There’s something about making your own soap that makes you feel capable and crafty. Soap, for most people anyway, is something you see every day. It’s personal. It literally touches just about every part of your body.
With that much intimate contact, wouldn’t you like to be sure that it’s all natural with no funny stuff snuck in? The best way to be sure is to make it yourself!
Natural Soap Making for Beginners
If you’ve never made soap before, start with a good book that will cover the basics. Just like any craft, things can get complicated quickly, and most expert soap makers don’t remember how to talk to beginners. They’ll get mired in the details while you’re still trying to understand the basic vocabulary before starting your first batch.
The Natural Soapmaking Book For Beginners is just that. A book for beginners. It explains everything you need to know to make your first batch of soap, complete with more than 50 easy to follow recipes for natural soap, shaving bars, shampoo bars and laundry bars.
After you understand the basics and make your first batch, keep reading to learn how and why different oils and add-ins affect your final bar, allowing you to begin experimenting with making your own home designed soaps.
If you’ve scanned through a soap recipe and wondered, why on earth are there 5 different types of oil in there? Will honey in the bar leave my skin sticky? What will adding oats or salt do? Kelly’s got you covered. She takes you through every ingredient so you know how each one will affect your final bar.
Natural Soapmaking Basics
Soap making is a very basic process that involves taking oils and lye through a chemical reaction that “saponifies” the oils and makes them attract other particles so that they can clean effectively.
You begin by mixing the oils and bringing them to temperature (110 degrees F), and slowly add a water and lye mixture (be sure to see Kelly’s discussion on soap safety for safe lye practices!). Add in any natural colors, fragrances and then blend to trace. That means mix the soap, usually with a hand-held stick blender, until it thickens enough that you begin to trace lines that into the soap that stay for a few seconds. Pour into a mold and wait for it to cure. That’s it. All natural homemade soap.
Before it’s cured, soap reacts with aluminum and iron, so everything you use needs to be stainless steel or plastic. You’ll need a large stainless steel pot, stick blender, stainless steel spoon, glass or plastic bowls, kitchen scale, rubber spatulas and a thermometer. You’ll also need a soap mold to use to set your soap in your desired shape. There are a lot of creative soap mold shapes available on amazon. With a goats milk and honey soap, try a honey bee soap mold or a goat-themed soap mold.
Goats Milk and Honey Soap Recipe
This recipe is for a naturally moisturizing goats milk and honey soap from page 90 of The Natural Soapmaking Book for Beginners. Goats milk contains natural vitamins that help to nourish skin and honey is a natural antimicrobial that helps to make a creamy, bubbly soap.
It should take you about 2 hours to prepare, followed by 24 hours of curing in the mold and then 4 to 6 weeks of curing time before use.
Goat Milk and Honey Soap by Kelly Cable
Yield: 3 pounds or twelve 4-ounce bars
Lye Discount: 15%
Start to Finish Time: 2 hours, 24 hours in mold, 4 to 6 weeks to cure
Though a Castile bar was the first soap recipe I made, I dreamed of making a Goat Milk and Honey Soap bar. Well, here it is. Using milk and honey in a recipe means you need to be aware of a few more things, but it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it. Enjoy the many nourishing benefits of this soap!
Large stainless steel pot
bowls for measuring ingredients
small zip top bag
glass or plastic bowl for lye water
- 10 ounces olive oil
- 8 ounces lard
- 8 ounces coconut oil
- 4 ounces sweet almond oil
- 2 ounces beeswax
- 4 ounces lye
- 8 ounces filtered water
- 4 ounces goat milk
- 1-ounce orange essential oil
- 1 Tablespoon raw honey
Remember to wear your safety equipment and mix the lye water outside.
Tell everyone you live with that where you’re working is off limits.
Give yourself enough time to complete the recipe.
Prep Ahead: Combine the water and milk in a large glass, plastic, or stainless steel container. Place milk-water into the freezer for 1 to 2 hours. It is okay if a slush forms, as long as it doesn’t freeze. The colder your milk-water, the lighter your soap will be after adding the lye.
1. Heat the Fats/Oils: In a large pot over medium-low heat, combine olive oil, lard, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, and beeswax. Heat until they are melted and incorporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool to 90-100°F.
2. Mix the Lye-Water: Put on protective gear including a mask, gloves, and long sleeves. Outside, very slowly pour only ¼ of the lye into the milk-water and stir until dissolved. Let cool for 20 minutes. Repeat until all lye is dissolved into the milk-water. If milk still browns, don’t worry. Your soap will just be darker. Allow to cool to 90-100°F. If oil or lye water cool at different rates, you can use a cold or hot water bath in the sink.
3. Prepare the Mold: While the oils and lye water cool, line the mold with parchment paper.
4. Combine and Bring to Trace: When both oils and lye water are around 90-100°F, pour the lye water into the pot of oils. Use a stick blender or hand mixer to mix for 1 to 2minutes and then let the mixture rest for 4 to 5 minutes. Repeat mixing and resting until light trace.
5. Mix in Natural Additives: When soap reaches light trace, add essential oils and honey and blend for 30 seconds.
6. Mold the Soap: Pour the soap mixture into the mold, cover with a lid or parchment paper for 24 hours. Do not insulate unless your house is below 75°F, then insulate by placing a towel around the outside edges to avoid a partial gel.
7. Cut and Cure: Remove soap from the mold. If it seems too soft to remove, wait another 12 to 24 hours before removing. Cut the soap into twelve 4-ounce bars. Allow the bars to cure for 4 to 6 weeks.
Tips: Milk can scald when lye is added. Placing the milk-water in the freezer until it’s very cold helps prevent this. Be sure to add lye slowly. It is okay to really take your time, coming back every 20 minutes to add a little more. Adding milk can also make your batch get hotter than usual, so just insulate a milk recipe lightly with a towel if you’re concerned about getting a good gel for color. Honey can also make soap come to trace faster, so add it and blend really well right before pouring soap into the mold.
If you’re particularly excited about the idea of goats milk and honey soap, also included in the book are recipes for a creamy goats milk and honey shaving bar, goats milk and honey shampoo bar and a goats milk and honey confetti soap bar to add a little visual excitement. If you want to try another recipe from Kelly’s book, check out this festive holiday candy cane soap recipe.
Still a bit intimidated by soapmaking? Try making this lye-free goats milk and honey melt and pour soap to get you started, or read up on common soapmaking mistakes so you can avoid common pitfalls.
Disclosure: Kelly Cable at Simple Life Mom provided me with a free copy of The Natural Soapmaking Book for Beginners for this review, however, my opinions are my own. It’s a beautiful book and well written, and I’m thrilled that I got to read it before it hit the press. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
I’m most excited on reading about getting started. My wife and I have talked about making our own soap for quite a long time now and it time to take the plunge. She has some skin sensitivities and many of the products at the store contain ingredients she is allergic to.
being a fairly new soap maker . I wondered.. could I replace the goat’s milk with plain yogurt ?
That’s a really good question that I don’t know the answer to. I’ll ask Kelly, the author of the beginning soapmaking book and get back to you.
oh. forgot. I would add the water to the lye & the milk/ yogurt to the oils.. then put together at a low temp. like 100 ..
Yes you can replace it with yogurt, but make sure it is plain without any added sugars. You can add the yogurt to the oils before adding the lye water, but I find that often leads to separation issues, which is why I add mine to the water. If you do it the other way make sure the yogurt is room temp. and emulsify the water and oils really really well once you put everything together. Have fun!
I am new to soap making too! I’ve seen multiple recipes that use goat milk. Are they using fresh or canned? Does it matter?
I didn’t even know goat’s milk came canned? That said, since I’m not familiar with canned goat’s milk I couldn’t say if that matters to the soap. Since it’s cooked in the soapmaking process, I would assume canned would work fine.
Usually goats milk soap is a way to use up fresh goat’s milk before it spoils, and it’s a great option for using fresh milk from a small backyard herd. Around here fresh goat’s milk is available at the farmer’s market much of the year.
Hi, can you use Shea butter in place of almond oil and lard?
Substituting oils in soaps is tricky, and can often have unintended consequences. I don’t recommend changing oils in any soap recipe unless you’re very proficient at soapmaking already. I haven’t worked with shea butter soaps, but from what I’ve read it adding shea butter can make the soap very hard and really change the consistency. That said, if you’re determined to alter a soap recipe, run it through this soapmaking lye calculator to make sure it’s safe: https://www.brambleberry.com/pages/lye-calculator.aspx
Is it ok to use all goats milk versus the water and goats milk? Thank you!
That’s a good question and I don’t have any experience trying this. I did a bit of research online, and from what I’ve read it seems like you can in fact swap out the water for more goats milk based on what I’ve read. I cant verify this, and I don’t have enough experience working with milk soaps to say one way or the other personally. Good luck!
Yes you can swap the water our, but you will need to be sure to freeze the goat’s milk first and add the lye to it while it is still frozen or extremely cold!
Hope this helps!
Happy soap making!
I live this recipe! And I’m probably going to to buy the book now lol! One question, do you know if I could incorporate oatmeal into this recipe? Thanks!
I haven’t tried this, but I did a bit of quick google research and it sounds like you don’t need to make any changes to a recipe to add in a bit of oatmeal. I’d use old fashioned oats (rather than instant). Good luck and let me know how it goes!
Can I still use the milk – water solution if the lye curdles the milk in the mixing process
I’m relatively new to soaping but was looking for a OMH recipe so happened upon your site.
I ran the recipe thru the soap calc and almost added more fat and lye but decided to trust your recipe and am glad I ddid. I added ground oats just before trace and I did hand mix instead of immersion to slow things down. Put the goat milk water in freezer first. And the recipe turned out fabulous. Such a pretty warm yellow orange color! I’m curious how the lather will be since there is a lot of beeswax in thi. Seems like a hard bar but has a great shape and color. Thanks!
I would like to use different oil than lard. I am a vegetarian. What is the best substitute?
Palm oil is a good substitute, but whatever you choose, you’ll want to run everything through a soap calculator to be sure it works out. A friend of mine has a good article on substituting palm oil out of soap, but it goes well the other way too. She mentions you can use palm oil in place of lard in a 1:1 sub. Details here: https://thenerdyfarmwife.com/how-to-make-any-soap-recipe-palm-free/
Use soapcalc when you want to change out an ingredient or change the size of the batch. It’s a great tool!
Iam new to soap making as well and im wondering can i replace the almond oil with maybe castor oil
Yes, you can do that.
How was the lather?
ITS ALL OK,BUT YOU DONT CATER FOR US IN AFRICA WHO MAY NEED YOU MOST!
Love the recipe, but the orange essential oil burns away during the cure time and doesn’t smell at all. I’m finding that no citrus pills survive the processing.😞
Freeze the goats milk in ice cube trays. Canned goats milk is brown… not very desirable. Keep your goats milk/lye solution very cool… 70 -80° and put soap in freezer for 24° hour , then wait 2 more days to Unmold.
You’re gonna love this… I have a gallon of beard oil.. yup, husband has a beard but changed the products he uses.. am a newbie but thinking about using that gallon of oil for my first batch. What’s the worst that can happen? Liquid hand soap or surprise “ it’s bar soap”.. Love your site I’m bouncing all over and it all comes back to you.. thanks bunches 💕💕
You’ll need to use a soap calculator to come up with the right amount of lye. Different types of oil (coconut, olive, etc) all require different amounts. Hopefully, your beard oil is made of a single type of oil? If so, you can put it into a lye calculator and use it for soapmaking. (If you get the balance wrong, there may be unreacted lye in the soap, which can burn skin). Good luck!
I’m excited to try this recipe. You explain it very well. The last recipe I used ended up not doing what it was supposed to. My question is, what is the best type lard to use? I’ve seen several say not to use animal lard and some say not to use vegetable lard. I’m confused to which to use. Going to buy the book also!
Lard comes only from animals. Shortening comes from hydrogenated vegetable oils. I personally don’t use shortening at all. I have read that you can use shortening but you want to be sure you know the ingredients that are in it and how it is processed. Usually, shortening has a lot of extra ingredients in it that help to stabilize it and preserve it. Just keep in mind that anything that you put on your skin is absorbed into your body. The only reason I can think of to not use lard is if you are vegan and want to avoid animal products altogether. Otherwise, I would definitely suggest using lard. You can get pure animal lard with no extra ingredients and I also love the idea of using a product that might otherwise be wasted.
Can I use the same recipe but substitute the milk for just water? I can’t wait to start making soap with my locally sourced honey!
Yes, you can use all water if you wish. If using water, there is no need to place the water into the freezer before adding the lye.
Could I hot process this soap instead of letting it cure for several weeks?
Yes, you can hot process it instead. I’ve found that the quality of hot processed soap is not quite the same as cold processed soap, but plenty of people absolutely love hot processed soap so it’s a matter of personal preference.
I am a beginner to produce bar soap at home. So I have got smart information, thanks for all.
You’re very welcome.
Does the lye make the milk water hot? I’m sorry I don’t know if I’m just reading over it but it says to let the milk water and lye cool to 90 to 100°, however when it is in the recipe it says to mix it outside and I don’t understand when we heat it? Obviously very much a beginner here.
The lye causes a chemical reaction when it is mixed with the liquid which causes it to heat up very rapidly.
Confused, but learning!
It’s not easy finding soaps that are soy and coconut free, so when I do they are pricey! My favorite so far has been a goat milk and honey olive oil soap bar. I would love to try this soap with babassu in place of the coconut oil. I saw on another site that it is a good replacement and lathers just like coconut. I’m not sure I’m using calculators correctly. In this recipe, would you replace the coconut with the same amount of babassu, and follow everything else as it is listed, or would other ingredients also need to change amounts?
You would use the same amount of babassu as coconut oil but then you always want to run it through a lye calculator anytime you change an oil to make sure that the lye amount is the same. You usually want around a 5% superfat for your lye amount.
Confused, but learning
Thanks. I think what confused me is the top of the recipe said 15% superfat and I couldn’t find a calculator that went over 10%.