Oktoberfest Beer Soap


I learned early on that you have to plan ahead if you want to make a special or seasonal soap, to allow for it to fully cure before you want to use, sell or gift it. I am a huge fan of Oktoberfest and go to as many local beer festivals as I can, so at the end of summer I was already trying to decide which local beer I wanted to use to make my first beer soap for Oktoberfest. I’m fortunate to live in the pacific northwest, where we have dozens of local microbreweries I can easily bus or drive to within less than an hour drive from my house, and if I want to branch out and take a 3 hour trip to Portland I have dozens more to choose from!

My favorite beer of all time is Redhook ESB, a medium-bodied darkish beer made with roasted grains that has a smooth finish. It’s affordable, delicious, and goes with just about everything.

I read through several different beer recipes before I decided which one I wanted to try to mimic – I went with About.com’s candle and soap expert David Fisher’s recipe. For once, I had almost every oil the recipe called for, so this was a first for me! I didn’t have cocoa butter, but I have organic shea butter, so I just made a 1:1 swap for the butters. I ran the new recipe through a lye calculator and saw that making this change didn’t affect the liquid or lye amounts. I also omitted the essential oils and honey in his recipe, and of course had a different beer for my lye solution.

I’ve read a lot about how sugars can heat up your soap batter, so I thought I’d be safe mixing my oils and lye-beer solution at 100 degrees. Even at this low temperature, my mixture still heated up very quickly and started to set while I was still trying to blend it! I got it into the molds before it seized, but it was THICK. I didn’t insulate my molds, and still achieved a full gel.

This soap turned out so soft, I left it in the mold for 2 days before I unmolded it, and then I left it another full day before I sliced it. It was still very gummy when I sliced it, I had to rinse my cutter off every 2nd or 3rd bar to prevent sticky soap buildup from developing on the bars. Next time I make it, I’m going to stick my molds in the freezer for a few hours before I unmold them to ensure I have smooth, fingerprint-free sides, and I’m going to let it sit for at least 2 days before I slice it after that.

Despite my learning experiences, I still ended up with some great finished soap. It is smooth and hard after 4 weeks of curing, and it smells refreshing and beery! It makes big, soft bubbles and my skin is so smooth after I wash with it. I love this soap!

What are your favorite beers to use in your beer soap? Do you add additional fragrances, or let the smell of the beer shine through? Happy Oktoberfest!

Palm Free Peppermint Mocha Soap Recipe

I have been souring the internet looking for good palm-free soap recipes, and usually I find ones that contain some percentage of oils that I don’t have. I can get pretty creative at coming up with a decent mix based on what I do have, but sometimes I wind up with a softer finished bar than I was hoping for.

I felt like I struck gold when I saw Offbeat and Inspired’s Peppermint Mocha Soap, since it is palm free, but I don’t have canola oil, so I went to work on Brambleberry’s lye calculator and came up with the recipe below. I made one 10″ loaf and poured a little bit into some tiny silicone seashell molds I have.. I’ve only unmolded the shells so far, but they have firmed up nicely and have a beautiful glossy finish.

I tried an in-the-pot swirl, a new technique to me, and let me just say the soap didn’t look how I had imagined it as I was pouring it into the mold.. despite using the sunflower oil, my mocha soap batter still thickened up more than my white peppermint batter, so it looked lumpier than I thought it would when I poured it. I’m going to unmold it tomorrow and slice it within the next few days.. we’ll see how it turned out! Despite its less-than-stellar looks so far, it still smells absolutely divine!

Peppermint Soap:
2.3 oz Avocado Oil
7 oz Coconut Oil
9.3 oz Olive Oil
2.3 oz Shea Butter
2.3 oz Sunflower Oil
pinch of sea salt

7.7 oz Distilled Water
3.3 oz Lye

1.5 tsp Peppermint Essential Oil

Mocha Soap:
1.2 oz Avocado Oil
3 oz Coconut Oil
4.7 oz Olive Oil
1.2 oz Shea Butter
1.2 oz Sunflower Oil
pinch of sea salt

3.9 oz Double-strength Coffee
1.6 oz Lye

.25 oz Baker’s Chocolate
1 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder

If you have never made soap before, I wouldn’t recommend starting out with this recipe. I relied heavily on Soap Queen’s beginner’s guide to cold process soapmaking and lye safety instructions for my first several batches.

I started by making the mocha soap base: brewed coffee with twice as many grinds as recommended, and set the coffee in the fridge overnight to cool completely. The next day, I slowly added the lye to the cold coffee and stirred completely. Like many non-water lye mixtures, this one smelled pretty bad, so I was outside while I mixed it to help with the fumes.

While the coffee-lye mixture was cooling, I mixed my lye into the distilled water for my peppermint soap base so that could start cooling as well.

Then I measured my oils in two separate containers, a larger 12-cup pyrex for the peppermint soap base and a 2-cup pyrex for the mocha soap base. I melted the baker’s chocolate in my microwave, stirred 1 Tbsp of cocoa powder into the melted chocolate, and added a few tablespoons of the warm mocha soap oils to the melted chocolate to stir all of the lumps out. Then I added the smooth melted chocolate to the 2 cup pyrex. I added a pinch of sea salt into each container of oils to help the soap harden.

When the oils and lye-water mixtures were both around 110 degrees, I started mixing. I blended the mocha soap base to a light trace, then moved onto the peppermint base and blended that to a slightly thicker trace. It took a while for each base to reach trace, so I think while I was blending the peppermint soap the mocha soap continued to thicken up on me. I panicked and quickly poured small amounts of the mocha soap base into the peppermint base at 12, 3, 6 and 9 to try my in the pot swirl… and then realized I forgot to add my peppermint essential oil to the peppermint soap base!

I was thinking about just having a swirled mocha soap, but I really wanted the peppermint mocha smell for Christmas. I added my peppermint EO to the soap batter and lightly swirled it into the top with my spatula, and hoped for the best.. then I poured into my 10″ silicone mold. I could see the thicker mocha soap was not swirling into the peppermint soap as I had imagined it would, but I set it under a cardboard box with a towel on top to insulate it and hoped for the best.

When I un-molded my seashells I noticed some of them have whitish spots visible, I think that may be my peppermint essential oil that didn’t get thoroughly mixed into the soap. I’ll post pictures when I slice into my 10″ loaf to see what the final product looks like.

What are your favorite palm free soap recipes?