Lye Problem with Milk Soap

Discussion in 'Lye-Based Soap Forum' started by enchantedfrogpond, Jan 18, 2015.

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  1. Jan 18, 2015 #1

    enchantedfrogpond

    enchantedfrogpond

    enchantedfrogpond

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    I'm just about to give up on milk soap.

    I've experimented with every variable I can think of - warm milk, cold milk, half milk, full milk, frozen milk, milk-in-oil, adding milk at trace, water discount, no water discount, soaping cool, soaping warm, various mixing times, straining the lye mixture - I still end up with either lye pockets or tiny undissolved lye crystals.

    I seem to have eliminated the lye pockets by mixing to a thicker trace before pouring, but I still end up with undissolved crystals. The only way I've been able to get all the lye to react is by HPing the bars. Although it works, the bars are much darker than I'd like and the ammonia smell takes a while to dissipate (and sometimes it doesn't completely.) I've tried straining the lye, but it ends up gloppy in the strainer, so I don't know that it's really feasible.

    My goal is a CP, all-milk bar. I got creative on my latest attempt - I melted hard oils in a crock pot set to "warm," added the room-temperature liquid oils to cool down the whole mixture, did the frozen milk/lye mix to the crock pot and did my stick-blending in the crock still set to warm. I poured when I got a nice, thick trace. This morning, the bars are mostly beautiful, but looking closely, there are still a few "pinhole" lye crystals throughout. I'm so disappointed! :(

    I keep wondering if the necessity to keep the lye cool will always be a problem. I've watched a bowl of lye and water cool and saw lots of lye crystals coming out of solution; I'm sure the same thing is happening on a larger scale if I'm using cold milk. I'm now completely baffled at how to make the perfect milk soap bar. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Jan 18, 2015 #2

    cmzaha

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    I soap with a 50/50 lye solution and add in all my milk into my oils with no problems at all. If I want closer to using full milk I will mix in additional powdered milk, such as powdered coconut milk, goats milk or buttermilk. You can also use more water than 50% of your lye just use the balance of the required liquid for your batch as your milk. Side by side I notice no difference in an all milk bar versus one that is made with my 50/50 lye solution.
    You have to use at lest 50% liquid for dissolving lye and it requires quite a lot of stirring. Is the soap zappy and are you sure it is tiny undissolved lye crystals and not stearic specks? I do find at times, when I mix my lye in icy gm that fat will start to saponify in my pitcher which is one reason I went to adding my milk into my oils and stick blending well. I have never hp'ed milk soaps so I am no help there
     
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  3. Jan 18, 2015 #3

    IrishLass

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    I have two words for you- "Split Method". :)

    I use the split-method to make my milk soaps, even my 100% milk soaps.

    If you have not heard of the split method, it involves mixing your lye with an equal amount of water to fully dissolve it, and then adding the remainder of the liquid amount for your batch as milk (added to your oils before or just after adding in the lye solution). This will make a 50% milk batch.

    In order to make a 100% milk batch, fortify your milk portion with enough powdered milk to bring the total milk concentration for your batch up to 100%, and then add it to your oils either before or just after adding your lye solution.

    Honestly, speaking only for myself, I would never make milk soaps any other way. It's so easy, and I don't get any overheating, or lye pockets or separation, etc... And my soap does not get that initial, nasty ammonia smell, and they cure out to a light off-white color.


    IrishLass :)

    ETA- Carolyn and I must've been posting at the same time. Yep- ditto what she said. :)
     
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  4. Jan 18, 2015 #4

    enchantedfrogpond

    enchantedfrogpond

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    So what you're both really saying is: do the split method. :-D

    Ok. I'm gonna give it another go. I definitely like the idea of adding the milk powder, so that's something I'll order today. The last time I tried the split method, I ended up with a few lye pockets, but I think I might have poured too early. I might also add the lye at a slightly higher temp this time and use a lit more water. I've been discounting the water to a 30% lye solution. Not sure that's a good idea at this point. Just a couple more questions:

    - When I did split method before, I added the milk to the oils in a crockpot before adding the lye and stick-blended the crap out of it. I did this because the fat in the milk looked "grainy" to me and I figured a little heat and blending would help it mix better. Irishlass said I can add the milk before or after the lye - do either of you have a preference that you find works better?

    - Do either of you gel? If not, do you pop it in the fridge or freezer? I'm wondering if the cold might cause lye crystals to come out of solution.

    Thanks again for all the help. I'll be sure to post the results.

    Feeling determined - :twisted:
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2015
  5. Jan 18, 2015 #5

    lionprincess00

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    I do exactly when Irish lass stated, but I use goats milk concentrate from the can instead of powder into my oil after I've added my lye water and stick blended three short pulses. I always freeze my milk soaps for at least 24 hours and then sometimes even refrigerate a little bit longer.
     
  6. Jan 18, 2015 #6

    enchantedfrogpond

    enchantedfrogpond

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    And one more question:

    What temperature are your oils/lye/milk when you mix them?
     
  7. Jan 27, 2015 #7

    bhelen

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    I have been struggling with this exact issue and have a and have had all the problems you mentioned, so I'm following this for advice and will also tell you my experience. I was getting all the lye crystals with the full milk method, and was also suspecting that my low lye and oil temperatures were creating problems, so when IrishLass suggested to me the split method, I gave it a go. However instead of adding the milk powder to the milk, I added it to a little bit of the water before adding the lye, and added that to the oils just before mixing the lye mixture in to the oils. I upped my temps a bit so both oils and lye were at around 100. It worked absolutely beautifully, the best batch of soap I have ever made.

    Then I made another batch the next day. Ha! Everything was the same, except this time I added the milk powder to the milk, plus I only hand blended it, I didn't use a stick blender. It has turned out all grainy. Was it the change of solution for the milk powder? Was it the lack of stick blending? Or was it a poltergeist? I'll have to wait and see my next batch tomorrow. I'm going to stick to the milk powder in milk but stick blend it.

    Good luck!
     
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  8. Jan 27, 2015 #8

    shunt2011

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    I too do the 50/50 method and add milk powder to the milk and mixt it really well then add to my oils and stickblend it really well. Then add my lye water mixture. I soap at room temp and have no problems unless it's really cold then I warm my oils a bit.
     
  9. Jan 27, 2015 #9

    seven

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    when i do the split method, i often use milk powder, and just sb the milk to the oils till all is dissolved. same thing with liquid milk, mix it with the oils prior to lye. i find this the easiest way.
     
  10. Jan 27, 2015 #10

    Luckyone80

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    I did what Irish suggested (50/50 split) for the very first time ever using milk just a couple weeks ago and everything went perfect. I've made a few more milk batches the same way and haven't had a problem yet. :p
     
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  11. Jan 28, 2015 #11

    IrishLass

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    Sweet! :) The split method- it's a beautiful thing!


    IrishLass :)
     
  12. Feb 7, 2015 #12

    RDak

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    I'm a bit confused here.........I want to try a regular liquid milk soap with 50% of the liquid as milk and the other 50% as water.

    So, I would dissolve the lye into the 260 grams water (my recipe calls for 520 grams of liquid total).

    Then when do I add the milk and how do I account for the extra weight of the milk over water?

    Also, I do double boiler hot process and wonder if this entire thing I want to try would be an exercise in futility because it would burn the milk?

    Any help would be appreciated!!
     
  13. Feb 7, 2015 #13

    hmlove1218

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    You can either add the milk to the oils before you add the lye water, or you could mix it in ay trace.
     
  14. Feb 7, 2015 #14

    RDak

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    Thank you...........but what about the heavier weight of the milk versus water. Is their a basic calculation that tells me how much milk to add to equal the volume of water needed for the recipe?
     
  15. Feb 7, 2015 #15

    FlybyStardancer

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    Milk is actually very close in weight to water, especially at those smaller amounts. I'd just go with the same weight of milk as water, it's not going to make that much of a difference.
     
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  16. Feb 7, 2015 #16

    RDak

    RDak

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    Thank you!!
     
  17. Feb 7, 2015 #17

    100%Natural

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    I feel your pain! Not entirely sure how many batches of milk soap turned out like that when I first began. Countless! I finally started adding whole goat milk powder directly into my melted oils at a rate of 1 oz per pound and have had great success. The lather is creamy and moisturizing and you'd never know that I didn't use the conventional methods. My customers love it and so do I for the sheer easiness of this method. Haven't had a failed batch since!
     
  18. Feb 7, 2015 #18

    lionprincess00

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    All of us that add milk to the thin traced oils at 50/50 don't really calculate the weight differential. Well, at least I've never ever seen someone do as such. Milk is predominantly water (my milk info website I looked at stated 87% water for milk which becomes negligible in the weight department). In fact, since the lye amount is saponified against the oil amount and the water is only there to fully dissolve the lye and eventually evaporates out, the weight of your milk isn't really important in final calculations of your milk amount (other than superfat amounts which is important to an extent, with the amount of milk added). With goats milk I superfat 1% less than my normal recipe, and with heavy cream I superfat around 2-3% less than my average (since heavy cream is so high in fat). So if I use a 5% sf regularly, then a gm soap I sf at 4% in anticipation of the goat milk fat increasing my overall fat content. All this said, I don't think the wt of the milk is super important in all this. Hope this helps alleviate some of your concerns.
     
  19. Feb 8, 2015 #19

    shunt2011

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    I add my milks to the oils and stickblend it well then add my lye solution. Works like a charm.
     
  20. Feb 8, 2015 #20

    RDak

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    Yes it does and thank you!

    I made the batch yesterday and it went fine doing what you members suggested.

    Turned out tannish brown from the heat but that's ok.
     

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