There are lots of reasons to make your own soap. You can create a safer product than what’s available commercially, and you can save money when compared to products with similar, natural ingredients. It can also be fun!
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Anne-Marie Faiola has always taken the fun part to a whole new level, as her soaps look like works of art. In her latest book, Pure Soapmaking: How to Create Nourishing Natural Skin Care Soaps, she creates a variety of creative and colorful soaps. The book also includes basic soapmaking instructions, as well as info on oils, natural additives, equipment, and molds. It easily contains all of the info you need to begin soapmaking and to continue soaping for years while trying new recipes and looks. My favorite thing about the book itself is that it has a spiral binding, which means it lays flat on your counter while you’re using the recipes. (Why don’t all recipe books have a spiral binding?)
Although no book can include everything, I do wish she had explained more about using milk in soap. She never tells you that you can simply substitute milk for the water in her recipes. Unfortunately, her goat milk soap recipe calls for powdered goat milk, and she adds additional instructions for those who are using fresh milk. But she makes it seem more complicated than it needs to be. It is one of the more advanced recipes near the end of the book because it actually involves making two batches of soap and cutting up one of them to make embeds.
So, I’m telling you now — you can just substitute goat milk for water. The only caveat is that you need to freeze the goat milk and add the lye to it while still frozen. The color will be creamier when you use milk instead of water, so if you want a snow white bar, stick with water. Milk also makes the mixture heat up a little more, so if you ever read a recipe that says it tends to heat up more than usual, it’s probably a good idea to not use milk in that recipe unless you’re more experienced.
One thing I found particularly useful was that she includes color photos of what your soap will look like when you use natural colorants, such as cocoa, paprika, spirulina, and more. Years ago I read somewhere that you could create a green bar of soap by using ground up comfrey. I tried it — once — and I definitely would not have called that soap green. The picture in this book does not show a green bar of soap either with comfrey. Spirulina and nettle, however, do make a true green soap. Paprika makes a beautiful orange, and cocoa makes a color that hard to describe (purplish-brown?). Don’t worry, no one will accidentally take a bite out of it. It does not look like chocolate. Even more helpful is that she has two pictures of each colorant — one when it’s fresh and one five months later. Although annatto makes a beautiful yellow initially, it has faded to almost white after five months.
If you want to learn to make soap but are not a fan of reading books, check out the Thrifty Homesteader Academy’s soapmaking class, Coming Clean, which includes multiple videos of each step of cold process soapmaking.