Why is it when I am touting the wonders of goats milk soap people will always ask “Do you make cheese?” Is goats milk cheese that great that they have no desire to try out the lovely decadent lather which is my soap? Shame on them! they don’t know what a treat they are missing!
Making goats milk soap can almost be as complicated as making cheese! For all the wonderful reasons we love goats milk in our soap those same reasons make it a little persnickety when soaping. Goats milk, any milk for that matter, contains sugar called lactose. Lactose is what makes milk carmelize when heated. For that reason you have to be really careful to not let your goats milk overheat or you will always have brown soap! When working with goats milk I either place my pot of goats milk over an ice bath or I freeze my goats milk and use it as ice cubes in my pot. The heat comes when you add the Sodium Hydroxide, better known as lye.
Lye was traditionally made with wood ashes and water, remember Granny again! Now you can purchase it commerically. Lye comes as either NaOH or KOH and one cannot be substituted for the other in recipes. Lye is used for saponification of the fatty acids in a soap recipe. Soap is really just a simple chemical reaction between an acid (the fats) and a base (the lye) which produces a salt (the soap).
Different oils used in soapmaking have differing proportions of these various fatty acids. A “recipe” combines specific oils mixed together results in combined fatty acids compositions tailored to produce soaps with desired characteristics. Once you understand this combining of oils you can design a successful soap recipe.
So you’ve dissolved your lye in your milk and then added you oils, what now? Mix like crazy!!!!! I use a stick blender but you have to be careful not to over mix! You’re trying to get the batter to come to light trace. What’s trace? It looks a lot like thin pudding when you mix. You can lift the blender out of the batter and it leaves a line on top of the soap. Too much blending and it looks like globs of ick! Once you get to trace you can add your fragrance and colors and additives. But be careful, some of those will accelerate trace and you will have a mess!
Now place in the molds and I retire them to my freezer. Why the freezer? It holds down the heat from the chemical reaction happening as the soap batter becomes soap so that we avoid having brown soap!
Be Udderly Beautiful!