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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 fluid ounces oil (olive, coconut, palm or any combination)
  • 32 fluid 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
it is very time consumeing
Mary, El Dorado, KS
Posted: 6/6/2015 9:44:52 AM
It's more complicated than I realized. Guess I'll continue to buy mine at my farmers market, $ well spent I think.
Wendy, Round Rock, TX
Posted: 4/5/2015 4:01:15 PM
Bob is right! Use lye calculator! My very first attempt to make soap was with this recipe. It took 50 minutes to reach the trace; I burnt out a stick blender in the process! The soap was sticky!!! Not even good as a hand soap. With the correct amount of lye it is a pretty nice soap though. Once I used the lye calculator it turned out pretty nicely.
Also use about 2/3 of solid and 1/3 of liquid oils. The coconut oil gives it a nice lather, but without the liquid oils it reaches trace crazy fast. I tried with about 90% of solids and it was like a play-dough by the time I was filling the last mold.
Posted: 3/10/2015 12:07:42 PM
Although it might seem appealing to use such a simple recipe as this, as with all things, you sort of get what you pay for. Using the simplest calculator for saponification values (SAP), you will quickly see that the oils you use will require different amounts of lye. For this recipe the undiscounted lye values range from 13oz to 17oz. Typical lye discount values are between 4% and 10%. Using 10oz in this recipe will result in lye discount values between 23% and 42%. These are steep discounts, and could result in a trace is difficult to impossible to achieve, especially if your oil mix is predominately coconut oil.
Also, the ratio of water (milk) to lye is 3.2:1. This will give you a fairly 'loose' or wet batter, though if you have the proper amount of lye, it is a good starting point. However, consider a mainly coconut oil mix with a wet batter. Again, getting to trace could be near impossible.
I love the simplicity of this recipe, and I'm going to give it a try. But I will be using an SAP calculator with a lye discount of around 6%. I've had great success with a 1/3 coconut, 2/3 palm mix. At a 6% discount that would be about 13.5oz of lye.
Happy soapmaking!
Bob, Richmond, VA
Posted: 1/4/2015 3:36:23 AM
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