Well, you might be surprised to hear this but most people don’t think about soap when making beer… Whoa! Mind blown. But in recent days I have given a lot of thought to finding ways to recycle the by-products of the home brewing process in the home. While discussing with a friend who just got into making soap, she mentioned that she would like to introduce hops into her soap. This was intriguing, so I did a bit of research and found that making soap is a great way to use up your leftover hops, yeast, and spent grain.
In a previous article I referenced the contribution hops make to head formation and retention in beer, for a quick refresher, see the article HERE. As it turns out, the same qualities that make alpha acids useful in maintaining foam quality can also be applied to the quality of the lather you might generate from soaps. So if you make your own soap as a hobby, consider adding hops to the process as they produce a great lather and excellent fragrance. Even better than using fresh hops in soap making, you can recycle your spent hops from the brewing process and still get excellent results (double whammy).
Soap making is also a fantastic way to reuse excess spent yeast from the brewing process. Yeast is rich in vitamins and minerals that are also good for your skin and provide moisturizing qualities. For more on these properties, you can check out this thread on the soap making forums.
Those forums also talk about using milled grain as an exfoliate, but I think it would be a better idea to use spent grain because at least you’ve gotten the fermentables out of it and softened it up a bit (no one likes showering with a kitchen scrub pad).
The great thing about using all of these ingredients is that they’re natural, highly biodegradable and cheap, practically free since you already made what you bought them for. In addition, you can add fresh aroma hops with flowers or fragrances to create a unique olfactory experience, and more importantly the satisfaction of knowing you created it out of your own two hands.
Scrub-a-dub-dub, Two hops in the tub. One said, “Not now, maybe lather”.