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.
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.
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.
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.
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.So, 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.