Saturday, March 17, 2007

Soaping with Alcohol

I had an enquiry from a lovely soapmaker about soaping with whisky. I promised her detailed instructions on how I make boozy soaps, so I thought I’d share with everyone.

Including spirits in soap can be tricky, but using the hot process method, it’s quite simple – but it does take nerves of steel. The soap will go through some weird stages once the alcohol is added, and it may appear the batch is ruined. Never fear, though. Hot Process is the most forgiving method, and you’ll end up with great soap.

This method will work with any alcohol except beer, fizzy wine, or any other carbonated beverage.

My alcohol of choice is whisky, but you may use any spirit you like. To avoid soft soap, simply treat is as part of your water, but don’t mix it with the caustic soda or you’ll have a bubbling, caustic mess and very dangerous fumes.

Start by reducing your water by 25% and then mix up your lye solution as you normally would. In a separate container, weigh out enough whisky to make up for the 25% water you left out. Add the reduced-water lye solution to your oils and blend until medium trace. Now add your whisky.

The soap will seize immediately and probably separate as well. Don’t panic! Just use your stick blender to bring it back together. And don’t worry if your soap looks lumpy at this point. It will be smooth and gorgeous once it’s finished cooking. Allow it to cook as normal, but do keep an eye on it. I find that I need to cook mine a few minutes longer when I use whisky.

Once the soap has gelled, do a zap test. Be sure to rub the soap between your fingers to cool it before touching it to your tongue. And remember – if the soap feels at all gritty, don’t taste it! Smooth, waxy soap almost never zaps. Once you’re confident the soap has finished cooking, add your colours, fragrance, additives, etc as usual.

Alcohol soaps are fun to make, and they have great label appeal. My whisky soaps sell well for me, but you might like to use your own regional spirits in your soap.


Rebecca (sustainable living in rural Ireland) said...

I'm delighted to have found your blog, its a wonderful resource to somebody like me who is enthusiastically starting out. Its so refreshing to find somebody so open about their methods and recipes, so thank you.
ps whiskey soap would go down a storm here in Ireland ... I wonder about a charcoal and Guinness soap?!

gracefruit said...

Thank you for your kind words! I think charcoal and Guinness soap would go down a treat. I've made soap with Guinness before and it was lovely. It's great as a shampoo bar, too.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, does the alcohol have any effect on the skin?

Would it work for liqueur? Mmmm....Tia Maria.....YUM.


gracefruit said...

Hi Cathy,

I've not noticed the alcohol having any effect on the skin. I suspect it's mostly cooked off by the time the soap is ready anyway.