Luxury Goat Milk Soap: Recipe and Tutorial

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Cee from Oil & Butter is my favorite soap blogger for many reasons. She is generous with her expertise and her ideas. Her soap looks incredible (and her photographs are beautiful). She is knowledgeable and friendly. She shared a recipe and tutorial for a Luxury Soap two years ago, and it looks so gorgeous that I have been dying to try it. In the spirit of Cee’s original post, I share my recipe, advice, and reflections.

Luxury SoapIngredients

Lye Solution

  • 291 g goat milk
  • 85 g coconut milk
  • 155 g lye

Oils

  • 56 g mango butter
  • 57 g shea butter
  • 225 g coconut oil
  • 200 g palm oil
  • 430 g olive oil
  • 57 g avocado oil
  • 57 g sweet almond oil
  • 56 g castor oil

Additives

  • 1.5 t honey mixed with 1.5 t distilled water
  • 68 g fragrance (I chose Brown Sugar and Fig from Nature’s Garden)
  • 2 t Diamond Dust Mica dispersed in the sweet almond oil
  • 1 T sodium lactate

Equipment

First, a quick note about grams as opposed to ounces. I use grams to measure the weight of my soap ingredients because grams are more precise than ounces, even if you are measuring tenths of an ounce. I always recommend that soapmakers use grams, and whenever I use a recipe someone else has posted, I convert it to grams using SoapCalc.

This recipe was adapted from Cee’s own Luxury Soap recipe. I removed the jojoba oil mainly because it’s terrifically expensive. I don’t have much of it right now, and I prefer to use it for leave-on products like lotions, like other soapmakers. It’s perfectly fine in soap, however, and I didn’t remove it because I thought it shouldn’t be used. Using it would certainly have added a bit of decadence to an already almost sinful soap, but I think the recipe is plenty luxurious without it, too. I didn’t have chamomile extract, so I didn’t use that either. Aside from removing the jojoba and chamomile extract, I tweaked the numbers of the other oils and swapped almond milk for coconut milk. Otherwise, the recipes are quite similar.

I began by preparing the oils. First, I measured out the butters.

Mango ButterMango butter is truly wonderful. It is similar to shea butter in some respects in that it has a significant amount of unsaponifiables, meaning that more of the conditioning and moisturizing qualities of the butter make it through the saponification process. It also contributes to a creamy lather.

Shea Butter I added the shea butter to the mango butter. I use shea butter and/or cocoa butter in almost all of my soaps because I love what it does for skin. It does speed up trace, so be careful.

Coconut OilIn with the coconut oil. It’s so hot here today that it’s completely melted already. Actually the mango butter was kind of soft as well. It’s usually a little harder (and almost brittle) than it was today. Coconut oil is great for bubbles—it contributes to fluffy lather and cleansing as well as bar hardness. I use coconut oil in almost all of my soaps.

Palm OilThe last hard oil is palm oil, which I use because it contributes to bar hardness, stable lather, and conditioning. I use it in a lot of my soaps.

What I like to do is put all my hard oils in the soap bowl together, then melt them in the microwave. It saves time as opposed to melting each separately and adding them together. I warmed these oils for about one minute (try 30-second bursts). At that point, the shea was almost melted, so I stirred it until it was completely melted.

Olive OilA quick word about olive oil: you can use any grade of olive oil in soap, but I always use pure golden olive oil. I don’t think it’s necessary to use extra virgin olive oil in soapmaking. In fact, it’s not different enough from pure golden olive oil to warrant its own category in SoapCalc, though olive oil pomace is. I personally don’t use pomace because pure golden olive oil is available at my local discount membership warehouse for a really good price (and no shipping). I use olive oil in every single soap I make. It’s highly conditioning and contributes to stable lather and bar hardness. I believe it to be the single best soaping oil there is.

Soft Oils

I prepared the soft oils—olive oil, avocado oil, and castor oil—measuring them out one at a time, and then adding them all to the melted hard oils and butters.

Avocado oil contains vitamins A, D, and E, and contributes to the bar’s conditioning properties.

Castor oil is the best source of ricinoleic acid and make the lather much fluffier and more stable. I use castor oil in most of my soaps. Castor oil is also a natural humectant, which means it draws moisture to the skin. I usually only use 5%, except in shampoo bars.

Mica Added

I added my Diamond Dust Mica to the sweet almond oil, mixed it with a small hand mixer, and then added the sweet almond oil to the rest of the oils. Sweet almond oil is another of my favorite oils. It contributes to a stable lather and conditioning bar. It works well as a carrier oil for colorants, too. It’s also great in lotions.

I blended the oils so that the Diamond Dust Mica would disperse. Look at that pearly sheen!

Diamond Dust Mica

I believe this mica is probably similar to Bramble Berry’s Super Pearly White Mica. That lovely, pearl sheen will not completely make it through the soapmaking process, but if you use it in melt-and-pour soap, you should see a nice shimmer in your soap. I do still notice a little bit of shimmer in cold process soap as well, and it definitely adds something that just plain titanium dioxide lacks.

Goat Milk and Coconut Milk

After my oils were prepared, I prepared my milks and lye. Why didn’t I do that before preparing the oils? Well, if I were using water, I would have prepared the lye mixture first because it needs time to cool. However, if I am starting with frozen milk, there is no reason to start with the lye mixture because it doesn’t need to cool. In fact, I find that I can control my milk and lye much better if I prepare it after the oils. I have found that if you prepare the milk and lye before the oils, the fats in the goat milk begin to saponify, and while that’s not necessarily problematic for any reason, I just find I like it better if the milk is still liquid. I used a 6% lye discount in this soap, but you could alter it to your preferred superfat if you like. I find 6% to be my personal sweet spot.

Lye MixtureWorking with milk requires a bit more effort than working with water. I use a stainless steel pot because if I need to quickly cool it down the mixture, stainless steel is a better conductor (hot or cold) than plastic or glass. I also add the lye to the milk just a little at a time and stir until the lye is dissolved. Then I add more. It can take a little while. Once all the lye was added, and I was relatively sure the all of it had dissolved in the milk, I added the sodium lactate to the lye mixture and stirred well to dissolve it.

Lye MixtureI checked the temperature of the lye mixture, and it was about 82°F. Pretty good. I don’t like it to rise above 90°F. If it starts to become too warm, I put the pan in a cool water bath to bring the temperature down.

Another benefit of preparing the oils first and then the lye mixture is that the oils have a little bit more time to cool down as well. I didn’t take their temperature, but my guess is that they were 90-95°F by the time the lye was ready. They would likely have been about 100°F when I began preparing the lye mixture.

Once the lye mixture was ready, I added it to the oils and stirred a little bit. Anne-Marie Faiola of Bramble Berry likes to pour the lye mixture down the barrel of her stick blender to reduce splashing and bubbles. I did that this time, too.

Stick Blending SoapI stick blended until a very light trace, then I added the honey. Honey will accelerate trace, so make sure you add it at a light trace, or you may find you have gone too far with the stick blending. When I use honey in soap, I mix it with an equal amount of distilled water. In this case, I used 1.5 t of honey, so I mixed it with 1.5 t of water. Then I microwave the honey for a very short time—only 5-10 seconds. I stir until it dissolves in the water. I find that I have fewer issues with scorching, overheating, and caverns in soap if I dissolve the honey. I have also learned not to use more honey than I need. I wouldn’t go higher than a tablespoon in a batch of this size, and given I used a log mold instead of a slab mold, even that much might have caused temperature issues. Honey is a natural humectant and contributes to the lather in soap.

I added my fragrance, which was Nature’s Garden’s Brown Sugar and Fig. I wanted a scent that evoked the creaminess of the soap. I chose this fragrance also because I knew that it had a very small amount of vanillin in it, and reviews said that it didn’t discolor. I love the fragrance description:

This magical, complex fragrance oil by Nature’s Garden is composed of top notes of fresh figs, peaches, and passion fruit; followed by middle notes of coconut milk, vanilla orchid, jasmine, muguet, and freesia; well-balanced with base notes of vanilla beans, caramel, maple sugar, fig leaves, and musk.

To be honest, I don’t smell any fruit notes, with the possible exception of the fig. I mostly smell vanilla, sugar, and musk. It smells great, and I think it’s perfect in this soap. I had no issues with acceleration or ricing. I’ll have to wait and see as the soap cures to determine whether the claims that it doesn’t discolor are true.

I should think other good fragrance choices might be Nature’s Garden’s Baby Bee Buttermilk or Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey or Bramble Berry’s Wildflower Honey (which will discolor, but to a nice honey shade).

TraceI blended to a pretty thick trace, then poured the soap into my 10-inch silicone loaf mold, which was the perfect size for this recipe. Bramble Berry recommends using sodium lactate to make it easier to remove soap from this mold, and in any case, sodium lactate adds a nice silky feel to soap.

Soap In the MoldLike Cee, I spooned soap on the top after doing a little bit of sculpting, but I didn’t think my tops were as pretty as hers, so I experimented a bit with a skewer to create a slightly different design.

Swirled Soap TopsI spritzed it with 91% isopropyl alcohol, which might not have been strictly necessary since I didn’t choose to gel the soap, but it can’t hurt anyway. Isopropyl alcohol can help prevent soda ash on the tops of soap, but it’s not 100% effective.

A quick word about gelling milk soaps. You will hear some soapmakers insist that you can’t or shouldn’t gel milk soaps. I don’t see any problem with it. I gel most of my milk soaps. Even the ones with honey in them, too. I have only had a problem with overheating once, and it was because I used way too much honey. My advice is to do what you want. I chose not to gel this one because I didn’t want it to darken as much as I knew it would if I gelled it. You might not need to insulate, or perhaps just to insulate lightly, but your milk soaps will gel just fine if you are mindful of the other additives you use and keep an eye on the temperature.

Cut Luxury SoapThe cut soaps smell wonderful. I am going to let them have a nice long cure and give them to family and friends for Christmas.

Related posts:

Honeycomb Soap

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Before I started making soap, I used to purchase handmade soap from a farmer’s market near my house. I actually started making soap because I didn’t think it would be practical to order it from this soap maker anymore, and I found her soaps so interesting that I really wanted to try making my own. I actually researched for some months before I made my first batch.

One of the soaps this soap maker at the farmer’s market sold had a cute honeycomb effect, and I wondered how on earth she achieved it. As it turns out, it’s pretty easy. She used bubble wrap!

I use bubble wrap on some of my soaps. My Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey soap is a big favorite, and here is a tutorial for achieving a honeycomb effect in this soap.

The ingredients in my Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey soap are olive oil, goat milk, coconut oil, sustainable palm oil, sodium hydroxide, shea butter, fragrance, castor oil, finely ground oatmeal, honey, whole oats.

You can purchase colloidal oatmeal, or you can grind it very finely in a coffee grinder. I use a coffee grinder. The fragrance I use is an Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey fragrance.

First off, start with frozen goat milk and slowly add your lye, a little bit at a time, making sure to incorporate all of it. Don’t rush through this part.

Goat Milk

If you are using milk, it’s best to freeze the milk and add the lye to the frozen milk. This might sound stupid, but I figure other people might not know it, so I’ll share: frozen goat milk has the same mass as liquid goat milk. So you can freeze it in ice cube trays first, then weigh the goat milk. You don’t have to weigh out goat milk portions and freeze in portions, but you might find it convenient.

I also use a stainless steel pot every time I mix my lye with any liquid because I can more easily control the temperature. Pots are made for that sort of thing, after all. I got this idea from Anne L. Watson in her book Milk Soapmaking.

Some soap makers don’t freeze the milk all the way and just let it get slushy. I find my temps stay lower if the milk is completely frozen. When the temps stay lower, the milk is less likely to discolor. If the temperature is too high, the milk scorches and turns orange.

Mold

I prepare my mold by laying a sheet of bubble wrap in the bottom of the mold. To add interest, I sprinkle a few oats on top of the bubble wrap.

Soap Batter

When I add the milk to the oils, I try to make sure the oils are 100°F or lower, but I no longer worry about the temperature of my milk. For the record, it’s usually in the 70°-80°F range. At this stage, the milk and oils are emulsified.

Soap Batter

At trace, I add honey diluted in distilled water. I am so lucky! One of my co-workers is a beekeeper, and she trades me honey for soap, so I can use raw, locally harvested honey in my soap. Honey turns the soap a pretty golden color. After the soap saponifies, it turns a golden brown. Honey will discolor soap, but it is a humectant that draws moisture to the skin and also boosts the lather in soap. Honey is amazing in soap!

In the Mold

Once the soap reaches a good trace, but is not too thick to pour evenly, I pour it into the mold. Notice I removed the dividers. I think it is easier to pour the soap in and then add the dividers, but you don’t have to do it that way.

Dividers

Then I put the dividers in. Bang the mold on the counter or table to make sure the bars are even. I sometimes rock this mold gently from side to side before putting in the dividers just to even out the soap.

Oats on Top

I like to sprinkle oats on the top, just as I did on the bottom bubble wrap. It adds some interest and gives the soap a “homespun” look.

Oats on Soap

Here’s the soap entirely covered in oats.

Placing Bubble Wrap

I cut pieces of bubble wrap to fit the bar tops and gently press them into place.

Bubble Wrapped Soap

And here is the soap with the bubble wrap in place. You can also do this with log molds. Just cut strips of bubble wrap that fit the length of the mold and place one strip in the bottom of the mold and another strip on top of the poured soap.

Finished Bars

The finished bars are a golden honey color. They smell awesome! The honeycomb effect totally makes the soap. And it’s so easy!

Related posts:

Natural and Rustic Soaps

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I absolutely adore the artistry in soaps. Talented soapmakers can do some really incredible things with color, swirls, and embeds that just blow me away. But my first love is natural-looking and rustic homemade soap. It was through a natural soapmaker that I was first introduced to handmade soap. This soapmaker was at my local farmer’s market every week, and I was entranced by some of her soaps. I never bought it (my daughter did once), but her Sunrise soap with an orange slice tucked in the top and litsea cubeba and blood orange essential oils captivated me. I started using her Dead Sea mud bar on my face, and I noticed how much better it was for my skin.

I stocked up on these soaps as I prepared to move to Massachusetts because I knew I most likely wouldn’t be ordering them online, and I was determined to see if I could figure out how to make soaps myself. The first soaps I made on my own were natural-looking soaps. When I first started, I had every intention of making 100% natural soaps, but I quickly realized that there was nothing wrong with soap colorants and fragrance oils, and in fact, fragrance oils have undergone testing to ensure that they are skin-safe while essential oils are not as regulated. Using these materials in my handmade soaps did not hurt their quality. They were still handmade, which is better than any commercial soap.

I haven’t made any natural-looking soap in a while, however, with the exception of my Lavender Oatmeal soap.

Lavender OatmealThis soap is absolutely DIVINE, and I really wish it got a little more love. I adore it. It has a thick, luscious lather and it smells amazing—it’s scented with lavender essential oil and oatmeal, milk, and honey fragrance. It is made with aloe vera juice and finely ground oatmeal to make it extra good for your skin. I have given most of the first batch I made away. My children’s teachers will receive the last of it in a bath basket I’m putting together for end-of-year gifts. One of the nice things about being a soapmaker is that I always have the very excellent gift of handmade soap at the ready for any occasion.

Another natural soap that has been a big hit with friends and family and a few customers is my Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey.

Oatmeal, Milk, and HoneyIt’s a very pretty soap, and the Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey fragrance oil is yummy. I make this in an unscented variety, too, and it also smells pretty good. I actually like the smell of goat milk. Is that weird? Honey smells awesome in soap.

I recently received a package of soaps from fellow soapmakers participating in a swap. They made some lovely, natural-looking and, in some cases, rustic soaps.

Soap SwapsSeriously, how delicious does this cinnamon oatmeal soap look?   Cinnamon Oatmeal

And I absolutely love the label on this one.

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Seriously, how cute is that? Southern Romance, and the couple sitting on the hood of a Chevy pickup complete with cowboy boots together with the rustic font? Awesome! Might be the cutest packaging I’ve ever seen.

But look at what you see when you pull off the cigar band.

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Don’t you love it? It’s beautiful! Look at the oats on the top and even the drag marks make it seem somehow more wholesome and natural than it would if they had been planed away.

And check out this Cocoa Coffee soap.

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It smells awesome and feels so smooth.

I think this last one even has dandelion flowers in it. It’s so pretty.2013-06-16 17.53.28

Opening this box made me want to ditch the colors and fancy swirls and make a natural soap again. I made a new batch of the Lavender Oatmeal, but I wanted to make something new, too.

Then I happened upon Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve’s website through some circuitous route through the web, and I was inspired by the simple beauty of their soaps. There truly is nothing like a natural-looking bar of soap.

I had been wanting to make an almond soap for a while, but thinking about ways I could make it more natural prompted me to try making my own almond milk. I tried a recipe found at Frugally Sustainable via Pinterest:

  1. Soak 1 cup of almonds overnight (she recommends 48 hours, but 24 was fine for me).
  2. Peel off the skins. She didn’t say to do this, but I did.
  3. Put four cups of distilled water in a blender along with the peeled almonds.
  4. Blend until smooth. It took me a minute.
  5. Strain milk from ground almonds with cheesecloth. I had to use a tea strainer because I don’t have cheesecloth. I am definitely getting one because a tea strainer was slow going.

The milk might taste better if you used three cups of water instead of four. It tasted fine—sort of like milk with no milk fat flavor, if that makes sense.

Before I drank any of it, however, I measured out the amount I’d need for my soap recipe and froze it overnight.

The next day, I used it instead of water in my lye.

Almond Milk and LyeThis is what it looked like once the lye was fully incorporated. It stayed a pretty, creamy white and the temperature never rose above 77°F.  Isn’t it pretty?

I decided to add some honey to the soap, even though I knew that the fragrance oil I planned to use had vanillin in it and the soap was likely to discolor. Honey can also discolor.

AdditivesThe honey is dissolved in a little bit of the almond milk. I decided to use a tablespoon of the ground almonds in the soap itself.

To keep the soap a little bit lighter, I did add titanium dioxide, but I’m not sure how much that will really prevent the vanilla from discoloring the soap.

OilsHere is the oil mixture with some kaolin clay and titanium dioxide. The recipe I used included sweet almond oil, coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, shea butter, and castor oil.

I should have taken more pictures of the soap in process, but I didn’t. Here is how it looked when I unmolded it the next day. Don’t you love the cute honeycomb look? I love to do honeycombs on my honey soaps.

Soap in the MoldYou can’t really tell because of the honeycomb top, but this soap turned out rock hard and really creamy in appearance. I am not sure if that’s the almond milk or the large amount of sweet almond oil. I have never used almond milk before, and my recipes generally have around 10% almond oil at most, but this recipe has 25% sweet almond oil.

Here are the cut bars.

Sweet Almond and Honey SoapI do not know how much they might darken as they cure, as the vendor from which I purchased the fragrance oil warned that this fragrance does cause discoloration. The titanium dioxide will counter it some, but if they stay this color or perhaps darken a little more, I’ll be satisfied. But then again, this is supposed to look natural, so if it darkens a lot, I’ll just roll with it. It smells absolutely incredible. Even the sweet honey scent comes through. If you are an almond fan, you are going to want to this soap.

Ingredients: homemade almond milk, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, olive oil, sustainable palm oil, sodium hydroxide, shea butter, fragrance, castor oil, finely ground almonds, kaolin clay, titanium dioxide, honey.

Related posts:

Honey Cinnamon Oatmeal Soap

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This was my first personal recipe, and the soap turned out great!

Ingredients

  • 19 oz. olive oil
  • 14 oz. coconut oil
  • 6 oz. palm oil
  • 5 oz. shea butter
  • 2 oz. grapeseed oil
  • 2 oz. castor oil
  • 1.35 oz. sweet orange essential oil
  • 0.7 oz. cinnamon bark essential oil
  • 3 T finely ground oats
  • 1 T honey
  • 16 oz. distilled water
  • 7.2 oz. lye

First, I lay bubble wrap in the bottom of my mold so the soap would have a honeycomb appearance on the bottom. I wish I had lined the mold with parchment paper, too. Despite the fact that my mold’s manufacturer said lining was unnecessary, it was terrible trying to remove the soap from the mold. I had to pop it in the freezer for an hour, and even after that, I had to wedge it out with a knife, which kind of made my soap less pretty. Lesson learned. Always line!

I didn’t want to fiddle with the essential oils and oats when my soap was tracing, so I went ahead and measured them first, then combined them into one container and set them aside. I ground my oats with a coffee grinder, put them in another container, and set them aside. Then I went ahead an measured out the tablespoon of honey and set it aside, too.

I poured 16 oz. water into a container, set it aside, and carefully measured 7.2 oz. of lye into a new container. Then I slowly added the lye to the water, stirring all the while. I kept stirring until the liquid was clear. Then I stuck my thermometer into the lye so I could watch the temperature.

I know there are different schools of thought on warming oils. It was hot here in Massachusetts yesterday, so my coconut oil was already melted, but if it hadn’t been, I’d have melted it in the microwave. I did melt the shea butter in the microwave. Sue me. Despite the fact that I did not take care to make sure the oils were the same temperature as the lye, the soap turned out well.

I measured out my oils into different containers, then combined them into one big plastic bowl and kept stirring. A note for beginners like me: use a scale to measure everything. Don’t try to use a measuring cup and do it by volume. You could be a little off that way. I was a little worried that my shea butter was starting to solidify again while I waited for the lye to reach 100°F. I could see little tiny solid pieces, miniscule really, but I prayed and kept stirring. For all I know, that’s not a bad thing. I’m a newbie.

Once the lye reached 100°F, I carefully added it to the oil mixture and stirred for a few moments. Then I used my stick blender to speed up the process. At a light trace, I added the honey. I guess I should have diluted the honey. My finished soap had some brown spots.

Dark Spots

You can see the dark spots in the corner and sides.

According to one online troubleshooter (dead link removed—sorry!), this can also happen when your soap goes through a very hot gel phase. Like mine did.

Gel Phase

Ay chi wawa! That was hot!

I had read that honey does funny things. Perhaps I didn’t need to cover the soap with a towel. However, I did read that the dark spots might go away once the soap is cured, and also that the soap is still fine to use. Whew! I think they sort of give it character.

At trace, I added the essential oils and ground oats and stirred thoroughly to mix everything in well. I covered the top with bubble wrap for the honeycomb effect, then put my soap to bed.

I actually made a mistake in my recipe. I added 20 oz. of olive oil instead of 19. I’m not sure what it did to my batch, aside from make more soap. I’ll have to wait and see if there were any unintended effects, but the soap looks just fine.

Finished uncut soap

Pretty! But stuck in the mold!

 

I have a mold that comes with a cutter, so once I finally wrestled my soap out of the mold, I sliced it into bars. They’re kind of quirky and not all the same size.

Bar of soap

This one looks nice.

 

But like I said, I learned my lesson about the lining, which should prevent some of the odd looking bars next next time.

Finished bars

Let’s cure this soap!

 

You’re probably wondering about that huge bar of soap on the far right. Right? It may be the result of adding the extra ounce of olive oil, or it could be that I’m a newbie and can’t figure out how much oil will make the exact right amount to fit my mold, but I had that much soap left over after my mold was full, so I poured into a plastic container, and put bubble wrap on it, too.

Funny leftover bar

Funny leftover bar of soap.

 

And it came out pretty well.

Finished funny bar

Finished leftover bar in the mold.

 

It was a little easier to get out of the mold, but it still gave up a little fight. I used a peeler to make it look a little nicer around the edges.

Funny soap edged

That is one huge bar of soap.

Still the honeycomb effect turned out well.

Honeycomb

Honeycomb!

Overall, I’m very pleased with how the finished soap looks, despite the brown spots. I was working with honey, which can be kind of cranky, and I was using a recipe of my own, so who knew what would happen? It smells absolutely divine, by the way. The combination of the honey and essential oils is amazing.

By the way, this soap had an INS value of 155, which is close to Dr. Bob’s ideal of 160. So that’s good? I guess. Also, the calculator I used to create the recipe predicts the recipe will produce soap with a medium hard bar, very good cleansing, great conditioning, good foam, and average stable lather. I wasn’t sure whether to worry about lather stability over much or not.

Washing up my supplies told me that the soap lathers up really well and feels good on my hands. I can’t wait to use it.

Creative Commons License

Honey Cinnamon Oatmeal Soap by Dana Huff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Suds Life: About.

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