One thing we do with our fresh goat's milk is make soap. Goat Milk Soap is wonderful for your skin and I'll never use anything else. I make a few different kinds of soap. Plain, Oatmeal, and a couple of essential oil bars...Lavender and Lemongrass-Eucalyptus. All with fresh milk from our Nubians and other natural ingredients.
I first started experimenting with soap making about four years ago when I purchased my first dairy goats which were miniature Toggenburgs, Britta, Rita and Friedrick. I type "experimenting" with a smile on my face and a chuckle because those first few attempts at soap making flopped majorly. My first batch exploded over night while setting. I woke up and went to see if it hardened in my cardboard box mold and it looked like a cake that had been baked with way too much baking powder. It was puffed up in a big mound with a big crack right down the middle. That was flop #1. My second batch didn't explode praise God. I thought I had it right. Everything went well during the soap making process, it hardened in the mold, I went to cut it into bars and it crumbled into little pieces as I cut it. Flop # 2. After my first two failed attempts I was pretty discouraged. I called the lady who I bought my Toggs from (who was a soap maker) and asked her if she had any idea why my soap flopped. She offered to teach me to make soap and invited me over. So, she taught me to make soap. She made it look so easy. I came home and started making soap. I haven't flopped a batch since! I've made a few adjustments to the recipe to make my soap my own. Today, I'm going to share it with you.
There are hundreds of recipes and soap making procedures out there. The best thing you can do when you find a recipe that you'd like to try is find a lye calculator online and check to make sure your fats, liquids and lye all balance out. This is why my first batches didn't go well. Either I had too much lye, too much water, not enough fats, or all of the above! After you find a good recipe try it out several times then you can start tweaking it to make your own.
My soap recipe
2 cups water
3 cups goat milk
9 cups lard
2 1/2 cups coconut oil
1/2 cup shea butter
1 1/4 cup food grade lye (beads)
essential oils, oatmeal or any natural additive of your choice
To start, I measure out all of my fats/oils/butters and put them in a large pot to melt over the stove. I melt them on medium/low heat. You want to melt them somewhat slowly so they don't get too hot. There are many soap makers who use a thermometer and bring the fats to a certain temperature. I don't. I use the finger test. If it's warm to touch and melted through it's good. That's probably not the best way to do it or the best advice but that's how I do it.
Next I mix my lye, water, and milk in a separate bowl. (I use a large electric mixer to mix my soap so my lye and liquids are mixed in the stainless mixer bowl. You can also use a big bowl or pot and a hand held electric mixer.) Lye is hot and produces strong fumes. This should be done in a well ventilated area. Gloves and goggles are a good idea. (As you can see in the pictures...I'm not using them. I recommend that you do. ) Because the lye gets VERY hot I freeze my 2 cups of water as well as my milk. The iced water cools down the lye quite a bit. If the water/ice is completely frozen I will just add cold milk, not frozen. Usually I freeze my water about halfway then use frozen milk. Most importantly is that when you add the milk to the lye and water mixture it's only warm and not hot. If it's hot it will burn the milk and make your soap a dark, ugly brown. This is why you mix the lye and water/ice first. You should mix this quickly so you don't get crispy chunks of lye. These are hard to melt. Again...be careful when handling the lye after it has been mixed with your liquids. It can burn your skin and eyes.
Next I add my milk (or frozen milk) to the lye and water mixture and stir it well.
After the lye, water, and milk is well blended I add my melted fats to the mixture. You want your fats and lye mixture to be close to the same temperature. This is where a thermometer would come in handy. Again...I do the finger test. Not the best, but it's my way.
I turn the mixer on a low speed and let it run for about 15 minutes. Using a spoon occasionally to scrape the thickening soap away from the sides of the bowl. After about 15 minutes of running I turn off the mixer and let it rest for about 15 minutes then turn it back on. I do this until the soap comes to a trace. Meaning the soap is well blended, cooled and is the consistency is like a thick pudding. How long it takes to come to a trace depends on the weather. In my experience, nice dry sunny days are much better for soap making.
While the soap is mixing and resting I start cleaning up a bit and I get my molds ready. I have two molds that were purchased online and my dad made two more for me out of wood. This way I can make two batches at a time or make a batch every day. To keep the soap from sticking in the molds I have tried lining them with several things. Plastic wrap, foil paper (bad idea), freezer paper, and fabric. I find fabric to be the easiest to work with. I use a large linen kitchen towel which will fit down into both molds. I don't worry about the folds and wrinkles of the fabric. That just adds some extra homemade character.
After the soap has come to a trace it's time to add any essential oils or other natural additives you'd like in your soap. You can also just leave it plain which is one of my favorites. If you plan to add essential oils I use anywhere between one and two ounces of EOs depending on which I use and how strong they are. This time I decided to split the batch. I poured half of the soap mixture into one mold to make plain soap and I added oatmeal to the other half. For half a batch I got about 1/2 cup of oatmeal and blended it for a few seconds to make it somewhat powdery. Then I added it to the soap mixture and turned the mixer on low while using the spoon to help pull the mixture away from the sides of the bowl and toward the center. You want this to get well blended.
Now I pour the oatmeal soap mixture into the other mold and set them aside to harden for a couple of days before cutting them into bars.
Check back in a few days and I'll show how I cut the bars and set them out to cure.