By Lisa Maliga
I was always looking for ways to color my soap. Sure, I could buy soap that was pre-colored, but where was the challenge? It was like buying soap with shea butter already in it – why bother when I had so much shea butter on hand and it was as simple as measuring in a reasonable amount?
Doing my online R&D I got on a site that had wine soap that was wholesale only. This was several years ago, so the few places I noticed selling soap weren’t the clear glycerin variety but homemade. The color tended towards mauve or beige – not very wine colored at all.
A trip to the 99 Cents Only store took care of my wine needs. I got some merlot from the great state of California and it even came with a cork! Now, I had to find a corkscrew to open the bottle as I didn’t have one. A trip to the grocery store turned up the contraption and about 20 minutes later I was holding the remnants of a cork in one hand and the finally open bottle of wine in the other. Didn’t have a digital camera at the time for that image!
What I later discovered was that not only did the amount of wine I add affect the soap but so did the type of wine. Making this first batch of wine soap was venturing into the unchartered bubbles of melting and pouring glycerin soap. No book mentioned wine soap and nowhere online did I find any hints as to how to go about it. In fact, after adding what I figured out to be a rational amount of the wine, I thought after pouring it into the mold that I had wine soup instead of wine soap! But I was pleased with the resulting batch of beautiful looking dark red soap that had that faint scent of wine to it.
When I washed my hands with a small bar I made – it was a loaf soap and I opted for the end piece – I wondered if it would bleed all over my hands or make them smell like I’d been crushing grapes. Neither. I made another discover! Wine soap lathered better! I would later learn this was because of the sugar in it and that sugar can be an ingredient in melt & pour bases.
I made another trip over to my favorite discount store later that week and picked up a bottle of cabernet. I’d written down the recipe so I stuck to the same formula. But as soon as I added the wine I was surprised to see it didn’t remain its lovely burgundy shade: the cabernet turned a grape colored purple! Later in my soaping career this was an advantage as I had 2 different colored wine soaps.
My wine soap was considered a curiosity. I sold a soap sampler containing a travel sized bar of merlot wine. But I didn’t sell that many bars of the full sized version. Attracting the interest of an enterprising writer, I did have my wine soaps reviewed back in 2005. Here’s a copy of the review.
Chicago Sun-Times NEW IN BREW · Well, we’ve heard of wine massages, but now comes a special four-ounce glycerin soap made with wine from Everything Shea Aromatic Creations based in Los Angeles. The wine soap also contains shea nut butter, which has been added as a moisturizer. “We have variety of wine soaps and they all contain real wine — Merlot, sangria and Cabernet,” said Lisa Maliga, the company’s bath and body products designer. “The wine actually increases the lather. Plus, it just smells good, especially if you let the wine breathe — you’ll get a fruity aroma.” Reported by Celeste Busk.
Want to make your own wine soap? The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting contains two wine soap recipes!