Beer Soap For Beginners

Today, we are going to talk about making soap using a popular alcoholic drink; beer! I used the hot process method, but these observations will apply to those of you that use the cold process method, too. Let’s get started!

Considerations for Beer Soap 

When I first began doing research about beer soap, I found many conflicting articles and conflicting instructions. I was left confused; did I have to boil the alcohol out of the soap? Did the beer need to be frozen first? Was I going to blow up my kitchen? I’m happy to say that one of those things didn’t happen (I’ll give you a hint; nothing exploded). I did, however, finally narrow down my recipe and method through about three hours worth of online exploration; hopefully I can save you a bit of time with this article, but remember; besides the chemistry of soapmaking, creatively, make this yours! The sky is the limit and the creative potential for your product is exponential.

Method 

First, I decided how much beer I would be using in my soap. Because I wanted a lot of beer in my soap, I decided to completely replace all of my water with beer. This means, I added my lye to my beer; with a few steps in between, of course.

I also decided to boil my beer first. I understand that there are conflicting ideas of whether this is necessary, but, being that it was my first time making it, I didn’t want to take any chances (again-I like my kitchen in one piece). I used a blonde beer to avoid the darkness of a stout; I needed around 18 ounces for my recipe, but started out boiling about 34 ounces because of the chance of it boiling off and leaving me with a lower amount of liquid at the end of the process. I brought the beer to a boil and let it cook at approximately 175 F for 15 minutes; I ended up with about 27 ounces of beer when I was done. Not bad! I had enough for this recipe, and subsequently made a batch using both beer and distilled water the next day.

In the final minutes of the beer boiling, which made my house smell pretty badly (I would definitely recommend having a fan on), I filled my sink with ice and then placed the pan I boiled the beer in on top of the ice, filling the sink with cold water around it. I cooled it quite a bit, and quickly with this method; when it was cool to the touch, I then put it in a quart freezer bag and laid it flat in my freezer for about an hour. After the hour, it was not frozen, but rather slushy; this is what I was looking for!

Once the beer was slushy, I slowly sprinkled the lye into the semi-frozen liquid, careful to slowly and make sure that the granules completely dissolved. This is important, because if you add the lye too quickly, there is a chance it may scorch the beer which will result in an very unpleasant lye-beer mixture that you may not want to use, depending on your desired finish product.

Because it was cold outside, I allowed the lye beer to sit outside and cool down. I like to combine my lye mixture and oils while they are around the same temperature, and usually at around 140-150 degrees. Once I had everything at the desired temperature, I combined the lye mixture and oils in my crock pot with an immersion blender; and it came to trace very quickly! Within 5-10 minutes, the mixture was at trace.

Now, at this point, the batter was quite dark; I’d say about the color of wheat bread. I had decided to do a pencil line in my bar, but had chosen a very light and pretty mica; unfortunately, I didn’t anticipate the soap would lighten to the color of a cup of coffee with a half cup of creamer in it! Because of this, my pencil line is barely visible; keep in mind that, depending on the type of beer you use, this may happen to you as well.

The Cooking Process and Aftermath 

Although there didn’t seem to be much of a difference between my normal soapmaking and making soap with beer, what I noticed the most was the smell. Before I added my fragrances, the smell of the batter while cooking and even the next day when I cut it was very strong and honestly, unpleasant. But, don’t worry! Once the bars sat for about 24 hours, that smell faded away and all that is left is the smell of my fragrances, and a very light, earthy smell that is actually quite pleasant.

Final Thoughts 

Making soap with alcohol may seem like a strange extra step to take when you’re making your soap, but people love it! Do you make soap using beer or wine? We want to see it! Show us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter so we can see you’re beautiful brew creations!

 

All About: Exfoliants

Let’s face it; making beauty products is like a giant science experiment in your kitchen. (Well, unless you are already a pro and you have moved onto bigger and better things!)  One of my favorite parts of making beauty products is experimenting with different exfoliating ingredients.  There are literally so many different exfoliants to choose from you will never be at a loss for something to use. Many of them you have in your kitchen right now.  Today we will talk about some of the more popular and favorites we all like to use.

But first – what is an exfoliant you ask?  An exfoliant is a material that is used to scrub off dead skin cells and dirt. Exfoliants come in so many shapes and sizes – there is literally no “one size fits all”. Some are mild and hardly noticeable while others are extremely coarse and not for the most sensitive skins.

When adding an exfoliant to any product you are making, you will first need to determine what the use of the product will be. For example, if you are making a facial soap bar, you will want to use a gentle exfoliant.  However, if you are making a soap that is intended to be used to clean very dirty gardener’s hands, you’ll choose an exfoliant that is courser and more apparent in the product.

As with any ingredients in your handcrafted beauty products, there are no rules or strict guidelines to follow.  It is a preference that will work for some, but may not work for all.  Experiment – like variety is the spice of life, exfoliants are the scrubby of soaps!  Check some out below:

Colloidal Oatmeal:  This form of oatmeal is a micro ground powder that is ideal for facial products. It is known to be a soothing, yet a hardly noticeable exfoliant.  Note that oatmeal can also be ground into a “not so micro” texture if you prefer to have a more coarse oatmeal experience.

Baking Soda: This is a gentle exfoliant, which is oil absorbing and a great additive for face masks and toothpastes.

Activated Charcoal:  This is a great exfoliant for facials scrubs, as it’s known to trap toxins in the body and allow them to be flushed out. It works by binding the toxins and not allowing them to be reabsorbed.

Jojoba Beads: These are a somewhat gentle exfoliant that you can get in several different colors and sizes.  Jojoba beads are derived from jojoba oil and are completely biodegradable.

Salt: Like jojoba beads, salts come in many sizes and colors. You will find several varieties of salt, as well as the qualities they contain.  Dead sea salts are great to use in a scrub, while you can use a more coarse salt in a salt soap recipe.

Coffee Grounds:  As I said – some exfoliants can be found right in your kitchen – here is one of them! Used fresh, coffee grounds are a more coarse exfoliant that are great in a soap recipe. While using brewed coffee ground, they are a softer exfoliant and have the “edge” removed, making them great in a facial scrub.

Loofah: Whole loofah sponges are a fun exfoliant for soap. Loofah is actually a vegetable that grows on a Luffa plant. Whole slices of loofah can be placed in a soap mold and poured over with soap to create a loofah soap.  Because the texture of a loofah is rough, it is not typically a good facial exfoliant, rather a perfect exfoliant for rough heels, elbows or knees.

Seeds: There are many types of seeds that can be used as exfoliators, including blueberry, cranberry, strawberry and poppy seeds.  Most seeds are considered a coarser exfoliant and are most suitable used as a body exfoliant rather than facial.

Dried Botanicals:  Lavender, Chamomile, Calendula, Mint, Rosemary to name a few. Not only do these dried botanicals add exfoliating properties to your soaps, they also are loaded with beneficial properties and smell great!

Clays:  Clays are perfect for facial scrubs. Much like activated charcoal, clay helps to remove skin toxins. They are also oil absorbing and help hydrate your skin.

As you can see from the rather brief list above, exfoliants come in many shapes and sizes. There really are no limitations to your imagination and experimentations!

 

You’ve got the exfoliants, now you need the fragrances! Make sure to check out  our fragrance blending article, Fantastic Fragrances and How To Blend Them, available at http://www.cuttothetrace.com/2016/11/fragrance-bending-how-to/.

 

Common Scents: Rose Absolute

Welcome to our series, Common Scents! Common Scents is a series of articles exploring the history of commonly used essential oils and how they became so popular in modern day soap and cosmetic crafting. This week, we’ll be talking about Rose Absolute!

Think of a flower. Was it a rose? If it was, that’s no surprise; the rose is one of the most recognizable flowers in the world! Besides being the symbol of love, romance and beauty, roses are widely used in soaps and cosmetics and have been revered throughout history for their intoxicating aroma.

Rose oil comes in two different forms and is extracted from the petals of the rose flower, from the genus Rosa of the plant family Rosaceae. The rose is native primarily in temperate areas of the northern hemisphere, and is grown in Asia, North America, Europe and northwest Africa.

What’s in a Name?

The word rose comes from the Latin word rosa and transformed into the spelling we know today via Old French.

A Sweet Smelling History 

Roses have a long history of inspiring love, temptation and promoting beauty. Let’s take a stroll into the mythical history of this beautiful flower to find out why it has stood the test of time as the prevailing material way to show affection.

Asia

In ancient Persia as well as in ancient Indian literature, the rose is used symbolically as a tool in the creation of the world and of manking. For example, Vishnu (the supreme god of India) created Lakshmi, his bride, out of 108 large rose petals and 1,008 smaller rose petals.

Greece

In Greece, it was believed that Aphrodite created the rose after her love, Adonis, was wounded on a hunt for a boar. When she heard that he was suffering, she rushed to him and her tears mixed with his blood to form red roses. It was also believed that the sea foam from which Aphrodite was formed created white rose bushes wherever it touched land!

Rome

The Romans believed that Flora, the Goddess of Springs and flowers, was so distraught when she found the dead body of her most beloved and beautiful nymph that she called out to the other gods to help her transform the nymph’s body into the Queen of Flowers (widely considered to be the rose). Hearing her call, Apollo gave the nymph the breath of life, Bacchus bathed her in nectar, Vertumnus gave her fragrance, and Flora gave the nymph petals so that she would always be remembered as being beautiful.

In Religion

Christians widely believed that the rose did not have thorns until Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, and the thorns were formed because of mankind’s wickedness. In the Muslim religion, roses are said to be formed from the perspiration of the Prophet Mohammed.

Types of Rose Oil

There are two types of oil that you will come across in your search. The extraction and distillation of rose oil dates back to before the French Revolution, when the French would distill roses specifically for the use of their famous rosewater!

Rose Otto: Rose otto, also called attar of roses, is an oil produced via steam distillation of roses, specifically the Damask rose. This oil is usually either olive green or a pale yellow and has a scent that is described as floral and spicy.

Rose Absolute: The more commonly used of the rose oils, rose absolute is produced using solvent extraction and is favored for its lower price point. Rose absolute is noticeably thicker than rose otto and is usually olive green or red/orange in color. The scent of rose absolute is described as light and floral, and is the closest to the popular rose scent of the two oils.

To produce one ounce of rose absolute, approximately 60,000 roses are needed. This is why rose absolute is more expensive then many other popular essential oils; the process of extraction is much more time consuming and costly. Flowers are typically picked by hand before sunrise and then the extraction process begins!

Benefits of Rose Oil

Besides allegedly inciting feelings of love, rose absolute has been used throughout history for many ailments, including:

Stress relief

Anxiety reduction

Menstrual and menopausal symptom relief

Wrinkle reduction

Puffiness

Eczema

Remember: this information is being provided strictly for educational and entertainment purposes. The FDA has not approved rose absolute or rose oil in general for medical use. The HSCG does not give medical advice and does not advise using rose absolute for medicinal purposes.

Adulteration 

Because it is so expensive to produce, some dishonest merchants dilute their rose oil with other oils like geranium and palmarosa. Sometimes, these oils will still be marketed as pure rose absolute oil; be sure to buy from respectable and historically honest suppliers and ask questions about the oil’s origin to make sure you don’t spend rose absolute money on mostly geranium oil!

Final Thoughts 

Using rose absolute oil in your soap and cosmetics can add a light, romantic scent that is both uplifting and inspiring. With the storied history behind the rose, you have many talking points for your rose-scented products; don’t let the expense of the oil dissuade you! A light touch with a high quality rose oil will make any soap or cosmetic positively float off the shelves. Get creative with fragrance blending and invent your own warm and romantic aroma to keep your customers coming back time and again.

Do you know what pairs well with rose absolute? Find out by taking a look at our article about Fragrance Blending: http://www.cuttothetrace.com/2016/11/fragrance-bending-how-to/