Beer & Roses

One of my boys gave me a few bottles of over-fizzed dark beer to play with.  Apparently the beer has been invaded by a rogue bug and is no good for drinking, so of course my mind goes to soap.

I have been making some beer soaps lately from Benjamin Aaron’s recipes, but they only use about 50 mL beer in a batch of about 800mL oils – I wanted serious beer content in my soap!  As in – 100% of the lye “water”…

My afternoon’s research revealed that 2 things can cause havoc when beer soaping:

  1. Alcohol content – dealt with by boiling the beer in a wide pan for 10-15 minutes to evaporate the alcohol, and
  2. Carbon dioxide content (clearly going to be a problem with my over-fizzed beer) – even after boiling the beer down to about half it’s original volume, the beer was still fizzing.  Somewhere I read that adding a granular substance like sugar or salt can help.  I added salt (only about a teaspoon to the pot of beer) – fizz problem solved.  I thought this may also help with hardening the bars.

Most information also advised to put the beer in the fridge or freezer prior to adding the lye to prevent the dreaded volcano.

My house smelled like a brewery as I boiled the salty beer.  I was so terrified of the impending volcano that I half froze the first beer before adding the lye.

The reaction was a fizzog (this was a good thing) – no volcano, barely any froth.  Subsequent batches, I was much more gung-ho and just used the (flat, salty) beer from the fridge – still no massive lye reaction, so the boiling and salting must have done the trick.

Apparently floral fragrances don’t go well with dark beer, so I have been playing with various EO mixes.  I’ve made 4 batches so far – (1) Cinnamon / sweet orange EOs with cocoa powder, coconut milk and red clay ,  (2) Orange, Lemongrass, MayChang (Litsea), Vetiver EOs with coconut milk and kaolin clay,  (3)  Cedarwood, Clove bud, Vetiver and black pepper with yoghurt, (4) Sweet orange, Lavender, Bergamot, Petitgrain, Sage, YlangYlang, Labdanum and Almond essence.

The only one that is a bit dodgy on the nose is the one with black pepper in – I suspect I was a tad heavy-handed on the EOs, but my son says it will appeal to “the bogans”.

See first pic (below) of “Rustic” HP beer soaps (as you know, I don’t go for visual appeal – once you get soap in the shower – it’s SOAP!!  Who cares what it looked like before!)

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The second pic includes my first “Shaving Soap” (the white one) which uses both KOH and NaOH.   E. says it works well on his bristly face.  I have a load of KOH to use up from my liquid soap experiments (too hard), so I will be going into shaving soap production.

And one of the Rose soaps is tucked into the bottom of the pic.

I have a great supply of rose petals from friends with incredibly fragrant roses.  Usually, I do the rose-petal infused olive oil thing, but yesterday, as I ground my dried citrus peels (for the 100% coconut oil laundry soap) in the soap-making coffee grinder, it occurred to me that I could also grind rose petals to add to soap.

A small mountain of rose petals grinds down to not that much powder – which I added to the oils as they melted – I am on a bit of a mission to create a luxurious rose soap – my mix includes olive oil, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, rosehip oil (used to superfat) with honey and coconut milk, EOs are rose geranium, litsea (in this batch) and labdanum (my new favourite).  Because of the rose petal “flour” added to the oils, it looks like a mud brick at the moment – will take a photo once cut and settled.  However, my hands feel super soft after simply handling the uncut block.

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Oh, and guess what?  I cleared the Shed – let me just say that again… I CLEARED THE SHED!!!!

I had 6 whole days in a row off work over the Christmas break.

The first day, I slept for the whole day – gave myself the space to do that – I was knackered!

The second day, I had energy – I got stuck into the Shed – filled the rubbish and the recycling bins to the brim, shifted cupboards and boxes and destroyed the habitats of many and varied spiders (sorry spiders, but I am reclaiming the space).  I now have a clear space for soaping.


This inspired me to get stuck into the garden – I have mulched and watered and made new pots of herbs.  The plants are looking fat and happy with all the attention.  I am not an instinctive gardener, more of the type who thinks plants should just grow if you stick ’em in the garden.

But what I have (only lately) learned is that – like with all things – the garden is a cycle of energy.  I will only reap the rewards if I continually put energy in – no sitting back on my haunches and thinking I have got there once the groundwork has been done!  And things will come and things will go – plants in this case – some will live for a year and some will live longer – but the natural cycle of life doesn’t mean I am a crap gardener.  Quite literally – “you reap what you sow”, right?

The first day of the new year here was a beauty – here is a little taste of it:

I have also cleared 2 rooms in our house, and the front verandah, which was full of accumulated “stuff”, and oiled the wooden table and chairs so we can sit out there again.

It is so true that while you have “Stuff” all around, there is no room (emotionally or physically) for anything new.  But I have found it is also true that while I spend my days working like a rat in a wheel to pay the bills, I simply am not in the energy space for the work at home.

So – I think this year I will aim to keep my work days and my home days well delineated.   Although I have been back at work for the past couple of weeks, it has been only a few days a week, and at my less stressful job, but the more stressful one starts again next week.  I think I will need to be on my game not to get sucked into the vortex again.

I have more beer in the fridge (de-fizzed and free of alcohol), and rose petals in the Shed – what could go wrong?

Happy 2018 to you all!

Sarah xx






Strange & bitter marmalade, pink soap unleashed, and whey to go for choc cake.

Well, I don’t think I will be rushing to pick any more green mandarines from the neighbours tree! On the good side, the marmalade set well, apart from the strings of peel rising up! And the big E says it tastes fine – to me to tastes like I’ve added quinine! The wriggly bits of green peel remind me of something that has escaped from the Little Shop of Horrors and I find them quietly creepy – like they might climb the stairs in the night… I will be checking those lids!


Some sweetness to counter the bitter is the delicious choc cake – made with whey instead of milk. This recipe (with either milk or whey) is the best chocolate cake recipe I’ve found! It’s the Goldilocks of choc cakes – not heavy like mud cake and not too light – just right.

And finally – back to soaps…

The strange soap from the other day came out of the mold nicely this morning, and looks good – although who knows what it will smell like when it’s ready in a month or so – it’s still quite soft.

And now, I am looking forward to not coughing in a few days, and to planning what batch of soap to make next weekend.

I think I will start soaking something in some oil, and use an infused oil – or possibly an Earl Grey tea batch (I have a recipe, will try to be more sensible and start with a definite plan, and without the dreaded lurgy clouding my senses).