A Recipe for Citrus Honey Scotch Ale Soap

Fun fact about homemade soap: because of the “superfatting” (a small % of excess oils), homemade soaps are so much more moisturizing than typical store-bought soaps that you may never need to use a hand moisturizer again. I’m speaking from experience here. When the weather gets colder and flu season is in full swing, I become a compulsive hand washer. I’ve always been a little nuts about it, and though it has successfully prevented me from getting the flu, it’s also caused my hands to crack, peel, and take on practically every other form of hand discomfort – until I switched to homemade soap. Hand washing used to be a 3 step routine – wash, dry, moisturize. Now it’s wash, dry, point at my hand moisturizer and laugh mockingly. I can say the same for hubby, who rides a motorcycle to work even in extremely cold weather, causing his hands to be even MORE crack-worthy. He hasn’t needed hand moisturizer at all since we’ve started using our own soaps!

Speaking of men and soaps… did you know you can make soap with beer? When we had our soap party a week ago, we split into 2 soap-making teams. The ladies concocted the Cafe Soap made with real coffee and real coffee grounds (recipe here), and the guys created a Citrus Honey Scotch Ale Soap, made with a dark ale and ground malted barley as an exfoliant. You heard me right! Now I know what you’re thinking – kinda cool but why would anyone want to smell like beer? Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, but honestly the soaps smell more like an extremely rich caramel with a hint of citrus and honey. The guys absolutely LOVED the scent and these are going to make perfect gifts for the men (or beer enthusiasts) in your life.

For a detailed tutorial on Cold Process Soap Making, click here! This tutorial will give you all the information you need to complete any of the soap recipes we post.

Citrus Honey Scotch Ale Soap Recipe
Makes an 84 oz. batch, yielding twenty 4.2 oz. bars if cut from a loaf mold

Base Oils
- if you can’t find some of these oils locally, check the fixed oils section of TheSage.com
21 oz. olive oil
5 oz. macadamia nut oil
10 oz. jojoba oil (you can substitute apricot kernel oil for jojoba oil if you need a cheaper alternative)
3 oz. castor oil
12 oz. coconut
9 oz. palm kernel oil

Lye Solution
19 oz. dark beer - very very flat at room temperature. I suggest pouring your beer into a large bowl and letting it sit for a day or 2. When you mix the lye in with the beer, if there’s any carbonation, it will bubble up and overflow like a volcano experiment. Because there’s a chance of this happening even if you do air out your beer, definitely place your mixing pitcher inside a larger bowl (or the sink) so that any potential spillage will have a safe place to go.
8 oz. lye

Essential Oils
3/4 oz grapefruit
3/4 oz lemon
3/4 oz orange

Additive
3 generous tbsp honey – to add at trace, right after your Essential Oils.

Exfoliant
2 tbsp ground malted barley

What are some unlikely scents/ingredients you would like to see in a bar of soap? We just may create a recipe for them!

Remember to let your soaps cure for 4-6 weeks before using or gifting!

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  1. Which Scotch Ale did you use? There are a number of varieties out there, some that are fairly light with brown-sugary notes (like Samuel Adams Scotch Ale or Traquair House) and some that are very thick, with smoked malts (like Orkney Skullsplitter or Magic Hat’s Jinx). Perhaps an experiment with a nice smoked-malt Ale may add an extra dimension to the next batch?

  2. Hi it’s Wanda again. This is the one I want to try and HP. If you read my other post on this site. Could I sub Ginger beer. I want to make some ginger soap and this would satisfy my need to make both the Ale and Ginger soap and see if I like and can gift and sell a few bars. Thank you in advance for your reply.

    • You can substitute pretty much any liquid you want, but the scents will definitely vary (and some may not turn out as delicious as you originally planned). It’s all about experimenting! Whatever you do, make sure any carbonated liquids are completely flat before combining with lye! :)

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    • Depending on the quality of the oils you purchase, the scent should stick very well! The oils I get from thesage.com are great! :)

  4. Hello. Thank you for the lovley soap recipes and very easy to follow instructions. Regarding the ale soap, I saw a video online where the soaper boiled (2 bottles of an Irish red) the beer for about 40 minutes or so. She let it sit overnight and then mixed in the lye. It cooks down the alcohol and rids it of the carbontion which can cause a huge mess when adding the lye. Any thoughts? I haven’t done this myself yet and really want to make an ale soap. Thanks

    • Hi! I’m so glad you like our soap recipes! :) The most important part about using ale (or any carbonated liquid) is that it is perfectly flat before you combine it with the lye. The main reason for this (as far as I know) is that when the lye hits the liquid, if there’s any carbonation, the liquid will fizz up and overflow like a volcano project. I didn’t boil the ale, I just let it sit out overnight. The method you saw in the video probably saves a lot of time though!

  5. I recently decided I wanted to make Beer Soap for my blog (It seemed fitting) I’ve never made soap before, and wondered for this recipe, can I use 26 oz of Olive Oil and leave out the macadamia nut oil? As long as the oil totals are the same, I can substitute different oil?

    Last question, does the smell of the beer come through?

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  8. I love this idea! I’m obsessed with honey, and I love beer and citrus. My issue is my olive (and therefore olive oil) allergy. I keep a lot of other oils around for cooking and body, including grapeseed, safflower, and coconut oils. Would any of these be good subs for the olive oil?

    • Hi there!! The properties of grapeseed, safflower and coconut oils are a bit different from olive so they may not be the best substitutes. Some others you can try out are rice bran oil, jojoba oil or sweet almond oil. Jojoba would be the best alternative, but it’s a little more expensive.. rice bran would be the least expensive (even cheaper than olive oil), and will still give you great moisturizing properties and a creamy lather.

  9. really like the sound of this soap.. I make a shampoo bar with beer and aloe vera oil as my liquids, very moisturizing and nourishing for hair.. does the beer in this soap make it trace super fast? It sure did with my shampoo bar. I’ve used aloe and not had it trace up as fast, but man oh man, the beer was super fast. So fast I couldn’t swirl it at all :(

    • It traced a little more quickly than it does for my other recipes, but it wasn’t so much faster that I had to rush the pour. I wonder if it had something to do with the temperature we mixed at, because I remember it being a little hotter than normal too. Your shampoo bar sounds amazing!! :)

  10. Hello! I want to make this soap for a couple shower as a little gift for the people who attended. I have a few question for you. Did you end up doing a tutorial on making your own loaf mold? And would this recipe require more than one mold? I am considering making two batches of this, could I double it or would it be best to make 2 separate batches. and.. I already have an immersion blender, but I use it for my food. Do you recommend getting a separate one? (I understand if I decide to make soap regularly it would be best to have separate supplies, but I hate to buy one just to try this out). Thank you for the great tutorials!! I am excited to try my hand at this.

    • Imani, There is no way of making soap without lye as lye is the thing that reacts with the water & the oils and that reaction turns the ingredients into soap. Even if you were to buy M&P base, it would have gone through the same process already.

  11. Dying to make this one, what can I substitute for Palm Kernel Oil? Will it change the lye? I haven’t tried to use the calculator yet, kinda scares me.

    • Coconut oil is a good substitute for Palm Kernel Oil. It won’t change the end result noticeably, as the 2 oils have a lot of the same properties. Don’t be afraid of the calc, it’s really helpful! :) Happy soaping!

  12. I’ve had a tough time getting olive oil to trace, is there another oil I could use? Also, I’m new to soapmaking, so I’m not sure if I had done something wrong but can you tell me why soap may not trace? The soap turned out fine, I just let it sit for 2 days but I was baffled when it wouldn’t trace.

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  15. Hi there! I was wondering, if I wanted to make a smaller batch, could each ingredient item be cut in half to end up with essentially 42 oz / 10 4.2 bars?

  16. Is there a substitute for Malted Barley? or I’m finding Malted Barley powder, is that the same thing? What else could you use for an exfoliant?

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  18. Hello! I am very excited to try this recipe. I’ve never made soap before and am excited to give it a try. I’m having a hard time finding Palm Kernel Oil – any suggestion on where to find it? Found just about everything else at Whole Foods. Also, can you use ground flax seed rather than malted barley? Again, couldn’t find any malted barley at Whole Foods.

    Thank you!
    Lindsey

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