While soap can be made with many different liquids the use of milk as a soap base is a popular choice. For centuries, the benefits of milk to the skin have been so well known that many even bathed in it! Philip and I are working towards more sustainable living using all-natural products. Making our own soap from as many natural ingredients as we can produce on the farm is a goal we are working towards. While water-based soaps are a good option, the benefits of goat milk soap make it the perfect choice for producing a natural soap right on the homestead.
According to the FDA, many commercial soaps on the market are actually synthetic detergents rather than true soaps. If you look at the ingredients list, not only are they difficult to pronounce, but who knows what they even are! While these detergents are manufactured for specific qualities that consumers and manufacturers are looking for, they sacrifice quality ingredients for cheap knockoffs that simulate the real thing. As consumers become more aware of these detergents, many are looking for handmade soap as an alternative.
Is Lye Soap Gentle?
Historically soap was made with wood ash which creates lye. It was an unpredictable product that was harsh on the skin. Today soap makers use sodium hydroxide, commonly known as lye to make soap. While lye is a caustic substance that should be handled with care and handled using proper safety equipment during the soap-making process. Lye is more predictable to work with due to the controlled concentrations of the chemical compound.
Traditional soaps are made when fats and oils are mixed with sodium hydroxide. Through the process of saponification, the molecules are bonded together to create soap. When done properly, homemade soap no longer contains lye. The lye has been completely transformed by the saponification process. Through further curing, the pH of the soap continues to neutralize, creating a gentle product for your skin.
What’s the Benefit of Using Goat’s Milk?
For centuries milk has been well known for its benefits to the skin. All types of milk, from cows, donkeys and even camels are well known for their benefits in skin care. Sheep milk has the highest protein and fat composition of the common milk types, almost double that of goat’s and cow’s milk.
Gentle on Skin
Pure goat milk naturally has a pH level of about 6.4, which is very close to the pH of human skin with a pH of 5.6. Most traditional soaps contain a pH of around 9-10 which is slightly alkaline. The use of harsh chemicals can strip the skin’s natural oils causing skin irritation. Especially for those with sensitive skin, the skin’s natural response is skin inflammation. The benefits of goat’s milk soap is that it contains natural ingredients, that are less irritating to all types of skin types and skin conditions.
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Rich in Fats and Minerals
Goat’s milk is loaded with essential nutrients that are good for healthy skin. Goat milk contains natural fats that not only create a natural moisturizer by increasing the super fat levels in the soap, it creates a creamy lather. The naturally occurring fats are nourishing to the skin by increasing moisture levels that naturally hydrate your skin.
Goat milk is rich in vitamin A. Also, known as retinol, it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It can help prevent and repair skin damage caused by the sun and other environmental factors. Vitamin A helps to exfoliate the skin by removing dirt, oils, and dead skin cells that can lead to acne.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin naturally occurring in goat milk. These fat molecules can reduce skin swelling through their anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin E increases the skin’s ability to heal itself.
Goat milk contains lactic acid, a gentle alpha-hydroxy acid, which helps to exfoliate the skin. The skin’s ability to shed dead skin cells leads to a more youthful and healthy appearance. It helps the skin to retain moisture. Since lactic acid is gentle on the skin it is beneficial to those who have especially sensitive skin. Lactic acid is known to help prevent acne, through the natural exfoliating process, pores are kept, clean and free from dirt and oils that increase breakouts.
Soap makers can add additional exfoliating additives to soap that partner together with the goat’s milk’s natural exfoliating properties to improve the appearance of the skin. Natural products like luffas, oatmeal, and even coffee grounds are all-natural options to further improve the benefits of using goat milk soap.
Alternatives to Raw Goat’s Milk
When making goat milk soap, raw goat milk will always be the best option. Raw milk that is not processed will provide the full benefits of making goat milk soap. However, there are lots of great options that make it possible for soap makers who are unable to raise their own dairy goats to make nourishing goat’s milk soap.
Canned goat milk is easily available in grocery stores. I found it locally in a big box store. Canned milk is a concentrated form of whole milk. It’s made by reducing the water volume of whole milk by half. To use canned goat’s milk, follow the instructions on the can to reconstitute. In my soap-making experience, using canned milk is an easy option, however, the reconstituted milk had a beige tint to it and didn’t remind me of fresh milk.
My preference is to use powdered goat milk. While both canned goat milk and powdered goat milk are shelf-stable options, powdered goat milk reconstitutes more like fresh milk. The look, smell, and taste are exactly that of fresh goat milk.
Milk can be freeze-dried, which is a good option for the soap maker lucky enough to have access to fresh milk. Freeze-dried milk is shelf stable and can be reconstituted as needed.
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Creating Custom Blends for Skin Health
In homemade soap, the oils and butters added to the goat milk soap provide additional fatty acids that contribute to the gentleness and nourishing properties of the soap. This is especially beneficial to people who suffer from chronic skin conditions. Each bar of soap can be custom-made to promote skin health.
Oils like olive oil are good for all skin types. They are rich in antioxidants that protect against free radicals that can damage your skin and cause premature aging. Other oils like shea butter have anti-inflammatory properties that can decrease the effects of dry weather or dry skin conditions such as eczema. Another very common oil in soap making is coconut oil which contains lauric acid, a fatty acid, that has antimicrobial and antifungal properties that fight again disease-causing microorganisms.
The Homestead Soap Maker
For the homestead soap maker, using products that can be produced on the farm have numerous benefits. Animal fats like lard and tallow are fats that can be rendered on the farm and are great options for soap making. Both lard and tallow are extremely moisturizing. Like goat milk, they have similar properties to our skin which are especially nourishing and gentle.
Lard and tallow are hardening fats, that lead to the hardness of the soap. They are often substituted by palm oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter. While palm oil is a cheap substitute, it is not a sustainable product and is criticized for its harvesting practices. Cocoa butter and shea butter are plant-based hardening fats but are considerably more expensive than rendered animal fats.
Using animal fats produced on the farm allows us to make the best use of the animals we harvest. Creating usable products with fat is often a wasted part of the animal harvest. It’s especially important to us to use the whole animal, being good stewards of the animals we process. This makes using animal fats in soap is a sustainable ingredient.
Benefits of Goat Milk Soap
The many benefits of goat milk soap make it the perfect choice for those looking for a nourishing, gentle soap for everyday use. The qualities that help fight not only acne but also the nutrients that help minimize fine lines and wrinkles, make goat milk soap a great option for replacing multiple soaps and cleansers that have cluttered my shower in the past. As we dig deeper into a self-sustainable lifestyle, we learn more and more about the benefits of simple products that are simply good for us.
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About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.