Luxury Goat Milk Soap: Recipe and Tutorial

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.

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Soap Challenge Club: Holly Swirl

Lavender Romance Soap with a Holly swirl. Ingredients: water, olive oil, coconut oil, sustainable palm oil, sodium hydroxide, avocado oil, fragrance, shea butter, cocoa butter, castor oil, kaolin clay, colorant, activated charcoal, yogurt, buttermilk, goat milk, silk.

Lavender Romance Soap

This month’s challenge in the Soap Challenge Club hosted by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks was to create a soap with a Holly swirl. The Holly swirl is named for its inventor, Holly Bailey, of Missouri River Soap Company. She makes excellent soap and generously shares her techniques on her YouTube channel. You can read her blog here or follow her on Facebook here. The technique is a swirl within a swirl—an in-the-pot swirl of two or more colors coupled with a drop swirl with an additional color. Here is the video Holly made when she tried the swirl for the first time:

Holly mentions in the video that vertical soaps really make this design shine, and it’s true, but I don’t have an appropriate mold for vertical soaps, so I improvised with my standard mold.

Lavender Romance Soap

I used a fragrance that discolors, but I didn’t want it to wreak havoc on my swirls, so I only added it to the black part, colored with activated charcoal. The activated charcoal was a little gray when I first cut the soap, but as the fragrance has darkened, so has the black in my soap. I think it has a sexy look that goes together well with its sexy scent, which is a blend of rustic amber with bold Parisian lavender and a mysterious black myrrh, sweet vanilla tonka bean, and a splash of Egyptian musk rounded out with raw clary sage. I received it as a free sample from Bramble Berry in one of my earliest orders with the company, and I immediately used it to make solid perfume. It smells gorgeous! It’s quite possibly one of my personal favorite fragrances, and I just can’t wait to try this soap!

Lavender Romance Soap

I used ultramarine violet oxide and titanium dioxide to color the swirls, and they turned out well. The fragrance has not migrated very much to the swirled parts of the soap, so they have remained vibrant. The slight discoloration that did occur in some places only adds to the sexy, smoky appeal of the soap (in my opinion, at least).

As you can see, the tops have a mica swirl done with purple and white micas. I did not gel this soap because I didn’t want to risk glycerin rivers in the titanium dioxide. Also, when I work with a new fragrance, I find that not gelling is sometimes smarter because the soap is less likely to do crazy things in the mold.

This soap also taught me to love using activated charcoal in my soap. It is so much fun to see how it looks in the soap batter and the finished soap. It can go gray if you do not use enough, so you need to experiment to determine how much you might need to use.

The Holly swirl technique is fun, and I would definitely recommend trying it, even if you are relatively new to swirling. It was not as complicated as the mantra swirl or the peacock swirl, and I liked the results a lot better, too.

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Lavender Chamomile Facial Soap

I recently made a new facial soap designed to be kind to dry, mature, and/or sensitive skin. Volunteers tried the soap, and based on their feedback, I plan to add it to my regular line.

Lavender Chamomile Facial SoapI have decided to call this soap Lavender Chamomile Facial Soap. You will likely not smell the chamomile flowers in the final soap, but you will feel the benefits. I infuse the olive oil in the soap with chamomile, which imparts soothing properties to the olive oil. The soap also has lavender essential oil, a 100% natural fragrance that is used in aromatherapy for its calming qualities. French pink clay cleanses and clarifies the skin, removes dead skin cells, and creates and overall refreshed appearance. Buttermilk also helps clarify the skin and helps remove dead skin cells. Lavender Chamomile Facial Soap contains rich shea butter, chamomile-infused olive oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil, apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, and castor oil. In addition to all these goodies, this soap is made with coconut milk, which is cleansing, but not drying or irritating. The fatty acids in coconut milk help to eliminate dirt, impurities, dead skin, and other blemish-causing materials, but they also increase hydration and replenish moisture in your skin.

In other words, this soap is chock full of goodies for dry, mature, and/or sensitive skin!

Here is what the beta testers had to say about this soap:

  • “I’ve used the soap twice a day for over a week. It lathers well for a facial bar. When I rinse my face then dry it my skin is tight for about a minute, then it feels so soft.”
  • “As far as I’m concerned you have a winner. I love it and would buy it!!!!”
  • “Oh I love this soap! Its very creamy and smells very good! It does not leave my face dry. I do not need moisturizer after. I love it!”
  • “I’ve been using your facial soap for around two weeks now and truly love it! After washing my face, my skin barely feels tight at all! It smells great and leaves my skin feeling so soft and smooth.”
  • “I enjoyed the way it made my skin feel clean without drying it.”
  • “When washing it feels so smooth, then when my face is dry there is some tightness, but I put a small amount of moisturizing cream on, and it is perfect.”

Two testers have also reported that some mild skin irritations have cleared up since trying the soap. I cannot guarantee you will have the same results. Any soap will probably make your skin feel tight initially, but the testers seemed to say over and over that this feeling is much more temporary with Lavender Chamomile Facial Soap and that they are loving the way their skin feels.

If you do use this soap, I recommend that you still use a bit of moisturizer if your skin is very dry. Try using the soap without moisturizer for a few days to see whether or not the soap alone is conditioning enough for your skin.

UPDATE: You can pre-order this soap from the Etsy store.

Here are the making and unmolding videos of the making of this soap. I will be making a new batch this weekend, so you can look for this new facial soap in my store soon. Let me know if you would like to reserve a bar.

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Midsummer Night’s Dream Soap

After I made my Seaside soap, I immediately thought about making a soap mimicking the night sky. I made this soap in the same way as the Seaside soap’s ocean layer.

Here is the making video:

And here is the cutting video:

Midsummer Night’s Dream’s title was inspired by William Shakespeare’s play of the same name; it is one of my favorite plays. I love teaching it.

The soap is made with cocoa and shea butters and olive, coconut, sustainable palm, sweet almond, and castor oils and a kiss of kaolin clay and real silk. The fragrance has top notes of mandarin balm, tangelo, and eucalyptus; middle notes of jungle moss, patchouli leaf, and sandal tree; and bottom notes of redwood forest, amber glow, and musk. It should be available April 16.

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Sun-Ripened Raspberry Pink Rose Clay Soap

I recently asked fans of my Facebook page which soap they’d like to see me make. Only my cousin Debbie expressed a preference, so her wish was my command. I made Sun-Ripened Raspberry Pink Rose Clay Soap. I think this soap will be a really nice facial soap, but it could be used on the whole body.

  • 40% olive oil
  • 25% coconut oil
  • 15% palm oil
  • 10% shea butter
  • 5% cocoa butter
  • 5% castor oil

I made the soap with aloe vera juice, pink rose clay, and silk.

Here is the making video:

And the cutting video:

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Cutting Coffee and Cream Soap

This one smells great, especially if you like coffee. I was happy with how the cream and coffee swirls came out. For this soap, I basically combined all my oils and reduced the water for my lye mixture by 200 grams. I measured out 100 g of coffee and 100 g of cream to add to each of those two mixtures. Then I divided my oils and lye mixture in half and combined each separately, essentially making two small batches of soap. I tried this before a few months ago, and it didn’t go well, mainly because I forgot the coconut oil, so my soap was lye heavy.

Ingredients: olive oil, coconut oil, water, sodium hydroxide, sweet almond oil, coffee, cream, cocoa butter, shea butter, castor oil, fragrance, titanium dioxide, brown oxide, tussah silk.

This one will be cured and ready to buy from the Etsy store on April 7, 2013.

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Cucumber Yogurt Soap

I’ve been wanting to make a cucumber yogurt bar for a long time. Heidi Corley Barto has a recipe for a soap using a cucumber purée in her book The Natural Soap Chef, and after reading about the testers’ reaction to Anne L. Watson’s Yogurt Parfait soap in Milk Soapmaking, I decided I should try to combine the two. A quick Google search told me I was not the first person to have this idea. After all, it makes sense. Don’t spas give cucumber/yogurt facials, after all? If those two ingredients weren’t wonderful for your face, then the spas wouldn’t be charging the big bucks for facial treatments.

Cucumber Yogurt SoapRecipe

  • 250 g coconut oil
  • 225 g palm oil
  • 120 g shea butter
  • 275 g olive oil
  • 200 g avocado oil
  • 55 g castor oil

155 g lye
186 g cucumber-water purée
187 g plain whole milk yogurt

The Process

First I peeled two small cucumbers and shaved off the seeds with my peeler as well. Barto suggested using English cucumbers because they have fewer seeds, but I either couldn’t find them, or my store didn’t have them, so I just opted for some small pickling cucumbers. I imagine you could just use one big cucumber, but since it was the first time I made this soap, I wanted to go with smaller cucumbers in case one was enough. After I peeled and deseeded the cucumbers, however, I decided two was probably more like it. I added distilled water to the cucumbers and puréed them in my blender. Barto also suggested not peeling the cucumbers so that the peel added pigment, but I wasn’t too sure about that, so I peeled them.

I mixed half cucumber-water purée with half yogurt and froze the mixture in an ice cube tray. When I was ready to make the soap, I mixed the lye with the frozen cucumber-yogurt cubes and melted my shea butter, coconut oil, and palm oil in a large bowl. Then I added olive oil, avocado oil, and castor oil to the melted hard oils. Once the cucumber-yogurt and lye mixture was 90°, I added it to the oils and stick blended it to a light trace. Then I added a tiny bit of green pigment that didn’t really wind up coming through in the soap, and a very nice cucumber melon fragrance oil from Nature’s Garden, a new favorite vendor that has reasonable prices and a wide variety of products.

Cucumber Yogurt SoapCreative Commons License

Cucumber Yogurt 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.

Facial Mask Image via eHow

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Fun New Soaps

I’ve been trying some fun things with purées, ideas I learned about in Heidi Corley Barto’s The Natural Soap Chef. The first soap is a banana/coconut milk purée-based soap scented with Bramble Berry’s Monkey Love fragrance oil, a recipe you can find in Barto’s book. She calls it Bananas Foster, but I like Funky Monkey better.

Funky MonkeyYou can see little flecks of banana in the soap. It has a sort of interesting, uneven color that might be the result of a partial gel, but it doesn’t look as dramatic as some of the partial gel images I’ve seen of other soap, so I’m not sure. I decided to try to prevent this soap from gelling and put it in the fridge because my previous milk soaps had not turned out well, and this one seemed to be kind of cranky as I was mixing the lye. I like the way it turned out. It smells great, and I think it is going to be a very nice soap to use.

This next soap has an interesting story. Pumpkin pie soap was one of the first soap ideas I ran across that I told myself I HAD to make, and I believe I first encountered it on the Lovin Soap Blog, but it’s a hot process recipe, and I prefer cold process. However, the Soap Queen also has a great CP pumpkin purée soap tutorial. Heidi Corley Barto also has one in The Natural Soap Chef.

Pumpkin Pie Soap

Meet my Pumpkin Pie Soap! I didn’t come up with the idea, but I used my own recipe and technique for producing it.

Ingredients

  • 35% olive oil
  • 25% coconut oil
  • 25% coconut oil
  • 10% shea butter
  • 5% castor oil

I share the percents because I think it’s easier to make the recipe for your own mold if you know percents. You would then just use a lye calculator to figure out how much lye, water, and pumpkin purée to use.

In my soap, I used One Pie Pumpkin.

One Pie PumpkinOne Pie Pumpkin is very special pumpkin. Yankee Magazine calls it New England’s unofficial brand. It isn’t available widely outside of New England, and some of my research indicates that some areas only sell it seasonally during fall and winter for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I haven’t lived in Worcester, MA long enough to find out if that is the case here, too, but I intend to find out. If it is, this could be one very special soap. I really like that the recipe uses an old New England product that been used for generations. It makes the soap more interesting to me. I halved the amount of water called for by the recipe and mixed my lye with water, then I made up the remaining amount of water with One Pie Pumpkin. My recipe called for 5.61 oz. lye and 13.18 oz. water, so I used 6.59 oz. water and 6.59 oz. pumpkin purée. I added the pumpkin directly to the oils and stick blended the mixture to combine, then I added the lye/water and stick blended to a light trace. It blended fairly quickly.

I used Bramble Berry’s Pumpkin Pie fragrance oil for scent. It smells great. I did notice that it accelerated trace in my own soap, so add it at a fairly light trace. I actually didn’t need to stick blend anymore after I added it. Next time I make it, I might add my pumpkin pie spice to the soap and stick blend it before I add the fragrance oil just so the spice is incorporated fully. I had not intended to gel the soap, but it was gelling in the fridge anyway, and it was starting to develop a crack, which I fixed. Since I figured it would gel anyway, I took it out to prevent a partial gel. I don’t have anything to compare it to, since I haven’t made this soap before, but I think gelling it gave it a really nice, rich pumpkin color. The soap looks great and smells amazing. I love many of the soaps I’ve made, but I think this one might be my favorite, just because it smells so great and was so much fun to make, and it also has this interesting New England connection. I can’t wait to use it.

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Amy Lowell’s Lilac Soap

Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell via The Poetry Foundation

Amy Lowell is a Massachusetts poet. She loved the return of lilacs to New England in the spring and wrote a beautiful poem about it. I love lilacs, too. My grandmother had a lilac bush in her back yard. They were beautiful and smelled heavenly.

I tried yet another experiment this weekend: lilac soap. Who better to name a New England lilac soap after than Amy Lowell? I had intended to try swirling two colors for the first time, but things didn’t quite work out as I had planned.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. olive oil
  • 8 oz. coconut oil
  • 12 oz. palm oil
  • 12 oz. coconut oil
  • 13.2 oz. distilled water
  • 5.472 oz. lye
  • 4 T lilac fragrance oil
  • 2 T alkanet powder

Right about Tuesday of this week, I measured out two tablespoons of alkanet powder and 4 oz. of olive oil into a plastic container, stirred well, and put a lid on the container. I put the alkanet and olive oil infusion in a dark cabinet. I took it out today to use with my lilac swirl soap, intending to make two small batches of soap in different colors. I mixed the oils for each of the colors at the same time, measuring out half of the required amount. I put the infused olive oil in my colored bowl so I could remember which batch was supposed to be colored. In case you were wondering, yes, the alkanet infusion stained the plastic, but it didn’t bother me much because I wasn’t trying to prevent staining. If you use colorants and don’t want to stain your plastic, just use a glass jar for infusing instead.

Alkanet InfusionIt was a little scary to clean up afterward. Perhaps it might be best after all just to use something you can dispose of, like a pickle jar.

I had problems with my lye being too hot again, and this time, I was just using distilled water. The common denominator seems to be the lye, which is a new brand. I think I just won’t buy it again once I’ve used it up. It’s too much of a hassle to put my lye in an ice bath every single time I want to make soap. I would expect it when I’m making milk-based soaps, but not water. The lye I bought from Bramble Berry the first time I made soap costs about the same amount, even factoring in shipping, so I will just be ordering it from them.

I mixed the batch without the alkanet first so that I wouldn’t mix colorant from the hand blender into the light mix. I poured 2 T of lilac fragrance oil into each small batch of soap. The trace was too thick when I tried to pour the soap. The lilac fragrance oil accelerated the trace. At any rate, it was all I could do to spoon out globs of the soap into my mold before it hardened too much to use. I had no idea what I was going to get when I cut it open, but I think that’s true whether you spoon it out or swirl it, especially the first time. I just smashed it into mold as quickly as I could and hoped when I cut it the next day all would be well.

Well, I can say this: it could have been worse. I at least have usable soap, even though it isn’t very pretty.

Lilac SoapWhere to begin? Well, the light color is really not very pretty at all, and I suspect that its yellowish tinge comes from the shea butter I used. It actually looks prettier in these photos than it does in person. Trust me. It’s kind of a gross yellow.

Given that the color isn’t very pretty, I wish I had just colored the whole batch purple. Live and learn. As a result of trying to do too much (swirl, in this case), I wound up having the soap seize up on me, and I desperately shoved the soap into the mold, but pockets formed where there was no soap, and it was really ugly when I cut the bars.

Lilac Soap

Look at that nasty air pocket!

I suppose everyone has a batch of soap seize up on them at least once, but at least now I know that working with the lilac fragrance oil is going to be tricky, and I will need to bring my temperatures down a little to slow down the time it takes to trace and add the fragrance at a lighter trace. I also learned that swirling is really hard with floral fragrance like lilac, so I may just need to make the soap one solid purple color instead.

Lilac Soap

I also had some problems with soda ash, which is probably because it seized up, and I wasn’t able to put it to bed as soon as I should have. I had to cut the bars down quite a bit to make them somewhat presentable, as most of them had air pockets on the sides where the soap globs didn’t mash together well.

The soap smells heavenly, just like my grandmother’s lilacs, and I tried lathering up with some of the cuttings as a test. The lather is smooth and creamy. The soap has cosmetic issues to be sure, but it is something that could be used, even if I don’t think I could give it away or sell it (unless I discounted it like those outlet stores do with clothes that have something wrong with them).

I’m sorry, Amy! Next time your soap will be worthy of your name!

Creative Commons License

Amy Lowell’s Lilac 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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Chai Tea Soap

As you might remember, I had planned to make chai tea soap last weekend, but my chai tea fragrance oil hadn’t arrived yet. I think I received it on Tuesday of this week. Anyway, I don’t fault Bramble Berry for taking their time and shipping fragrance oils ground. It’s much safer when shipping flammable oils. I’d hate for a fire to start. But I was kind of bummed out that I couldn’t make my chai tea soap. Next time, I will order earlier.

I made my chai tea soap on Friday instead, then cut it using my brand new crinkle cutter on Saturday.

Chai Tea SoapIngredients:

  • 8 oz. olive oil
  • 8 oz. coconut oil
  • 12 oz. palm oil
  • 12 oz. shea butter
  • 5.472 oz. lye
  • 13.2 oz. chai tea
  • 4 T chai tea fragrance oil
  • tea leaves from 3 chai tea bags

On Thursday night, I made the chai tea in a plastic container using distilled water, boiled, and 3 chai tea bags. I steeped the tea on the counter until it cooled to room temperature, then I put it in the refrigerator. I’m really glad I did that, as you will see in a moment.

After I got home from work Friday, I got out all my supplies and mixed my lye into the chai tea. The temperature shot way up, and it stalled right around 140°. I finally decided to put it in an ice water bath. I have never seen any warnings about tea. Everyone says using milk is tricky, and you should start with frozen milk and add the lye slowly. I didn’t realize the tea would do that. It could be some of the flavorings in chai tea in particular have that effect. There was a vanilla flavor and of course the spices added to the chai tea I used (Twinings French Vanilla Chai, if you are curious).

I was working with a new brand of lye, and it is shaped in little pastilles, which are a little neater in one respect—there is no fine dust left in the container when I add it to the liquid. However, they wanted to roll everywhere, so I would recommend using a bigger container than you even think you will need for lye that comes in little pastille shapes just so that you can collect all of it rather that watch it winging across the kitchen table like I did.

Once I managed to cool off the lye, I noticed my oils were a little too warm. It’s always something, isn’t it? I let them cool off for a minute, then I just added the lye. The soap reached trace fairly quickly. At a light trace, I added the fragrance. I didn’t notice any sort of acceleration or reaction, and the fragrance oil mixed very well with the soap. I cut open the tea bags I had used to make the chai tea and put the tea leaves into the soap at a heavier trace. I stirred them in, then poured the soap in my mold.

Chai Tea SoapThe crinkle cutter was great to work with. It made a cute design with no extra effort on my part, and it helped me cut my soap into more uniformly sized bars. The slots on my cutter mold are wider than my straight cutter, so sometimes my soap is slightly different sizes. The crinkle cutter just fits in the slots, which makes the soap easier to cut to the same size. It’s a good, quality cutter, and I can recommend it to anyone making soap.

The soap came out a pretty caramel color, and the flecks of tea leaves provide a nice decoration. My husband really liked the fragrance. I can’t say it smells precisely like chai tea to me (I drink chai all the time, and this fragrance is missing a sort of spicy smell), but it does smell good, and the vanilla tones of the chai scent came through. The fragrance may change as the soap cures, too, so that is something I need to keep in mind.

Chai Tea Soap CuringI put the soap on my curing rack after removing the first batch I ever made, which has now cured for four weeks and can be used. I think this batch of soap is probably the most uniformly pretty batch. I would feel comfortable selling every single bar from this batch, whereas several bars from my honey cinnamon oatmeal batch are funny looking because they were stuck in the mold, and some of my first batch of lemongrass sage have spots not colored by the essential oil. I think I have to lay credit at the feet of the crinkle cutter. I will probably be using that cutter a lot.

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Chai Tea Soap by Dana Huff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
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