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May 14, 2005
August 15, 2008
I do make goat's milk soap and lotion. Both are relatively easy to make, and I do NOT use lye. My advise is always — NEVER use lye. **Lye is found in drain cleaner.**
I use the melt and pour method (also called hand milled), with glycerin as my base. Both the glycerin and goat's milk have the nourishing and rejuvinating properties to make your skin amazingly soft. Remember – Cleopatra used to bath in goat's milk.
The lotion absorbs without leaving your hands greasy. It's a bit more detailed process, but anyone can learn it.
Suzanne, send me your mailing address, and I'll send you a few bars. I do have to warn you – once you start using goat's milk soap, you'll never want to use any other kind.
Girls! Don't be afraid of lye. Lye is your friend. If you use correct measurements and a good recipe, all of the lye will combine with the fat and make soap. Mild, wonderful soap. I have made hundreds of bars of lye soap, and it is great stuff. If soap is NOT made with lye, then it's really not soap…but rather detergent. Which is not to say detergent is bad. Just a different critter. We have grown to use the term "soap" generically, like "band-aid." But, soap correctly refers to saponified fat…and what causes fat to saponify? Lye. I'll dig around and find some of my recipes if anyone is interested. I have one for goat milk soap somewhere. I've stopped using soap because I have an all-glass shower now, and detergent is easier to tidy up after than soap. But, I'm sure I saved the recipes.
Gail L. said:
From what I understand of the process, the lye soponifies the fat and once that process is done and the soap cured (sitting for several weeks) there are no caustic chemicals in it.
You're absolutely correct, Gail. If the measurements are correct, the lye all turns to…well..soap. There's nothing caustic left in the bar. Many people deliberately put too much fat in the mix so that there's not enough lye to go around and they end up with a fatty bar – similar to the Dove bar. To do this is to "super-fat" your bar.
Gail L. said:
The glycerine/goat milk soaps don't seem to lather much that I have found.
I can't speak to that specific combination.
The goat milk soap I made was a from-scratch lye soap. Because I used an assortment of oils, which imparted their own individual characteristics, I didn't have lathering issues – and mine had a lot of goats milk in it.
The key to lathering quality is the type of fat used. I've checked the ingredients on a lot of glycerine soap bases, and they often say "saponified vegetable fat" which could mean ANY vegetable oil. You don't know what you're getting. Coconut oil, for instance, makes a high lathering soap – the highest, actually. Olive oil makes a very low lathering soap. Various other oils lather to differing degrees. You're never going to know exactly what kind of lather you're going to get unless they spell it out on the ingredients list – and they're probably not going to do that. Some brands may use higher lathering oils than others.
Gail L. said:
The caution about using Lye, is in handling it carefully when making the soap.
Absolutely. It should be respected – but certainly doesn't need to be feared. And, if you want to make from-scratch soap, it's a necessity. There are advantages to making melt-and-pour soaps, however, not the least of which is they are easier to color and scent. So, it's a matter of choice.
It should be understood that melting and pouring pre-made soap is not "making soap," – but that doesn't mean one is any better than the other. It just depends on what you're after.
I found my soap journal. My standard recipe was
10 ounces coconut oil
4 ounces Crisco
2 ounces palm oil
2.5 ounces lye
1 Cup Water
Pour the lye into the water (use a stainless or pyrex cup to do this mixing) and stir with a stainless steel, glass or wooden stirrer of some sort until the lye is dissolved. If you use wood, don't use it for anything else. The water will get quite hot. Don't breathe the fumes. They won't kill you, but they'll smart! Set aside to cool to 92-95 degrees. You'll need a reliable thermometer. I used a stainless steel digital model sold to test the serving temp of food (inexpensive). Melt your fats together, just until they're liquidy. They need to cool to the same temp as your lye water. Sometimes you may have to put the fat back in the microwave a couple of seconds, or stick it in the freezer a couple of minutes to match the lye temp. You'll learn quickly how to do this part with little fuss. If it's off a degree or two, the world's not going to end.
Pour the lye water into the fats. This should be done in a stainless steel, glass or sturdy plastic container. Start stirring. (I used a dedicated rubber spatula.) You continue to stir until the soap "traces." This means, when you dribble some onto the surface of the soap remaining in the bowl, it will not merge with the rest immediately. You will see "traces" of your dribble. this may take a half hour – or even more sometimes. A good way to get a fast trace is to stir with a hand-held stick blender. If you do this, be sure to have your mold(s) ready, as sometimes it traces really quickly.
Once you have trace, pour into your mold(s) and set in a protected place overnight. I found that a cold oven was GREAT for this. It holds the heat that the soap generates as the chemical process ocurs and makes for a nicer bar. Since I quit soaping I have read that you can place saran wrap directly on the surface of the soap to prevent the formation of soda ash. I pass that along for what it's worth, as I never tried that. The next morning, your soap should come out of the molds easily. If it doesn't…let it sit another night. Sometimes you have to flex the molds, but it should just fall out. If you've poured it up as a single chunk, you should cut it now. It will get harder as it ages.
I never covered my soaps while aging. I never turned them, either. I did age them on edge so that nearly all of the surface area was exposed to the air at the same time. If you're aging in a big block, it might be good to turn it. I also usually aged them less than three or four weeks. I found that a week was enough for most. In fact, I very often used my soap within days. If your recipe is right, the lye should pretty much all be converted after the first 24 hours.
Neat soaper trick – if you want to make sure your soap is mild enough to use, just stick your tongue out and place the bar right on it. Yup. Right on the ol' tongue. Don't rub it around or lick or or whatever. Just touch it. If it doesn't sting, it's OK to use. Then, rinse and spit!
The above recipe does NOT work with just any fat combination. Each fat takes a different amount of lye to saponify. There is quite a bit of difference between the lye required to saponify a pound of coconut oil as opposed to a pound of olive oil. There are charts that can be downloaded that tell you how much lye to use for each kind of oil. You'll find these by googling "saponification chart." It's a simple matter of doing basic math to get the amount of lye you need for any particular blend.
I would suggest you try some of both soaping approaches and see what suits you best. I was after the pioneer experience, so I went for this type. But, coloring and scenting it CAN be a challenge. I'll be happy to share my experiences in that regard, if anyone is interested.
I'll also be happy to share my goat milk soap version as well. I just don't want to post too much if people aren't interested.
Soaping is addictive. Proceed with caution.
One more post and I'll shut up.
Elaine White is THE Queen of soaping. Her website will give you everything you really need to know to get started. Her lye chart is indispensible for when you start making your own recipes. Here's her website:
Happy soaping -
December 27, 2008
Gizmo, Melt and pour soap, also called M&P is made with lye. They've just made the soap already for you. What you are buying is a commercial soap base, already made for you, with lye, just like any other soap is made. Without lye, it's not soap. Now that said, you can buy things called soap nuts that grow on trees that are suppose to be used in place of soap and they are getting popular, but again, it's not really soap. (Google "soapnuts")
M&P soap is commercial soap just like you can buy. It's just plain with no additives or color. You're adding the color and scent, etc. It's not homemade soap. You can probably called it homemade soap when you sell it an no one will be able to tell the difference. It all depends on the purity of the soap base you are buying and whether or not the glycerin has been removed. It's the glycerin that makes homemade soap so luxuious and the skin so soft. It's a byproduct of the soap process and home made soap has a lot of it. It has been removed by most commercial soap companies and sold separately. It is also used to make explosives and is worth more than the soap.
If you buy already made soap to melt and pour and put color/scent in, please research it carefully to be sure it is pure and has all the glycerin still there. Buy if from an organic dealer that makes it themselves and make sure you know the process/ingredients used. There are no regulations for this. Glycerin soap is made by boiling the soap with alcohol and adding a little glycerin back into it. Not as much as would be in it naturally, but some.
Homemade soap, if made properly, has no lye in it. It is a faiirly complicated process, however, and nothing at all like making candles. I don't know why people always put those two crafts together.
If you are going to make your own soap, research it carefully, read a lot and understand what you are doing. Then try a good recipe a few times to make sure you like the results and go for it! I have made it for years and used to teach soapmaking classes. It really is rewarding and a lot of creative fun!
October 17, 2008
What is all this? My supplies for making my own soap today!!!
After doing months and months of research, I decided on hot process, you cook it in a crockpot so you don't have the wait time on the curing. The top is much rougher than cold process, but that just looks so much more rustic! I cannot believe it took me this long to try it -- it was so easy!!!!!! Just as easy as that first attempt at the pressure canner!
John made the soap mold for me. The sides fold apart, so there is no sticking. Sticking is more of a problem with hot process.
And here it is in the mold until tomorrow morning when I'll unmold and slice (John's making a slicer thingy for me, too!) This is 4# of soap……that's what fits into a 6 qt crockpot.
October 17, 2008
And you know……it's like cooking your dinner in the crockpot…turn it on low, put the cover on, and let it do it's thing. You do have to keep an eye on it, there are chances it may boil over, but it hasn't happened yet! You know it's done when it feels waxy like and you do the zap test (yes, you stick the soap on your tongue….if it zaps you like a 9 volt battery, it's not done. if it tastes like soap, umm yeah, it done!!)
and a basic bar of soap uses basic ingredients, you don't have to get all fancy and spend a lot of money!!! the batch i made yesterday made 17 bars (5.5 oz) and it cost $8.00 to make (50 cents a bar). i made that with no fragrance. i'll be using that to make laundry soap, liquid hand soap.
December 27, 2008
Looks like great soap! I sometimes make cooked soap too. I have read about using the slow cooker and would like to try it. You make it sound easy and I have a good slow cooker.
I just got tired of the extra work involved. I have been making a lot of soap to sell for Chirstmas this week. I make 3 lb batches, usually with shortening since some people have been asking for vegan.
I have discovered that there is no need to wait for trace. I just combine the stuff in the pot, run the blender through it and pour into the mold, thin and very warm. It cools and makes into soap on its own in the mold. No more waiting and waiting for trace. Just blend and mold. Done.
I just bought some of the most amazing fragrances today. I like the almond biscotti the best. I also bought pina colata, blueberry, strawberry and uh, one more. I bought 5, but I can't remember what the other ones is. LOL! It was good though, I remember that. Honest!
I have already made French vanilla, blueberry, pina colata, lavender/waterlily and balsam fir. I have them cut and aging in my soap closet now. Its in the bathroom and boy, does that bathroom smell good! I can't wait to make the almond biscotti tomorrow. Then I am going to make herbal aloe vera.
They have pumpkin spice and sandlewood, too that I almost bought. Several other bottles of fragrance oil almost jumped into my cart but I fought them off. Some made it into the cart only to be returned to the shelf when discovered. I'm lucky I go away with only five bottles clinging to me! Those things are tenacious!
I was disappionted that they were out of lavender. I wanted lavender. They had jasmine and lilac but I didn't want sweet flowery scents. If I get requests for them I will make some.
It was fun.
October 17, 2008
Sheryl, it's very easy and not time consuming at all! A 6 quart crockpot will hold a 4# recipe. I bring it to trace (5-7 minutes), put the lid on the crockpot on low, and cook til the sides of it roll over for a bit, stir down and do the taste test. (1 hour 45 minutes has been my longest). I stay in the kitchen all the time, but always doing something else, so time's not wasted!! Mold it for 8 hours and slice and wrap!!!
October 17, 2008
The one I made yesterday is very moisturizing and I did scent it with an apple, cinnamon, vanilla blend -- I call it Nana's House.
689.46 g water
252 g lye
687 g lard
577 g canola oil
363 g coconut oil (used for lather, cleansing, hardness values) -- I only use 20% of total oils
187 g peanut oil
2 oz fragrance oil
1 c oatmeal
I'll be doing a blog post hopefully tomorrow!
December 27, 2008
Orange! The other one is sweet orange! (I had to go and LOOK to remember what it was!)
That does sound easy. I might give it a try this weekend. You don't have to keep stirring it while it cooks? Can you still use your crockpot to cook food after? Great info! I am going to try it this weekend if I'm not cooking a pork roast in there…
Why wait for it to trace? Why not mix it in the crockpot, blender thoroughly and heat. When I do cook soap, on the stove, I don't wait for it to trace first but I stir it almost the entire time.
It would be easy to mix the colour while cooking, also. That way you know it would all be melted and blended in. The fragrance might have to wait until it cooled some.
How hot is it when you mold it? Does it need more fragrance oil for the additional heat? How cool can you let it get before it starts to set? Fragrance oils are volitile and I wouldn't even attempt to use essential oil in the hot cooked soap. I do remember, when I cooked it in the past, that the synthetic fragrance oils held up pretty good.
I made some organic colour last week using the last of my red hibiscus flowers buds and put it in the freezer. What scent would go with that colour? I am interested in seeing the final colour. I hope it doesn't turn a dark brown.
I made oatmeal and honey last year and the honey turned the soap dark brown – too dark. I won't be using it again this year. I will be making an oatmeal soap, however, and a sea salt scrub bar for the rough spots. That sold very well last year, although I added too much salt. I can remedy that this year.
Someone asked me if I make a foot scrub bar with sugar. Are people using sugar in soap now for scrubbing rough spots? I'd think that the heat would melt the sugar. It would have to be added right before molding when the soap has cooled a little and after blendering. I do put sugar in my soap recipe, 1 teaspoon per lb of soap, for a better lather but it goes in at the beginning and gets blended with the soap.
That almond biscotti scent is just so Heavenly!! I want my whole house to smell like that!
October 17, 2008
So far I haven't…………..I like the naturalness of it and with it being HP, it has a nice rough texture on the top. I've only made 3 batches and getting the techniques down, the last batch I added scents. Step by step!! The 2nd one I did with goat's milk as the base….that one is a brownish color. But from now on, I'm going to use powdered and add it at the end……..that was a mess, but it eventually turned out! Things I've read since, I know what I did wrong, but I don't have a source of fresh milk, so I'm just going to do powdered instead of canned.
October 17, 2008
The trick is NOT stirring it while it cooks, unless you see it's going to boil over, stir it down!!!!
After I mix lye/water, I leave that outside. Then I melt the solid oils and mix in crockpot with the liquid oils, turn crockpot on low. Then slowly mix in lye mixture. You don't have to wait for specific temps with HP. Stir with stick blender until it's like pudding (5-7 minutes), put the lid on. You'll see it start reacting quickly, bubbling and at the sides it will start rolling over into the middle, and all the oil looks to be mixed in. Then I stir it down and do the taste test. My first batch took 1/2 hour of cooking, my 2nd (goat's milk base — that's a whole other story), and my 3rd batch took 1 1/2 hours of cooking. I think it all depends on the oils that are used and their chemical breakdown, the more liquid oils, the longer it needs to cook is what I'm gathering. The end product is more like mashed potatoes. When it's done, then you add the scent and any other additives — like I've used oatmeal. Then spoon into mold. My mold is made out of 3/4″ plywood. The outside of that gets quite warm. It's hard and cooled in about 5-8 hours. Unmold and cut. John made me a guillotine cutter, and I use my scraper/chopper for cutting down through. My cut line is at 15/16″ of an inch and that gives me a 5.5 oz bar with my mold (4# recipe (all that fits in crockpot) 4″x3″x15″). After cutting, it can be wrapped and used. So after maybe 10 hours, you have soap that is useable and sellable!
Anything used after the lye is not caustic anymore can me reused. I have a plastic pitcher and plastic big spoon kept just for my lye. And in my opinion, anything that isn't plastic or wood could still be used, lye won't seep into it. I have an extra crockpot, so I don't really have to use it for cooking, but if I have to, I will. It cooks the soap that's no longer caustic, so I see no problem with it.
I was thinking on the sugar adding at the end, more for a scrub type of soap (brown sugar scrubs)/ You've got a bit before it's too hard to mold, but it starts getting harder to stir (think waxy mashed potatoes)……..I'm going to try it tomorrow on a smaller batch, if it melts it, it won't hurt. I'm wondering if brown sugar or raw sugar would hold up better…….maybe I'll divide the batch and do some tests. I'll let you know on the outcome!
December 27, 2008
I have cooked it many times in a pot on the stove, but it has to be stirred just about all the time. I end up turning it off and on and off and on. Its a lot of work and a lot of time watching over it. It is a waste of about 1/2 hour of my time. If I can cook it in the crockpot and not have to watch it or stir it, just pour in, bake and mold, that will be a lot less work and less time consuming.
I might give that a try this weekend. I make my soap in 3lb batches as that uses exactly 1/2 a bottle of fragrance and makes exactly the right size bar in my favourite mold. I will continue with that size. I don't think it matters how full the crockpot is.
I have a very large oval crockpot but the container is white. I want to add the colour when I blender it at the beginning but am afraid that it will colour the crockpot. I will have to think about that. Maybe I can add it afterwards. I might look at the second hand stores or garage sales for another crockpot just for soap.
I don't colour all the soaps. Some I leave natural. Milk will make it a tan colour. If you add the lye to the milk it will be quite dark as the milk will cook, but it still makes good soap. I like your powdered goats milk idea. I have added regular powdered milk at the end to make milk soap that wasn't brown. The final result is still a tan but a much lighter natural beige colour that looks good.
October 17, 2008
This is where I got my ah-ha moment in crockpot soaping!
And you can put less in the crock, it's just that a 4# (64 oz of oil) is all that will fit in a 6 qt crock without boiling over. So that's what I had John build my mold at! I'm just going to divide that and add an extra board for smaller batches (thought of when trying to sleep at 2 a.m. this morning!) You know, dividing those batches for the sugar test! Hmmmm, maybe that's why I couldn't sleep!!
December 27, 2008
I am cooking soap on the wood stove this morning. Energy saving :-)
There's a pork roast in the slow cooker. I'll try it another time. I like the wood stove idea.
I rendered some tallow on the wood stove a few weeks ago. I love my wood stove, but I gotta say this: I'M DROWNING IN FIRE WOOD!! There is so much fire wood yet to be moved and stacked. I just don't know if I'll ever get there. Hubby wants to heat with wood exclusively this year and not even buy a tank of oil. Hmmm….I don't know about that…but I do love the wood stove.
I am going to cook some things on it too, when I can – when its not anything too complicated. I am going to make all soap on it whenever possible.
It seems to be just the right heat. The soap is slowly heating up and looking like champagne bubbles. I am stirring it from time to time because of the uneven heat. All of the pot bottom doesn't sit against the wood stove top.
December 27, 2008
The soap I cooked on the wood stove today turned out great! I have cooked enough soap to know from looking at it if it is ready or not. It needs to have reached the lumpy gel stage. I made almond biscotti. I used milk as a base since I wanted it to be a darker tan colour. Its aging in my bathroom closet now. All my soap is aged and stored in the bathroom. It sure does make the room smell nice!
I have two bathroom closets that are about 2' wide and 7' tall. One is about 3.5' deep and used for storage. The other is about 1.5' deep. Neither has doors. I put sheers hanging on the deeper one and am leaving the other one open to use for soap. I cleaned it out a couple of week ago and put waxed paper on the shelves. Its completely empty now except for the soap and a stack of baskets on the bottom. I think it looks good in the bathroom like that, adding a rustic touch, and I can see at a glance what I have. Actually, I go through it and smell it and hold it almost every time I walk in there. I love soap! My favourite so far is the Pina colada, no I think it might be the almond biscotti…
I am going to make chicken soup on the wood stove today, maybe. It has a pipe that goes through the upstairs and heats my son's room. It sometimes gets so hot in there in the middle of winter that he has to open his window. He also has to be careful and not touch the pipe. I am going to use it a lot more for cooking this winter to save some on the cost of electricity. I am also going to use it exclusively when cooking soap and rendering fat. I want to get a kettle that is not electric to use on it too.
I am going to make another batch of soap today, if I have time. I need to wash this week's eggs and extract seed from a bucket of old tomatoes that I want to grow again next year, and bring up more firewood to the porch, make a couple of apple pies and some apple sauce and butter tarts… but I really need that soap made for Christmas! Its important! Maybe I can put some things off until tomorrow. I have to stop thinking like I still work full time! This pressure is killing me!
For my money, the crock-pot method is far-and-away THE best way to make soap. I started devising my own formulas right away…it really isn't hard. I am no math wizard, so if I can do it, anyone can do it, and I don't suit up like I'm working at a HazMat site, either. But the hot-process (crockpot) method is really great. No more waiting weeks for the soap to cure…and if it is still a little too caustic after the cooking time is up, just cook it a little longer. And with the crockpot method, I feel safe making a 100% coconut oil soap with no lye discount for use in the laundry. Home soapmaking is wonderful…you can make soaps and shampoos to absolutely suit yourself and your own particular needs. Who needs mass-market soaps and shampoos when you can make your own?
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