Long before Covid, and not long after I was diagnosed with MS, I started making soap for myself. For some reason the soap that I had used for years was causing welts and rashes on my arms and torso. When Covid hit, I got lazy and bought soap from other local makers. Now that we have begun to move away from Covid, and I realized I was running low on soap, and my son kept saying “you know you can make it.” He pulled out my soap making supplies, and mention milk soap. He mentioned how we could add it to our array of products. So, from here it began …. again. I also decided to try some lotion bars and beard balm. No beard balm for me, but hey I’ll give making it a try.
While I was getting back to the rhythm, my son reached out to another vender at a local farmers market about soap. As a result, we have also partnered with Birdland Pastures. I’m kind of glad we did this, cause I’m into so many things, I hope to just keep up.
The lotion bars were fun, but I also really liked them. I’m big on knowing what is in the products and food I use, and this just turned out great. Nothing like dry skin in the winter. I will say dropping hot lotion containers on your leg, is not really the best way to moisturize, but accidents happen, and my leg was well moisturized.
Like most products on the market, advertising is key. After dealing with the dairy permits and labeling for our cheese and butter, I realized how misleading labels are. Well, maybe not misleading, but how little people know about the foods and products they purchase. For example, corn chips with a label that says gluten free. I read the ingredients anyways, but corn is naturally gluten free. Non-GMO is another one. I could go on, but I’ll stop there. However, in soap I found the same kind of marketing ideas. This is why I decided to share my soaps on our Blog.
My recipe is simple. Well, this particular one is. Olive oil, Coconut oil, Castor oil, Milk, Vanilla EO and Lye. That is basically how my ingredients read. Not in that order, but yeah.
Here is a label from another maker’s label; Saponified oils of Olive, Coconut, Castor, Milk, Vanilla EO. Or this one from a third; Olive oil, Coconut Oil, castor oil, Milk, Vanilla EO., Sodium Hydroxide.
They are all the same ingredents.
Lye + oil = saponified oil.
Lye = Sodium Hydroxide.
I get frustrated because I know people want to stay away from Lye, but Lye is needed to complete the oil process into soap. Some say there is no need for lye in soap, but well science is science. Science is not my thing, but at this point, I will follow directions if I want it to work.
Back to soap. My desire as I get back into soap, is using simple resources for my ingredients. Milk is a great source for soap. It is thought that the pH in milk is closer to our body’s skin, and there for gentle and more accepting to our skin. I can see that, as my soap of choice has been a milk soap for a while now.
So, in my process of making small batch after small batch, it always starts with the mixing the lye with the milk. I freeze my milk in premeasured cubes. Since all ingredients are measured by weight and not volume, milk is measure then frozen. Freezing the milk helps from the reaction with the lye from getting too warm causing the milk to burn. Crazy to think it will burn, but it can. When it does, the soap mixture will become a darker brown. I mix all the oils together warming them to equal the temperature to the lye mixture. Then mixed together, and blended until a trace is created. It kind of looks like cake batter, but it’s not.
Pouring it into mold and then the next day popping it out is my favorite part. This recipe has a large amount of olive oil in it, so we are looking at 4-6 weeks to cure and harden. I have soap everywhere curing.
Then I got thinking. How can I simplify my recipe even more. Well, I’m not sure if I have found a way, but my favorite lotion that I had purchased last fall (before making my own) was made with tallow. So, I called the butcher after we took our most recent steer over to be processed. You guessed it I’m getting suet back from our steers. I’ll need to render it down into tallow, but I have done that with lard, so I hope for an easy adventure.
People can call me a nerd, or weird, but I like simple. If having MS has taught me anything it is that we have been given what we need. We may want more but have what we need. I just need to stop and look for it. It will be there.
Stay local, buy local and follow the journey from farm to table.