Jamie Futoran makes soap with beer at her home in Medford. - Jamie Lusch

Medford beer soap redefines 'suds'

Jamie Futoran is convinced beer and soap mix, perhaps better than soap and water.

Futoran began brewing up batches of beer soap for Internet sale nearly four years ago and began selling her wares at local stores in May. Her Soap Dreams revenue has surpassed the soap-making supply business that augmented her income, allowing her to ditch a part-time job.

"There are a few people who do it, but most of them do it with just one beer or no scent," Futoran said. "I use all kinds of beers, including local beers, and still make a regular gardenia scent using beer."

Her first foray into soap-making wasn't an artistic success. Thomas Edison might have said she discovered a way not to make soap on that day in 1998."My dad got me a book when I was 18 and I mixed it up," she recalls. "Let's just say it was an unsuccessful attempt and it was eating at me until I took a soap-making class."

She gravitated toward beer, she said, because it leads to a higher moisture content. "I didn't find out you could use beer until after the first year of making soap," she said. "Then I found out the benefits to your skin with it and started playing around with it."

Mixing oils and butters with lye, or sodium hydroxide, she then introduces flat beer, resulting in a somewhat volatile concoction. "It's extremely toxic once it's introduced into water, or in my case flat beer," Futoran said. "You need goggles and gloves when you pour it into water or beer. Within 10 seconds it rises and bubbles. It does really scary damage to people who don't know what they're doing. If it gets into your skin, it can cause severe burns. Any instrument you left in the mix would start to eat away."

The beer has to be flat, she repeated. "If you're not using flat beer, it causes a huge eruption," Futoran said.

She said it's more common for people to melt down pre-mixed base and mix in fragrances. "Initially, we thought it was cool to use beer," she said. "Then we found out its beneficial properties."

The liquid in beer adds no more moisturizing properties to the soap than water. It's the hops that give beer its bite that apparently adds longevity to a bar of soap. "The longer it cures, the more moisture is drawn out and the longer it will last," Futoran said.

She has produced her soap, along with her fiance Nathan Bell, in Medford since moving here from Cameron Park in the Sierra Nevada foothills in early 2010.

White's Country Store on West Main Street was the first store to pick up the Dream Soap line. Since then, Futoran has sold her wares to Pico's Worldwide and Terra Firma in Jacksonville, Black Bird Shopping Center in Medford, and Shop 'n' Kart and Market of Choice in Ashland.

Futoran produces 100 bars a week, making them in batches of 16. They retail for $5 to $6 each, with Tiki bars going for $6.50.

Just as beer can be flavored with berries or malts, she's manufacturing more than two-dozen types of bars, such as Irish Moss and Tobacco, Cardamom, Bergamot Charcoal, Dirt and Dragons Breath, Coffee Grounds and Guinness.

"Luckily, because of the supply shop," she said, "I can use any kind of scent I want and it's a lot more fun that way. I hope in the future to narrow it down to about 12 or so (scents)."

Soap Dream products are available at and the supply shop at

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email

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