Concocting homemade bar soap has been a hobby of mine since my undergraduate days in college. At that time I had a streak of making my own bath products, including bar soaps, body scrubs, lotion bars, herb-infused hair rinses, and fizzy bath bombs. Bar soap was always a favorite!
For the past several years goat’s milk has been my liquid of choice, which results in a creamy, moisturizing bar. Branched out to coconut milk in this latest batch and had smashing results. Other milks such as almond or hemp would likely work just as well.
Utilizing the cold-process soap method does come with a risk—handling caustic lye. Should you take the soapmaking plunge, keep a bottle of white vinegar handy in case of accidents, and always use goggles and rubber gloves when handling this substance. Take it from the girl who foolishly spilled concentrated nitric acid on her sandaled feet in college chemistry lab, and has some small scars to prove it!
A few years ago a 3-pound wooden mold and cutter from Creekside Soaps came into my life. Love these and would highly recommend them to anyone interested in making their own bars.
Making your own soap is very gratifying, which I am reminded of each day after sudsing up with a bar in the shower. This soap can also be used as an ingredient in homemade laundry soap, and makes a thoughtful gift :)
Megan’s Milk Soap
Protective mask and gloves
2 Plastic stirring spoons
Electric hand blender
Soap mold, lined with freezer paper
1-2 cookie racks
12 ounces partially-frozen coconut or goat’s milk (freeze half ahead of time in ice cube tray)
4 2/3 ounces lye
12 ounces olive oil
12 ounces coconut oil
8 ounces palm oil
1-2 oz. essential oil of choice (or, infuse oils with fresh herbs as I did for this batch)
Melt the olive, coconut, and palm oils together in a pot over low heat. Remove pot from heat, and place in a cold water bath to bring the temperature down to 100 degrees.
Wearing goggles and gloves, place frozen and liquid milk into large bowl and slowly add lye. Stir until the mixture is smooth and without lumps. An exothermic reaction will result, bringing the temperature of the milk up and melting the frozen milk. Cool mixture to around 100 degrees, if it is above that level.
Next, slowly add the milk mixture to the oils, using a hand blender to combine until "tracing" occurs–- when drips from the blender leave a noticeable path in the concoction. This usually takes no longer than 5 minutes (without the hand-blender, it can take all day-- I know!)
If desired, add essential oils or additives such as cinnamon, turmeric, cocoa powder, ground oatmeal, poppyseeds, or dried herbs using a plastic spoon or spatula. This will also remove bubbles.
Pour the mixture into prepared soap mold, cover, and leave alone for 24 hours. Then remove soap from mold, cut, and cure on cookie racks for 3-4 weeks.
Finally, pat yourself on the back and enjoy your homemade goodness!