Guest Author - Winsome Tapper
Milk soaps are pretty much like regular cold process soaps. The only difference is that with milk soaps the milk that is added as a liquid heats up and caramelizes to different shades of brown. Naturally this gives off a strong odor initially which fades as the soap cures into something that is very smooth and decadent.
Any recipe can be used to create milk soap. Some people have more success with certain oil combinations because the oils do not have to be heated to very high temps to melt them so that when the lye water/ milk mixture is added, the temps are kept low enough so the milk does not scorch. The main goal in making milk soaps is keeping the milk from scorching. This is accomplished in different ways. One way is to cool the milk so that when added to the lye, it does not overheat.
Another way this is accomplished is by adding the milk later on in the recipe and using water instead as the initial dilutant with the lye. This necessitats deviding the liquid component into half water and half milk(cream, half and half, etc). The water is used as a dilutant with the lye and the milk portion is added later when the lye and water have cooled down considerably.
This recipe produces a wonderful creamy hard and very sudsy bar of soap. Milk or cream or half and half maybe used in this recipe. Also, dried milk or goat's milk may also be used instead of milk. My personal preference is to use cream or half and half because the final product is so much more luxurious.
Shea Butter Cream Soap
8 ounces ----- Coconut oil
16 ounces -----Palm Kernel oil
8 ounces ------Shea Butter
4.95 ounces ----- lye
8 ounces milk or half and half (frozen until of a slushy consistency)
Total ------ 32 ounces (2 pound loaf)
1. Open windows to allow fresh air to come into room.
2. Put on chemical mask. Use the mask when weighing the lye and while combining the lye with the milk. Don gloves and protective goggles.
3. Heat oils and melt any solid fats. The pot used should be large enough so that after adding the lye and milk mixture, there is enough room to mix so that it does not easily splash out of the container.
4. Leave oils to cool to the same temperature as the lye around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually with a lye and water mixture we want a temperature of around 100-120 degrees. However, when using milk we want that temperature to be a bit lower. Check temperature with thermometer, wiping off when checking the next liquid or use two different thermometers. (After both liquids have reached the desired temperature, add lye/milk liquid to the cooled oils).
5. Get two pitchers, one to weigh the lye and the other for mixing the lye and milk. (To counteract the milk overheating when added to the water and lye mixture, the milk or half and half is frozen until it is of a slushy consistency) Add milk to one pitcher, breaking up the chunks for ease of mixing with the lye.
6. Add lye in small increments to the milk and stir constantly. We do not want the milk to burn. It will change to a bright yellow color, which is okay. Continue mixing in all the lye and check the temperature at the end of combining the lye. Never add the liquid to the lye or it may erupt into a volcano-like mass that spills everywhere.
7. Mix lye and milk gently but thoroughly to dissolve the lye particles in the liquid. A whisk makes dispersing the lye in the milk easy. Dissolve all the lye particles which sometimes stubbornly refuse to break up and may clump. It is important to stir gently enough so it does not splash everywhere.
8. After mixing lye and milk, you will notice that the container is very hot; this is because the lye and liquid are involved in a chemical process that produces heat. The temperature is too hot to immediately combine the lye with the oils, so remove it from your primary soap making area and leave it somewhere to cool down a bit (100 degrees Fahrenheit)- in an area that is inaccessible to children or pets.
9. After the lye/milk mixture has cooled add it to the oil and stir with the wire whisk briskly, or use a stick blender, which speeds up the whole process immensely. We are mixing to reach trace. Trace is the point when the mixture thickens, appears opaque and shiny and when the whisk or stick blender leaves an impression after it is stirred. This will look similar to a gravy or sauce of medium to thick consistency.
10. It usually takes anywhere from 15 – 40 minutes of stirring to reach trace. If using the wire whisk, after mixing for 5 minutes or so, take a break of a couple minutes and continue stirring. I usually stir in between doing other things. After making soap several times, one learns to gauge how much time is actually needed to reach trace in a certain recipe. However, for the first time making soap, it is important to be vigilant and watch for discrete changes that occur in the mixture.
11. If using the stick blender, keep the blender blades immersed near the bottom of the pot stirring in a circular and figure eights. What we need is to make sure all of the mixture is stirred. It is especially important to have a pot that is deep enough with ample headroom when using the stick blender. The stick blender causes more turbulence in the mixture, therefore increasing the risk for accidental spillage. Turn the blender on after immersing it in the lye/oil mixture, so it does not splash out of the pot. Trace occurs quicker using the stick blender than mixing by hand with the wire whisk
12. After soap reaches trace combine additives, colorants, super fatting oils and fragrance or essential oils to traced soap and mix thoroughly, dispersing them throughout the mixture. Add the fragrance or essential oils last as some fragrances or essential oils cause the soap to seize or become very thick and unmanageable.
12.Pour mixture into prepared lined mold. I usually use thick utility type plastic that is cut into manageable pieces, to line the mold. Alternately, freezer paper maybe used as well as a kitchen garbage bag with the sides cut open so that it is flat. Cover mold with a lid (if it has one) or a piece of cardboard or a flat piece of lumber. With milk soaps, I do not insulate the mold – just covering it is enough. We do not want the temperature to get high.
13. Leave covered soap in a safe place away from children or pets for 12-18 hours to saponify, gel and set. After 18 hours, uncover and allow to sit in mold a couple more hours. If firm enough, unmold onto plastic, utility paper or a clean dishcloth. Don neoprene gloves and cut bars with a sturdy chef's knife or a soap cutter. Store soap on a platter or open box lined with absorbent paper (Kraft, tissue or utility) and allow to cure for two to three weeks.
Milk soaps tend to have a strong ammonia odor which eventually fades as it cures, so don’t be alarmed if the soap has a really strong odor; this is to be expected.