Califonia Bountiful

From goat to soap

May/June 2016 California Bountiful magazine

Part cooking, part science experiment

Kathryn MacRoberts raises goats on her Placer County farm and uses their milk for a favorite pastime: making soap with her daughter. "We really love the soap making," she said. "It is sort of like cooking and sort of like a science experiment."

'Goat Bee Gone' soap 

28 to 38 fluid oz. goat milk frozen in cubes (we use 37.5 oz.)
Approximately 13.9 oz. sodium hydroxide (lye; see safety notes below)
40 oz. olive oil
25 oz. coconut oil
25 oz. palm oil
9 oz. castor oil
1 oz. shaved beeswax
3 to 4 tbsp. essential oils of choice
2 tbsp. sweet almond or sunflower superfatting oil
2 tsp. honey

In a well-ventilated area or outside, wear safety goggles and neoprene gloves to measure lye and then add to the goat milk ice cubes in a container large enough to contain splashes. Stir with a spatula until the cubes are melted and the lye is dissolved. Set aside to cool to 100 to 125 degrees F if the solution became hotter.

Place a large enough pot to hold the whole soap batch, with room to blend, on a scale and tare out the scale. Add olive, coconut, palm and castor oils and beeswax, then heat until everything is melted and mixed. Allow to cool to 100 to 125 degrees F, then pour the lye solution into the oils, being careful not to splash. Use an old stick blender or stir until the mixture thickens to tracing stage. It will look like a boiled custard (not thick pudding) and mixture drizzled on top will hold its shape for a few seconds before flattening into the surface. If trace takes more than 15 minutes when stirring, stir for 5 minutes in 15-minute intervals.  

At this point, add the essential oils, superfatting oils and honey, incorporating entirely. Then pour into plastic, silicon or wooden molds lined with freezer paper. Put the molds in a warm place and cover with towels to insulate. Let soap cure for 18 hours to a few days, then cut into bars and stamp if wanted. If they are too soft, allow for a little more time to cure before cutting. Place bars on something that will allow them to breathe as they dry and cure for a few weeks. Turn them over at least once during this time to help harden and finish the saponification of the oil and lye.  

This recipe makes 6.25 pounds of soap, or about 32 (6-oz.) bars or 64 (3-oz.) bars.  

Safety notes: Please take extra precautions when using lye. Wear protective gear and clean up any spills. Keep a separate set of tools like spatulas just for soap use. If you have not made soap before, watch a few videos, look at a book, or ask someone who has made soap to help you feel confident. Oils can be purchased from grocery stores or online. Plain lye can be purchased at hardware stores or online. ALWAYS run a new soap recipe through an online lye calculator (such as and choose a 5 to 8 percent excess fat range to ensure all the lye is used. The remaining oil creates a superfatted soap with milder moisturizing bars.

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