The Beekeeping Club and Yeast Culture Club team up for Beeswax Soap Making

By Grace Dille

In a collaborative effort, the Beekeeping Club and Yeast Culture Club (YCC) gathered in the Plant Sciences Building Nov. 15 to make soap out of a particularly special ingredient — beeswax.

Though the YCC had been making soap for three years prior, members found that it “started to lose its potency,” according to Beekeeping Club Secretary Noah Zingler, a junior computer science major and astronomy minor.

“Turns out, beeswax is really good at making soaps smell better, and that’s why beeswax soap is more valuable than regular soap,” Zingler said.

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Michael Melton, a freshman chemistry and mathematics double major, and Elizabeth Truitt, senior environmental science and policy major, prepare the soap mixture by adding lye to water.

Ian Howard, president of the Beekeeping Club and a master’s student studying plant science, said he came up with the idea for this soap making collaboration while brainstorming ideas for putting the club’s abundance of beeswax to use.

Howard is also a member of the YCC, so he pitched the idea to the club’s president, Angela Ferelli, a plant sciences Ph.D. student.

Ferelli said she was excited for the addition of beeswax to their soap, as it “will enhance any flavor that we put into the soap.”

In the future, Howard hopes to sell the soap to students to fundraise for the Beekeeping Club.

“We’d like to set up a table and be able to peddle our wares of bees as part of our outreach and education program, which is the reason why the beekeeping club exists to educate the public about bees,” Howard said.

The Beekeeping Club will also be selling honey “by the pound to the local public” in the near future, as they recently installed four new hives nestled in the trees next to the stream behind the School of Public Health, according to Howard.

Elizabeth Truitt, a senior environmental science major and new member to the Beekeeping Club, said this was the first club event she has attended, and she thought it was “so much fun” and everyone was “really talkative and nice.”

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Clubs members place the soap mixture in boxes and molds. According to Ferelli, the soap batches will be ready in about three weeks, after they have time to cure.

“I haven’t made soap before, but I do a lot of DIY projects with essentials oils and stuff, so it’s right up my alley,” Truitt said.

The clubs decided to make three batches of soap using a combination of different essential oils: tangerine and vanilla, grapefruit and pine, and tea tree and peppermint.

Co-founder and former president of the YCC, Sarah Allard, said she started the club in 2014 with her two friends when she was in graduate school, after a professor talked to them about fermentation and mentioned he had some equipment for it.

“[We] asked if we could start a club and start to brew beer, wine, do different activities, and create a nice culture in the department…and kind of jumpstart a social scene to get people hanging out,” Allard said.

The YCC has fermented a variety of different foods and drinks throughout the years, including beer, wine, mead, sauerkraut, kimchi, mozzarella, and hot sauce, to name a few.

“We decided to team up [with the Beekeeping Club] because we like fermenting and doing these crafts, and they have the really cool supplies,” Ferelli said. “Pretty much anything you want to ferment, you come here and we can do it.”

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