Kombucha Soap – A Good Idea? 12


Experiementing can be fun but lets make sure we don't waste materials while we learn.

Experimenting can be fun but let’s make sure we don’t waste materials while we learn.

Maybe it is just me but it seems like Kombucha is everywhere. If you have never heard of Kombucha, let me fill you in really quick. Kombucha is a fermented drink that is made from tea and sugar. It originated in China but eventually spread to Japan and the rest of the world. It is a sour, almost vinegary beverage and has a loyal following. One of the purported benefits is the probiotics that are in the drink. I am not sure how much of that is true but I can say I make my own and enjoy the taste of it. It can help me remember to drink when I am bored with water.

So when we were asked on our Facebook page about making Kombucha soap, Andee asked me what I thought about it. I have a rather long answer but if you will be patient with me, I will explain why I DON’T think it is a good idea. Before you get upset with me, please allow me to explain.

If anyone understands the desire to experiment and try things once, I do. I have done a number of things with that philosophy and as a kid, it would get me in trouble. If you didn’t already know, a CD will spark in the microwave and can be beautiful ~ in an alarming sort of way. Trust me. I understand being curious and wanting to know what will happen.

So let’s look at Kombucha. When it is ready to drink, it has a pH of somewhere between 3.4 – 2.9. That is pretty low when you consider orange juice has a pH of 4.19 – 3.3. The lowest pH orange juice can be is where Kombucha is at its highest pH. This means Kombucha is pretty acidic. It is no different that adding vinegar to our soap.

What does this mean for our soap? Rather that allowing our sodium hydroxide (lye) to react with our fats, we are making it choose between reacting with our fats and our acids. It is going to react with the acids first, every single time. This will not change. Because of this, we are more like to have a failed soap that is not smooth in texture and high in unsaponified fats, meaning we are inviting in DOS (dreaded orange spots).

Yikes! Okay, so what about the probiotic factor? Unfortunately no probiotics are going to survive the soap making process, so using that as a marketing claim is out. The soap just gets too hot. Darn it.

Here is my final reason why kombucha soap isn’t a good idea. If your kombucha has ANY sugars that have not been fermented, your soap is going to take off and get extra hot. If you have ever made a milk soap or a honey soap, you know what I am talking about. Something about sugars just seems to invite the naughty soap gremlins into your workspace. Sugars in your kombucha means you have a recipe for  a soap volcano of epic proportions.

So while I think it sounds like it has label appeal and sounds like a great marketing claim, I don’t think it is a good idea. You already make incredible soap! Don’t sacrifice the quality of your product or your success rate for something that just doesn’t work.

Okay, so what if you find yourself with an excess of kombucha? Add a little to your drinking water. Let it go completely to vinegar and make salad dressings for green salads or even pasta salads, use it to marinate meat or fish for the grill. There are tons of fantastic ways to use an excess of kombucha! How might you use an excess of kombucha? Tell me! Even send photos of your pride and joy!

Taylor

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About Taylor

I’m a twenty something happy, animal loving, curious experimenter. I love reaching back into history and trying old recipes for cosmetics or foods. I’m constantly asking “Why?” My curiosity has me trying new things. I love taking walks with my dog as well as staying at home to cuddle with the dog and my cats. Some of my favorite scents include Hinoki Wood, Rose Garden, Jasmine and Gladiator.


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12 thoughts on “Kombucha Soap – A Good Idea?

  • TerriLin Pistorius

    I have made soap with kombucha tea for at least 4 years. Guess what? No volcano. You should probably research a little bit or at least try to make soap with something before you announce to the world it isn’t a good idea. Do the probiotics survive saponification? Probably not. But to say that the sugars are an issue is absurd. I regularly (and so do a lot of folks) make soaps with beer, wine, honey, cane sugar, and a variety of milks. I also cpop and guess what again? Never even a hint of a volcano. So please, try something first, or ask around to see what can be done, and is in fact being done, before you say it cannot be done. I really would have expected a better article from a reputable source.

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    • Tina

      TerriLin,

      Thanks for your opinion on the subject.

      I’m going to stand with Taylor because under the conditions we recommend using to make soap there are more problems presented when using kombucha tea than problems the tea solves. We still recommend using your excess kombucha for other things and not soap. We also don’t recommend 100% milk as the liquid for making soap. Our goal is to take the peaks and valleys out of the soapmaking variables. To do this we operate in a safer zone of guaranteed success. This is why we are a reputable source of information, even if you don’t agree with everything we write. We also recommend that when using beer, wine, honey or sugar, and milk that you use as little as possible to create a soap and not go overboard. It is far better to say “Gee! Next time I will use more.”

      Our philosophy when making soap is that an ingredient must be added for a reason. That reason had better be far more important and understandable than “just because I can”. We don’t care for ingredients added exclusively for label claims, and we feel that each ingredient must be added up to the point of full benefit and never where it becomes a negative addition. Too much of a good thing is still too much. We follow the motto of “Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.”

      On that note, why do you add kombucha? What is it adding to your soap that is worthwhile? What is the limit of beneficial? What are the downfalls?

      Tina

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      • TerriLin Pistorius

        I add kombucha tea to my soaps for label appeal and no other reason. It does “seem” to be a bit milder, but whether or not that’s perception or reality I don’t know. It’s popular and it sells well. I had an issue with the kombucha tea neutralizing my lye (more than once), so now I add it after trace.

        I apologize if I came off like a jerk in my original comment. I heard of this blog post today because my inbox blew up with “what’s your secret to avoiding a volcano when using kombucha in soap” messages and was directed to this blog. I ripped off a response before considering the tone of my message.

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        • Tina

          TerriLin,

          Label appeal is like sex, they are the things that get our attention and sell the most. It is interesting that you now add the kombucha tea at trace because of the lye reacting with the acids of the tea (Taylor mentions this as a concern). Lye reacting with the acids is much like adding honey, beer, wine, milk and others – they are best added at the end of the process to minimize any off reactions that are detrimental to our soaps. Adding at trace also helps allow for a broader range of soapmaking temperatures than if used at the beginning with the lye.

          I wish there were reasons that kombucha would be a good addition to soap rather than just label appeal. I want it to do more, be more and have a good value to the soap other than just because. I wonder if this would be a good addition to a body splash at the end of a shower to really help the skin feel smoother and softer? I wouldn’t want it to be a leave-on product. Maybe using kombucha in a mud or mask might do the trick. We’ll have to get thinking to find a good reason to use kombucha in our personal care products and not just as a beverage/food. And we must have a good reason which allows everyone to be successful in making a finished product.

          Happy soapmaking!
          Tina

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      • Ann Rein

        Don’t use full milk? I do all the time. Full goat’s milk – with absolutely no problem whatsoever. I don’t really understand the point of telling people to not do what others do successfully.

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        • Tina

          Ann,

          Would you suggest a full milk soap to a beginner? I think this is something that needs some experience so the maker can be successful. This is much like an automobile advertisement saying “professional driver on a closed course”

          Are you a professional? Is this something you could have done first time around? Are your temperatures altered by freezing the milk?

          Tina

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          • Ann Rein

            Yes I am a professional. You didn’t qualify that by stating you were giving advice to a new soaper. I will say, however, not long into my soapmaking career I was milking goats and making soap with full goat’s milk – rather than listening to naysayers I sought out someone who was going to help me, found them, and was successful. I’d much rather help someone do what they want to do, if it can be done, successfully, than tell them it’s not advisable. Sorry, but I do help people all the time with soaping questions, and I disagree with how you are going about it. I do understand there are people out there who need more guidance than others and need to walk before they run, but they’re not going to walk forever…..

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            • Tina

              Ann,

              I am thrilled you are doing what you like doing. I am standing by our advice that kombucha should not be added to soap. This is not a life or death rule, it is our advice. The amount of bacteria added to a soap through kombucha is a decompostion issue for me while the soap is in the shower. I think that there are many ways to do many things and I always stand by the philosophy of “just because we can, does not mean we should”

              I find it interesting that the reason most soapmakers come to making soap is they have skin issues and they find the mass marketed, mass produced products are not helping. They ask us all the time about sustainability in the products, whether or not the ingredients contain undesirable chemicals and then (as a whole group) we turn to radical things that just continue to rot in our soaps. Why the turnabout? Why do we risk spreading more disease, risk a failing soap, risk the liability, when we can make better and more pure. Why be concerned with all natural and then take these risks?

              I am baffled by this concept. Keep it pure. Keep it simple. Keep the success rate high. Keep the liability low. Has anyone ever thought that if they have a liability claim in the handmade soap world that laws may be passed to prevent us from making our own soap? Has anyone ever thought that if they have a liability claim in the handmade soap world that we all get painted with the tainted brush? Has anyone ever thought that if they have a liability claim in the handmade soap world that we pay higher costs in insurance and this isn’t just the claimant?

              This is an area where I believe that common sense is not prevailing and people are saying “So what, I can do what I want.” And they are right. But then we all pay the consequences.

              Tina

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  • Elizabeth

    My kombucha soaps also do not volcano, they soap quite well which surprised me

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    • Tina

      Juliette,

      I have removed your comment and link to your email. If you have an opinion on this matter then we want to hear your opinion. This isn’t a forum for other vendors and their opinion. This is a forum for our customers to comment with us about their own experiences. You are welcome to submit a guest-authored blog on your personal experiences. We would love to review your work.

      Tina

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