Several years ago soap was not an item to be picked up at the local store. It was handmade on the farm, utilizing ingredients available in those days gone by. My great-grandmother in the old country would save fat from butchering hogs for a year, then clean it and use it for soap. She also made her own lye by dripping water through the ashes left from the hearth. Luckily, we can purchase fat and lye from the store, and though we can purchase ready-to-use soap there too, it’s also fun and relatively easy to make soap at home, just like it used to be. Making soap can be a dangerous undertaking and young children should never be allowed in the same room where soap is being made. Lye is a caustic agent and safety procedures must be followed when making homemade soap. Be sure to use rubber gloves, eye protection, and counter protection. With precautions taken, making soap can be a fun and creative activity, and a good way to make use of extra goat milk! Homemade goat milk soaps are great for gift-giving and many people with sensitive skin find that goat milk soap can be a soothing alternative to commercially prepared products.
13 cups of fat (104 ounces)
1 pound pure lye (Rooto or similar brand) also called sodium hydroxide, 1/2 cup honey
1 cup hot water
4 cups chilled liquid (could be all goat milk, or a combination of goat milk and water or herbal tea)
Scent and coloring (optional–available at soap making suppliers)
A soap mold (available online or could be something as simple as a box lined with freezer paper–it must be something the lye won’t eat through).
Prior to starting, freeze water in several plastic soda bottles. These will be used to stir the hot mixture.
Into a bowl, dissolve the honey in one cup of hot water; set aside to cool.
In a stainless steel pan in the sink, slowly add the lye to the 4 cups of cold liquid, stirring with a frozen water bottle. This should take up to 45 minutes to slowly add the whole amount of lye. This causes heat, so the water bottles will have to be changed several times.
Meanwhile, melt the fats on the stove (on low) in another stainless steel pan. For my 104 ounces, I like to use two cans of Crisco shortening, which leaves me 8 ounces to account for. I like to use something good for the skin for the additional ounces, such as olive oil.
While the fats are melting, it’s time to prepare the soap molds by coating them with mineral oil. The molds can be wood, plastic, or enamel.
Add the cooled honey water into the lye pot. When all of the lye has been dissolved, and all of the oils have melted, and both pans have cooled enough to pick up bare-handed, they should be of similar temperatures to be able to combine. With a large wooden spoon, slowly stir the lye mixture into the oil pot, stirring constantly. A portable mixer or stick blender, used exclusively for soap making, is ideal. Stir in the scent and stir to trace (meaning it just starts to thicken up).
Quickly pour into the prepared molds and leave them undisturbed overnight. Clean all utensils with hot water and liquid soap. After 24 hours, unmold the soap and set out of the way to cure for six weeks. Once fully cured, the lye has been neutralized and the soap is ready for use. Now label, package and distribute!
Suzy Hassler, Sutton, Nebraska, has raised dairy goats with her husband, Butch, for over 25 years. They have been 4-H leaders and show and milk several different breeds of dairy goats. This recipe was first published in The Little Book of Goat Crafts, a fundraiser of the Nebraska Dairy Goat Association, by Betty Pecka and Suzy Hassler. The book is available at www.freewebs.com/nebraskadairygoat.