The challenges of crafting cold process soap with alcoholic beverages, Pt 2.

As mentioned in part 1 of this ‘conversation’ the batch in the spotlight was a bar made with moonshine, which is fairly high in alcohol and if you’ve ever watched an episode of Moonshiners,  you know what I mean.  Their batches are running around 160 before they’re proofed!

All experienced soapers know of the problems associated with making a soap, hot or cold processed, with an alcoholic beverage of any type. It can go off like Krakatoa if you aren’t careful and don’t watch it all the time.  The volatility of this type recipe is notorious!  But there are ways around this and that’s what I’m sharing today.

Full Steam’s Rocket Science Pale Ale about to be cooked down.

My favorite workaround is to cook out as much of the alcohol in the beverage as possible prior to use using a low & slow approach.  Usually, it’s cooked down one day, going at a low temp, say 2, if the settings on your burners run from 1-10.  If it gets too low in the pot, turn it down to warm or 1.  This is for an electric range or stove so those of you with gas ranges may need to adjust your settings.

Heating it in this way is safer given the high alcohol content of many types of beverages while managing the level of liquid in the pot more easily.  Once it’s down to half the volume of the pre-cooked level, add distilled water up to the amount of liquid your recipe requires.

This has two purposes:

  1. it restores the liquid volume to its original level giving you plenty of liquid to work with for your recipe and
  2.  it gives you the option of creating a slurry of the booze + water to keep soaping temps cool thus avoiding that volcanic reaction.

The latter part is the most important because if it does volcano there’s a big caustic mess to be cleaned up, which can put you at risk for some pretty nasty burns unless you’re heavily protected and it’s damaging to your work surfaces.  Protect everything!  Keep out pets. Keep children out of the room.  Cover your clothing with a lab coat or a long apron.  Wear closed-toe shoes and the thicker the shoe the better.  Wear gloves!  Wear goggles!  Wear a mask when mixing the lye solution because the fumes are abundant and caustic.  It can damage your lungs. Work in a well-ventilated room or even outside, weather and pollen count permitting.

All of these precautions are not meant to scare you away but rather to prepare you and prevent accidents that can happen.  This is meant to be a creative and fun outlet with a usable, wonderfully scented treat at the end of all your hard work, so play it safe and you’ll enjoy the results!

Tainted Apple with Angry Orchard Hard Apple Cider

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