From the Farm

Making Goat Milk Soap at Home

By Erin Hall / Photography By Savannah Snyder | November 15, 2014
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Goat Milk Soap

Goat milk soap is worth the effort to make at home. Goat milk is packed with essential nutrients and vita-mins, which feed the skin and leave it silk soft. The benefits range from helping clear up acne to soothing damaged skin. It is relatively simple to make if you follow the directions and use lye safely.

Materials List

Here’s what you will need to make soap—in addition to the ingredients in the soap, which will depend on your chosen recipe. These tools should be dedicated to soap making and not used for food purposes:

• Stainless stockpot (small to medium-sized)
• Stainless or glass mixing bowl (medium-sized)
• Sink or plastic tub that will hold the mixing bowl over ice
• Stove or electric burner
• Wooden mixing spoons
• Silicone spatulas
• Glass measuring cup(s)
• Long-stemmed food use thermometer
• Motorized electric stick blender
• Kitchen scale that measures in grams and ounces (digital)
• Waxed paper disposable cups for measuring lye
• Soap mold (loaf or tray style) and liners or waxed paper
• Safety goggles
• Safety gloves (nitrile gloves)
• Paper towels and a trash bag for “oops” patrol
• Ziploc bags or ice cube trays for freezing milk
• Soap bar cutter (or knife)

Lye Safety

Lye is a necessary component of soap making as it acts as the base in the soap while the oils act as the acid. Combined carefully, the two undergo a process known as saponification, creating the soap. Lye, also known as sodium hydroxide, is an incredibly caustic substance. A little powder on your skin will itch and burn, as will a splash of raw soap mix. Wear long sleeves and safety goggles, as well as gloves, every time you work with lye. Inhaling lye powder can cause respiratory burns, so consider wearing a mask while you measure your lye, or at least measure gently. Never add water or liquid to lye. This can cause a violent reaction. Always add lye, a little at a time, to your liquid and fully incorporate what you add before adding more.


Soap Making Steps:

Step 1: Find a Recipe

Find (or create, once you have some experience) a good recipe. Websites such as SoapQueen.com have many tested recipes. Once you have a few batches under your belt and have researched types of oils and the traits they add to soap (such as softness or hardness of bar, lather, moisturizing), you can find a lye calculator, such as the one offered on TheSage.com, and create your own recipes. A calculator is good to have, as lye must be precisely measured to keep the soap safe.

Step 2: Chose a Mold Size

Choose a mold size that will work for the volume of soap you will be making. Real soap needs to stay to-gether to saponify (turn into soap), and you need a tray or loaf mold, somewhere between 2 and 5 pounds, to start. Most recipes will specify a mold size. A shoebox lined with waxed paper will work for a test batch; the bars just won’t be as pretty.

Step 3: Gather Ingredients

Once you have a recipe and mold, you can add ingredients such as scents to your soap. These scents are provided by essential oils. You can purchase essential oils from many local natural food stores or online.

Step 4: Preparation

Cover your counter with a vinyl tablecloth to prevent damage. Then pre-measure and freeze milk in seal-able plastic sandwich bags or ice cube trays the day before making soap. You can also use an ice cream maker to make the milk slushy if you do not want to freeze the night prior. This will prevent the soap from overheating.

Step 5: Measure Milk

Measure milk (slushy) and place it in a large glass bowl and set inside a sink or tub full of ice. If the milk is frozen, break it up a bit and let it sit in the glass bowl, as the lye will melt your milk.

Step 6: Measure Oils

Measure out the essential oils and warm them on the stove in a pot to the proper temperature according to the recipe.

Step 7: Weigh Lye

Put on gloves and safety goggles for this step. Cover a common kitchen scale with plastic wrap, place a paper cup on the scale and zero the scale out and make sure to measure in the correct units. Slowly pour the lye into the cup until the right amount is reached.

Step 8: Adding Lye

With a wooden spoon in one hand, sprinkle a small amount of the lye over the milk and squish the frozen milk pieces around until they being to melt. Once the initial lye is dissolved, sprinkle in a little more. The milk will turn to slush and will then start to yellow. This is the lye causing heat to build up in the milk. If you have your bowl over ice, your milk should not overheat, but keep stirring as the lye melts your milk. Check the temperature of your milk and follow the recipe’s directions on what temperature your milk and lye must be before you mix them. Your lye mixture will not get cooler, so check it from the slush point on and continue to monitor your oil temperature. Never add the milk to the lye; it will foam over violently. Always add the lye to the liquid.

Step 9: Looking for a “Trace”

When the lye and oil mixtures are the right temperature according to the recipe, slowly hand-stir the lye mixture into the oil mixture. Set your spoon on paper towels over a protective surface because the raw soap batter will be caustic. Then use the electric stick blender on the bottom of the pot on low setting to mix the mixtures. Turn the mixer off after about 10 seconds and stir by hand. Repeat. Look for the mixture to “trace,” which means the liquid soap begins to coat the head of the stick blender and trails of soap from the blender sit for a moment on top before sinking back in. If you don’t stop the mixer and stir by hand, you will get a “false trace” from the pudding consistency created when the mixer whips air into the soap. Soap that has reached a true trace will be the consistency of thin pudding.

Step 10: Add Essential Oils and Color

Once “trace” has been reached, add essential oils and color. Make sure to fully incorporate oils in the mixture with the mixer. Some oils will accelerate the trace, meaning the soap will gel and solidify quickly.

Step 11: Pour Into Mold

Once the essential oils and colors have been incorporated into the mixture, use a spatula to scrape the soap into the mold. Be careful and wear gloves. If soap sets up in the bowl, leave it. It can be shredded and melted down later into your mold.

Step 12: Cover Mold

Cover the molds with a towel and allow to set for at least 24 hours. As the soap sets you should see it “gel.” The soap will start to look translucent in the center. Once the soap gels, you can remove the towel.

Step 13: Cutting Soap

Once the soap has set for at least 24 hours, remove it and cut it into bars, placing them on cardboard or milk crates. It will be the consistency of cheese. Wear protective gloves while handling the soap as it will irritate your skin until it has cured.

Step 14: Cure

Soap needs to cure for 4 to 6 weeks. Once it is cured, it will be firm.

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