Making Lighter Colored Milk Soaps


Milk soaps are popular because they’re naturally nourishing, but they’re also naturally darker than soaps made from a water base because of the reaction of the lye to the sugars in milk. When mixing milk and lye, the milk will turn an orange color. Later, this color translates to a dark brown in the finished soap. The most common way to minimize this is to freeze the milk to a slushy consistency before adding the lye.

This helps. Some.

In the photo below, the soap on the left is made from a normal combination of lye and milk where the milk is simply at refrigerator temperature. The color is like fudge.
The soap on the right is a water-based/milk-based combination. The water-based soap was poured in the mold first and the milk-based portion of the soap was poured on top. The color of the milk-based portion is lighter than the soap on the left because the milk was at a frozen-slushy temperature.

So, yes, the frozen-slushy consistency helps lighten the finished soap. Some. What if you want to lighten it more? (There’s nothing wrong with the darker appearance, by the way. It doesn’t have any effect on the qualities of the soap. It’s an aesthetic matter, and a personal preference.)

Since I’ve been milking goats again, I’ve been researching how to make a lighter colored goat’s milk soap. One method I discovered is the use of powdered goat’s milk as an additive mixed into the soap at trace. I’m not interested in that method. (It seems a little disingenuous to me, not to mention that the whole purpose–for me–is to create a natural goat’s milk soap fresh off the farm.) After researching across numerous websites and forum discussions, and talking to some soaper friends, I came up with several ideas that I wanted to experiment with, using the cold process method. (You can forget about making a much lighter colored milk soap with hot process.)

Along with making the lye-milk combination with the milk at a frozen-slushy consistency, place the bowl in an ice bath during the lye-milk mixing–and add the lye slowly, a little at a time, taking up to an hour to complete the combination. This works! If you take your time, and a lot of time, you’ll never see that orange milk-scalding color in your lye-milk combination.

Then! Yes, then! After mixing the lye-milk mixture with your oils, bringing it to trace, and transferring the soap to the mold, place the mold in the refrigerator for 24 hours. The refrigeration prevents the gel phase–the point where your cold process soap heats in the mold. This also, of course, slows saponification.

This is a cold process goat’s milk soap made by this method, after 24 hours.
As you can see, the soap is still very light. I used coffee grounds in this soap recipe, so I was living dangerously since coffee grounds can also add color to soap. I used essentials oils that I know will not add color to soap–a blend of peppermint and rosemary, to balance my walk on the wild side with the coffee grounds. Some fragrance and essential oils add color to soap, so if you’re trying to achieve a lighter colored milk soap, avoid those oils. Avoid additives that add color, also. Like, you know, COFFEE GROUNDS. But hey, I was in the mood for a coffee scrub soap. Next batch, I’m making a lavender goat’s milk soap. Lavender essential oil and lavender petals do not add color, so I’ll compare the two finished soaps and see how much of an impact the coffee grounds had on the final color.

After 24 hours in the fridge, I set the mold at room temperature for another 24 hours before unmolding and cutting into bars.
I expect the cure and hardening time to finish the soap to be longer than usual due to interrupting the gel phase, so I’ll be testing it periodically to see how long it takes to finish, and also take more photographs as time goes by to test color changes. I don’t expect the soap to stay this light, but I’m hoping for something lighter than I’ve achieved before.

Coffee Scrub Goat’s Milk Soap.
So far. Color changes take time. I’ll post again with my results as the soap cures.

Have you experimented with milk soaps? If you’ve got any ideas, I’d love to hear!

2016 Taste of Sassafras Farm Workshops



Come learn at the farm!

Discover the Sassafras Farm experience.
All retreats and workshops take place at Sassafras Farm– home of Chickens in the Road–located in the beautiful Appalachian foothills of Roane County, West Virginia, approximately 30 minutes north of Charleston, WV.

Taste of Sassafras Farm Workshops

IMG_2139All the fun that can be packed into one day! It is a true “taste of Sassafras Farm” touring you through four popular workshops all in one day. Milk the cow and make mozzarella cheese, grind grain and bake bread, create container candles, and whip up a batch of hot process soap. Yes, you’ll really do all of that in one day–and take it all home along with some great memories! Take-homes include your candle, soap, and bread. 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. One-day workshop. $125.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Saturday, June 4, 2016
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Saturday, August 6, 2016

Spaces are limited! Sign up to hold yours. Taste of Sassafras Farm Workshops always fill up fast!

The Sassafras Farm Experience

Learn! Find old-time skills and fresh, new methods with in-person mentorship, in-depth and hands-on, at a real working family farm. Take home fun and functional know-how for self-sufficient living and old-fashioned crafting–and take home what you make, too. Every retreat day includes three home-cooked meals plus all your instruction, supplies, and take-homes along with an opportunity to milk the cows or goats, visit the chickens, give treats to the animals, and rock on the porch while you watch the calves frolic. All you need to bring is an apron (optional), muck boots (recommended for forays to the barn), and your enthusiasm to learn! Every workshop is HANDS-ON with teacher and milk maid Suzanne McMinn, writer and creator of Chickens in the Road.
Accommodations are not included. See the Suggested Accommodations page.

Kids are welcome. Sassafras Farm retreats are family-friendly events. School-age children may sign up to attend this retreat accompanied by a parent/guardian. (Both children and parents must be paid attendees. Please be a good judge of your child’s maturity, behavior, and interest in the subject matter.)

Location: All workshops take place at Sassafras Farm in Roane County, WV, about 30 minutes north of Charleston, WV near I-79.

Cost: Cost includes ALL instruction, supplies, three full meals per day plus snacks, and take-homes. One-day retreats are $125 per person. A 50 percent downpayment will be required to reserve your place. The remaining balance will be due 30 days before your retreat. If you sign up, please plan to attend. Retreat reservations are nonrefundable. If you can’t attend for some reason, your reservation payment may be applied to another retreat of your choice where there are openings available. (Retreats also make great gifts to friends and family!) And yes, many men attend workshops here!

Sign up! Email Suzanne at [email protected] with the full name for each attendee to sign up. (You may sign up for a friend if you are coming together.) Payment information will be sent at that time. Directions to the farm and other information will be provided to attendees in advance of the retreat.

Private groups, corporate retreats, and school groups: See information here for Private Groups or here for Corporate Retreats or here for School Groups.

Looking forward to seeing you at the farm!

Other 2016 workshops at the farm open for registration–click the links for details:

Cookies, Cupcakes & Cake Pops
Soap Making
Goat Cheese, Soap, Fudge & Ice Cream
Chicken Processing
Hard Cheese Made Easy
Celebrate Americana: Art & Baking

December 29, 2015 - 2016 Workshops on the Farm!

Come learn at the farm! Discover the Sassafras Farm experience. All retreats and workshops take place at Sassafras Farm– home of Chickens in the Road–located in the beautiful Appalachian foothills of Roane County, West Virginia, approximately 30 minutes north of Charleston, WV. See 2016 workshop schedule and information below, and email Suzanne at [email protected] to...
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December 1, 2015 - Stringing Popcorn Garland, Again

I’m stringing popcorn garland today, so I’m revisiting this post. It’s timely, and nostalgic. This post was first published at Christmastime in 2010. Five years ago! My “teenagers” of the time were 19, 17, and 14. Now they are 24, 22, and 19! Hard to believe! If you haven’t made popcorn garland for your tree...
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November 4, 2015 - Three More Soaps

I’ve been doing a lot of playing with soaps in the past couple of weeks. Here are three more. The first one is a cherry-scented soap. I took out a small portion of the soap mixture after it came to trace and mixed in red soap coloring. Then I layered part of the plain soap...
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