Once you have gathered all the necessary ingredients and safety materials, you’ll need a well-ventilated area to make your goat-milk soap. Unless you have a special workshop, you’ll probably be making your goat-milk soap on the kitchen stove. Open a window and run a fan. Also make sure that kids and animals aren’t underfoot.
Soap can be a little tricky to make; it’s important to take the necessary safety precautions and to follow the steps closely. Soap is the product of saponification, a chemical reaction between fats, which are acids, and lye, which is a base. Vinegar is an integral part of your safety gear. Since lye can burn your skin, you need to be very careful when handling it. If the lye comes into contact with your skin, quickly apply vinegar to the area to neutralize the lye’s effects.
1. Prepare your area first so you can move quickly between steps:
a. Place your pots on the stove.
b. Put the stick blender, wooden paint stirrer and bowl of vinegar near the stove.
c. Place all of your soap ingredients, including dyes and fragrances, off to the side.
d. Arrange your soap molds on a flat surface and place your scale nearby.
e. Shake your lye and make sure it has no lumps.
f. Wear clothing that covers you completely, including rubber gloves, ventilation mask and goggles.
2. Place one pot on medium heat and pour in the goat milk. It should still be very cold.
3. Slowly pour the lye into the goat milk, stirring constantly with the wooden paint stirrer. The goat milk will heat up very quickly when you add the lye. (Note: Never pour the goat milk into the lye. It may splatter and burn you.)
4. Discard the lye container immediately.
5. Dissolve all lye granules.
6. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
7. Place the beeswax, glycerin and shortening in the other pot and melt. The beeswax has a higher melting point than the other two, so you may want to start heating it sooner. Heat mixture to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Slowly pour the lye/milk mixture into the shortening mixture, stirring constantly with the electric handheld mixer. Fast stirring will allow your mixture to trace more quickly.
9. Heat will help bring the mixture to the trace stage. Keep the heat at about 115 F. The higher the heat, the faster the soap will come to the trace stage and the shorter amount of time you will spend stirring. Don’t heat the mixture above 230 F or it will splatter. Also, depending on the additives you’ve included, you may need to be careful of high temperatures because the additives may burn or degrade in quality.
10. Look for the mixture to thicken to the consistency of cake batter.
11. To test for traces, spoon up a small amount of soap and drip it into the main mixture. If a small globule of soap forms and takes a while to reincorporate into the rest of the mixture, your soap has traced. If there’s no pattern, keep stirring. A trace should be reached within 10 to 20 minutes of hand stirring, or five to 10 minutes of stirring with an electric blender.
12. Stir in 5 ounces cocoa butter.
13. (Optional) After tracing is the only time you can add fragrances or colorants. Add the colorant first, then the fragrance. Blend thoroughly yet quickly.
14. Quickly remove from heat and pour mixture into molds.
15. Cover your goat-milk soap with plastic wrap and let it sit for 48 hours.
16. Pop soap out of molds. If your soap won’t immediately separate from the molds, place them somewhere cold for about two hours.
17. Place the goat milk soap bars in a cardboard box lined with waxed paper. Place in a warm, dry area that won’t be disturbed. Let the soap cure for at least six weeks.
18. Use litmus paper to test the lye content of your finished soap. Be sure to wash off any soda ash that has formed before testing, as soda ash has a high pH value. (Soda ash results from carbon dioxide combining with the lye in the soap.) If your soap has a pH of 10 or higher, let it cure for approximately another week. As the soap continues to saponify, the lye will transform and the pH will decrease. Do not use soap that registers a pH of nine or higher.
If you forgot to include any additives, got a false trace, or if you didn’t get the ingredients quite right, you can always rebatch your goat milk soap.
Excerpt from the Popular Farming Series magabook Goats.