Making soap can be one of the funnest and most challenging products to make with goat milk. Goat milk soap is one of the best soaps, in my opinion, because it doesn’t dry out my skin like other soaps, I know exactly what is in it, and I can buy all of the ingredients locally.
I usually make a big batch of soap in the fall because I like to give it away as homemade Christmas presents. My family loves my soap and they wish I would make more of it but making soap is a bit of a process that requires kid free time, which is a hot commodity for me.
I first started making soap about 6 years ago after we bought our goats. The local college happened to have a community education class for making goat milk soap which seemed like fate. I signed myself, my sister, and my husband up to attend the night class. (Poor Trenton was the only guy there). I love taking community education classes and I was very happy to find this one. Since taking the class I make one or two batches of soap a year and I think I have a good recipe now, although I still tweek it a bit.
To make soap you need three basic ingredients:
A few pointers when making soap:
- Wear long sleeves and gloves!
- Working with lye is the reason I need kid free time. Although it will not violently burn your skin (Fight Club) it is not pleasant to get on you, which I do every time I make soap. The lye will irritate your skin even after you wash it off and feels like an annoying slow burn for a few hours.
- Always add the lye to other ingredients not the other way around.
- For instance, add the lye to your milk a little at a time until it is well mixed then add the lye mixture to your oils.
- Use a variety of oils!
- Different oils have different properties and will effect the quality of your soap. I use a mix of olive oil, coconut oil, lard, sunflower oil, and castor oil.
- For lighter colored soap use a cold process method.
- Using the cold process method with milk based soaps helps to keep the color lighter rather than a creamy coffee color.
- Immersion blenders are wonderful.
- To make soap you need to blend your oil and lye mixture which takes a lot of stirring. An immersion blender is the best way to mix your soap.
- It is just as easy to make a large batch as a small one.
- I have recently discovered this fine fact. I can make 5 pounds of soap with the same amount of clean up as 1 pound so I might as well make more soap at one time.
A good resource that I use when figuring out recipes is http://www.soapcalc.net/ because it will help you calculate how much lye, water(milk), and oils you need per batch. It will also rate the quality of your soap based on which oils you select and what percentage you want to use. I played with this website for a long time before I found a good mix that I liked and I still play with it a bit when I want to try an experimental recipe.
The Experimental Batch:
Usually when I make soap I make 2 Ibs of one scent and 2 Ibs of another. I have just enough soap molds to make 5 Ibs of soap so I experiment with the last pound of soap. This year my experimental soap is an orange coffee soap.
I wanted to try to make orange oil by simmering dried orange peels and olive oil in a double boiler for a few hours. I then used this oil as my olive oil in the recipe. When I had mixed the soap to trace(when the soap starts to thicken) I added the used coffee grounds from my morning coffee. It turned the soap a lovely brown and the grounds will give the soap a scrubbing quality.
I thought about adding orange essential oil to it as an added scent but I am curious if the orange oil I made will offer any scent to the soap. Hence the experimental batch of soap.
This last weekend I taught my Aunt Candy how to make soap and we had a great time getting Christmas soap done. I’ll admit I am cutting it close this year because it takes 6-8 weeks for soap to cure. My family will receive their soap with a warning not to use it until the week after Christmas!