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Each year I make two batches of goat’s milk soap. I find that in order to make the most moisturizing soap I can, goat’s milk is simply the best base (though I do like to dabble in other soaps simply for a “crafty” experience).
Two batches will last our large family for an entire year and there are still some left over for gifting to others. This year I did one batch of lavender, and one of lemon. Last year I did a rosemary and an orange. In general, I like to do one batch of whichever scent will be most potent in my home for the year, and then a citrus for the second.
I pick a comfortable day and choose a time when either the younger kids are sleeping, or when the Farmer is able to help me, to make my soap. I do this not only for their safety, but also so I can move along fairly quickly as making goat’s milk soap does take some time. It’s best to pull all your hair back and out of the way if it’s long, and wear clothing that covers everything.
If you aren’t familiar with lye, read up on it first so you know proper precautions to take to keep yourself safe.
I highly recommend to anyone making their own soaps to have a set of equipment that they will use only for soaps and nothing else. Check all your supplies before you start to make sure you aren’t using anything aluminum, which would react with the lye. You will need the following equipment/supplies:
- Outside station where you can mix lye –out of the wind, with good air circulation
- Newspaper or other paper liner for your table/stations
- Glass jar
- Kitchen scale
- Large bowl that is not aluminum–I use a plastic bowl
- Medium bowl that is not aluminum–I use a plastic bowl
- Non-aluminum long handled stirring utensil
- Gloves and eye protection
- Soap molds or cardboard box and muslin cloth
- Plastic wrap
- Large knife
- Immersion blender
Once you have all your supplies out, you’ll need to get your soap ingredients out. Your ingredients consist of oils, goat’s milk, lye, and distilled water.
I like to make sure to use freshly opened oils for my soaps, since I often need more than one bottle and I want to make sure not one drop has gone rancid. I would not suggest planning to use part of a bottle that you are using for cooking. I also prefer to make sure the brands match, and use organic if at all possible.
Oils are one of the things we stock up on during our twice a year shopping trips. For the February trip, I’ll collect what’s on sale. Then when the September/ October trip comes around, I’ll take an inventory and get what I still need.
I prefer grapeseed to canola oil for soaps. If the coconut oil is not melted when I’m ready to start, that’s okay. The lye will get hot and melt it anyway.
I’ll measure the goat’s milk out ahead of time and have it chilling in a pint canning jar.
I have the best luck finding lye at a hardware store. Some people have luck at a pharmacy.
As for the water, you can either purchase a bottle of water, and open the seal just as you are using your 10 ounces, or you can carefully collect rainwater in your cleanest bowl making sure nothing gets in it. Alternately, I like to use water that has been filtered with my Berkey DE Filter since it pretty much removes every little thing that could possibly be in the water. I would not use water from another filter.
You will need (in order of use):
- 36 ounces olive oil
- 12 ounces grapeseed (or canola) oil
- 8 ounces cold goat’s milk
- 16 ounces softened or melted coconut oil
- 8.9 ounces lye
- 10 ounces distilled water
When you’re ready to start, make sure you will be without interruptions. If you have a second person to mix your lye, have them carefully working on that at your outdoor station while you mix your oils inside.
Place your large bowl on your scale and zero it out. Measure your olive oil in this bowl, and set this bowl aside.
Place your medium bowl on your scale and zero it out. Measure the grapeseed oil in this bowl and add it to the large bowl.
Pour the goat’s milk into the large bowl if you measured it earlier. If you haven’t measured it out yet, use the medium bowl method on your scale at this point.
Place your medium bowl back on your scale and zero it out again. Measure the coconut oil in this bowl, and add it to the large bowl.
With your immersion blender, mix these together well.
If you did not have a helper mixing your lye outside, then this is the point where you will do it yourself. Your oils are okay to set aside while you go mix lye.
Place your glass container (we use an old half gallon pickle jar) on your scale and zero it out. Measure out your water in this glass container. This is the container you will use to mix your lye in.
Now measure your lye carefully. Take both your lye and your water outside to your mixing station. Carefully and slowly (making sure your eye protection is on) add your lye to the water. (Do not add your water to the lye.) Gently stir and/or swirl your mixture until it is dissolved. Do not stand with your face over this mixture.
I usually have the Farmer or a friend mix the lye outside while I mix oils inside and I’m usually done mixing first. Take your time with the lye. Don’t rush it.
Use hot mitts if needed to carefully carry your lye to your oils and pour it in carefully and slowly. Do not stand over the mixture.
Now use your immersion blender to start mixing. This step takes a long time. Keep mixing until it gets thick. If you are going to add essential oils, add them at the end of this step. I find that no matter what brand I use, it takes a lot of oil to really produce a lasting fragrance.
Anything that I want in the soaps (like lavender buds), I add at the very last minute.
It’s now time to pour your mixture into your molds. I have a spatula that I use to help me with this part as it’s now quite thick. Take your time to fill them all as you would like.
A separate option if you don’t have soap molds is to use a cardboard box. I use the box method for my second batch.
I keep a large box from a case of canned goods just for this every year. Line it with muslin cloth, and pour your soap in. You may want to take a minute and use your spatula to smooth out the top, as however you pour it is just how it will set.
Whichever way you set your soap, you will now want to put a piece of plastic wrap over the top of it, making sure it touches the soap. We have a lot of humidity here, so it takes a couple days to set. If you live in a dry area, check them in 12 hours or so.
Once they start to harden, use your knife to cut them apart if you put them in the box. If you used molds, then carefully turn them over and work them out. They will still be soft, so be careful. It’s still easy to manipulate their shape.
Stand all your soaps up on their sides, making sure they don’t touch, and put them up somewhere for 6 weeks to let them cure. We have a dark storage room where we put ours.
Six weeks later, your soap is ready to be used.
This particular recipe also works really well as a shaving bar.