Making Soma

I teach a zoom workshop through the Mushroom Voice on making Soma from amanita muscaria and the ancestral shamanic practices that accompany its use, each month on the first Thursday.

I recorded this collaboration with Amanita Dreamer showing my method for a fast, easy and vegan, full decarboxylation of ibotenic acid to muscimol using lactofermentation. Once you make the gingerbug you can make Soma in 12-48 hours.

Vegan Lactoconversion of Ibotenic Acid:
Using a Gingerbug to Make Soma Soda

Ibotenic acid is not your enemy. There are very few reasons to do a full conversion other than to take a heroic dose for shamanic work. Simmering a tea will decarb. Lemon juice or vinegar will acid decarb. Your liver will decarb. Even sunlight will photoconvert fresh caps in Eurasia. Ibotenic acid is not the problem, its the solution. You likely will not ever need a full conversion.

Also, the lactobacillus culture is live and soma soda does not last long in the fridge, maybe weeks, though theoretically you may be able to freeze it and preserve the muscimol. 

Directions for the Bug:

In a quart jar place between one half cup to a full cup of cut ginger, peel on, ideally organic.   

Add a half a cup of brown or white sugar and 2-3 cups of water.

Cover with a cloth and rubber band or some kind of fermenting lid with a gasket valve to relive pressure in an emergency.

Warming the simple syrup before feeding is common but not necessary, just make sure its cooled below 90 Fahrenheit before feeding the bug.

It may be true that well and spring water work faster than tap water both because of the dissolved mineral content and also because tap water contains antimicrobial chemicals like chlorine and chloramine.


Let it live on the counter in the kitchen in a warm well ventilated area for the first week or so.

Every day for the first five days remove a tablespoon or two of the water by pouring or with a wooden spoon. Replace that with a tablespoon of sugar and some water. It could be simple syrup you saved from day one or just raw sugar and water – the gingerbug is very adaptable.

Once you see bubbles then it can live in your fridge and wants weekly feedings of about 2 tablespoons of fresh sugar water. In low temperatures it eats slower and is sort of hibernating until you warm it up for a secondary fermentation.

This is your mother culture from which you will lactoconvert Ibotenic acid, there is no need to put any Amanita in the mother at this time.

Soma Soda and secondary fermentation:

To make a soda you will need a fermentation grade bottle, clean water, 1/2 to one cup of sugar, and some juice or fruit is nice, maybe ginger and lemon peel, maybe pomegranate yuzu, this is a place for you to be creative. Oh and Amanita.

My simple soda: 5-10g dry mixed caps of Amanita (raw or simmered in tea for 20 min), up to a quarter cup grated ginger, a teaspoon of lemon peel, two cups lemon juice, one cup of white sugar and water to fill. 

This conversion is fast. 12 hours to 3 days at the max. Then refrigerate and as always start low and go slow. You have nothing to prove and getting comfortable operating this fungal technology is more important than any bragging rights for high dosage.

The end result is carbonated from the lactobacillus. This carbonation cannot reverse the decarboxylation of Muscimol to Ibotenic Acid. Its a one way street. 

Glassware warning: use bottles that can withstand pressure or they may expose in secondary fermentation. Decorative glass is a bad idea and pop tops don’t let you control off gassing and can paint your ceiling or injure you upon opening. I love the screw top kombucha bottles that come in a variety of sizes.

Lactobacillus and metals… Something about iron and aluminum changes the charge of something and the culture just never tastes the same again, so you can prep and measure the sugar water in metal, like a pot on the stove, but once you’re culturing you want to be using wooden spoons and cutting boards, ceramic knives, glass or ceramic vessels and cloth or plastic lids. However, people grate it on metal, blend it with metal blades, brew it in a steel tank to the point of being beer, and it’ll eat nearly anything sweet. Gingerbug is versatile.

Fermenting is an act of gardening and the resulting culture becomes one of your kitchen pets; it will thrive with weekly feeding and would love to get out periodically and ferment a soda for you. That being said it may live in a refrigerator for months without food before becoming too tired to resurrect with a little sugar water. Because of this it is one of the most forgiving of the lacto-cultures.

Because you’re gardening bacteria the speed of the ferment is sensitive to the weather, temperature, sunlight, water quality, ease of metabolizing the food and pressure (in or out of a bottle). I cannot tell exactly you how long the conversion takes but when the lactobacillus its thriving you can see it breathe because it gets carbonated. 

The gingerbug is essentially immortal and the cultures can be combined to create robust strains from ancient roots. Using a tired gingerbug as the mother for a fresh one is wise and time-honored tradition.

Other lactofermenting conversion possibilities include vinegars, kombucha, water kiefer, tepache, sour kraut, kimchi, kvass, chutney and anything else you can pickle by culturing. What does not convert are yeasts like sourdough, wine, mead, beer, sake, or compote. 

The conversion occurs when the culture breeds out into a new food source quickly. Putting amanita into a ginger soda or kombucha that is already fully cultured will give you minimal results (although a sour kombucha might acid convert). The faster the culture spreads the faster the conversion, so a gingerbug in 3 days does way more than a kombucha in 2 weeks. You want a fast ferment, overnight if possible.