The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook:
My sister Frances started off as a pre-med major at Smith College, and through a series of curvy life events, she’s now an acupuncturist and owns a company that creates body care products. She makes all kinds of beautiful soaps that last a very long time, smell incredible, and are very moisturizing for the skin. I pulled her in for this project, which is a bit time-consuming but very rewarding and a great project for holiday gifts. (If you want to skip making this soap yourself and just buy Frances’ soaps or other products, including her popular mustache wax, see the Resources section at the back of the book.)
This goat milk soap is a cold-process soap—unlike a hot-process soap, it doesn’t need to be heated in a slow cooker or double boiler. Making a batch takes one to two hours, and it needs an additional four to six weeks to cure before it can be used or gifted. The curing process allows time for the water to completely evaporate, resulting in a harder, longer-lasting bar of soap.
This basic recipe uses oils you can buy at your local market—the high olive oil content yields a very mild bar. The recipe makes enough for a 9-by-12-inch loaf of soap that’s 2 inches thick, so if you don’t have a soap mold, you can use a baking pan instead.
The first time you make soap can be a bit of a wild ride, but once you get the basics down and begin to experiment, the opportunities for creativity are endless.
The measurements in this recipe are all given by weight, not volume, so you’ll need to weigh the ingredients on a kitchen scale. When using a digital scale, place the empty bowl or container on the scale first, set the scale to zero, then add the ingredient. Using exactly the amount of ingredient called for is critical for your soap to come out properly.
To measure the amount of frozen goat milk more precisely, pour the milk into ice cube trays and then freeze it—the small cubes make it easier to get the right amount of goat milk, and you can even cut the last cube in half if necessary to get the correct weight.
Although making soap is fun, it’s not kid-friendly because it requires the use of lye (sodium hydroxide, or NaOH). Lye is a highly caustic substance that can cause severe burns if it’s inhaled or makes contact with skin. It’s extremely important to do this project in a well-ventilated room and wear rubber gloves and goggles. It’s also wise to wear long sleeves and an apron to protect yourself from splashing. Use only glass or metal tools when making soap—the lye will eat away at wood and possibly even plastic.
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- Victory Belt published her project Goat Milk Soap 14 Aug 06:00
You Will Need
While the oils are gently melting, place the frozen goat milk cubes in a medium glass bowl. With protective gear on your hands, arms, and eyes, slowly pour about one-tenth of the lye onto the goat milk. This will cause a heat reaction. Stir as best you can and check the temperature. Be careful to not let it get above 90°F to 95°F or the milk will burn.
Continue adding the lye a little at a time, frequently checking the temperature. If brown spots start to form on the milk, it’s a sign that the heat is too high and you need to add the lye more slowly. It should take about ten minutes to fully combine the lye and goat milk.
Once you’ve added all of the lye, let the lye and milk solution rest to reduce the temperature. A good temperature range to work with is between 90°F and 115°F.
Combine the Base Oils, Lye Solution, and Other Ingredients and Pour the Soap into the Mold
If you are using a baking pan or plastic mold, line it with freezer paper. (Some molds don’t require freezer paper; check with the manufacturer.)
Remove the saucepan of melted oils from heat and check the temperature.
When both the lye solution and base oils are below 115°F, slowly pour the lye solution into the melted oils. Add the orange essential oil and cloves.
With an immersion blender, mix the lye solution and base oils. Be sure to “burp” the immersion blender to avoid air bubbles, but generally keep the blender near the bottom of the bowl so the soap mixture doesn’t splash out of the bowl. The mixture will soon become cloudy and then start to thicken to a runny, pudding-like consistency. If you want to add a colorant or exfoliant, do so now.
When you lift the blender out of the soap and it leaves marks on the surface, you’ve reached “trace,” the point at which the oils and lye solution have emulsified. Stop here; do not overmix. If you do overmix, the mixture will become very thick and difficult to pour into the mold, and the final result will not look too pretty.
Once the soap is in the mold, smooth out the top with the spatula or use a chopstick or spoon to give it a texture.
Spray the soap in the mold with the isopropyl alcohol. The scent will not stay, and the alcohol helps prevent a white substance called soda ash from forming on the top of the soap. Soda ash is perfectly harmless, but many people do not like the way it looks.