This guide shows you how to make goat milk soap, and let me tell ya; it’s a lot easier than you think.
I started making soap roughly 13 years ago, and almost from the beginning it was with goat milk.
Why goat milk?
There are so many benefits for your skin when you make soap with goat milk. The fatty acids it contains help repair the skin barrier, and vitamin A, which helps prevent breakouts, and speed healing, while promoting natural moisturizing, hydrating the skin effectively. Some sources say it’s the “anti-aging vitamin”.
Goat milk soap also has the closed ph to your skin, helping protect it from invading bacteria.
It’s also a gentle exfoliator because the hydroxy acids soften the skin by breaking down the adhesions holding dead skin cells together.
Where do you get goat milk?
Another reason I started making goat milk soap was because we had diary goats at the time, so it just made sense.
That said, goat milk is actually very easy to find! You can order powdered goat milk from Judee’s (which is very high quality), so that you have a shelf-stable option ready to go when you’re ready for it.
You can also usually get fresh milk in the diary section of large grocery stores – our local Walmart even carries it.
Another option is canned or powdered goat milk in most grocery store baking aisles.
And of course, there’s the best option: supporting a local goat herd. Dairy goat herds aren’t popular in every area, but if you do find one, make sure to take advantage!
Let’s move on to the other ingredients, starting with lye.
Where to buy lye
Lye is something to always be careful around, and that’s probably why you can’t get it at just any store.
I’m not gonna lie, lye used to scare the stuffing out of me, and that was the reason it took me so many years to finally make soap. There was an incident in our community involving a young child and lye that compounded my fear, and since I lived at home with so many young siblings, I just decided at the time that my interest in soap making would have to wait until I moved out, or they got older.
I’m still careful with lye, and I’ve also taught my kids not to mess with it, even though I kept it under lock and key when they were younger. It’s just now that they’re tweens that I’ve started letting them help with soap making.
So with that said, the best place to get lye is to order it, though sometimes you can find it at a hardware store as drain cleaner. Be careful if you do this though, that what you get is 100% sodium hydroxide.
I like to get the smallest crystals possible, because they dissolve more quickly, but most of the time, unless I’m willing to order a large amount, I have to settle for beads. These take a minute to get stirred in, but they worked just as well. I’ve had really good luck with this brand.
The third component to making goat milk soap is oil.
During the saponification process, the oil is changed from something that needs to be cleaned, to something that cleans. Wild.
Basically, combining fats with a strong alkali (lye) creates glycerol and potassium salts. Now your fats have turned into a compound that lifts dirt and bacteria, and washes it away.
Each oil has a different quality in soap making.
- Olive oil creates a very soft bar, with a stable lather
- Coconut and palm kernel oil both create a hard, cleansing bar with a fluffy lather, and helps bring your soap to a trace quickly
- Lard and tallow, create a hard, conditioning bar, and a stable lather
The list goes on, but these are the top soap making oils that most soap makers use.
Some oils and waxes like shea butter, lanolin, almond oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, etc. are used in small quantities, so don’t have as much effect on the resulting soap bar.
One note about using coconut and olive oil: we usually strive to get the best quality oil we can for internal ingestion. Extra virgin, and smells like a coconut (or olive). But that’s not the best oil for making soap.
In fact, pomace oil in some ways makes a better bar than virgin olive oil.
The bottom line is that all grades of olive and coconut oil have mainly the same fatty acid makeup, so they’re each going to make a very similar soap.
In other words: go with what’s cheapest.
And now we get down to business:
How to make goat milk soap.
Tools you’re going to need:
- A kitchen scale that weighs in grams and ounces
- A large glass or stainless steel bowl
- An immersion blender, or stand mixer
- Smaller glass or stainless steel bowls for weighing ingredients
- Soap mold. This can be a cleaned out milk carton, a loaf mold, silicon baking pans, or plastic molds from Hobby Lobby.
You may also want to wear rubber gloves to protect your skin from splashes, and goggles to protect your eyes from fumes. Personally, I find the most important safety measure is to be in a well ventilated area. The fumes from dissolving the lye are very easy to inhale, and you want to guard against that.
Here’s a basic small recipe I like to use:
- 5.4 oz. of goat milk, frozen or partially frozen
- 68 grams of lye
- 6 oz. olive oil
- 6 oz coconut oil
- 4 oz. palm oil
The first thing to do is measure out your goat milk and get it in the freezer. I typically freeze my goat milk gallon bags for storage, and break off what I need for a batch of soap. This makes it quicker to get started.
Then, add your lye to the goat milk and stir.
The reason you need to freeze your goat milk is because when you add the lye, it gets very hot, very quickly, and can scorch the milk. The colder the milk is, the less likely it is to burn. So you want it icy at the very least, but for me, I’ve found that adding lye to milk that is frozen solid yields the best results.
When your milk is completely frozen, the chemical reaction of the lye will melt it as you stir, and the mixture will get warm, but stay cool enough to retain the creamy whiteness of the milk, yielding a nice, creamy bar of soap.
It does take a little longer for the lye to completely melt the milk and dissolve, but for me, it’s worth it.
After the lye and milk mixture is made, let it cool to around 100º f.
While that’s cooling, measure out your oils, and heat them to about 100º also. You want your coconut oil to be completely melted.
Some sources say, and The Soapmaker’s Companion alludes to it, that it’s less important what the exact temperature is, as long as it’s between 80º-120º, and more important that the oils and lye solution are within 10 degrees of each other.
I try to keep this particular batch around 100º.
Once all your ingredients are about the right temperature, its time to mix them together.
Carefully, so as not to splash, stir your lye and oil mixture together in a large, non-reactive bowl, such as stainless steal or glass.
And then you’re going to stir.
This can take a very long time if you’re stirring with a wooden spoon.
But it can take a very short time if you use an immersion blender, or a stand mixer.
In other words, the faster your stir, the fasters the oils and lye bond and begin the saponification process.
Using an immersion blender can shorten the time to as little as 5 minutes. Using a stand mixer can take as little as 10-12 minutes.
Whichever method you choose, stir your soap until it forms a trace.
What is a trace, you ask? It simply means that your soap has become thick, like pudding, and when you stir, it leaves a “trace” of where your spoon or stick blender has been. I cover how to know when your soap is at a trace in detail here.
When your soap reaches a trace, this is the time to add essential oils if you’re using them.
When adding fragrance, be wary of using fragrance oils, as these can cause your soap to seize. If that happens, transfer it to your molds as quickly as possible and try to press it in the best you can. It’s till soap. It’s just a weird texture now.
I use only 100% essential oils in my soap, because not only do they very rarely seize (usually the cause is an impurity in the oil), but I believe they can be beneficial to your skin. You can find my family’s favorite essential oil blends for soap making here.
So, if you’re using essential oil, add a dram when your soap traces.
Then transfer to your molds.
Cover the molds, and insulate with a towel or blanket to keep the soap warm and further the saponification process.
Most of the time your soap will harden and be ready to uncover and cut or unmold within 24 hours.
Once your bars have hardened, lay them in a well ventilated area to dry, and then cure for about three weeks before using.
This is the cold process method of soap making. If you’d rather be able to use your soap right away upon making it, I suggest trying the hot process method. You can use your crockpot to make hot process soap in one afternoon.
Having fun with soap
There are all kinds of fun ways to make soap.
I occasionally make oatmeal lavender soap for my dad, since he’s hooked on the addition of oatmeal for his skin.
One of my favorites is coffee scrub soap for early morning showers.
My favorite in the spring is rosemary mint goat milk soap. It smells so refreshing!
And you can also make soaps for every holiday! I like Christmas tree goat milk soap to give away during the holidays, and I can’t forget fall spice soap for October and November. It smells so homey!
You can find so many more varieties to try here with lots of different options for oils and additives.
I hope you have lots of fun with making goat milk soap! There are so many endless possibilities for variations you’ll never get tired of it – which is good, because once you try homemade goat milk soap, you’ll be spoiled, and never go back to cheap soap again.
Happy soap making!
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