Sunday, January 3, 2010

Making Goats Milk Soap

A while back I made my first batch of goats milk soap. This was the first time to make soap with the goats milk so I was anxious to see the results. I waited patiently until it cured, and was excited to finally try it out. I have to say.... I absolutely love it! I have only used the honey oatmeal bars so far, but assume the others will be just as wonderful. Normally in the winter my hands are so dry and even cracked and bleeding from all the exposure to the elements. After only a week of using this soap, and purposely no lotion, my hands are better than I can remember in years. I gave some out for Christmas presents, as well, and look forward to the feedback from others.

When I made the soap I knew I wanted to use what we can provide here from the farm as much as possible. I also wanted something that would have a nice lather, and I was interested in playing around with different colors and natural additives. I made 4 different kinds of soap. A plain soap; cinnamon swirled because it was so pretty; honey-oatmeal which is great for exfoliating; and a cucumber soap which is supposed to be good for acne. The basic recipe for all the soaps is the same. I checked out lots of different websites with soap recipes and tweaked them into my own as follows:
Goats Milk Soap
11 1/4 cups goats milk (slightly frozen)
7 1/2 cups lard
1- 16 ounce can of lye
4 Tbsp of Borax
Honey Oatmeal soap: add 3 1/8 cups finely ground oatmeal and 1 cup (or more) honey.
Cucumber soap: add 2 finely chopped cucumbers.
Cinnamon Swirl soap: add 4 Tbsp to half the batch of soap after trace, then pour the colored soap into the plain soap, gently swirl. Don't mix too much, as you only want a pretty swirled look.
I started by using my handy dandy antique Chop-o-Matic to finely chop up the oatmeal.
Next I started the lard cooking on the stove. The lard should be heated to 85 degrees. I used lard from our butchered hogs so had to strain it after it was cooked down.
I found it worked really well to use frozen goats milk. The lye is so hot that it will actually scorch the milk if you are not careful, so even milk with some ice chunks still floating is great.
Measure out your milk and pour it into a stainless steel container. I used a stainless steel milking pail, and it was just the right size. I then put the pail of milk in a sink of ice water. If your soap turns orange it means the lye burnt the milk. Having the milk pail in the ice water seemed to prevent that. Slooooowly pour in the lye, mixing the entire time. Again, the lye is so hot it will scorch the milk if you go too fast. Allow this mixture to cool to 85 degrees. A word of caution here... when handling lye prepare yourself by wearing old clothes (barn coveralls are perfect), a long sleeved shirt that protects your arms, rubber gloves, and glasses. Even if you feel a splash and no burning, instantly neutralize the area with vinegar because it will start stinging within a couple of hours and can do serious damage to your skin. With all the hovering over the soap you need lots of ventilation. I actually ended up with burns like a sunburn on my face and neck from being so close to the lye. Don't be scared of it, just respect it.Once your milk and lye mix and lard is at the correct temperature (85 degrees) it is time to start mixing. Add the honey and oatmeal to the milk mixture (or cucumber), then add the lard sloooowly. I started out mixing with a wooden spoon. Mix for 15 minutes, let sit for 5 minutes, mix again for 5 minutes, etc. By the third batch I switched to a small blender. Just be careful that you don't mix too fast and send it all flying. A stick blender works great and speeds up the trace time to about 15 minutes. You are waiting for the mixture to get thick and form a trace, which means that if you drizzle a little of the mixture across the top it leaves an indent just before it settles. A consistency a bit like pudding. This takes alot of mixing, depending on how fast you mix. Once you see that nice trace, and notice the soap getting thick all of a sudden, it is time to pour it into your prepared molds. Rob built me a wooden box mold about 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" and a couple of feet long. When he makes some more I will probably have him make them about 3"x3". I used a garbage bag to line the mold, then poured the soap in. I also had some soap molds that I used. Spray first with cooking spray. Simple cardboard boxes lined with garbage bags worked well, too. You will want your soap to be thicker than 1" or else it will curl as it cures. Next, cover the molds with plastic wrap, then wrap everything in a towel and set somewhere warm and undisturbed. You want to keep them insulated for 24-48 hours.
Once your soap is hard it is time to cut it. We shaved the extra off of the molded soap then popped them out of their molds. The lye can still burn you at this point so make sure to wear gloves and be careful handling the fresh soap. To cut the big box mold soaps we used a heavy fishing line. I really liked the wooden box molds. Cutting was very easy and precise. The next step is to find somewhere for all of that soap to cure for 4 weeks or so. We layered boxes with paper bags and newspaper and layed the soap, untouching, on top. The soap needs to cure for 3-4 weeks. The soap has great sudsing and feels so good to use. Happy Soap Making!

A Goats Life

On our farm we try to raise our animals as close to the way that God intended them to live. Our goats are raised on free access pasture, as well as daily rations of alfalfa hay and grain. They enjoy their time to run and play in the big pasture. They receive lot's of loving and interaction.
We are working on building up a Nubian herd, and have also included Sanaan bloodlines to improve milk quantity.
Our does are allowed to raise their own kids, which makes for happy mommas and babies.

Our First Goat Show

The kids showed the goats for the first time in the fall of 2009 at our small local fair. There was lots to learn about traveling with goats, preparing the goats for show, and proper etiquette in the show ring. Rick and Maddie walked us through all the steps. It turned out to be a great experience for everybody, and one we look forward to doing again. We brought 3 young Nubian does to the show. The kids also participated in showmanship as well and learned a lot about proper goat handling in the ring. We came home with Best of Show, as well as 1st and 2nd place ribbons.