Soap From Goat Milk
by staff writer
Goat milk soap is
sometimes thought of as gimmicky, but it's popular for good reason: the specific
blend of nutrients contained in goat milk absorbs readily into the skin, leaving
it soft, supple and moisturized. Goat milk contains three times as much
beta-casein (a type of protein) as cow's milk does, which along with the
butterfat content, moisturizes and conditions skin. It's also rich in Vitamin E
and fatty acids, both of which nourish the skin and keep it healthy.
Like any lye-based soap, goat milk soap can be tricky to make and there are some
risks involved. Lye (sodium hydroxide) is an extremely caustic chemical that can
cause severe burns if it comes in contact with your skin. Be sure to wear rubber
gloves, long sleeves, and eye protection. Keep a bottle of vinegar on hand to
neutralize spilled or splashed lye or uncured soap.
There are as many recipes for goat milk soap as there are soapmakers, and
hundreds are readily available on the Internet. Choose a soap recipe based on
what ingredients are available to you; the results are usually quite similar. Do
keep in mind that you can't substitute one oil for another when making goat milk
soap and amounts must be measured precisely. If you use a different oil, your
soap may fail.
Most goat milk soap recipes consist of fresh goat milk, 2 or 3 different
vegetable or nut oils, a small amount of castor oil, and lye. You can safely add
essential oils or herbal extracts to scent your soap at trace (when ripples that
don't disappear begin to appear on the soap's surface). Some people like to add
finely ground oatmeal, honey, and other ingredients at the same time.
When making goat milk soap, it's important that the lye solution be kept as cool
as possible to prevent the soap from turning brown and producing an unpleasant
odor. To achieve this, the goat milk must be frozen before you begin, and the
pitcher or bowl you mix the solution in should be placed in a bucket of ice.
Put the frozen goat milk in the glass or plastic container within the bucket of
ice, and use a potato masher to break up the ice as much as possible. Begin
adding the lye very slowly, stirring with a long plastic or wooden spoon, and
measure the temperature frequently. Keep the temperature below 100 degrees F --
ideally below 90. Mixing in the lye may take up to 20 minutes. Don't worry if
the mixture smells a bit -- the odor will not linger in the final product.
Warm the oils to 80 to 90 degrees F, and then slowly add the lye and goat milk
solution. Stir thoroughly until the mixture begins to trace. If you're not sure
if the mixture is tracing, drop a spoonful of the mixture onto its surface and
see if it leaves a dent. If it does, the mixture is at trace and you may add any
additional ingredients you want to include.
Pour the soap into your molds or tray, and cover with a piece of cardboard.
Leave the soap undisturbed at room temperature for three to five days. If the
soap is too soft, you can uncover it and leave it for a day or two longer to let
Wearing rubber gloves, remove the soap from the molds and, if necessary, cut it
into bars. At the point, the soap is still uncured and can burn if it touches
your skin. Wait a full three weeks before using.
Homemade goat milk soap is a bit different than most commercial brands. You may
notice that your soap is an odd color: yellow, tan, or even bright orange. This
is perfectly normal and a result of using fresh goat milk rather than the
powdered milk used commercially. Enjoy your handmade goat milk soap -- once
you've tried it, you may never buy soap again!