Sunday, April 1, 2012

Soap Challenge Week #2 ~ Milk Soap

So, here we are on week #2 of the soap challenge suggested by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks.  This week's challenge was to make a soap using milk - cow milk, goat milk, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, yogurt, or whatever else floats your boat.  I used to make a luscious soap that contained fresh raw goat's milk, ground oatmeal, and fresh raw honey.  I didn't use any fragrance but it would smell like oatmeal and honey.  Yum!

Well.........I haven't made it in probably two years.  I know, I know!  I get requests for it all the time, but I just haven't made any.  Why, you ask?  I used to get gallons and gallons of goat's milk from a friend.  So much that we had all the goat's milk mozzarella and ricotta we could possibly eat and give away.  My goat milk source....dried up.  Also, the last time I made this soap I had some issues.  Serious issues!  I had huge pockets of unsaponified oil and caustic lye pockets.  I couldn't even rebatch the mess I was left with.  (or wasn't willing to)  But Amy issued a challenge and refusing a challenge is like refusing a double dog dare.  You just CAN'T do it.  I'm not skeered!

So I stepped up to the challenge.  I could have used coconut milk.  But I've made hundreds of bars with coconut milk.  It used to be in my standard soap recipe until one of the main coconut milk plants in Thailand shut down and coconut milk prices increased by more than 25%.  So, that just wouldn't have been a challenge.  Anyways, I truly loved the oatmeal, milk, and honey soap I used to make.  I just needed a little nudge.  Okay, maybe a shove.

Welcome to my oatmeal, milk, and honey soap making adventure.  Oh, it was an adventure indeed!

Goat milk chunks ready to be added
I like to make a strong lye solution and replace part of the water from my original recipe with goat milk, which I freeze and add to the strong lye solution.
The first bits of goat's milk have been added, and the lye solution has taken on a golden yellow color

All the milk has been added.  Just keep stirring!  Just keep stirring!
As  you add the frozen goat's milk, the fats in the milk bond with the lye and begin forming soap!  Your solution begins to look curdled.  But don't fret!  It will all smooth out once it is added to the oils.

All ready to pour

This is a light trace.  The oils and lye solution have emulsified and it looks like thin pudding.  Time for add ins!
I added the lye solution to the oils, and blended until it was emulsified.  I didn't want it to thicken too much on me because I thought I remembered that honey speeds up trace.  Apparently I was mistaken, because it stayed nice and thin as I continued to blend and poured the soap into the mold.  In fact, I had to let it set up for a few minutes while I cleaned up my mess before it was thick enough to decorate the top.
Ground oatmeal and warm honey added to the raw soap

I heat up the honey slightly before adding it to my soap.  I think it bonds better, rather than sitting in it's own lonely honey pockets.
Blended ad ready to pour!

Still a little too thin to swirl.  Excuse me while I go clean up my mess!

Now that's better

A little oatmeal on top ~ a girl's gotta accessorize!
Normally, I cover my soap with plastic wrap and cover it with towels to insulate it.  As the soap saponifies, it will heat up, and the towels will hold that heat in and ensure that the soap goes through a 'gel phase'.  Gel has many benefits, one of which is a deepening of color.  I really wanted this soap to stay a nice light golden color so I thought I'd try to avoid I didn't insulate it.  Honey is one of those substances that likes to super heat your raw soap and cause cracks and fissures on the surface.  Therefore, I kept a close eye on my soap to make sure it didn't gel.  It did!  So I set up a fan to blow on it.  Everything appeared okay.
Those dark areas are gelling!

The unveiling

Unmolded and ready to be cut.  So far, so good.

First cut

After the first slice in, you could see where the soap had begun to gel in the middle.  The color should even out a bit over the course of being cured.  But after I cut a few slices, I started seeing a problem. 

Oily pockets!  Oh no!!

 There were oily pockets!  Oh no!  Not again!  I continued to cut and it appeared to only be over the space of two or three bars.  I checked the pH.  They are okay.  I did a zap test to see if they were lye heavy (and to check if they were merely pockets of honey)  They weren't either.  They were merely oil.  I formed a theory, and I'll share it with you at the end of this post.  I continued to cut the soap, and hoped that some of the oil would be reabsorbed into the soap during the curing process.  I'll keep the two or three 'holey' bars for personal use.  The good news is that today, 24 hours after cutting, the soap doesn't appear oily, and the color is more even.
Fresh cut soap

Better than I expected (because I was worried)
Natural Oatmeal, Goat Milk, and Honey Soap

My 'Bad' Bars (still nowhere close to as bad as my last batch)
So....what happened?  The chemist in me has a theory.

When you make soap, your oils and your lye become 'dance partners'.  The reason you have to run your recipe through a lye calculator is to make sure your recipe isn't either lye heavy or oil heavy.  Or, as I like to one is left without a dance partner.  Lye is grumpy.  If you have lye particles left without partners, they irritate everyone they come in contact with, and just plain ruin the party.  If you have oil particles left without partners, everyone dancing by feels oily and slippery and not particularly clean, and they just want to go home and shower.  A good soap maker wants all of the lye to have partners so their soap isn't caustic.  They want just a few oils to be left without partners so that their soap is cleansing but slightly moisturizing as well.  Most of us 'superfat' our recipes to make sure we have a few oil particles left unchanged in our soap.  Normally I superfat at 5%, although I that percentage in certain circumstances.  For instance, when I make laundry soap, I don't superfat at all.  After all, my clothes don't need any moisturizer (or any oils left in their fibers).

Here is the thing.  I substituted fresh goat's milk for more than half of my water in this recipe.  Goat's milk contains fats, and water does not.  Some of those fat globules cut in and took on my lye as dance partners.  Therefore, there were more oil particles than expected left to be wall flowers.  And they weren't happy!  So they decided to leave the party.  Does that hurt the soap?  No.  It will be slightly lower in cleansing power and a bit more moisturizing.  Gotta hate that!  But it also contains oatmeal and honey, which are so soothing and healing to the skin, I think it will be a luscious and healing bar of soap.  That being said, I think the next time around I'm going to superfat at 3%.

Well, have a great day!  It's time for me to start planning for the next challenge.


Amy W said...

I think your theory may be right, Natalie! I take my SF down to 4% when I make my fresh goat's milk soap. I'm so glad you ended up with some great milk soap!!

koinonia community said...

Why didn't I think of it BEFOREhand? Story of my life. Deep sigh!

BeckaBoo82 said...

I have to say, I am super intimidated by milk soaps AND I hate failed batches! My hat is off to you for facing down your past failure!

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Its all such a learning process isn;t it ? My first few cows milk bars (raw milk, high in fat) turned very orange but finally I have learned to keep it all VERY cold. I think your bars will be super

koinonia community said...

Thanks guys! I appreciate all the encouragement.

Holly said...

Your soap turned out lovely! I believe in your theory as well.