Making Soap – Alternative Liquids

When making soap it’s always fun to experiment with different ingredients. One of the easiest things to try is to change the liquid that the Sodium Hydroxide is dissolved in. I always use goat’s milk in my commercial soaps (I do have one beer soap too) and find that it makes a lovely, creamy, and moisturizing soap.

Other liquids include coffee, green tea, wine, and even beer. But you need to be extra careful.

Different liquids can react to the lye differently than plain water.

Also note, the lye will sometimes morph the liquid into a foul-smelling, brown soup. The good news is the smell doesn’t remain in the final soap, but it’s pretty nasty when you first mix it.

There’s a lot of debate as to whether the healing or moisturizing qualities of the liquid actually survive the reaction with the lye. I think some do and some don’t. But even if they don’t, using a liquid other than water adds interest, fun, and a personal touch to your soap.


I prefer to use straight up milk, frozen first in small muffin silicone trays. Weigh the frozen milk, leaving to stand for 15 – 20 minutes just to warm up a little before adding the Sodium Hydroxide. Add the Sodium Hydroxide really slowly allowing the milk to slowly defrost as you go. This method should keep the milk/lye solution below 110oF

If you want to use powdered Milk, add the powdered milk to the soap just after you’ve started mixing the oils with the Sodium Hydroxide solution. Mix the powdered milk with a little water (taken from the total required) to form a paste and mix well.

I have also used evaporated milk too, using the dilution rate suggested on the can, (usually add the same amount of water as milk) I mix the sodium Hydroxide solution first, waiting for the solution to cool, then weighing in the milk.

However you use it, milk really makes a great substitution for water used in soap. The chances are that the sugars in the milk will change any non-colored soap to tan color as they are affected by the caustic nature of the Sodium Hydroxide. Embrace this color change or add clay’s or natural plant infusions.

Beer or Wine

Any alcohol based liquid can be used but, like milk, needs special handling before use; all the alcohol has to be driven off first. The simplest method of doing so is to open the container, leave it open for a few days, gently warm the liquid in an open sauce pan then freeze it into usable cubes.

Herbal or Tea Infusions

Take a non-reactive pan, such as stainless steel, and place it on the stove. Clean and chop your herbal material and place it in the pan. Cover with distilled water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for an hour or so. It’s important that you keep the lid on. Any steam that comes from the water will have herbal essences in it, so you want to capture that. Steam will hit the pan lid, condense and fall back into the pan.

After an hour, turn off the heat, cool the mixture and strain the liquid. It’s rather like tea, but much stronger. Once it’s completely cool, you can use it in place of the water portion of the soap making recipe.

When using tea, just brew stronger than you normally would leaving any tea leaves to brew for a while. Again allow to cool or freeze and use as the water portion of the soap.

It’s important to note that when you use something organic, the scent and the color will fade once the lye hits the water. However, some infused benefits may remain.

I hope you enjoy trying some of these different options, let me know if you do, it would be lovely to hear from you…



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