave the beer at room temp to go flat if you don't want to heat it.

There are zero health benefits for using beer in soap. None. The only legitimate benefit is that beer increases the amount of lather. The Lather Lovers soap swap (in 2012 I believe?) demonstrated this, and I'd agree based on my experience with beer vs no beer in otherwise the same soap recipe.

SMF member BrewerGeorge explained why a year or two ago. Sugars, definitely, but he talked about other chemicals in beer that would boost the lather as well. I don't remember the conversation well enough to say much more than that -- I'd just be guessing.

Other than the added lather, beer is simply fun to add. A selling point. Something different to do.
Do you use castor for suds in your regular recipe, and use it with beer then, or omit it?
 

DeeAnna

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@Gryphonisle -- Can you explain why you think it's necessary to omit castor if using beer? I am not following your thinking on this point.

To answer your question directly -- I don't use castor any more. I used to use it, but I realized it didn't make a lot of difference for my soap. Not saying that's true for everyone, just that I have not seen any especial benefits for myself. So whether or not to omit it when using beer is a moot point for me.

Castor oil soap doesn't create lather in and of itself, despite what the Soapcalc numbers seem to imply. Castor does stabilize the lather produced by other fatty acid soaps. If soap doesn't lather well without castor, it's not going to lather any much better with castor.

edit -- Here's a beer soap I made this past Friday. This batch was made with Blue Moon, a wheat ale with a light amber color. The pale parts of the soap have no added colorant, and normally these areas would be a creamy white if the soap was made without beer. The beer has caused a color shift to a light beige.

20200202_163346a 800.jpg
 
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Gryphonisle

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Ah. That is my problem with soap making. A book with science behind soap making turned out to be a science course I didn’t need or want, with few of the answers I did. I’ve been adding castor under the belief it was producing suds but you say it does not. If it was, and beer makes a sudsy soap, then it would seem that adding castor would be redundant. But, you say castor doesn’t add suds at all, so the question broadens to why waste money on it in any recipe?
 

DeeAnna

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Well, for me, castor doesn't make sense. But this isn't a black and white decision that applies to all. Just because castor doesn't do much for my bar soap doesn't mean it's a worthless ingredient. Other soap makers use it because they think it does have an impact for their soap. Their water quality and their recipes are probably different than my water and my recipes. (And I do use it in my liquid soap making because it helps to add clarity, if I'm making liquid soap that I want to be crystal clear.)

Even if castor doesn't "make suds" it does have the benefit that it makes the bubbles stronger. Stronger bubbles mean the lather doesn't break down and dissipate as fast. Glycerin is another lather enhancer for much the same reason.

Bear in mind even commercial soap makers will make soap targeted for specific regional markets with different customer tastes and different types of water quality. So it stands to reason that we handcrafted soap makers will also see some variation in the performance of the soaps we make that might lead us to choose somewhat different ingredients.
 

CathyB

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@Gryphonisle Here's a beer soap I made this past Friday. This batch was made with Blue Moon, a wheat ale with a light amber color. The pale parts of the soap have no added colorant, and normally these areas would be a creamy white if the soap was made without beer. The beer has caused a color shift to a light beige.

View attachment 43755
I will raise an eyebrow at your misuse of a highly quaffable beverage such as Blue Moon, but as I'm in awe of your soap knowledge and willingness to share, I won't comment further. :)
 

DeeAnna

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Herm, uh, yes, err ... yeah ... busted. :D You're quite right, @CathyB.

Blue Moon is a favorite of mine too. But sometimes ya gotta take one for da team. I wanted to use a light colored beer. The only beer in the house that qualified was Blue Moon. It was that or Shiner Bock or one of several very dark porters. So I was kinda stuck.

I need to have a party, so friends will leave various assorted beers that I hate to drink. Like IPAs or various "lite" beers. Those I have no qualms about using it in soap.
 

Dawni

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I don't always use castor anymore either..... I do when I have a lot of ingredients that might need a boost - which is what castor does, boosts, not produces lather - like a lot of butters, a lot of salt, etc.

This beer soap of mine did not have castor oil and I think it's enough. It's uncolored except for the top, and unscented. There's a pic of the lather when it was really new. I should update that; I'm currently using a bar in the shower.
 

amd

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I'm going to weigh in here a bit as a wholesale soapmaker to two breweries (at one time I had three, but those beer snobs prefer to drink their beer rather than wash with it, so we called it a day there).

I’m going to make a beer soap next weekend, setting out a medium colored beer, probably an IPA or Pale Ale, on wednesday to begin conditioning.
Many dark colored beers don't end up dark in the soap. IPA's and blonds (I would put the Pale Ale on this list too) end up almost white. I had an AltBier that was very dark (as in not see-through dark) that turned white when made into soap... and shocked the heck out of me! It worked with the soap design so all was well in the end. IPA, blonde, or pale ale are a good choice for your first batch, they tend to have less sugar than a porter, lager or stout. The higher sugar beers tend to move faster in my experience.
Although I am curious what you mean by "conditioning", I'm only familiar with it in brewer terms.

I hope beer isn’t going to join this category.
I think you'll be very pleased with your beer soap.

Can you adapt any recipe to a beer soap? It sounds like great lathering is a given, so would I omit the castor I’m currently using to that end? My go-to recipe currently has 53% olive oil with 20% each of palm and coco. Is anything in that going to fail with beer? And what of scents, if hops is coming through, it would seem some EOs would fit better than others...
Yes, you can adapt any recipe, although you may want to adjust your cocoa butter just to give your batter more fluidity. Slower tracing lard would help. In the lighter beers you won't find any beer scent coming through. To date I can only get malt scent from porters or stouts, no hops from any of the beers. Knock yourself out with scent combos. I usually try to pick something that pairs well with the original beer fragrance.

Any other tips and suggestions from your own experience would be interesting to read.
I'm one in favor of boiling beer (10 minutes is plenty to reduce 70-80% of the alcohol) for the sake of safety. My first beer soap I didn't boil, I let it sit for several days to flatten, and I had a volcano when I added the lye. I never really recovered from it (and cleanup wasn't fun). I put safety first.

The only legitimate benefit is that beer increases the amount of lather. The Lather Lovers soap swap (in 2012 I believe?) demonstrated this, and I'd agree based on my experience with beer vs no beer in otherwise the same soap recipe.
I second this. So.much.

But, you say castor doesn’t add suds at all, so the question broadens to why waste money on it in any recipe?
My thoughts on castor: Castor alone doesn't make nice soap, but it acts as an amplifier for the other oils in the recipe. I use castor in my beer soaps to "amp up" the soap properties, and then beer just adds more to it, which makes the beer soap unique from my other soap products. Novelty in using a beer soap, added bonus in the "improvement" of an already good recipe. That said, I have used some very nice soaps that didn't have any castor oil at all.
 

clouser

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One thing I'll add that I didn't see anyone else mention: After you've simmered the alcohol off, freeze the beer before you add the lye to it. The first time I tried making beer soap, I just let the beer cool before adding the lye. It got REALLY hot, bubbled up big time, and stunk like burnt hair. It was burning all the sugars in the beer. That didn't happen a day later once I froze the beer before adding the lye.
 

DeeAnna

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There's nothing wrong with freezing the beer, if this gives you more control and peace of mind.

I don't know that this is mandatory, however. I've never frozen or even chilled the beer and have only briefly smelled a slight odor occasionally (my last batch didn't have any odor). I've never had anything like bubbling or volcano-ish behavior.

But I do simmer the beer until it foams up and then for awhile longer until the foam subsides. Not sure if that's the secret or not ... who knows?
 

clouser

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There's nothing wrong with freezing the beer, if this gives you more control and peace of mind.

I don't know that this is mandatory, however. I've never frozen or even chilled the beer and have only briefly smelled a slight odor occasionally (my last batch didn't have any odor). I've never had anything like bubbling or volcano-ish behavior.

But I do simmer the beer until it foams up and then for awhile longer until the foam subsides. Not sure if that's the secret or not ... who knows?
Looking back, my problem was probably adding all the lye to the beer at once. I should have added the lye little by little while stirring.
 

Jennifer Horne

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You probably want to add colorant bc the color of the beer will go tan regardless of the color of the beer
 

DeeAnna

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Or just work with the tan caused by the beer with no added colorant. That can be a reasonable design choice too.
 

amd

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You probably want to add colorant bc the color of the beer will go tan regardless of the color of the beer
Well... maybe define "tan"... because I don't consider all of these to be tan. All made with different beer styles, the uncolored portions are naturally colored.
upload_2020-2-5_13-28-22.png

Made with an Altbier, the natural color is almost white. This was a surprise result as the beer was so dark you couldn't see through it.

upload_2020-2-5_13-29-14.png

Made with a Blonde, the natural color is probably close to a tan, but more golden I would say.

upload_2020-2-5_13-31-38.png

Made with a stout beer, the second layer from the top is the natural color - I would call this tan.

upload_2020-2-5_13-32-46.png

Made with an IPA, I would say this color is pale gold - it's lighter than the Blonde above, but not white like the Altbier.

You can see how the different styles contribute to the natural color of the soap. These are all the same base recipe, the only changes were the beer used, and of course colorant in the design portions and fragrances. None of the fragrances used were discoloring FO's. I like to leave part of the soap uncolored so the natural coloring effect of the beer shows.

Edited to correct slight wording because I added a picture of one that I consider tan.
 

math ace

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I'm following this thread because I want to make beer soap too. After reading some of the comments, I'm thinking I'm taking this project outside to my garden sink area!

A beer soap volcano in my kitchen does not sound good!
 
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