As I’m sure many of you know, we’ve mentioned goats and their uses a time or three on this website. From browsing bushwhackers to cheese creators, goats’ uses are legion. You may begin to find, however, that if you have more than a few goats, and you’re not selling anything you make, you may begin to have more milk and cheese than you know what to do with. So today, let’s talk about another thing you can do with goat’s milk–make incredibly soft soap!
Before you begin, ensure you have 14 ounces of milk, 13 ounces of olive oil, 9.5 ounces of coconut oil, 9.5 ounces of palm oil and 4.5 ounces of 100% lye. You’ll also need: a small kitchen scale; rubber gloves; two Pyrex measuring cups; a heat-resistant pitcher; spoons; a stainless steel pot; a kitchen thermometer; a stick blender; a small box lined with freezer paper’ a knife; and, if you’re the splashy type, goggles.
Start by freezing your milk. While I realize this may sound a bit odd, the reason why will become apparent shortly. Lye, as anyone who has ever worked with it knows, generates heat. Quickly. Milk, as most everyone else knows, has a tendency to curdle at high temperatures. Thus, when the milk is combined with the lye, as happens in an early step, the milk curdles, giving off that rotten smell, and turning a dirty brown color. The soap won’t be ruined, mind you. Just unpleasant. Particularly if you plan on using it to wash off stinky smells. With frozen milk however, this problem is alleviated, as the frozen nature of the milk prevents the lye from heating it too quickly, preventing curdling. If you’re having trouble picturing a lump of frozen milk, or how you’d work with it, just use an ice tray. They make it very simple.
To start, do your safety gear and weigh out each oil to the dimensions above, and pour them all into the stainless steel pot. Put this pot on low heat, warm the oils until melted, then remove it from heat. Next, weigh out the frozen milk cubes into the pitcher. You can also put the base of the pitcher in a bowl of ice, if you want extra assurance your concoction does not get too hot. As cubes can be a hard thing to get exact, give yourself a half ounce of leeway in each direction (so anywhere from 13.5 to 14.5 ounces).
Next measure out the lye. This measurement, unlike the cubes, must be as precise as you can make it. Pour the lye into the frozen cubes, stirring frequently, until about half the lye has been added. You’ll see the milk not only melt, but also turn a yellowish color. Try to keep your mixture under 100 degrees (where milk will begin to curdle when mixed with lye, though under normal conditions it will not curdle until around 180), but above 90, where lye begins to dissolve less efficiently. Now continue adding lye until it is all in. Let the mixture cool for a half an hour.
Next, scrape the pudding-consistency solution you have just made into your pot full of oil. Put your stick blender in, and blend in 45 second increments until your mixture resembles something close to cake batter. This is called the trace among soapmakers, meaning where all your ingredients have emulsified and will begin to thicken. From here, therefore, pour everything into your freezer-paper-lined box, and smooth with your spatula. Also, if you’re the artsy type, now is the time to make any designs in your soap you may want.
The soap will need to set in this makeshift mold for three full days. Go ahead and cover it during this process, to prevent stray hairs, or if you have pets, paws from mussing the surface. After the three days is up, cut your soap into squares and…wait. Again. This time for about a month. Set the bars on freezer paper in a dry, well-ventilated spot, and turn them weekly to ensure all sides are exposed to the air. Once this curing process is complete, your soap is fully hardened and ready to use. Good luck, and happy soaping!
A humble homesteader based in an undisclosed location, Lars Drecker splits his time between tending his little slice of self-sustaining heaven, and bothering his neighbors to do his work for him. This is mainly the fault of a debilitating predilection for fishing, hunting, camping and all other things outdoors. When not engaged in any of the above activities, you can normally find him broken down on the side of the road, in some piece of junk he just “fixed-up.”