Homespun Love: Mix Up a Batch of Oatmeal Stout Soap

If you’ve got a little extra time and want to use your very own hands to show someone you love them, this is just the miniseries for you.


We’ve just about reached this end of this particular series of homespun love and I’ve saved my favorite – beer soap – for last. This project mixes a science, art, and a whole lot of oil to make twelve bubbly bars of soap.IMG_6828

 

You Will Need

I’m gonna be real here: you need lots of weird stuff to make soap. Soap recipes can range from 3 ingredients (olive oil, lye, and water) to a gazillion and seven ingredients. I’m including two tried and true oil recipes so that you can decide which one works best for you. Either way, you’ll end up with a fabulous bar. NB: while you can add or remove additives (powders, scents, essential oils, etc.), you must follow the recipe to the T when it comes to the oils. Different oils saponify different amounts of lye and switching one out for another can lead to a bar of soap that either doesn’t set up or chemically burns anyone who tries to use it.

Nice and Simple Soap

This recipe uses two easy-to-find and cheap oils: olive oil and coconut oil. They work together to create a moisturizing, hard, and bubbly bar.

  • 230 g Stout Beer – Beer is used instead of water dissolve the lye. The liquid in it will evaporate as the bar sets. Any beer works! I used Trader Joe’s oatmeal stout because I wanted something rich and dark.
  • 115 g Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) – Check the drain-unclogging chemicals sold at at Lowe’s or Home Depot. As long as it’s 100% sodium hydroxide, you’re good to go.
  • 476 g Olive Oil – This oil recipe uses 60% olive oil. Olive oil gives a dense creamy lather and a soft bar.
  • 318 g Coconut Oil – This oil recipe uses 40% coconut oil. Coconut oil gives your soap moisture, big bubbles and a harder bar so it your soap doesn’t melt in the shower. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s or Costco, but it’s pretty trendy right now so you can find it just about anywhere.
  • 20 g Oatmeal – Blend dry oatmeal in a blender to create powder that you can use to make a “foam” on the top of your beer bar.
  • 2 t Salt – Adding salt to your lye water helps the soap unmold easily.

Fancy Soap

If you’ve made soap before and already have a collection of oils and other additives, this might be the recipe for you. It’s got extra oils and a few colorants to create a more complex bar. If you’re looking for these materials, I’d recommend checking in stores first (you’d be surprised what you can find) but head to Bulk Apothecary, Brambleberry, or Mountain Rose Herbs if you opt to order from online.

  • 230 g Stout Beer – Beer is used instead of water dissolve the lye. The liquid in it will evaporate as the bar sets. Any beer works! I used Trader Joe’s oatmeal stout because I wanted something rich and dark.
  • 112 g Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) – Check the drain-unclogging chemicals sold at at Lowe’s or Home Depot. As long as it’s 100% sodium hydroxide, you’re good to go.
  • 238 g Olive Oil – This oil recipe uses 30% olive oil. Olive oil gives a dense creamy lather and a soft bar.
  • 238 g Coconut Oil – This oil recipe uses 30% coconut oil. Coconut oil gives your soap moisture, big bubbles and a harder bar so it your soap doesn’t melt in the shower. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s or Costco, but it’s pretty trendy right now so you can find it just about anywhere.
  • 238 g Palm Oil – This oil recipe uses 30% palm oil. Palm oil makes the bar hard so it doesn’t melt in the shower. Palm oil is controversial because it’s often not sustainable. Make sure you order from a sustainable source or opt for another hardening oil like lard or tallow (if you’re a vegetarian or vegan you should still consider animal fats).
  • 40 g Castor Oil – This oil recipe uses 5% castor oil. Castor oil is moisturizing and creates nice, creamy bubbles.
  • 40 g Avocado Oil – This oil recipe uses 5% avocado oil. Avocado is moisturizing and generally lovely.
  • 10 g Oatmeal – Blend dry oatmeal in a blender to create powder that you’ll use together with the kaolin clay and titanium dioxide to lighten a portion of the soap batter to create a “foam” on the top of your beer bar.
  • 10 g Kaolin Clay – You’ll use this together with the oatmeal and titanium dioxide to lighten a portion of the soap batter to create a “foam” on the top of your beer bar.
  • 10 g Titanium Dioxide – You’ll use this together with the oatmeal and kaolin clay to lighten a portion of the soap batter to create a “foam” on the top of your beer bar.
  • 2 t Salt – Adding salt to your lye water helps the soap unmold easily.

Tools

  • Digital scale
  • Immersion blender
  • 2 stainless steel pots or bowls
  • Wooden or plastic spoon
  • Mold that holds at least 36 oz/794 g (I like silicone baking molds, but you can use any cake pan or orange juice container as long as you line it with wax or parchment paper)
  • Protective eyewear
  • Rubber gloves
  • Apron
  • Disposable container
  • Distilled white vinegar

Instructions

  1. The key to making soap is the mise en place; get everything ready before you start. This particular recipe requires an extra step of planning because you have to let the beer go flat overnight, cook it over low heat for two hours to evaporate most of the alcohol, and then freeze it in an ice cube tray. IMG_6534
  2. Step 1 is safety. It sounds silly, but making soap can be dangerous. You’re messing with a highly corrosive substance and should avoid coming into contact with it. As long as you take normal precautions, though, it’s nothing to be afraid of. Open the windows while you mix the lye water. Don’t make soap while kids (or adults) or pets are running around and might bump something. Wear gloves and glasses and old clothes just so nothing accidentally touches you. Clean up with vinegar to neutralize any bits of lye afterwards. As long as you follow the instructions, there’s nothing to worry about and the world is your homemade soap oyster. If you want to know more about lye safety, check out my meganerd post.

    IMG_6772

    Safety selfie

  3. It’s a good practice to run any soap recipe through a soap calculator. Go ahead and try it before you start measuring.
  4. Start by using the digital scale to measure the beer ice cubes into one of the stainless steel pots. If one pot is small than the other, you should use the smaller one for this part. Now use the disposable container to measure the lye. Pour the lye into the ice cubes (and never the other way around!) and stir with the wooden spoon until the ice cubes have melted and the lye has dissolved. Add the salt. Allow the liquid to cool for a half an hour or more. soap
  5. Measure the oils in the larger pot and heat them on the stove over low heat until they’re completely liquified. Remove them from the heat and allow them to cool while you move onto the next steps.soap
  6. Measure out the oatmeal and any other additives you have.
  7. Pour the lye/beer mixture into the oil mixture and blend until you’ve reached “trace.” At trace, your soap batter should look kind of like pancake batter – thicker than water but not doughy.
  8. If you’re making the easier bar, now’s the time to pour your soap batter into the mold and sprinkle oatmeal on top. If you’re making the more complicated bar, pour approximately 1/4 of the batter into another bowl and add the oatmeal, clay, and titanium dioxide. and mix until you have a frothy-colored batter. Pour the dark batter into the mold and then pour the light batter over a spoon into the mold.
  9. Insulate the mold overnight to help the soap set up. An easy way to do this is to place the mold in a shoebox and wrap the shoebox in a towel. If you don’t have a towel and shoebox, you can turn the oven on to 100ºF while you’re making the soap, then turn it off and put your soap in the oven to let it sit overnight.
  10. In the morning, flip your soap out of the mold and slice it into bars with a smooth knife. I like to use a stamp to mark my soap and a vegetable peeler to bevel the corners, but this is totally optional.IMG_6798
  11. Allow the soap to cure for 4-6 weeks before use. If you’re giving it as a gift, make sure to mark the “use after” date on the bar.

Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 329 articles for us.

7 Comments

  1. im very excited to try some beer bars! (Utah joke: we have a bar called beer bar, where i spend all my money on killer frites)

    i made coffee soap last week, & probably only have 40-ish bars laying around the house, so it’s time to make more!

    also the idea of smelling malty/hoppy seems really really appealing to me tbh

    *pours beer in hair, rubs hops on armpits *

    • Ooh coffee soap! I tried that once and failed miserably, so I would love to see yours. I had the brilliant idea of adding coffee grounds and added wayyyy too much. Using that soap is like washing yourself with a brillo pad.

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