Thursday, April 24, 2014

Merlot Wine Soap

I'm finally getting around to something that I've been meaning to try for a while now - wine soap!

Making wine soap is a lot like making beer soap, and wine and beer bring similar qualities to the bars. The natural sugars in each help to boost the lather, making it fluffy, creamy, and luxurious. Both are wonderful additives, and they add interest to a batch.

Using alcohol in soap can be tricky, though. Alcohol can cause the lye solution to bubble up like a volcano eruption. And it can make the soap seize, which will absolutely ruin a day in the soaping kitchen. (If you want to see an epic seize, check out this video to see the time I got soap-on-a-stick.)

The good news is that you can take steps to avoid volcanoes and soap seizes. The best method I know of is to bring your wine or beer to a boil on the stove top and let it simmer for about 10 minutes or so to cook out the alcohol. You'll lose some of the liquid due to evaporation, but you can either boil more than you need, or simply make up the difference with distilled water.

Boiling, measuring, and freezing the wine
For this batch, I used Recipe 1 from Amanda at Lovin' Soap. It contains olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, cocoa butter, and rice bran oil. I replaced the water with Merlot wine (go ahead and buy the cheap stuff, you guys), which I boiled first as described. A 750 mL bottle worked perfectly for my recipe - I needed 18.24 oz. (or 518g) of liquid, and 750 mL (which is about 25.36 oz. or 719g) of simmered wine ended up being just right. If you end up with more wine than you need or you want to reserve some for later, you can portion some out and freeze the rest. Just weigh what you need and pour it into plastic freezer bags. It's helpful to write the weight on the outside of the bag for future reference.

Another thing about working with wine or beer or even milks is that the natural sugars can cause the soap to heat up quickly. Also, if your lye solution gets too hot, the sugars can scorch. To combat this problem, I froze my wine after it had been simmered and cooled. After adding my lye to the frozen wine, I stirred the lye solution in an ice bath to keep the temperature low. Overall, I soaped cooler, too. I normally soap between 100-110 degrees F, but for this batch, I combined the lye solution and the oils when the lye solution was at about 84 degrees F and the oils were at 91 degrees F. And because batches that contain wine, beer, or milk can heat up more than batches that don't, I didn't insulate my mold.

For the fragrance, I chose Bramble Berry's Bordeaux Blend, which I had bought a while back. It is perfect for a red wine-type soap. It's fruity and spicy; sweet but sophisticated.

The wine/lye solution had a bit of a brownish-green tinge, and it smelled a little funky. (Don't worry, the funky smell should disappear during the cure.) To make sure that my soap stayed a deep red Merlot color, I added a generous amount of Merlot Sparkle mica into my oils before adding the lye. (I mixed the mica with a bit of glycerin first to avoid clumping and streaking.)

Once I added the fragrance oil and the mica to my cooled oils, I mixed in the lye solution, pouring it through a strainer just in case there was any undissolved lye. Then I stickblended the soap to a medium-thick trace.

Bramble Berry mentions that the Bordeaux Blend FO may move quickly, I would guess probably because of the cinnamon and clove notes. The soap did get thick on me, but it wasn't unmanageable at all. Besides, I was doing layers so a thicker trace worked out perfectly.

Fragrance oil and micas
You guys remember the mica oil swirl trend last year, right? I thought that it might be interesting to do mica oil swirls not just on top of the soap, but inside of the soap, too.

To make the mica oil, I mixed some Gold Sparkle mica with some olive oil. To make the swirls, I drizzled the mica oil onto the soap with a pipette. The olive oil saponifies along with the rest of the soap, leaving behind the shimmery mica.

I poured about one-third of the batter into my mold, drizzled some mica oil on top and then swirled it with a spoon, poured another third of the batter and drizzled and swirled more mica oil, and finally poured the rest of the soap batter and topped it off with more mica swirls.

I was going for crackled, wispy gold lines running horizontally through the bars. Overall, I was happy with the results, although the lines ended up being a bit more subtle than I was hoping for. So, I decided to jazz things up a bit more by stamping the soaps. To stamp the soap, I pressed my stamp into some dry mica, tapped off the excess, and then gently pressed the stamp onto the surface of the soap. It is best to stamp freshly-cut soap so that the mica will stick.

Here is a video showing how I made this batch:


I am very happy with how these turned out! The stamp adds so much drama, and the gold looks so great against the deep red. You can see the wispy mica lines faintly, which I think is nice even if I was hoping that they'd be a little more distinct. A jagged mica pencil line might have been cool, too. Or it may have been neat to drizzle the mica oil in between the layers and leave them be without swirling. The effect may not have been as widespread throughout the bars, but it may have created some dramatic mica specks.

I've already tested an end piece sliver, and these bars lather great! The bubbles are fluffy and creamy, and the soap smells spectacular. I've also got some Pinot Grigio FO in my fragrance bin, so there will probably be more wine soap in my future someday.

Have you ever made or used wine soap? Did you enjoy it?

44 comments:

  1. Looks very elegant, Jer. Love the stamp and the mica swirls and merlot wine sounds like a delicious scent!

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    1. Thanks, Mom! Every time I see the wine soaps at Chan's, I think, "I should make something like this." I love the stamp, and the fragrance is beautiful. I'll have to bring some bars home this summer.

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  2. It is beautiful! Very impressive! The best Wine-Soap, I have seen before!

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  3. Lovely soap, Jenny! Thanks for your tips, I will have to make one day wine soap too and this would help me a lot. I was only curious about the colour one can get using wine, maybe I will have to try it too, but the colour you got is really nice. Congatulations!

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    1. Thanks, Natalia! I'm glad that the post was helpful. I can't wait to see your wine soap! I wonder what color can be achieved with the wine alone, too. I was concerned that it might end up brownish or pink instead of a deep, rich burgundy, so I went ahead and used some mica to make sure that I got the color I wanted. I would be curious to see what it looks like without colorant, though.

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  4. Looks very nice Jenny - great Colors, nice Soap stamp !!!

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  5. It looks lovely, Jenny, and I love your stamp, it really gives sophisticated look to the soap.
    I've tried white wine in soap, but will surely make a batch with red. I just wonder how red/brown it looks without any colorant added!?

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    1. Thanks, Maja! I'll have to try white wine in soap, too, especially since I've got some Pinot Grigio FO hanging around here. I wonder, too, what color I would have gotten with the wine alone. I was worried that the soap would end up brown or pink, so I added mica to make sure that I achieved the deep burgundy color that I wanted. I would be curious to see what color red wine soap ends up being without colorant, too.

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  6. Stunning Jenny! I've never made wine soap but I would love to try it. The color of your wine soap is just gorgeous and I love the mica viens!

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    1. Thank you, Cee! It was fun making wine soap. I'm very happy with how this batch turned out, too!

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  7. love the way you make soaps...they look very simply to do... :)

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    1. Thank you, Eugine! I'm glad that you enjoyed the post!

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  8. Wow....what a stunning soap! I'll have to try this...great gift for a wine Aficionado!

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    1. Thanks, Cindy! Wine lovers would love wine soap! It would make a nice addition to a wine-themed gift basket.

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  9. Absolutely gorgeous soap Jenny! I love how the stamp really stands out against the burgundy of the soap. The scent must be amazing too. You have the patience of a saint to go through all those steps, but the end result is well worth it.

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    1. Thank you, Monica! I love that stamp, too, and the gold does look nice against the burgundy. The fragrance is gorgeous, too. Working with wine requires a few extra steps, but it's worth the effort.

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  10. Beautiful soap, Jenny! The gold stamp looks stunning against the lovely deep burgundy color of the soap. I recently made a small batch of soap with gold mica veins but the gold got buried in the soap. I sifted gold mica over 2 layers of soap, but I think your technique of mixing oil and mica together might work better. I have also been wanting to make red wine soap but have not done it yet. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Thanks, Silvia! I wish that the mica veins were a bit more distinct, but I am happy with the wispy mica lines that I got. I hope that the mica oil technique works out well for you if you try it. And I hope that you'll give wine soap a try - I'm looking forward to seeing yours!

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  11. Beautiful soap! Such elegant combination of dark red and gold!

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    1. Thank you, Gordana! I love the deep red and gold together, too.

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  12. AMAZING SOAP!BRAVO!Is so spectacular and I love the texture too!
    Happy week-end!

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    1. Thank you, Claudia! You have a great weekend, too!

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  13. Great tutorial Jenny - thanks! I've never really considered making wine soap, but this looks gorgeous. I especially love the idea of a mica swirl between the layers, the effect is stunning.

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    1. Thanks, Vicki! I am really happy with how this batch turned out, too. Soaping with wine is fun, and it creates such a nice bar of soap.

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  14. Wow, this is really beautiful! I love the red and gold combined. The mica-swirls inside the soap look great, I think I'll give that a try too. Thanks for the tutorial!

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    1. You're welcome, Marieke, and thank you for your comments! I like how the red and gold look together, too. I can't wait to see how your mica swirl soap turns out!

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  15. Beautiful soap Jenny! I love the color, it is bold and beautiful. The stamp is pretty neat too. I like how it stands out against the burgundy. I have not tried wine soap, the most adventurous I have gone is wine soap :)

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    1. Thanks, Roxana! I like the burgundy and gold together, too, and I just love that stamp. Making wine soap is fun - I hope that you give it a try!

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  16. Jennnyyyy!! I've been gone so long, but you have been BUSY! just checked out your other posts since Ive been crazy busy with my own life happenings, and I love what you've done with your designs! This post especially makes me want to make some soap with some of the leftover wine I have from May the 4th (be with you..). :) Keep soaping, my girl!

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    1. Hey, Ashley! Glad to see you back! Sounds like you have had a lot of exciting changes in your life. Thanks for the kind words. I am really happy with how this soap turned out. Soaping with wine is fun - you should give it a try!

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  17. Where did you buy your beautiful stamp, please? Thank you!

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    1. Hi, Victoriana! I bought the stamp several years ago at Michael's, I think. It was a clear unmounted stamp. Thanks for reading!

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  18. Hi there,

    I just made this exact recipe. I unmoulded it tonight and it smells as funky as it did going into the mould. I froze the wine so I'm confident it didn't burn (my lye water was very cool) - but it did smell pretty awful. Now it's unmoulded, it smells much the same.

    Did you notice that awful smell when you unmoulded.....and if so....how long did it take to go away?

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    1. Hi, Midweek Chef! The wine/lye solution did smell a little funky. (The same thing can happen with beer and milks, too.) Give the soap a week or two and see how it does - the smell should go away as the soap cures. I don't notice it in the final bars. Thanks for reading!

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  19. Great soap. I really like the color and mica touch.

    Where di dyou get that mold? I really looks like it is easy to manage.

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    1. Hi, Doyle! Thanks for the kind words. I got the silicone mold and basket from Essential Depot: http://www.essentialdepot.com/product/SS-MOLD-NATURAL-PLUS-BASKET.html?. Thanks for reading!

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  20. I'm just so excited to try this wine soap! Thanks for the wonderful inspiration and the video that is so helpful. But you mentioned you used Recipe 1 from Lovin' Soap. It lists 8 oz of water and you used 18.24 oz of the Merlot wine for the liquid. Did I misunderstand or did you double the recipe? I'm ready to make wine soap, just need to know how much liquid to use.
    Thanks ever so much, you did a great job!
    Amber Noel

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    1. Hi, Amber! I went back and looked at my notes and compared them to Amanda's recipe. Her recipe uses 32 ounces of oil and I needed 48 ounces for the mold I was using. So what I did was I ran her recipe through the SoapCalc lye calculator and converted the ounces for each oil into percentages, and then I ran those percentages through SoapCalc again for 48 ounces of total oils. (For more info on converting recipes, please see my blog post about Resizing and Converting Soap Recipes.) For the liquid/water portion, it looks like Amanda did a water discount. According to SoapCalc, the full water amount for her recipe would be 12.16 ounces - it looks like she opted to discount her water to 8 ounces. I usually soap at the full water amount, which worked out to be 18.24 ounces of liquid/water for 48 ounces of oils. (Make sure you run whichever recipe you use through a lye calculator, too, to double-check me.) I hope that clears things up! Thanks so much for the kind words, and thanks for reading. Enjoy your wine soap!

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    2. Thank you so much. I learned how to use the Resizing and Converting Soap Recipes and the SoapCalc today and I just wanted to thank you. Now I can get started on your beautiful wine soap. I'm so exicited! Thanks Jenny.
      Oh, I live in San Diego. What part of Southern Cal did you end up moving to?
      Amber

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    3. You're very welcome, Amber! I'm glad that it was helpful. :)

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  21. LOVE IT! The colors you chose are perfect. :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Amanda! And thanks for the wonderful recipe!

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