Soap Making with Milk
In today’s market, some of the most popular cold process soap recipes are the ones that involve dairy products such as milks, creams, and yogurts. The reasoning behind this popularity is the fact that cold process soap recipes that use dairy products actually result in finished bars that are very creamy, luscious, soothing, and moisturizing. In fact, milk itself is a gentle exfoliant- a perfect remedy for any sensitive skin types. This is because milk contains lactic acid, which slightly reduces the alkalinity of soap.
When it comes down to making the cold process soap recipe, dairy products can be added (if applicable) in 3 forms:
1. Fresh (can be added as water for the lye solution, part of the water for lye solution, added to your room temperature oils before the lye solution, or added at light trace.)
2. Powdered (combined with a small amount of oil or water to make a liquid- then added at light trace and hand whisked in until incorporated.)
3. Canned (used as half the water amount of the water ratio. This is usually added to oils before the lye solution to make the soap batter.)
With the exception of the powdered, both the fresh and canned are commonly used in a frozen or slushy (almost frozen) state. This is done for two reasons. The first is to help control the lye solution temperature and the second is to help prevent the dairy product from burning. Burnt dairy products have a very distinct smell and will turn your soap batter a bright orangish color. This is due to the heated lye solution caramelizing the sugars in the milk. A great step to help minimize this reaction is to give the container you are mixing your lye solution in an ice bath. The other option that you have is to add the frozen/slushy dairy product at trace, allowing the batter to thaw the frozen like diary product. Then, blend well with a stick blender to incorporate.
Temperature is everything.
One of the most important things to realize when working with dairy products is their sensitivity to heat. This comes into play if you are mixing all or some of the dairy product to make the lye solution (which heats as the reaction is taking place.) Dairy products will burn and/or curdle if not combined correctly. The best way to combat this is to closely monitor the temperature of the lye solution using a thermometer. You never want the temperature to go above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The other tip to help control the heat of the lye solution is to take your time when adding the lye. Sprinkle in small amounts and stir. The key is to wait a few minutes in between the next small addition of lye again. Do not be afraid to truly take your time with this step. A good time gauge to set for yourself is 10-15 minutes to add all of the lye to the lye solution. This will help control the overall temperature of the lye solution.
There is no set rule as to how much of the dairy product to use as the water portion of the lye solution. Some soapers prefer to use the dairy as the full water portion. Others play it safe by using a 50% ratio (half milk and half water.) This works by making a super concentrated lye solution (the full amount of lye the recipe calls for; then split the water amount in half. Mix the lye into the water. Let cool. Add the rest of the unused water portion as the milk- which is added to the room temperature oils before the lye solution is added to make the batter. The last option is the dairy product at 25% of the water ratio. This is done the same way as the 50% ratio, only it is 25% of the total water amount.
The rest of the soaping recipe is done normally.
Other things to consider:
Superfatting may be affected. Do not forget to figure in the fat percentage of the dairy product. For the most part, general milk products (where the fat percentage is 4-6%), really won’t affect your end bar. However, using a product like heavy whipping cream (which has a fat of 36%) will directly affect your end bar. In this instance, you may what to use the dairy portion of 25% of your water ratio. That is unless you play with your superfatting percentage number.
Rancidity of your soap is always a possibility when using larger portions of dairy products in your recipe; especially those that have high fat content.
Recently, we tried our hand at making cold process soap with the addition of heavy whipping cream. For our recipe, we selected the cream to be 25% of our water ratio since we did not want to majorly superfat our soap. The frozen heavy whipping cream was added to our soaping oils/butter before the lye solution. We found that this method worked perfectly. We had no issues with the remaining soap procedures.
In the end, the bars that resulted were exactly as we imagined- pure creamy bliss! And, with all of the wonderful nourishing benefits that dairy products have; our skin loved it too.
Too see the full recipe for Natures Garden’s Cleopatra Heavy Cream Cold Process Soap Recipe, click on the link. Or, you can also find the recipe on Natures Garden’s website under the Free Recipes and Classes area.