While you can purchase soap in just about any store, making your own is something you might be considering. Not only is it fun, but you are also more in control of the ingredients that go into the final product. There is always a sense of accomplishment that comes with holding something in your hands that you have created yourself.
People have been making their own soap for centuries, and milk soap has always been popular because of the benefits that milk has. Methods have changed over time and there are several methods around. For now, I will concentrate on the original procedure, the one used by our ancestors.
Before we get into the actual making of the soap, there is a need to cover some safety measures regarding lye, a major ingredient in soap. Lye is an extremely dangerous chemical; it can burn badly, cause blindness and even kill you. When handled properly, however, injuries can be avoided.
It is always best to wear long pants and shoes with toes when making soap. These help protect your skin from spills. Protective glasses and rubber gloves are necessary. Any containers you use should be able to withstand a microwave; this will ensure them withstanding very high temperatures over a somewhat long period of time. Keep a bottle of vinegar close as it will help neutralize the lye should any get on your skin.
When using the old-fashioned method, gather all necessary utensils and ingredients before you start. This will help you concentrate on the process instead of having to stop and search for something in the middle of your work. The utensils you will need are two pitchers, two spoons for stirring, candy thermometers, and a large stainless steel pot, preferably about the fifteen-quart size. You will also need newspaper, molds and plastic wrap.
Milk soap doesn’t require too many ingredients. You will need sixteen ounces of vegetable shortening, seven ounces of olive oil and coconut oil, and an ounce of cocoa butter. In addition, you will need six ounces of water and milk and four ounces of 100 percent lye. When all this is gathered, place the newspaper of a hard, flat surface and set out the molds.
Place the shortening, oils and cocoa butter in the large pot and place over a very low flame to melt. Make sure the mixture does not heat up above 125 degrees. When everything is melted together, set the pan aside and allow the mixture to cool to approximately 105 degrees.
While this is cooling, it is time to mix the water and lye. Always remember to put the lye into the water, not the other way around. Be very careful at this point as the chemical reaction between the water and lye will cause the mixture to heat up, possibly as high as 300 degrees. The fumes are very strong and you may feel the need to open a window. Continue stirring this mixture until all the lye is dissolved. This will then have to be set aside to cool to within five degrees of the oil mixture. If these two mixtures are not within five degrees of each other, the soap will not turn out properly.
When both are cooled enough, mix the lye mixture into the oil mixture. This will need to sit until the mixture thickens. The proper thickening point is when a thin coating remains on your spoon when you stir the mixture. This may take several hours, but you don’t want to pour the mixture too soon. You will need to stir this from time to time, but constant stirring is not necessary.
Once the mixture thickens, pour it into your molds. The molds then need covered with plastic wrap and wrapped in a thick towel or blanket. You will notice the covering becomes hotter throughout the night. The molds will need to remain wrapped at least 24 hours. You will know they are ready when the towel or blanket has cooled down.
Once you unwrap and unmold your soap, allow it to age for at least three weeks before using it. The longer soap ages, the better it will be. You have now made your first milk soap.Once you unwrap