Of all the alternative liquids to make cold process soap with, beer may be one of the most popular. The natural sugars in beer add lather to the final bar, and are great from a marketing standpoint. If you’re a beer fan, who wouldn’t want to bathe with their favorite brew? For these Charcoal and Cedar Stout Bars, I teamed up with a local brewery, Wander Brewing. Wander is just a few blocks away from the Bramble Berry warehouse and is popular in the Bellingham community. I used their rich Correspondent Foreign Extra Stout for this project, and it served as the perfect base for these woodsy bars.
If you’ve never made cold process soap with beer before, it does require some extra prep. First, the alcohol and carbonation in beer needs to be boiled out for 10-15 minutes. Then, the beer needs to thoroughly cool before the lye can be added. Some soapers prefer to freeze the boiled beer and add the lye directly to the frozen beer to keep temperatures cool. If you’d like to read more about using alcoholic beverages in your cold process soap, check out this blog post.
For this project, activated charcoal and titanium dioxide are used to create a rich contrasting swirl. Due to the amount of charcoal, the lather of these bars is slightly gray, but I think they are worth it. You can always lessen the amount of charcoal to do away with the gray lather. =) The blend of cedarwood essential oil and fir needle essential oil is incredibly earthy and masculine. To help combat the acceleration that alcoholic beverages can cause in cold process soap, this recipe is palm oil free. To give the bars hardness, I added cocoa butter and coffee butter. Despite the butters, this is a soft recipe and will require extra time in the mold. I highly recommend using sodium lactate in this recipe to help the bars firm up in a timely manner.
If you can’t get your hands on some of Wander’s wonderful beer, any stout beer will work well. You can also use a lighter beer such as a pale ale. If you use a lighter beer for this project, the tan/creamy shade in the soap may be a bit lighter. Or, if you want to skip the beer all together you certainly can; simply use distilled water and soap as normal.