Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Spiced Stout Cold Process Beer Soap

Happy October first, everyone!  To many October means Oktoberfest, a huge celebration originating in Germany in the 1800's traditionally brimming with food, German folk songs, lederhosen, and of course, beer! There are several huge Oktoberfest celebrations around Canada and a few in the lower mainland of BC. This delectable combination of Belgian beer and family fun inspired us to make this tutorial for a Spiced Stout Soap.  This beautiful, high-lathering bar is softly fragranced with rich notes of caramel and subtle spice.

Working with beer in cold process soap is NOT for a beginner.  It is quite an advanced process that requires good comprehension of soaping techniques.  If you haven't tried making cold process soap before we recommend getting a few successful batches under your belt before trying this soap.  One difficulty of making with beer soap is that it starts saponifying extremely quickly, so there's not much working time.  We recommend dropping the soaping temperature to 90° to delay saponification as much as possible.  

Step 1: Pick your beer!  We chose a dark, rich stout from our local Dead Frog Brewery in Aldergrove, just 20 minutes away from us!  When choosing the beer you want to use keep in mind that the darker in colour the beer is, the darker it will discolour the soap.  We didn't use any colourant to get that fantastic chocolaty brown base colour.  If you want to colour the soap with mica or LabColors try using a lighter beer, such as a pilsner or lager.  We boil the beer which causes it to decrease in volume, so you will need more than 500 ml of liquid that the formula calls for.  This 650 ml bottle boiled down to about 480 ml but don't worry if you don't have enough, you can easily top it off with water until you reach 500 ml.

Step 2: Boil the beer.  In CP soap making you cannot use beer right out of the bottle, the carbonation will cause dangerous lye bubbles.  To get rid of the carbonation we boiled the beer for about 10 minutes while whisking.  Be very cautious when doing this; the beer will increase in volume as it gets hotter and there is very good potential for it to boil over, so use a much larger pot than necessary.  As an alternative you can also open the beer up and leave it uncovered for 24 hours until it's completely flat.  If you boiled the beer let it come down to room temperature before proceeding.  

Step 3: Set up your station.  Make sure to have all the necessary safety tools: goggles, gloves, long sleeves, and lots of paper towels.  It is always a good idea to keep vinegar around when soaping as it will neutralize lye water if it gets spilled on the skin.  You will need a couple large vessels to mix the soap in (large pyrex measuring cups work great, or these plastic bowls with handles that we scored at a dollar store), a few measuring cups, two whisks, a pre-lined mold, a thermometer, and your instructions. For this recipe we used our amazing Cocoa Butter Soap Kit, measuring out your oils is one less thing you have to worry about when making beer soap!  This kit is one of our best sellers and makes a super hard, moisturizing bar.

Step 4: Start mixing your lye/beer solution.  ALWAYS add lye to water (or in this case beer), never, ever the opposite as it could cause a horrible reaction that could seriously injure someone.  Keep in mind the lye beer will heat up to over 200 degrees, so be sure to use a heat resistant container! When using beer in place of water you can NOT just dump the lye in, this will cause a volcano of caustic lye beer (trust us, this almost happened!).  Sprinkle the lye in very slowly, less than a teaspoon at a time, being very patient.  Whisk in between pours.  Try not to breathe in the fumes and make sure your face is away from the lye solution while whisking, and continue to do this until no more lye remains.  A small word of caution: there is a strange smell that occurs when the beer interacts with the lye, it can be quite pungent so make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area.  We popped the lye beer straight into an ice water bath to cool it down faster, otherwise we could have been waiting around for quite some time!

Step 5: Heat your oils.  For this technique we dropped the soap temp to 90° so your oils don't have to be heated much.  Just make sure they're all liquid and basically at room temp.  When your lye beer and oils are right around 90° you're ready to go!  

Step 6: Mix your oils and lye beer together.  A stick blender is not required as this soap will thicken up real quick with a good old whisk.  We had one on hand just in case but never ended up using it.  Whisk the mixture until it comes to a very light trace, which will only take a couple minutes.

Step 7: Separate your batch.  Pour about 2 cups of the soap mixture into another container, which will be used as the lighter swirl.  We pre-mixed about 1.5 tablespoons of oil soluble Titanium Dioxide with two tablespoons of Argan oil as a little bonus superfat, now add this to the smaller portion of soap whisking very gentle until it's all combined.

Step 8: Add wheat germ and fragrance to the larger, darker portion.  We thought this rustic spiced soap deserved a little exfoliating action so we tossed in a tablespoon of wheat germ.  If you don't have wheat germ readily available you could use ground oats, ground barley, coffee grounds, or walnut shells as a few examples.  

Whisk the wheat in just until it's combined, then add the fragrance.  The fragrance is an amazing, yummy blend that we created ourselves.  It is comprised of:

25 ml Brown Sugar & Fig Fragrance
13 ml Patchouli Cedarwood Natural Fragrance
7 ml Vanilla Oak Fragrance
7 ml Chocolate Fudge Fragrance

The result is a velvety smooth spicy scent that lingers.  Pour that into the soap and whisk well to ensure that it's all mixed together properly.  At this point you'll start to see the soap coming together quickly, you might be on the heavy side of a medium trace.  Time to get that baby into the mold!

Step 9: The pour.  Take the darker portion and pour about a half an inch worth into the mold.  Then rotate between the dark and the light portion, zigzagging as you go.

At the top we took a chopstick and did a little figure 8 swirl for intrigue, then we added some pizzazz with our Sparkle Gold Mica.  Shake the cap gently over the top of the soap, dusting it gently with mica, then blow softly to ensure it sticks to the soap.  

Step 10: Cover the mold with freezer paper then insulate the soap lightly.  You don't need to bundle it up too much, beer soap heats to a very high temperature during saponification.  Wait 24 hours.

Step 11: The unmolding!  Twist the wing nuts gently loose, then inverse the mold and wiggle that loaf out. What a beauty!

Step 12: Cutting.  Grab your stainless steel cutting blade and start chopping!  How many bars you get out of the loaf depends on how thick or thin you cut the bars.  Use our Cutting Box to get an accurate 4 or 5 oz bar.  The soap will still smell like the lye beer for a little bit, we found it went away in a couple days and all we were left with was the rich scent of the fragrance.  The colour will continue to darken over time as well.

 Step 13: Cure.  We recommend curing your soaps for a minimum of 4 weeks.  This creates a harder, longer-lasting bar.  

Step 14: Sud up!  Go hop in the shower and enjoy your magnificent Spiced Stout Soap!  


  1. for those of us who may have all the ingredients on hand already (and don't want to purchase the premeasured kit), could you break down the other ingredient list please? Thanks :)

  2. Hi April, our kits are actually our proprietary formulas that we don't give out, I'm sorry! You can really use any soap formula, our cocoa butter soap kit has a combination of coconut oil, vegetable shortening, and palm kernel oil with cocoa butter added. You can formulate your own by running it through a lye calculator :) ~Tawnee

  3. Hi, I'm a bit confused. You separate the oils before adding the lye mixture so one part won't go as dark? Doesn't that mean the light part won't saponify?

  4. Hi Paula, no you separate the oils after you've blended the lye solution into them and the entire mixture has come to a light trace stage. Then separate the batch and add titanium dioxide to one part and the wheat germ to the other part. I hope this helps!

  5. Hi,
    I would like to have the possibility to introduce a SOAP CALCULATOR that I developed in the last years…
    I always found a lot of Soap Calculators on the web, but I never found one able to calculate the % of Glycerin inside the final soap, because mixing oils and caustic soda, the reaction produce not olny soap, but also glycerin. So some times ago I decived to developed a special soap calculator.
    I would like to invite all the users to try it and let me know your comments.
    The Soap calculator is here: http://www.soapworld.biz/soap-calculator-handmade-soap.html
    Bye !


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