summertime and the soapmakin’s easy

adding lye to goat's milk

Okay, so this picture is a bit out of focus, but it shows that I like to use an ice bath when adding lye to my goat’s milk.  The chemical reaction not only heats the milk up, but if you’re not slow enough, it can make the milk curdle too.

goat's milk turns yellow when you add lye to it

So here’s the goat’s milk with the lye properly incorporated, meaning, it did not curdle the milk and turn orange or brown.  Even when you add the lye slowly and don’t curdle your goat’s milk, it still has a faint ammonia smell that dissipates as the soap cures.

adding the lye/milk solution to the melted oils

The next step is combining the lye solution to your soap oils.  This is the fun part.  I pour my lye solution in and stir with a plastic spoon to start.  You can see a bit of cloudiness at the bottom of the pot where the chemical reaction is starting.  It does that even when you use water and not milk for your lye solution.

mixing soap with a stick blender

I like to use a stick blender to mix my soap.  It’s a lot faster than stirring by hand.  At this point, what I am trying to do is to get the soap to trace, which is a soap making term that means your soap has gotten to a certain point of saponification.  Trace means that when you drizzle a little soap across the top of the vat of soap, it doesn’t immediately soak back in, it’s starting to become a bit thicker.  The closest thing to it that I’ve seen is when you have a spoon with honey dripping off into the jar of honey and you can make a trail of it sort of lay on top of the surface.  Soaps made with mostly liquid oils, like castille soap, are harder to trace.  I like to use beeswax in my soaps, and it makes a quick trace and also makes a longer lasting bar of soap.

soap mold

So, here’s the magical soap mold.  After adding a copious amount (3 or 4 oz) of essential oil, I will pour my soap into this, then push those white plastic dividers down into it to make uniform bars.  With my goat’s milk soap, I like to let it cure rather than cooking it to neutrality, because goat’s milk contains sugars which can burn and give the soap a caramelized odor if it’s cooked too long.  Also I feel that the excess heat might degrade some of the properties.  With other soaps, especially herbal ones, I like to cook the soap base to neutrality and add the herbs and/or essential oils at the end so as to maintain the properties of the herb.unmolding the soapSo, these are the finished bars.  If you look closely, you can see in the bars that are already out of the mold that there is a darker layer across the top of the soap.  That is due to the fact that this soap was not completely cured yet.  I never wait until it’s cured to unmold it, I need my mold more often than that, plus, sometimes soap can get moldy if it’s not dried properly.  I know, moldy soap, weird right?  But it happens. I wonder at times if it’s a coincidence that mold has two meanings here.

I unmolded some soap today that I made in some pvc pipe.  I’ve been doing it that way for years, but for some reason this particular soap would not release.  I had to slice open the pvc with my dremel and I don’t think I’ll be using pvc again.  I am thinking of making some custom molds, so if you have any ideas of things you think should be made into soap form, don’t be shy about sending me a message.

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9 thoughts on “summertime and the soapmakin’s easy

  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your soaps!!!!! I’m wondering if you cold use shaped muffin pans to pour your soap in? I’ve seen heart, flower & star shaped ones…..

    I’m gonna need to buy more again soon. I know I’ll want some lemon….yummy!

    1. I just had to saw apart some pvc pipe I was using as a mold because it wouldn’t release the soap within. I’m thinking of using some latex for mold making because a)it needs to be flexible, I think, and b)Kirsten has lots of experience with mold making and will help me if I can get some originals made of clay. But if you happen to see any of those kinds of molds in silicone let me know, because I think they would work.

  2. That was great! Not fair though, it made me want to do something creative, and I was using up all that creative energy cleaning the house! Now I have to make a mess instead.

  3. I love your soap. It has such a gentle scent and and the bar is a generous size. Can’t wait to try the peppermint!

    1. The peppermint is an older batch. I have a new batch of peppermint that has cocoa butter and beeswax in it, let me know if you want to try that one. I also have some really nice ylang ylang that I just unmolded. I will let you know when the lavender is cured. I remember everyone asking if I had lavender, but I was out! silly me.

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