Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tutorial - Goat's Milk Soap

There are many goat's milk soap tutorials out there, but I make mine a little differently with consistent results, so I thought I would share my own technique. My technique combined many other strategies and then was altered to fit my needs. I saw many milk soap recipes that came out that lovely shade of orange or described a horrid smell, neither of which interested me. I found different methods for freezing the milk, adding the lye to the milk, adding additives to counteract the issues of using milk, but I wanted something simple.

Here is my technique. You can use your own recipe and then change the water to milk or you can use this recipe that is similar to mine from Snowdrift Farms. You didn't think I would actually give away my "top secret" recipe, did you? :-P

Shea & Goats Milk Soap by Snowdrift Farms
Makes about 5 lbs. of soap

Oils by weight:
15 oz. sunflower seed oil, high oleic
15 oz. sweet almond oil
8 oz. avocado oil
3 oz. babassu oil
7 oz. coconut oil, 76 degree
3 oz. palm oil
4 oz. shea butter Lye/NaOH/Sodium Hydroxide by weight: 7.4 oz. Water/Milk by volume: 20 fluid ounces

1-2 teaspoons titanium dioxide
1 teaspoon pigment
2.5-3 ounces essential oil or fragrance oil

I am assuming you know how to make cold process soap. I should not have to remind you to use proper safety techniques and protective gear, but I will. Please use them. Here's a link to general lye safety. And here is a link to soap making safety tips.

Now let's begin.

1. You need frozen goat's milk. A local farm or a health food store should be able to supply you with goat's milk. I use raw or unpasteurized goat's milk. Some methods suggest freezing the milk in an ice cube tray with each cube containing 1 ounce. This is too much work and the milk melts too fast (at least in my S. FL home it does). Note their are 20 ounces of fluid necessary for this recipe. I use 16 ounces of goat's milk (there is a reason for this - it does not matter your ratio, but you need some water). Measure the 16 oz. and pour into a freezer ziploc bag. Seal and freeze overnight. Since I make a lot of goat's milk soap, I buy a lot of milk and freeze it all at once. The raw milk does not stay fresh long, so freeze it right away.
2. Melt your oils together.

Place in a glass or plastic container and allow to cool to 115-120 degrees.

3. Have your scent and color ready to go. I have two sets of photos in this tutorial. One is showing what will happen if you add nothing. The other shows my Orange Blossom soap in a light peach shade.

4. Fill your sink with a few inches of water and add a lot of ice.

5. Take your milk out of the freezer. Cut the ziploc bag away and discard. Place your frozen milk in a container. Some recipes suggest letting the milk melt into a slush. If you want your base to be light and creamy, don't let it melt. Take the milk out of the freezer when the oils are cooling.

Titanium dioxide is not necessary for my method. My technique will give you a light creamy color. But if you want a white bar, or tend to use it for pastel colors, place your titanium in with the milk. I have tried adding it to the oils and the water, but adding it to the milk works best. It blends better and helps to keep the milk from changing colors. 1-2 teaspoons is plenty.

6. Once your oils are nearly the right temperature, start working with the lye. Measure 4 ounces of distilled water. I place mine in a glass measuring cup. Pour all 7.4 ounces of lye in the water. Mix together.

Place the measuring cup in the ice bath in your sink (my ice melted but the water is cold), and stir relatively constantly for 5 minutes. If you have to stop for a second, the soap will be fine, but try to keep stirring it, otherwise the heavy lye mixture will solidify on the walls of the container. Then stir until the temperature reaches 140-150 degrees. I am impatient, so I usually can't wait beyond 150 degrees. If it's any hotter, you risk scorching the milk causing bright orange colors and disgusting smells.

7. Now the fun begins. Pour your lye mixture over your block of frozen milk. Immediately start stirring the mixture allowing the milk to melt. Mix fast enough to keep the lye mixture a light shade of yellow (you do not want it darker than the photo), but not fast enough to splash yourself with lye. I once managed to splash lye on my tongue - not pleasant. I don't recommend doing it.

You want the temperature to be about 5 degrees cooler than the oils. If it's not exactly 5 degrees cooler, don't panic. You definitely want the milk cooler than the oils and the temp of the milk should be 105-115 degrees. Sometimes, the milk doesn't melt completely when the temperature reaches the desired degrees. Don't worry. It's the temp that is important, not whether or not the milk has melted. Note the color has gotten lighter. It's now a creamy color.

8. Pour the lye mixture into the oils, as soon as both temperatures are in the right range. Note that my milk is still in an icy chunk. It will melt while mixing the oil with the lye.

9. Give the mixture a quick stir. Start using your stick blender, and blend to trace. The oils made it a little darker. Just keep mixing.
Sometimes when you add the milk mixture to the oils and start to belnd it, it will immediately thicken and look a little ricey. Don't panic. Your temps were probably a little off. Just blend with the stick blender. It is falsely tracing and will correct itself as you blend it. It should self-correct suddenly within a minute or two of blending.

Ahh! Now the color is getting pretty light.

When you reach light trace, which typically takes just a couple of minutes, add your color. I added my peach color in this picture.

Then add your scent. I used my essential oil blend for my Orange Blossom soap. You can see it brings a color of its own.

Mix again until trace.

Pour into your molds or log. Here again is my peach colored soap. It will darken a little as it solidifies.

10. Put some saran wrap over exposed portions of soap to prevent ash. There is no need to cover the soap or to place it in the freezer. Just put the saran wrap on it and leave it alone for 24 hours.
Here you can see 3 different soaps. The white is Sweet Jasmine, the peach is Orange Blossom, and the tan one in the back is Brigid's Amber. It smells awesome but will darken to a mid brown due to the ingredients (surprisingly, not vanilla).

Here is a white bar of Sweet Jasmine.

Some people have the philosophy that milk soap should not gel and needs to be placed in the freezer. This is not necessary using this method. Do not fear gelling. I have never had a problem and my house sometimes gets up to 85 degrees.

This is the Sweet Jasmine curing.

I paint most of my Celtic soaps with mica. This is the finished Orange Blossom with some gold mica. Note the light color. Your milk soaps do not need to be dark, although I do make some dark soaps in the colors I choose, but not by scorching my milk.

Hope this tutorial helps some of you that are interesting in a goat's milk adventure. If you have questions, please post them here and I will be happy to answer them.

I have another tutorial coming soon for alcoholic soap. No, not soap for alcoholics, soap made with alcohol. I make some with beer and whisky. You could also use wine and other hard liquors.


  1. This is super. Can't wait to give it a try. Thanks so much for sharing this. I notice you use plastic you have any trouble unmolding?


  2. Technique is so important with goat milk soaping. If done right, it gives you the freedom to play with all kinds of natural additives and EO combinations without the putrid discoloration! Great tutorial...I make mine in a very similar fashion :)

  3. Babs, to unmold, pop the soap in the freezer for about an hour. They usually fall right out of the molds with no problems. I do have a scent or two that likes to give me problems, in which case I curse alot and that usually helps...make me feel better, that is. :-D

  4. Great tutorial,
    Thank you very much..

  5. Thank you for the tutorial!
    I was so interested in your method of making goat milk soaps, and I made my goat milk soap batch today with your recipe! The color was amazingly beautiful but some reason, the temperature of milk/lye solution never reached to 100 degree. But I managed to get the trace after poured the lye mixture into the oils and finally, poured into the molds. But then, after a few hours, when I checked my soaps, they were sweating (tiny droplets) on surface!
    Is it normal?

  6. Sometimes that happens, Anonymous. It may be your fragrance. As long as it isn't truly separating (just some droplets), wipe it off with a paper towel.


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