Recently I made several batches of beer soap. I posted a video of making beer soap on my Instagram account. A soapy friend of mine was excited and expressed her fear over making soap with beer. I felt her pain. There are so many times when I have been reluctant to do something, whether it be in soap making, bee keeping, life...because I just did not know. Fear is an undeniable factor in so many decisions we make in life. Though fear is a very good and necessary feeling that evolutionarily is designed to keep us safe and alive, I assure you, there is nothing to fear in making beer soap!
I am so sure that you will be okay making beer soap, that I decided to show you how I do it. Full disclosure: I did not magically come to this knowledge of beer making. I was not born knowing how to make beer soap! I learned from other soapers (way too many to name) and through reading lots of books on soap making, and watching a ton of youtube videos. I love Anne Marie from Bramble Berry and have learned so much from watching her videos.
So let's get to it!
1). Go buy your beer. Any beer will do. I love supporting local and all my beer is Montana made. For this batch, let's grab a beer from Bitter Root Brewing Company in Hamilton, MT.
2). Simmer your beer to get the carbonation out (apologies as I do not have a video of simmering beer). If you don't simmer your beer, I have heard you can get a nasty reaction between your lye and the carbonation bubbles. I personally have not tried just dumping non-simmered beer in with my lye. I am not recommending it! I do dump an entire can of beer into a pot, set it on the burner and turn the heat on until my beer starts simmering. You might want to save your beer can to put our beer back into. Your choice. Then you might want to back off on your setting a bit because you don't want the beer to simmer over.
WARNING: burnt beer smells bad!! Watch your temperature. Don't stress out about this but just keep an eye on it. Set your timer for 15 minutes. I have found that any more time and you are going to evaporate off a lot of liquid.
3). Now that you simmered your beer and your house smells like a frat party, set your beer aside. I always keep my can and I have a little funnel that I use to pour my beer right back into it. I do this because when I make beer soap I make multiple batches with different beer and I want to make sure I keep track of what I am using.
4). In theory, you are good to go. Go make some beer soap! You can let your beer cool to a reasonable temperature that will compliment your soap making (I soap at low temps so I prefer beer below 90 degrees F) and now add it to your soap however you choose. Good luck and happy soap making!
Did you think I was going to leave you hanging there? I know what you are thinking, how do you add the beer!!!??? Don't worry. I'll explain it further.
I have tried two different methods of adding beer to soap, either one works. It is a personal preference on which one you choose. You can either 1). Substitute all the water in your recipe that you will be using in your water lye mixture for the beer. With this method you must freeze your beer, or 2). You can add a portion of the beer to your warm oils and butters before adding a 50:50 water lye solution. No freezing required.
If you are going to freeze your beer, it's pretty straight forward. Say your recipe calls for: 10 oz of water and 2 oz of lye (this is totally made up, do not use this measurement in your recipe. The proportions simply serve as an example of ratios. Always check your recipe through a reputable lye calculator, I use SoapCalc but whatever you use is your choice). You are going to replace all the water with beer, so measure out 10 oz of your now flat beer, place it in a container (an old cottage cheese container or ice cube trays, etc.) and freeze it.
Lye safety disclosure: Do not forget to wear your protective eye wear, a mask to help filter fumes, and rubber gloves (like the ones grandma used to wear to wash the dishes with scalding hot water) to protect your hands! I find if I just wear my latex soaping gloves that the heat seeps through too easily. Wear long sleeves and closed toed shoes and keep all your pets, kids, husbands, wives, partners out of the area. No distractions!
Once your beer is frozen, you can dump it out into your lye mixing container (I do not recommend glass, ever! This is what I use) and sloooowly add your lye to your frozen beer. You will need to stand there and smash and stir until the lye has completely melted your beer. It will smell but this is normal. Just don't dump all your lye onto your frozen beer at once. This is a turtle race. Slow and steady.
Now you are good to go! It's really that simple. Add your lye-beer mixture to your soap recipe as you would your lye-water mixture.
Now for those of us who are impatient and do not like standing and smashing lye and beer together, this is what I do. I try to remember to simmer my beer before I go to bed, the night before I plan to make my beer soap. After I simmer it, I pour the beer back into the can via my tiny funnel and the can in the fridge and forget about it.
The next morning I try to remember to take the beer out of the fridge but usually I forget until I am melting my oils and butters. No worries. So if you are adding a portion of beer to your recipe, you are going to mix a 50:50 lye-water solution. So here is our made up recipe again, don't use these exact measurements! Remember to always check how much lye you need with a reputable lye calculator with the oils and butters in your recipe!
So, if your "fake" recipe calls for 10 oz of water and 2 oz of lye, you are going to mix your 2 oz of lye with 2 oz of distilled water. It will seem thick. It's ok, don't panic. Stir, stir, stir until your lye has dissolved. I always add more water to account for lye falling out of the solution, I recommend up to an ounce. If you are using a full water recipe, make sure to account for the water in your total recipe. In other words, if you added 3 oz of water, you can add up to 7 more oz of any liquid to your melted butters and oils. Likewise, if you added only 2 oz of water, you can add up to 8 more oz of any liquid to your melted butters and oils. This is up to you.
Do not decrease your water in your 50:50 lye-water solution! In other words, do not add only 1 oz of water to 2 oz of water. Always make sure it is equal amounts.
I soap at around 90 degrees F. I recommend soaping at cool temperatures when using beer or other additives like milk. Scalded milk or beer is the worst! Don't forget to measure your beer out into a glass container. If you made a 50:50 lye-water mixture with our fake recipe, you are going to need 8 oz of beer. If you forgot to take your beer out of the fridge and it is not room temperature, pop it in the microwave for ten second bursts until it warms up a bit.
Now you should have your oils and butters and lye mixture within 10 degrees of one another and at a reasonable temperature, you can now add your beer straight to your melted oils and butters before adding your lye-water mixture. Now add your lye-water mixture.
It really is simple. I wrote a lot of detail out for those who have never soaped with beer before and are worried. I got you! I hear you! I know you can do it though! Post your beer soaps on Instagram and tag me @ubusoapnbees to show off your beautiful creations. Now get soaping!! -Alisa