Thursday, July 24, 2008

Making Milk Soaps

Goats milk soaps are easy to make and worth the little extra effort. Full-fat milks such as goats milk provide extra emolliency and have a lush and creamy lather.

If you have access to fresh goats milk, you are lucky. That said, I have made fresh goats milk soaps -- up to 200 pounds at a time -- but it is difficult to maintain consistency between batches. The fat content in fresh goats milk can vary between 5-12%, depending upon the breed and the feed.

Fresh goats milk soaps can be made using anywhere from .5 to 100% goats milk instead of the water. Simply deduct the amount of goats milk used from the water called for in the recipe. You can add the goats milk with the water and then add your lye, or you may choose to withhold the goats milk until you have added your fixed oils. What's the difference?

Adding the goats milk with the water and then adding your lye will subject the milk to longer contact with the lye. Milk contains proteins and sugars and when they mix with the lye, they will burn. The smell does not appeal to many people. The proteins will become orange and the fats will become a deeper orange-amber. Depending upon how much fat is in the milk, the milk may develop a fat layer that will congeal. You can break it up using a stick blender.

If you add your milk after your fixed oils are in, you will not detect the same burning odor from the milk. Also, the proteins and sugars are not subjected to the intense heat and caustic action of the lye.

To maintain consistency between batches, I use Meyenberg canned milk at the rate of one 12 oz. condensed milk per 20 pounds of oils. I prefer to use the canned variety best, followed by the reconstituted powder. After that, I try to get the pasteurized and/or homogenized variety from the grocer's refrigerator. Milk that has been processed can be relied upon to be the same from batch to batch.

Click here for our cold process goats milk soapmaking recipes.

If you are using fresh goats milk, you might consider freezing the milk into ice cubes. The colder the milk, the longer it will withstand the heat and the less damage or color shift you may expect. You can add the frozen milk to your lye-water. Don't worry, it will melt down quickly. You can add the cubes at any time during the soapmaking process.

One way to lessen the darkening effects of adding milk to your soap mix is to add a small amount of titanium dioxide. I use 2 tablespoons of titanium dioxide per 20 pounds of oil. Even this small amount lightens your soap mix and can bring your soap color back toward white if it is becoming too tan. I add the titanium dioxide in the beginning of the process, as soon as my lye-water is mixed. Titanium dioxide is a mineral and is impervious to the rigors of lye.

Fragrancing materials seems to take on a deeper, sweeter scent in cold process milk soaps. My favorite blend in milk soaps is a mix of lavender, patchouli and 5 fold Valencia orange essential oils. I tend to use equal parts lavender and orange and add a touch of the patchouli to anchor the scent.

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