Monday, March 02, 2009

Goat's Milk Soap -- The Gentle, sustainable alternative to Detergent bars

Today is a soap making day here at Joybilee Farm. Our inventory is down to a single bar of lavender soap after I filled a 20 bar order of soap on Saturday. So today Robin will be making lavender soap.

Lavender is my absolute favorite. Well, maybe Anise or was that Peppermint? Actually, I like them all and that's why I developed our special recipe for goat's milk soap.

People tell us our soap lasts much longer than commercial soap and longer than other home made soaps that they have tried. It is our special recipe that makes a hard, lasting bar of soap that is still moisturizing, nourishing and gentle for even sensitive skin.

Some people ask us if we use lye (sodium hydroxide) in our Goat's Milk soap and I wanted to answer that question today.

All soap – 100% -- must use sodium or potassium hydroxide in order to transform the fats and oils into soap. Soap is made by a chemical reaction called saponification, through the reaction of lye with fats and oils. Once the saponification is complete and the aging process has been fulfilled – 4 to 6 weeks in our case – there is no sodium hydroxide left in the soap. It has all been transformed into natural soap. The goat’s milk that we use superfats our soap so that it is moisturizing as well as cleansing. Our soaps also contain all the naturally occurring glycerin, which protects your skin from drying out.

Our most mild soap is our Milk and Honey soap which contains no essential oils. This is the one we recommend for infants and those with sensitive skin. It is more mild than commercial detergents – which denature DNA and cause your cells to collapse.

More information to help you make an informed choice when you are searching the internet:

Potassium hydroxide is used to make liquid soap and Sodium hydroxide is used to make solid soap – both are “lye”. Sodium hydroxide is the product of the electrolysis of salt (aka sodium chloride) and water (aka dihydrogen oxide – H2O) – the byproduct of this electrolosis is bleach (aka chlorine). Potassium hydroxide comes from water and wood ashes. Most commercial “soap” sold in stores today is actually formed from detergents and has had all the natural glycerin removed – glycerin is more valuable than the bar of “soap”.

The choice of oils that are used to make the soap are what determines if a soap is mild or drying. Any soap that is heavy on coconut oil is a very drying soap. When you are shopping for soap for yourself, you want to avoid a soap that lists coconut oil as the first ingredient. The coconut oil adds lathering, sudsing properties and the best homemade soap will contain some, but mild soap should have no more than 1/3 to ½ coconut oil.

The best soap for cleansing and moisturizing is a soap that has a liquid oil as the first ingredient – olive oil, canola oil, caster oil, jojoba oil, hemp seed oil, flax seed oil, for example – there are many options.

Then there will be at least one solid oil mentioned either coconut oil, palm oil, or tallow. These are added to increase lathering properties and to make the bar of soap last longer. A person with sensitive skin should read the ingredients and ensure that one of these oils are not the first ingredient on the bar. If it’s the second or third ingredient, the soap should be mild enough.

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