Advice for scaling up Goat Milk Soap to large batches

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Keaaukb

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I am currently working with 18-lb batches of cold process GMS and want to go bigger, (how big? I guess I’m here to ask what’s possible). I’m a bit hesitant and looking for pointers…

I’ve been making cold- and hot-process soaps for several years, have the basics down and am happy with my soaps. Just want to make more, faster. :)

I use fresh goat milk, frozen to mix w sodium hydroxide. Not interested in going the powdered route.

I currently use all goat milk, no water, and would like to stick with that if possible. Love my current recipe and the resulting product. I know there are ways to make lye w only water and then add reduced amount of milk to the oils, but I want to see if there’s a way to keep my current recipe before making that change.

I plan on moving to master-batching oils, I know I can’t master batch the milk/lye solution, but I guess I’m looking for any advice on how to approach this.

Do any of you make large batches using frozen goat milk? How big can you go? Any tips?
 

TheGecko

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Ariane Arsenault did a review a Pro Mold and Pot Tipper from Soap Equipment in 2019 and made 345 bars of soap. There is also The Soap Gal who is a large scale "artisan" soap maker who uses similar equipment...she MBs 100lb of Sodium Hydroxide and has a hydraulic soap cutter. And I have seen the rare video on some other folks who are also large scale, but not GMS...and here is why: Heat. And a crap load of it! And what do you think that that heat is going to do to the milk in the soap?

I know from personal experience what happens when GMS overheats and it's not pretty. In fact, it was downright gross and disgusting. My soap turned brown, it cracked, it separated. Even after letting it sit for a week, when I went to cut it it wept oil and it stunk! Mind you, GMS can have an ammonia smell to it in the beginning, but this was so much worse...it made me want to throw up. I wrapped the soap into two garbage bags and put it in my outside garbage can.

I personally would not go more than a 25lb slab mold which would give you four 3 1/2' wide loaves for a total of 64-1" bars because I could still easily put the molds in my frig or upright freezer when it gets above 70F. I go to a lot of effect to create a light creamy bar of GMS, I'm not going to ruin it by allowing it to overheat.

And if I'm making 25lb batches I'm probably not going to be MB my Oils/Butters unless I'm doing so much business that I can afford to drop Four Grand on a 85 Gallon Oil Heater and then, IMHO, I'm no longer an artisan soap maker but am a commercial enterprise.

But this is me, you do you.
 

Keaaukb

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Ariane Arsenault did a review a Pro Mold and Pot Tipper from Soap Equipment in 2019 and made 345 bars of soap. There is also The Soap Gal who is a large scale "artisan" soap maker who uses similar equipment...she MBs 100lb of Sodium Hydroxide and has a hydraulic soap cutter. And I have seen the rare video on some other folks who are also large scale, but not GMS...and here is why: Heat. And a crap load of it! And what do you think that that heat is going to do to the milk in the soap?

I know from personal experience what happens when GMS overheats and it's not pretty. In fact, it was downright gross and disgusting. My soap turned brown, it cracked, it separated. Even after letting it sit for a week, when I went to cut it it wept oil and it stunk! Mind you, GMS can have an ammonia smell to it in the beginning, but this was so much worse...it made me want to throw up. I wrapped the soap into two garbage bags and put it in my outside garbage can.

I personally would not go more than a 25lb slab mold which would give you four 3 1/2' wide loaves for a total of 64-1" bars because I could still easily put the molds in my frig or upright freezer when it gets above 70F. I go to a lot of effect to create a light creamy bar of GMS, I'm not going to ruin it by allowing it to overheat.

And if I'm making 25lb batches I'm probably not going to be MB my Oils/Butters unless I'm doing so much business that I can afford to drop Four Grand on a 85 Gallon Oil Heater and then, IMHO, I'm no longer an artisan soap maker but am a commercial enterprise.

But this is me, you do you.
Thanks for your reply! It helped me put a bit of a finer point on my wonderings… and omg I’m glad I haven’t experienced (yet) the disgustingness you described w overheating! ;)

Yes to the issues w slabs and heat - I’ve had an eye on some social media accounts for commercial producers and the biggest molds I’ve seen in use for GMS are the 7.5 loaf molds from Nurture Soap. But I could theoretically make a huge batch and use a bunch of those instead of a big slab mold…

Dealing w the frozen milk and lye is currently one of the most time-consuming steps in my process, so I figured that before I started scaling up batches I should see if there’s a more efficient way to do it.

Are there any commercial-scale soap makers out there using fresh (frozen) goat milk? Or is it all about powdered or adding milk as an additional ingredient at the end? For now, I’m content w my artisan status and working up to bigger batches by adding one mold at a time, scaling the recipe to increase 7.5lbs at a time, and see where it takes me.
 

TheGecko

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Thanks for your reply! It helped me put a bit of a finer point on my wonderings… and omg I’m glad I haven’t experienced (yet) the disgustingness you described w overheating! ;)

Yes to the issues w slabs and heat - I’ve had an eye on some social media accounts for commercial producers and the biggest molds I’ve seen in use for GMS are the 7.5 loaf molds from Nurture Soap. But I could theoretically make a huge batch and use a bunch of those instead of a big slab mold…

Dealing w the frozen milk and lye is currently one of the most time-consuming steps in my process, so I figured that before I started scaling up batches I should see if there’s a more efficient way to do it.

Are there any commercial-scale soap makers out there using fresh (frozen) goat milk? Or is it all about powdered or adding milk as an additional ingredient at the end? For now, I’m content w my artisan status and working up to bigger batches by adding one mold at a time, scaling the recipe to increase 7.5lbs at a time, and see where it takes me.
And you don't want to either. It almost put me off wanting to make GMS, but I found this place, gave it another try and it worked out. And when someone new wants to get into making GMS, I am more than happy to share my process with so they don't either.

Yes, you could MB 100lbs of Oils/Butters and fill however many molds you wanted at one time. My personal 'best' was making a 14lb batch and separating into seven different soaps which required more separating because I was an idiot. Needless to say...I only did it that one time. But then again, it wouldn't have been as much as issue with GMS because I don't use any colorants.

I like the 5lb loaf molds from Nurture Soap myself, I kind of, sort of have seven of them. I say that because I bought one, then my BIL decided he could easily make the boxes much cheaper and so I just purchased the liners for the rest. They fit in my frig/freezer if need be, they fit on my shelves in the garage, the loaf fits on my single-bar cutter, they are easy for my old fat butt to handle. And it makes changing up scents without having a lot of excess inventory if something doesn't sell. If my business continues to grow, I'll probably move to the 25lb slab molds for my Regular Soaps, but I'll stick with 5lbs for GMS.

I seriously doubt that there are any large scaled GMS makers using fresh goat milk because as you noted, it is a time-consuming process if you don't want to scorch the milk and you want to have a light and creamy bar and as we all know, time is money. And at least in my neck of the woods, I can charge a buck more for my GMS because I do go through that process.
 

AAShillito

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Thanks for your reply! It helped me put a bit of a finer point on my wonderings… and omg I’m glad I haven’t experienced (yet) the disgustingness you described w overheating! ;)

Yes to the issues w slabs and heat - I’ve had an eye on some social media accounts for commercial producers and the biggest molds I’ve seen in use for GMS are the 7.5 loaf molds from Nurture Soap. But I could theoretically make a huge batch and use a bunch of those instead of a big slab mold…

Dealing w the frozen milk and lye is currently one of the most time-consuming steps in my process, so I figured that before I started scaling up batches I should see if there’s a more efficient way to do it.

Are there any commercial-scale soap makers out there using fresh (frozen) goat milk? Or is it all about powdered or adding milk as an additional ingredient at the end? For now, I’m content w my artisan status and working up to bigger batches by adding one mold at a time, scaling the recipe to increase 7.5lbs at a time, and see where it takes me.
I can only comment on powdered goats milk. Im a small soapmaker using the 5 lb Nurture Soap molds. I add powdered GM into my warm oils before adding lye water. You can easily burn your goats milk powder by overheating your oils. Itll turn orangey brown and try to precipitate out of the oil. It also caused my only experience with a lemon scented soap volcano. Just my personal thoughts. Hopefully they help you in your large scale process.
 
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Ariane Arsenault did a review a Pro Mold and Pot Tipper from Soap Equipment in 2019 and made 345 bars of soap. There is also The Soap Gal who is a large scale "artisan" soap maker who uses similar equipment...she MBs 100lb of Sodium Hydroxide and has a hydraulic soap cutter. And I have seen the rare video on some other folks who are also large scale, but not GMS...and here is why: Heat. And a crap load of it! And what do you think that that heat is going to do to the milk in the soap?

I know from personal experience what happens when GMS overheats and it's not pretty. In fact, it was downright gross and disgusting. My soap turned brown, it cracked, it separated. Even after letting it sit for a week, when I went to cut it it wept oil and it stunk! Mind you, GMS can have an ammonia smell to it in the beginning, but this was so much worse...it made me want to throw up. I wrapped the soap into two garbage bags and put it in my outside garbage can.

I personally would not go more than a 25lb slab mold which would give you four 3 1/2' wide loaves for a total of 64-1" bars because I could still easily put the molds in my frig or upright freezer when it gets above 70F. I go to a lot of effect to create a light creamy bar of GMS, I'm not going to ruin it by allowing it to overheat.

And if I'm making 25lb batches I'm probably not going to be MB my Oils/Butters unless I'm doing so much business that I can afford to drop Four Grand on a 85 Gallon Oil Heater and then, IMHO, I'm no longer an artisan soap maker but am a commercial enterprise.

But this is me, you do you.
Question Gecko - You say you use a 25 lb. slab mold that gives you four 3/5” wide bars. How tall are they? I want to try a slab mold as I make soap for our son’s lavender farm but need my soaps to be 3.25x3.25x1. I have put off buying a slab mold because I like to swirl my tops. How can I do this with a slab mold? I know this may be a silly question but I like pretty (not fancy - just pretty) tops but think with a slab mold, I am going to end up with just plain rectangles. Can you advise please? Thank you!
 

TheGecko

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Question Gecko - You say you use a 25 lb. slab mold that gives you four 3/5” wide bars. How tall are they? I want to try a slab mold as I make soap for our son’s lavender farm but need my soaps to be 3.25x3.25x1. I have put off buying a slab mold because I like to swirl my tops. How can I do this with a slab mold? I know this may be a silly question but I like pretty (not fancy - just pretty) tops but think with a slab mold, I am going to end up with just plain rectangles. Can you advise please? Thank you!
I don't use a slab mold myself, I'm using 5lb loaf molds, but was simply stating the direction I would go in IF I was needing to make that much soap. But to answer your question, the25lb slab mold at Workshop Heritage is 3" high, but you could also make a slightly bigger and thicker batch of soap to give you more height and/or do a 'frosting'.

FYI - There is nothing wrong with 'plain rectangles'. Once the batter thickens, you can 'texture' the stop with a spoon or chopstick. You can put a mica drizzle on top and swirl it. You can add Lavender Buds, or Rose petals, or cranberry seeds or glitter or a combination thereof. With that said, my GMS are just 'plain rectangles', but that is what my customers like...no colorants, no swirls, just a little goat stamped on the side.
 

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