Since I have all that basil, I spent the weekend making three batches of soap with milk and dried, crushed basil. Homemade soap with milk from my cow and herbs from my garden–what could be better?
I also did a few experiments. Every time you make soap, in fact, it’s an experiment. There’s always something new to try, and something to learn. This time I tried making some small round (guest bath, decorative size) soaps using a paper towel roll as a mold.
That worked great! The thin cardboard peels right off and you can cut the soap into cute little rounds.
It’s fun to look around the house and think of all the things that could be a soap mold. (I’d love to hear your ideas!) The world is your soap mold.
I also did some experimenting with a “soap press” to make the top surface of soap in a flat pan turn out nicer. When I use a 9 x 13 pan as a soap mold, I line it with freezer paper. No matter how much you smooth the top, it’s uneven. I’m not looking for perfection–I like a rustic bar. But I’d like to make it a little smoother. This time I tried placing freezer paper on top of the soap after putting it in the pan then loading books on top to press.
This works pretty good, but it was a rudimentary experiment. I need a piece of heavy cardboard or plywood cut to fit the 9 x 13 pan, place that on top of the freezer paper, then the weights (books) for a more even result.
In any case, I can see that it will work, so I’ll refine the technique next time. Now for the recipe!
If you’ve never made soap before, you can find my step-by-step soapmaking tutorial for hot and cold process soap here: How to Make Soap.
Read more about the different processes of making soap and what goes into soap here: Getting Ready to Make Soap: Part 1.
See all about the scary lye here: Getting Ready to Make Soap: Part 2.
And find out all about the necessary tools and utensils here: Getting Ready to Make Soap: Part 3.
One more finger-wagging note: Wear safety gloves and goggles and always follow safety guidelines when making soap!
Remember, when making soap with milk, get the milk icy cold before adding the lye. When the lye is added to the milk, the chemical reaction with the sugars in the milk will burn the milk if it’s not very cold. Measure out your milk in a container. Place it in the freezer before making soap. The milk is ready to use when it’s icy-slushy. Add the lye gradually, stirring constantly.
ADD LYE TO MILK. NEVER ADD MILK TO LYE. (Same procedure as when using water.)
This is a creamy, conditioning soap with the soothing touch of basil. Make it by either the cold or hot process method. (See how to make soap.) Fragrance oil of your choice can be added if you like–use 1 fluid ounce. You can make this soap as designed below, or use it as a basic milk soap recipe to make other milk soaps by changing up the additives. (To change the fats, you must re-calculate the recipe.)
How to make Milk & Basil Soap:
Crisco — 16 ounces or 453.529 grams
lard — 10.56 ounces or 299.371 grams
coconut oil (76-degree melt point) — 5.44 ounces or 154.221 grams
milk — 12.16 ounces or 344.73 grams
lye — 4.455 ounces or 126.297 grams
1 tablespoon finely crushed dried basil
Soap with milk takes longer to come to trace than soap with water, and it also takes longer to cook in hot process. For me, this recipe took 12 minutes to trace and 3 hours, 15 minutes to cook in the crock pot. Continue cooking your soap until it tests within the safe range with a pH strip.
I made several batches and cut it all up in sample size bars, which I’ll be giving away at this year’s party on the farm. We’ll also be having a soapmaking demonstration during the party. We’re going to have so much fun!
Find my Crafts archives here.
See all my soapmaking posts here.
Thank you to CindyP, who worked with me in calculating and testing this recipe. Check out her homemade soaps here: Chippewa Creek Soaps.