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How to Scale up with CP Milk Soap?

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stanekster

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Hi,
We only make goat milk soap from our farm. We have more and more people buying and I am not quite sure how we can scale up successfully. I have two main goals: a) produce bigger batches to save time and to reduce time per batch. I am interested in trying to move up from our current 9 lb batches to larger ones. I dream about making those big blocks of soap to save time. But I am pretty sure it would overheat. We have had issues with single 2.25lb loaves overheating unless I put them in the freezer.

Usually have oil temps around 95F and Lye is at 78F (I freeze the goat milk). We have 51% solid oils (coconut, palm, & palm kernel) so if temps drop too low maybe we will have issues with false trace?
Lye concentration is 38%

Most of my time is spent melting the solid oils down on burner and mixing lye with the milk/water combo so it won't scorch. I was thinking about master batching the lye solution, but don't see how I can do this since milk will spoil over time unless frozen, right?

I am not sure master batching my oils would help too much because I would still need to melt the oils down again right?


Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks for your time!
 

The_Phoenix

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Congratulations on your success! I cannot speak to master batching with goat milk, but I can offer input on master batching your oils. I master batch about 10,000 g of oils at a time, though I have three 12 qt containers and could make more. But I digress. To keep my oils from getting too cool, I keep the containers on a heat mat that's usually used for vegetable seedlings. It's waterproof and can handle the weight. It's quite large. I throw a towel over the containers to create a cocoon to retain the heat. It keeps the oils at a consistent 85 degrees. This is what I use: Seedlings Heat Mat, Seed Starting Supplies and Garden Tools at Burpee.com

They do make heating blankets and bands specifically for drums and industrial tanks. BriskHeat® Silicone Rubber Heating Blanket With Adhesive Back, 50-450°F, 6"Wx1'L, 120V

I do stick blend the oils before measuring out for a batch of oils, but I don't need to remelt the oils. There may be some settling at the bottom of the container, but it mixes in perfectly.
 
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dixiedragon

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I think how helpful masterbatching oils is really depends on what kind of storage space you have available, and also how physically strong you are. I found it not useful b/c the oils separate a bit, unless you are using the whole bucket, you really need to stir the oils up. Which is a hassle. If you are using the whole bucket...did masterbatching save you time? If you have a bucket (with lid) that is the right size for 1 batch of oils, then you melt oils for say 4 batches and divide that evenly between the 4 buckets, that might be a small time saver.

If I were you, I'd try to increase my batch size by 1 2.25 log at a time, until I got to what I felt was the max I could comfortably handle.
 

AliOop

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A couple of thoughts:

1. You are correct that you cannot master-batch your lye with goat milk. But you can master-batch your lye 1:1 with water, and then add the goat milk as the additional water when you are making the soap. Then you don't need to freeze the milk, and you can stick-blend it into your oils to prevent scorching. But if that reduces the amount of milk you are using now, that will be a recipe change, which may not produce the same soap that your customers know and love.

2. You can master-batch just your hard oils, and scoop out just what you need from the re-solidified mass.

3. You can master-batch all oils together. With the liquid oils added, this will become somewhat of a slurry when it cools. The PKO will probably separate out the most, but you can use a paint-stirring attachment on the end of your drill to homogenize it somewhat as it cools. Store the bucket somewhere that isn't too cool. Give it another whir with the paint-stirring attachment to homogenize it again before scooping out what you need. I believe @TheGecko does this.
 

TheGecko

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No, you cannot master batch a milk based lye solution, it’ll turn onto a very lye-heavy soap long before it spoils.

I do master batch my oils/butters for both my regular soap and goat milk. I use 5-gal food grade buckets (one for each), plus I have a couple of 1-gal buckets for when I get down to the bottom. I make approximately 640-800 oz of oils/butters in 160 oz lots because that is all my pot will hold in hard oils/butters. I make one full lot at a time (melt the hard, add the soft...melt the hard, add the soft) just in case life happens; no worrying about where I stopped.

@dixiedragon - The buckets take up less room than the individual ingredients and I don’t need ‘strength’ (which is a good thing since I’m in the deep shade of 50, overweight, diabetic with a lousy back that sits at a desk all day), I have wheels on my buckets.

And my oils don’t separate...it’s more like a waffle batter. I use a commercial paint stirrer on the end of a cordless drill...about medium speed, making sure I circle around, run along the bottom, raise up and down...takes maybe five minutes.

I also match batch my Ready-to-Use Lye Solution for my Regular Soap. Like my oils/butters, I make it in lots and I use frozen distilled water so I don’t have to wait hours for it to cool down and I use 1-gallon jugs, heavy marked in red and black (danger Will Robinson) and stored in my soap cart (aka rolling kitchen island).

Now here is the fun part. I have a spreadsheet on the wall above my soap cart that lists every mold and how much oil/butter mixture and lye solution I need. So when I want to make soap, I pull out whatever mold I am using, check my spread sheet, pull out my ladle that holds approximate 4 oz, take my mixing bowl and ladle in xx number, weigh, adjust. Pop the bowl in the microwave for 20-30 seconds PPO. When the oils/butters are reheating, I measure out my Lye Solution, add in my Sodium Lactate and disperse my Kaolin Clay in a little bit of water or FO and Bob’s your uncle. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

My GMS isn’t quite as easy, but I haven’t had any complaints because my GMS have a beautiful texture and color. Key is not allowing your GM lye solution to get above 70F and you do that with an ice water bath and salt. I’m actually on the hunt for an old ice maker...the old wood bucket, stainless steel, hand crank. But I digress.

You want your oils/butters a little warmer...around 120F-125F, because your GM Lye solution is going to drop the temperature fast and you don’t want your hard oils/butter resolidifying and getting false trace or Stearic spots. Now during the Spring/Summer I use a 33% Lye Concentration and refrigerate. During the Fall/Winter I use a 35% Lye Concentration and put them in the garage. I live in the Pacific Northwest and its cold and damp during the Fall/Winter. I also use 10” Silicone Loaf Molds...I get 10-1” bars with 4.5 oz sell weight.

It should be noted that I don’t add colorants to my GMS...just scent...it makes the process even easier. I’ve tried larger loaf molds, but went back to the 10” as I liked the quality of the soap better and I didn’t have to worry about overheating (frig is fine). I can easily make 18lbs of soap in my dish pan and then split it up for different scents.

I haven’t seen anyone who uses fresh goat milk use slab molds.
 

cmzaha

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Unlike Gecko I do not worry about low temps and soaping with cloudy oils even with my high palm and my high tallow/lard recipes. Even if it false traces which my recipes usually do it will heat up when the lye starts to react and then you just move on. This will happen even sooner when working with GM which I seldom do and still have no problems with it. Soaping cool and up to 40% palm I always hit a false trace in the beginning so I just stir and wait for the color change indicating it is heating up. you just have to learn to work with your recipe. I always prefered to masterbatch 10 or so individual batches that would be ready to go when I was ready to soap in HDPE buckets with lids. I would melt them and put the lids on tape on the print out of the recipe and they would usually stay soft enough that they would be ready to go when I was ready to soap. Heavy large buckets were getting to hard to handle when I got upwards in my sixties and that was several years ago. So once I moved my 35lb buckets of oils I made it worthwhile and lined up all my smaller buckets and started measuring.
 

stanekster

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Wow folks!
Ok thanks I have several new things to try. I am thinking if I mix all my oils together and then put them on a seeding mat then it should be able to keep the oils pretty liquidly. Maybe I could put it on a timer so it turns on and has warmed them up during mornings when I normally soap. Do you think the seedling mat would turn heat the whole bucket up or only the bottom (or I guess that is the purpose of the towel Phoenix used)?

Master batching the lye would be awesome, but it would significantly drop the amount of goat milk I use in my current recipe (drop it by 40%). I guess I could try a batch at that amount and run some trials with people to see if they notice. That would be a game changer if I could pull it off. One question the 1:1 lye to water solution, does it hold all the lye permanently? I thought I read that it can cause crystals do form on bottom of solution if it cools? Reason I ask is because I am working in cool basement.
 

The_Phoenix

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Wow folks!
Ok thanks I have several new things to try. I am thinking if I mix all my oils together and then put them on a seeding mat then it should be able to keep the oils pretty liquidly. Maybe I could put it on a timer so it turns on and has warmed them up during mornings when I normally soap. Do you think the seedling mat would turn heat the whole bucket up or only the bottom (or I guess that is the purpose of the towel Phoenix used)?
You are correct. While the heat is consistent along the bottom of the container, the towel does help to contain the warmth, so the oil temperature is consistent throughout. It uses very little electricity, so I keep my container on it at all times. I'm pretty strong, but when the 12 qt bucket is full I don't have to lift it to get the fluid oils out. I put my scale next to the bucket and use a 4-cup measuring cup to get the oils out and into my soaping bucket. As the main bucket empties, and at a manageable weight, I do pour directly into the bucket I'll be using to make soap.

Also, I keep my master batch of lye solution next to the bucket of oils. Not on the seedling mat, but close. Lately, though, I put about 1/2" of the lye solution container on the mat just do it doesn't drop too low in temperature. I'll be moving my soaping station into my garage eventually, which gets pretty cold. My plan is to build a wooden box with a hinged door for my lye solution. They sell really small seedling mats. The idea will be to put one of the really small seedling mats in the box. I don't need it to keep the lye solution warm, just not let the interior of the box get too cold.

Everyone is different. Find what works for you. I like to find different ways of doing things efficiently. Good luck!
 
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