Sunday, January 27, 2013

Soaps with Milk

Long absence everyone!  I have spent the past month enjoying time with family and friends, some down time for myself, and a little bit of time sick in bed with the flu that's going around and other various winter diseases.

But now, it's back to the blog (and hopefully soaping!) Last fall, I experimented with some milks in my soaps.  I had heard all about how lovely and creamy they made the lather, and I wanted to check it out for myself.  The first soap I made with cream (about 90% of the liquids) was this Pumpkin Spice soap, also using pumpkin puree and BB's Pumpkin Spice FO.  

It was awesome (and still is).  I loved the smell, it lathered beautifully, and it smelled delightfully pumpkin-y and also spicy for the fall.  This turned out so well, that I next tried this Gingersnap soap with coconut milk - 100% of the liquids for the lye. 

The colors turned out more gray than brown, even though the swirl was nice, and these bars in my slab mold were HUGE!  They averaged around 7oz when cut...  But when I was mixing the lye with the coconut milk, it started to turn a little orange.  That's okay, I told myself, because I'd read about it happening on various forums, blogs and soapmaking books.  I probably just was adding lye too fast to the milk.  However, when I got the solution mixed in and started to mix the soap batter, YUCK - what is that awful smell!  That coconut milk smells burnt and horrible!!

I told myself it would probably go away over time, and it is a favorite of many friends and family.  After curing for about 4-5 weeks, I no longer noticed the smell of the burnt milk, and my nose was not offended by this soap any more.  Great!

Next, I tried cream again (the heavy whipping cream from the grocery store) to make a peppermint soap.
I was sure I had the hang of soaping with milks now, so I was even faster about adding lye to the soap and used 100% cream for the liquid in the lye mixture.  I added the lye to cold cream (not frozen), and before long, it turned a brilliant orange.  I was not worried, because it had turned out well in the past, and I was sure this time would be no different.  As I was soaping, I tried not to notice the horrid smell of sour, burnt milk.  It was terrible.  I scented with peppermint EO to cover up the milk smell, and let it cure.

The scent did fade over time, I noticed.  But last week when I went to get my hubby a soap for his shower, I picked up a tester I had made from this batch. (I made a second batch also with less milk, which smells much more pleasant)  Holy Hannah, did that smell sour!  I made my hubby smell, and he promptly threw the bar in the garbage.

I am worried about using milks in my soaps after this horrible experience, not knowing whether I am just very sensitive to milk now since I haven't been eating dairy lately, or if it was something I messed up.  I did a little research, asked some questions on the Teach Soap Forum, and got some answers.  

It seems that I probably used too much milk in the recipe, and I am likely sensitive to the milky smell.  I will wait for awhile before I'm tempted to try milks in my soaps again.

On a more positive note, though, I did find a fantastic winter recipe I have been using for the horribly dry and bitterly cold winters we have up here in Minnesnowta, and I will get pics and a blog about that shortly!

Hope you all are staying warm!


  1. Love those soaps Chrissy, and what an adorable little stamp! I haven't had much luck either with coconut milk, it always turns bright orange no matter how much I try to keep it cool. I have also read that using 100% heavy cream in the soap is not a good idea because all the extra fat could spoil the soap. I did recently make one with 100% cream, but I will probably only use up to 1/2 cream from now on. Milk soaps are so nice to use, aren't they?

  2. Thanks! I love that stamp, too! I think I'm going to leave coconut milk alone, even though I keep reading about how successful it is in soaps when others work with it :) I will likely try cream again, but I will definitely use it in a lower % and with a little more patience. Milk soaps are nice, and I'm sure with a little more work (and time), I will conquer them!!

  3. You may have tried this already, but if you really have your heart set on using coconut milk, you could do half water (enough to dissolve your lye) and then add the other half as coconut milk added to the oils the same time as your lye solution. That's how I ended up using the cream...I know it's not the same as using 100% milk though, but it's a good compromise for those tricky milks! =)

    1. That's a really great idea to use only half coconut milk and half water. I find that there's something about the smell I'm not loving right now, but I know that I'll get over it, because I really love coconut milk in my morning spinach / protein powder shake :)

      Using only a smaller percentage of milk will help me get back into using milk again. I only hear great things about milk soaps, and I know I will figure it out!


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