Soap Challenge: Week 2

Before I get started on this week’s challenge, I really have to tell you how impressed I am with the participants’ in-the-pot swirls from last week! If you haven’t seen them yet, please go check them out! If you are still working on last week’s challenge, the link-up will be open through Friday. (Did you see we are up to 81 participants now?)

Now for this week’s challenge: milk soap! The main thing you want to avoid is burning the milk with the lye. There are several different methods to choose from. If you want to make a soap with 100% milk for your lye solution, it will take a bit of prep work if you aren’t in the habit of making milk soaps. You will need to freeze the milk that you use for your soap ahead of time – either in ice cube trays, or even in a freezer ziplock bag. Lay it down flat in your freezer so that you end up with a frozen milk disc that will be easy to break up into chunks when you are ready to use it. Then you can add the lye directly to the frozen milk. Here’s how I do it with my fresh goat’s milk soaps:

Since I had experience making milk soaps with fresh goat’s milk, I decided to challenge myself to using buttermilk instead using the same method. Check out the video to see my results:

I think you can probably master the 100% buttermilk soap if you need a good challenge. I would suggest using the full liquid amount and adding the lye very slowly. My Canadian soaping friend who makes buttermilk soaps explained how she does it: “I freeze the buttermilk into ice cubes and then very very slowly add the lye. Like, sprinkle some in, wait…sprinkle more, wait…when it starts to melt…stir…sprinkle more, stir etc. It can take me 20 min when working with milk soaps just to do the lye.” Or you might try using half goat’s milk, half buttermilk (Holly‘s idea).

If you are just getting started, I recommend trying the method that I used to create the Salted Caramel Brownie soap in the video. It doesn’t require freezing the milk ahead of time, and the results are much more consistent. It does require that you make a very strong lye solution, however, so you will need to be VERY careful! Take your recipe and use whatever the lye amount says is correct. Then use the same amount for your water to make a 1:1 ratio, adding the lye to the water. Now take the amount of water you would normally use, subtract the water you’ve used for the lye solution and measure out the rest in milk. Then you can either add the milk to the oils before blending the soap, or add the milk after the soap is just emulsified like I did.

What kinds of milk can you use in a milk soap? You don’t have to use fresh goat’s milk or buttermilk. Here are some other options – some of them you can make from scratch if you are so inclined:

1. Canned goat’s milk – Meyerberg brand is available at Walmart. It’s concentrated, so be sure to re-constitute it before adding it to the soap!
2. Canned coconut milk – available in the Asian food section of the supermarket
3. Almond milk – usually in the refrigerated section or make your own!
4. Soy milk – also refrigerated, but I’ve heard you can make your own as well.
5. Hemp milk – I believe it can be found in the non-refrigerated section with other non-refrigerated milks at the grocery store, but you can also make your own.
6. Whipping cream
7. Plain yogurt (Greek yogurt would probably work too)
8. Fresh cow’s milk

A word of warning about using 100% milk or cream for your recipe: please be sure that the amount of liquid in your recipe is at least equal to the amount of lye. I just had one of our participants tell me that she has attempted a 100% cream soap and used the full liquid amount and ended up with caustic soap! Because of the fat content in milk, superfat is altered, so that needs to be considered as well in crafting a proper recipe. I usually use 4% superfat (decreased from my usual 5%) for my fresh goat’s milk soaps, made with 100% milk.

Also, you may want to consider not gelling your milk soap if you would like it to remain as light-colored as possible. I wrote a post about gelling vs. not gelling milk soaps and received some excellent feedback in the comments, if you care to read more about the subject.

45 thoughts on “Soap Challenge: Week 2

  1. sarah says:

    Just mixed up some half coffee half goats milk lye and boy does it smell like yuck! Here is hoping! I have never done a milk soap before so fingers crossed!

  2. says:

    @Sarah – Oh my!! Coffee lye smells bad, and if the milk heats up, it can smell bad too, so I can’t even imagine what you’ve got going on there! I hope it turns out too – you might just come up with something really special. ­čÖé

  3. says:

    Have always wanted to make milk soap. I have always stayed away from 100% milk soaps. I have always done the milk powder method. This time I think I will make a yogurt or hemp milk (if I can find some)

  4. says:

    Another great challenge, Amy! In all my soaps, 1/2 the liquid is standardly organic coconut milk, so I’ll challenge myself by using raw kefir (from a local California dairy) instead and soap really cool. Think all our soaps in this challenge will be PERFECT for Mother’s Day, with the creamy moisturizing qualities of milk, right?! <3 Fun!

  5. Amy, first of all, THANK YOU. In looking at all the other participants for week one and seeing you commenting and teaching on so many, well, it is obvious you have put a tremendous amount of time into this challenge. It is appreciated.
    Now, week two. Very excited about this as we have a certified organic raw milk dairy so I love milk soaps! I am planning to add several more farm ingredients to keep it interesting.
    Donna OShaughnessy┬┤s last blog post ..

  6. says:

    I totally see your frustration! Clumps of lye caused me a couple bad batchs before when I bought the lye from AAA Chemicals. Now I learned to check for clumps before dissolving it in liquid. We all learn the hard way, XD. Hum… I just put some soy milk in the freezer, never try 100% soy milk before, might give it a try, I do have a feeling it’ll move fast!

  7. says:

    I have never done a milk soap before but I am going to give this a try. Thanks Amy for the challenges, it’s great to push ourselves out our comfort zone

  8. Tina Berryer says:

    Hey, my creative juices are flowing! I’m going to make a yogurt or kefir soap and turn it into something special. Thanks, Amy! You’re the best.

  9. says:

    There’s been a gal near me that raises goats and sells goats milk soap exclusively, so I never made any milk soap at all. I simply left that to her. After years of soapmaking, I’m happy to make to leap and make a batch with milk. Thanks for the challenge.

  10. says:

    Hi Amy, I was out of town last week so couldn’t do the ITP swirl soap, although I still want to try to make a batch this week if I can make time. I’ve always wanted to make milk soaps and actually have a box of coconut milk in my office waiting for me to make soap. So, I’m going to finally make soap with it! Yay! I’ll probably go with your 1:1 version since this will be my first batch.

  11. says:

    @Tracy – I hadn’t thought of Mother’s Day, but you are so right!!
    @Donna – I knew you had the cow’s milk – can’t wait to see what other “farm ingredients” you come up with! Pigs milk???
    @Michelle – Oh, you should have great fun with this one then!
    @Emily – I’m trying a new supplier for my lye…soymilk should be great! I made one when I first started making soap, but I don’t think it was 100% of the liquid.
    @Polly – I can’t believe how many of you haven’t actually made a milk soap before – this will be great!!
    @Tina – You & Tracy had the same idea – can’t believe I forgot about kefir! That should be really great soap!
    @Julie – I’m glad you are finally going to try it!! I don’t think you’ll ever look back. ­čÖé
    @LongLeafSoaps – I was thinking that you made your own soymilk, but I didn’t know you had a dedicated machine for it! How cool is that??
    @Susan – Hope you had a good trip! Sounds like you are prepared for this week’s challenge – I love coconut milk soap!

  12. says:

    Oh what a hoot, my sister and I just watched the two videos. We were laughing over your 2 attempts. What a trooper to attempt it a third time and then to do something so complex with your scents, colours. We would have given up in frustration. That soap you made had us drooling as the scent sounds heavenly. Never added sugar at trace before either. Think we’ve tried it with lye water before though.

    Is that a commercial mixer your using? It looks so heavy duty.

    Michelle

    Michelle┬┤s last blog post ..

  13. says:

    @Michelle – I was pretty frustrated too, and glad that it’s over!! Yes, my mixer is from soap equipment. I got tired of the lye eating through the seal on my stick blenders, causing air bubbles in my soap!

  14. Sharon Phillips says:

    Really looking forward to this challenge. I have wanted to try yogurt soap. Now no excuses. Your videos were great, can’t wait to see your finished soap!

  15. Mesha says:

    I’m game to give it a try ­čÖé
    Going to do an almond milk soap and possibly coconut milk too!

  16. says:

    @Mesha – Those both sound fabulous!! Looking forward to seeing your soaps!

    @Diana – Best wishes to you on this week’s challenge! I really had no idea when I came up with the challenges that they would be THIS MUCH FUN. ­čÖé

  17. says:

    I enjoyed the videos so much. Reminds me of home! I missed the part Michelle twoblooms mentioned about the sugar. Which video is that in so I can see what I missed? TU!

  18. says:

    @Amy,

    Do you weigh your goat’s milk (that’s replacing your water amount) first then freeze it and use that frozen portion for your soap? Or do you weigh the goat’s milk after it’s frozen? I’m assuming you weigh it first then freeze it as ice is heavier then liquid but just wanted to check.

    @Sharon,

    Oh wow, I’ve always wanted to try yogurt soap as well, are you going to use the yogurt to replace the full water amount or just use it as a portion of your water? Dying to see how that turns out.

    Michelle
    Michelle┬┤s last blog post ..

  19. says:

    Amy,

    Thanks for the quick reply, just popped ours in the freezer half hour ago and it looks like we will be making it tomorrow (We weighed it before hand but I’ll also check the weight after it’s frozen). Gotta do taxes tonight which I hate doing.

    P.S I love chocolate too especially dark chocolate but am allergic to it so have to really watch my portions which is so hard to do.

    Michelle
    Michelle┬┤s last blog post ..

  20. Is it too late for me to join your soap challenge? I just barely moved, so I couldn’t do last week’s swirling challenge because my life was still in boxes. But I think I am ready now. I swirl in the pot almost all the time because of the type of molds I use. So if I had to miss one, I think that was a good one to miss. Although I do want to try one of the swirls using 3 or more colors in a log mold. Everyone’s soap this last time were very inspirational. I really enjoyed looking at everyone’s soap from week one. They all turned out so beautiful! If it is not too late, how do I join?

    Katrina

  21. Sharun says:

    I made mine today. 100% Greek yogurt. I froze it expecting it to heat up… It melted the frozen yogurt bet never got hot… That surprised me. I decided to pop it in the freezer and avoid gel because it wasn’t even warm.
    Anyone know if this is normal with Greek yogurt?

  22. says:

    @Sharun – I’ve never made soap with yogurt before, but there have been times when I was making goat’s milk soap that the lye solution never got higher than 85 degrees.

    @Felice – Milk soaps sure are nice – I think you will love it!!!

  23. says:

    Well I finished mine and wondered where I should send the photo. It is a lovely yellow soap made of 100% coconut milk, my first completely milk soap! Yeah, whew!

  24. says:

    @Pam – I do the link-up post each week on Saturday at 6am. You can post your photo then! So glad your soap is a success!! I look forward to seeing it!

  25. says:

    Your soap challenges are akin to elementary school recess for me. Seriously. Bolt out the door and let it just rip out. It’s like the sandbox experience I had when I worked in software. We developed and played without reprecussion. Loved that and still do. Your challenges are my sandbox and this time I put the pedal to the medal…
    Since I standardly have coconut milk in every soap (it’s like a requirement living in a beach town), I thought I’d try kefir…and buttermilk and heavy cream. So, I tripled the milk and (like that wasn’t insane enough) also have beeswax, honey and silk in this soap! Oh, and it’s a floral too (mother’s day, ya?) Knowing it would heat up, I immediately put it in the freezer. AND, it still did a partial gel in there! I plan to slice it tomorrow and get some pictures up. Not my best cosmetically, but lots of fun!

  26. I had fun with this challenge, as I always make my soap with goats milk I decided to change things around and use coconut milk instead. It worked really well and I videoed the whole thing only to find out my dratted video records in a format that my computer does not recognise!! so no video sorry ­čÖü

  27. Hi Amy~
    I didn’t get a message sent to get signed up for the soap challenge week 2 – milk soap, but I was able to get a milk soap video loaded, I hope that’s o.k.!! Sorry I didn’t notify of my entry! It’s the first time I’ve made milk soap, I did a partial milk soap.
    Thanks!!
    Mel

  28. DENA says:

    they also sell powered milk and cream of all kinds which is more safe for use in beauty products its not the same but at least it wont change to to the fat content..I was thinking I need a juicer because this can help me juice and add that but I am now learning that it might be good to start with a plain soap and after its waited its weeks hand mill it and add the juice/milk and other ingredients needed. now I know yall all professional soapers but we learn new things daily and when soap is done I think it might be better. but that is why I am going to love doing liquid hp soap!!!

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