Soap recipe

Beer soap

Warning: For adventurous soap- types only… some swearing and music by Cake may be involved. Not meant for beginner soapers!

Here’s another popular recipe that men love. A soap brewed up with Irish Cream Ale. The best part of making beer soap is that my recipe only takes 4 beer, so if you buy a six pack, then that leaves two for you!

I  like to swirl it with activated charcoal to make it look nice and manly and add some other men type oils like clove and lavender with a splash of patchouli. The trick with beer soaps is boiling out the alcohol. I boil 3-4 beer at a low temperature the night before. Also try different beer types. Stouts give a nice dark colour to your finished bar.

 I set it in the refrigerator for the next day when I am planning on making the batch. This recipe is for the advanced soap maker… for the more adventurous types…as using any additives in place of the water should be done carefully.

I love using the online soap calculator, Soapcalc…. It gives you a great detailed account of what your oils do for your batch… for instance this batch tells me it is 42 in the range of hardness and 56 for conditioning…

Some of this will change when you consider the great skin care properties of beer. Feel free to interchange whatever oils or butters that you have on hand, and run through the calculator to make sure you have the correct amount of lye and water, etc. I am very experimental! I love to try new ingredients all of the time and encourage you to do so.


SoapCalc © Recipe Name: Beer Soap
Total oil weight 2860 g
Water as percent of oil weight 38.00 %
Super Fat/Discount 10 %

Grams— I weigh out everything in grams.
Beer/Water mixture  1,086.80 g
Lye – NaOH 384.26 g

Apricot Kernal Oil   200 g

Coconut Oil, 76 deg   1,000 g

Olive Oil pomace       1,400 g
Castor Oil                   60 g
Beeswax                     100 g
Cocoa Butter            100 g


essential oils 114 grams…of your choice

Here is my combination… sometimes I might put in a little bit of cinnamon or rose geranium… but don’t tell the guys… they seem to like it!

Lavender essential oil-50 g

Patchouli essential oil-24 g

Clove essential oil-40 g

Activated charcoal for swirling…you may also use orris root to anchor the scent if you have some kicking around

Soap Bar Quality Range of Your Recipe
Hardness 29 – 54          42
Cleansing 12 – 22         23
Conditioning 44 – 69  56
Bubbly 14 – 46              25
Creamy 16 – 48             19
Iodine 41 – 70               55
INS 136 – 165             158
Lauric                            17
Myristic                           7
Palmitic                          11
Stearic                             4
Ricinoleic                        2
Oleic                               42
Linoleic                           9
Linolenic                        1

Additives Notes— Boil up 4 bottles of beer in an open pot on a low simmer for about 25 minutes. Do not leave this unattended, as you don’t want it to boil over. Put in a sealed container in the refrigerator over night and use in place of distilled water. Top up with distilled water if you have lost too much to evaporation when boiling… to make up the 1086 grams. Add the lye slowly to the beer/ water mixture try to not let it bubble up like a volcano. But if you have boiled out the alcohol and set out overnight, you should be fine. I do this in the sink and have lots of protection!!! Set in a safe place to cool down for a few hours while you melt your oils in your soap pot. Have all of your molds greased and towels ready to throw on top. Measure your essential oils, cut out your wax paper for the top of your soap. Now go and do your laundry while you are waiting… or dance around the living room singing to Cake’s version of I will Survive, it’s up to you— as the fun part is about to begin!! Ie, stirring it up, getting to trace, adding the essential oils, and then swirling in the molds. Click on the link for I Will Survive…  

I stir up the lye and oils at about 100 degrees.  A quick note on charcoal. I have a nice clean container set out for when the soap comes to a light trace and because I am using clove oil, I try to work fast as clove oil can be a “bitch” to work with. It may cause your batch to curdle or seize. Pour about 1\8th of your batch into the Rubbermaid container, stir in the charcoal so there are no lumps.  Do a nice fun swirl of the black lovely charcoal through the rest of your soap batch.  Although it is difficult to clean up afterwards… ie. your gloves will be black and gritty, the look of it in your finished bar will be well worth the cleanup. I use papertowels to wipe up the sludge before cleaning out with water. And charcoal really is a lovely ingredient for your skin. You can google up the skin benefits of a soap made with beer. Internet lore tells me there are many skin softening benefits. But really my take on it is this—this is a bar of soap made with lovely natural ingredients. Why wouldn’t your skin feel great afterwards? Because I didn’t use palm oil… which I will explain in a long blog post on another day, set these bars out to cure for at least 6 weeks.  




The Romance of it All

When I first had those initial inklings that I needed to make homemade soap, I imagined myself barefoot running through a field of wildflowers to gentle music. Then I imagined myself quietly stirring soap in a gingham apron with a daisy tucked behind my ear. Enter reality. I often feel that I look like Frankenstein’s wife. I have learned throughout the years that I have to not just wear one of those little white masks but a full on respirator mask that scares small children if they happen to wander past my home as I am running back and forth to the kitchen where there is running water that I always wished I had in my workshop.

I have learned that I must wear closed toed shoes, long sleeves, and protective eyewear. And once in a while, I might forget to put on my glasses when I am checking the temperature of my lye and have splashed lye in my eye which is really no fun.  All of my clothes have oil stains on them and sometimes dark stains of things like alkanet root. My rubber gloves that I use become hard and crusty and sometimes I can barely put my hand in them, but I am always out of right-hand gloves and must force my hand into a left-hand one when desperate.

I somehow thought that if I had a part time soap making business I could easily work it around raising my children. Which was true in a sense. But enter reality again, and really I had to do things like wake up very early to pour my lye and melt my oils, then make the kids breakfast, pack their lunches, drive them to the ferry and school, get home do the laundry, chop kindling, mix up my batch, go to my other part time job… (to help pay for my supplies), get home start dinner, get the kids do all the homework and clean up stuff, then put soap in the freezer, fall into bed and remember around 10 at night to get soap out of freezer. Then start your day again. Exhausting for sure. This did not even include all of the time I had to create the different things and label them and promote and sell them on a small island where there are about 20 other people who make and sell soap. A tough racket for sure.

So what has kept me going all these years? The love of creating new exciting bars of soap, mixing up different essential oils, finding new exotic moisturizing kinds of butter to add to my batches, finding natural ways to colour my bars. I love that part. And the labeling is fun too. Flexing my creative muscle is what has kept me going. Also, I realize having to do all sorts of different things to run a small business is fun. I have had to organize craft fairs, do internet research, compare prices, order supplies, meet interesting customers and other crafters, and experiment with different ingredients. How lucky. But very different from my romantic version of running wild through a field of daisies, instead I have found myself hacking my way through a patch of stinging nettles, to make my coveted nettle shampoo bars– which I will definitely share in another post one day soon.


I have sold soap at farmer’s markets in the pouring rain, with drips of water smearing my labels and dampness creeping up the tablecloth. I have had dogs pee on the edge of my tablecloth and small children place their snotty noses on my expensive rose geranium soap and then run away laughing… and still I persevered. I have been to Christmas craft fairs where I have spent months making  product, pay a huge entrance fee, show up and find that there are 10 other soapmakers right next to each other and realize the person who created the fair, just wanted to fill spots and didn’t care who was successful or not.

I have tried quitting but have always come back to it. I guess all I can do is warn you. Soap may overtake your life. It will seep into- not only the pores of your skin, but into your soul.

So there you go, you have been warned.