I’m fascinated by how diet and exercise affects our lives, sleep patterns, energy levels and basically, everything. Because of this, I’m always game to try the newest health food craze. Choffy? Sign me up. Bulletproof coffee? Yep. Probiotics? On it. Recently, I have been on a fermented food kick. This includes eating lots of sauerkraut, kimchi and making my own kombucha. If you’re unfamiliar with kombucha, it is fermented and sweetened tea (usually black tea or green tea). It’s a bit of a polarizing beverage as it has a strong vinegar taste. Personally, I love it as do the kiddos. =)
To create kombucha, a “Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast,” also known as a SCOBY, is placed in the tea to ferment the beverage. As the tea ferments, the SCOBY separates and duplicates. The science is pretty amazing! If you’ve ever made kombucha before, you know how quickly your SCOBY duplicates. Soon, you’ll have more kombucha and SCOBY than you know what to do with. After giving away as much SCOBY to friends and family as I could, I thought (as any soapmaker does), “I need to make soap with this!”
Using kombucha and SCOBY in cold process soap is the same as using other alternative liquids and additives such as purees (click here to learn more about purees in soap). Essentially, the kombucha and SCOBY add sugar to the soap batter, which increases the temperature. I was concerned that replacing 100% of the distilled water in this recipe with kombucha and adding SCOBY would be too much extra sugar. Instead, I chose to puree the SCOBY with a few ounces of kombucha and add the puree at trace.
If you’re curious about how I calculated the water amounts in this recipe with the SCOBY and kombucha, here is how I broke it down:
- The full amount of water in this recipe is 18.15 ounces.
- First, I calculated a 10% water discount to help it unmold faster. This gave me 16.3 ounces of water (18.15 x 0.9= 16.3).
- I’m adding 5 ounces of SCOBY and 3.3 ounces of kombucha at trace. I estimated the SCOBY is about 50% water, which means I’m adding 2.5 ounces of water via the SCOBY.
- The total amount of liquid added at trace is 5.8 ounces; 2.5 ounces of liquid in the SCOBY and 3.3 ounces of kombucha. (3.3 + 2.5 = 5.8).
- To compensate for the added liquid, I subtracted 5.8 ounces from 16.3 ounces to get 10.5 ounces.
To go from 18.15 ounces of water to 10.5 ounces of water looks like a huge water discount. But, keep in mind you are adding 3.3 ounces of kombucha at trace and 5 ounces of SCOBY at trace, which has a large amount of water (approx. 2.5 ounces). Technically, you can safely mix lye and water at a 1:2 ratio. To read more about water discounting your soap, click here.
I did experience some heat-related issues in this batch. You can read about them at the bottom of this post. Keep in mind the sugar and water content in my kombucha might be a little bit different than yours because each brew will be unique. Because kombucha naturally contains vinegar, I was curious how this would affect the pH of my bars. I tested the pH of these bars and it was 8, which is on the lower side of normal for CP soap. This may vary depending on how “strong” your kombucha is. Click here to read more about the pH of cold process soap.