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:
Updated version with part goat milk, part water:
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.