Milk-based soaps are popular for their creamy lather and nourishing qualities. Goat milk, in particular, makes an excellent bar of soap. After all, soap involves two basic ingredients: fat and lye. Goat’s milk is rich in both saturated and unsaturated fats, as well as skin-supporting nutrients like selenium and lactic acid.
I am a big supporter of maker’s markets, farmer’s markets, and trade shows. They offer a wonderful glimpse into the creativity and enterprising nature of human beings. They also encourage sustainability, which is a core value of the urban farmer.
A staple of these markets is the Artisanal soap stand. Colorful, mis-matched slices of sweet-smelling loveliness are displayed like baked goods: lined up on wooden boards or stacked neatly in baskets. I love the soap stand. I could spend a silly amount of time smelling soap and asking about ingredients.
That being said, a bar of goat’s milk soap at one of these markets might set you back as much as $12. That is a lot of money for something that is not meant to last. Don’t get me wrong: I have spent my fair share on homemade soaps, and it is well worth it for the joy it brings me.
When I am feeling more pragmatic, however, I remember that I do know how to make soap. Bonus: I know someone who raises goats.
The LaMancha goats my friend, Kelly, raises are known for their high quality milk, which is rich in butterfat. Kelly uses it in all sorts of food recipes, especially cheese (with which she has developed a love-hate relationship after her #homegrownyear).
La Mancha goat milk also does nicely in cosmetic recipes, including bar soap.
The following is my recipe for simple, unscented goat milk soap. If you are a seasoned soaper, you can certainly factor in other fats and fragrances into your soap using an online calculator, like this one. And yes, you can still make it even if you don’t have access to fresh goat milk. You can buy powdered goat milk online or at most grocery stores and water it down according to the instructions.
Homemade Goat Milk Soap Recipe
2 lbs (approx 12 bars)servings
9.6 oz animal tallow*
9.6 oz extra virgin olive oil
8 oz virgin coconut oil
4.8 oz castor oil
12.16 oz frozen goat milk
4.5 oz sodium hydroxide (lye)
Prepare the Lye Water
Place your frozen, pre-weighed goat milk into a heat safe pouring container (I use a Tupperware pitcher with a lid). Carefully pour in your lye flakes in 2-3 batches, using a potato masher to mix the lye into the milk slush. When all the lye has been added and mixed in, set the milk mixture aside.
*This can take a little time and elbow grease, but it is worth it to start with the frozen milk so you don't scorch it. Lye reacts with liquid and heats up quickly, so freezing your milk helps to slow the process down.
As it reacts with the lye, you may notice that the milk changes color. Orange or light tan is okay, but you will need to try again if it gets to a dark brown. This means the milk has been scorched and the sugars are burned.
Melt the Oils
Weigh out your fats and put them in a heat safe glass or stainless steel bowl. Heat the oils over a double boiler until they are fully melted and reach a temperature of about 110-125 degrees.
On a clean, flat surface, pour your lye solution slowly into the melted oils. Blend using your immersion blender on the low setting at first, taking care to protect your eyes and hands. You will want a long sleeve shirt on, too. When the oils and lye begin to incorporate, you can switch to the higher setting on the stick blender. Mix until you have reached a thick trace that looks like pudding.
Pour the soap batter into your loaf mold. I like to cover mine with a little cardboard and wrap it in a dish towel to encourage an even cure, but you don’t have to do this. Wait at least 24 hours before un-molding.
Un-mold and Cut Your Soap
After 24 hours, you can check to see if your soap is hard enough to un-mold. Tip it out on a cutting board and slice into even bars. Store the bars in a cool, dry place. Let them cure for at least two weeks, then you can use them.
These gentle, unscented bars are safe to use on children and sensitive skin types. They keep forever and each batch makes something like 12 bars of soap, so you’ll be good to go for a while. Of course, I will still likely be visiting the artisanal soap stand at the next farmer’s market. I still need pretty soaps for the guest bathroom. Happy soaping!