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How to Make Soap with Milk

Make homemade soap from milk using this basic recipe from soapmaker Martha Enriquez of Pine Lane Soaps.

Recipe courtesy Martha Enriquez, Pine Lane Soaps

Homemade soap
Photo by Stephanie Staton

Martha Enriquez, of Pine Lane Soaps in Batavia, Ohio, uses this basic soap recipe for her goat’s milk soap. Whenever you make soap at home, follow safety guidelines: Wear long sleeves, an apron and safety goggles, and work in a well-ventilated room. Only use your equipment for soap-making and not for food preparation, and avoid using any equipment made from aluminum.

Yield: 4 pounds


  • 2 12-quart stainless-steel pots
  • spoon for stirring
  • soap mold (You can purchase these from a soap-making supply store or website or use other items found around the house, such as candy molds, drawer organizers and Styrofoam egg cartons.)
  • thermometer that ranges 80 to 160 degrees F


  • 96 ounces oil (olive, coconut, palm or any combination)
  • 32 ounces goat’s milk, frozen
  • 10 ounces lye
  • 1 to 2 ounces essential oils (your choice)

Photos courtesy Pine Lane Soaps

Homemade soap: Step 1 Step 1: In a stainless-steel pot, heat oils on the stove to 100 degrees F.
Homemade soap: Step 2 Step 2: In a separate stainless-steel pot, slowly add lye to frozen milk and heat until it reaches 100 degrees F. (If the mixture exceeds 100 degrees F, allow it to cool or put it in an ice bath.)
Homemade soap: Step 3 Step 3: Once both the oils and milk-lye mixture reach 100 degrees F, very slowly add the milk-lye mixture to the oils. Whisk the mixture quickly until it reaches a thickness similar to pudding, aka trace. This can take up to 30 minutes. Once trace is achieved, add essential oils and stir well.
Homemade soap: Step 4 Step 4: Pour soap into mold, and let it harden for 24 hours.
Homemade soap: Step 5

Step 5: Remove soap from mold and allow to cure for four weeks in a well-ventilated location with low humidity.


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How to Make Soap with Milk

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Reader Comments
Also, here's Jan's insight on glycerin:

Glycerin is actually a byproduct of soap making. When you mix oils with lye a chemical reaction occurs and you're left with soap and glycerin. In homemade soap, the glycerin is distributed throughout the bars and is part of what makes it so gentle and moisturizing. Commercial soap makers usually separate the glycerin out of the soap and sell it separately for extra profit. Glycerin is used in some medications, foods, and cosmetics. It can't be used to make soap, since it was formed FROM soap.
Melt & pour soap bases (like you find in craft stores) are sometimes called glycerin soaps, which is a pretty confusing (and not quite accurate) name. Melt & pour soap is an already made soap base that you just melt, mix in the colors and scents that you want, and then pour into molds. Someone, in a factory somewhere, made those bases using lye (sodium hydroxide). However, by buying soap bases ready made, the consumer doesn't have to handle the lye in its straight form. This is great for kids and those who are scared of handling lye - just remember that the bases will have extra additives and some people find them drying.
Hobby Farms Editor, Lexington, KY
Posted: 3/7/2014 10:23:42 AM
Bernadette and Peggy,
We asked our contributor and experienced soap-maker Jan Berry to field your questions. Here's what she had to say regarding lye:

Soap is formed when a strong alkali (alkaline substance) is mixed with oils and fats. In the old days, wood ashes (potash) were used for this purpose, but without a way to have consistent measurements, the resulting soap our great-grandmothers made was often on the harsh side. Today, we have a standardized ingredient to replace wood ashes called sodium hydroxide (lye). It serves the same purpose as wood ash, only does a better job because we know the exact amount to use to make a gentle bar.

You're absolutely right that lye can be dangerous - it is just as dangerous as handling bleach, driving a car down the road, or working with a hot stove. All things of this nature require a good helping of caution and common sense usage to prevent potential harm. To ensure safety: keep children and pets away from the area, wear proper safety gear (goggles, gloves, long sleeves), avoid breathing in fumes directly (just as you would bleach, ammonia and other such items), and follow directions carefully.

You can't make soap without lye - this is true for homemade soap and also commercially made soap. If you check out a bar of soap from the store, you'll see ingredients such as "sodium tallowate" or "sodium palmitate". This is just their fancy way of saying tallow or palm oil that has reacted with lye (sodium hydroxide). The only way to have a "soap" without lye, is to use a surfactant such as sodium lauryl sulfate, but then in that case you have a detergent and not a true soap.
Hobby Farms Editor, Lexington, KY
Posted: 3/7/2014 10:22:45 AM
Lye is very dangerous. Why would you want to use that on your skin? Wouldn't GLYSERINE be better, safer and more easily purchased(from any craft store).
Also, why don't you answer anyone's questions?
Bernadette, Easton, CT
Posted: 3/6/2014 1:54:00 PM
I've never made soap before. What is this soap like, after it is made?

Does the soap have to be tested in order to know its shelf life?

does glycerine need to be used in soaps?
Peggy, Goshen, UT
Posted: 2/9/2014 5:08:27 AM
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