|Everything is at hand: coconut oil, olive oil, frozen|
cubes of goats milk, lye and reference!
The other book I'll be using is 'Making Milk Soap from Scratch' by Anne-Marie Faiola of Bramble Berry fame (a huge Internet web site and supplier of ingredients and accessories). There's a Soap Queen blog, YouTube channel and Bramble Berry's website has tons of info. Anne-Marie is an expert, with wide-ranging interests and loves to share what she knows about soap making. I also love her little book because it's got a hemp-goats milk recipe and a shampoo bar recipe! She does tend to get a little fancier with both ingredients and methods.
Getting organized for my first batch I chose Anne L. Watson's basic recipe of coconut oil, olive oil, milk and lye. Simple, skin-loving ingredients and I already had coconut oil for my lip balms and lotion bars. We usually have extra-virgin olive oil around the house, but because I'd like a pale soap I purchased regular olive oil which is golden and not green. Lye was the only other thing I had to purchase. Then, I needed to decide on a mold. Anne L. recommends sheet molds: she says that a loaf-type mold allows too much heat to build up in the middle which can discolour the soap and you should pour milk soaps to only an inch thick. Anne-Marie Faiola's book doesn't mention this at all but I will eventually try it both ways! I had decided to use just a matched pair of plastic storage containers for my first batch, rather than buying anything fancy!
Lye reacts chemically with the milk and oils to create soap. Lye is serious business: it's extremely alkaline and can burn the skin and ruin surfaces. There are many precautions for handling lye, choosing proper utensils (no aluminum) and staying safe in both books. I followed everything carefully, got everything organized, appropriate pots and utensils all out, and fats measured and ready to go! Then, into the long rubber gloves and goggles and I measured out the lye.
Because of the heat that the chemical reaction of milk and lye creates, milk can scorch and be less skin-loving and less lathering. The soap can darken in color or get splotchy with too much heat. Anne-Marie's book offers four ways to make milk soaps, and has a great picture of the color differences depending on the method used. Anne L. Watson's book has two variations and recommends freezing fluid milk for a paler soap. I'd weighed out the amount of milk needed for the recipe a few days ago and frozen it in ice cube trays, noting that the amount made ten ice cubes. I just kept freezing my excess milk in the trays and, when weighing out cubes this morning, I needed eleven cubes. I had a panic moment that maybe frozen milk weighed less than room temperature! Nobody mentioned that! Because of the knowledge that I do from all my reading I figured I had a little wriggle room because the recipe is 'super-fatted', and if I was putting in extra milk I'd just have a creamier soap!
So, I began the process of mixing lye granules into the ice cubes, being careful not to splatter. Much of knowing when the things are 'done' in soap making is by temperature: lye heats up an incredible amount as it combines with the other elements in soap and when temperature levels out the process is finsihed. Problem: suddenly the digital thermometer I had just tested didn't want to work! Rather than mess with it, I just stirred for a really long time, saw the mixture thicken up, stirred some more and then declared it mixed! Anne L. advised pouring the lye/milk solution through a sieve into the oil mixture and I did capture some granules of undissolved lye - so lesson learned! Stir some more! Or get a better digital thermometer!
|In the mold, ready for the fridge!|
So into the molds! Weighed the two containers to make sure they're even. Tried to smooth out the tops, but that's hard; these will really be the 'sides' of bars so I'd like them smooth but.....According to directions: into the freezer for about half an hour, into the fridge for three more hours, out of the molds in about twenty four hours, cut into bars then cure for at least three weeks! It's also recommended to test with pH strips to make sure the lye has been fully used up! Now, it's just the waiting! Whew, we've been planning for a couple of years - and we've finally made goats milk soap from scratch!