Trouble shooting and improving goat milk soap recipe

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Hello! Each batch I make is replete with learning opportunities! My goal is a gentle, nourishing, moisturizing soap for super sensitive skin (think elderly with frail skin, eczema, etc.). All natural ingredients. Below are photos of my latest goat milk soap (it's about a week old) with honey, beeswax (for hardness) and ground oats. Pencil lines are neem and chamomille powders. I love the lighter colored goat milk soap, which I have achieved in the fridge for 2 previous batches (one other batch got a gel ring). In this case I tried to force gel with CPOP (to avoid gel ring). I know now that a soap with honey will turn brown with forced gel. And probably the bees wax contributed to brown color? I added white kaolin clay at trace to see if that would help keep soap white (it did not!).

The bar on the left seems to have soda ash. I'm not sure why. The middle bar has been wiped down with water and a paper towel to minimize ash (there are still speckles in the soap). On the right is the one bar I am using at the kitchen sink (the others are curing). I'm wondering if it's showing glycerin rivers and why. The bar in front is batter that filled one cavity mold and did not go into the oven -- love that creamy color!

I prefer to make loafs rather than individual molds -- so that is a part of this challenge.

My recipe is attached. I soaped at 88 F degrees for lye and about 92 F degrees for oils.

Any thoughts on why I am getting ash and glycerin rivers appreciated. Also welcome with open arms any other suggestions on how to impove this bar to achieve my goal. Thank you!

PS: Any suggestions for the best book on natural soapmaking for beginners? There are so many books.
 

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Hi, less water will help with ash and rivers. I use 1.7:1 in most of my recipes. Every time I use honey. My soaps are tan after gell. At little less CO might not be a bad thing either. I do not use beeswax, but 1%. Seems a bit low. Others can help with this. Also rounding to a whole number. Makes weighing things out. A little easier.
 
If your making this for the frail and elderly I wouldn't be adding ground oats, no matter how fine they are ground it would be too abrasive. I put ground oats in soap for exfoliation, also soap isn't moisturising because it's a wash on wash off product. Depending on the colour of your honey will also depend on how the colour turns out, I usually use a light colour honey and this last one I used a dark colour honey, so the soap turned out a lot darker.

I don't gel my soap, any soap, I'm no help with temps as I don't measure temps, I do freeze my gm before adding the lye ( sometimes made the day before) to keep everything cool, if that's of any help. I mostly make my soap in loaves, so I don't see that as a problem.
 
The soap is very pretty! However, I agree with @Relle - if your target users are folks with with sensitive skin, please make some important adjustments to your recipe. I am neither elderly nor frail, but I have very sensitive skin, and my husband has eczema and psoriasis. If either of us tried this soap, our skin would be cracking and peeling terribly after a single wash.

Besides what Relle recommended, you also need to lower the cleansing number quite a bit - probably down from 17 to 12 or below. That means lowering the amount of coconut oil, and finding another way to create nice lather. Honey helps to make nice lather, but as you learned, it also darkens the soap. To keep the soap lighter while still boosting bubbles, you could use a mix of honey and regular sugar, or sorbitol. You could also try dual-lye; about 5% KOH makes soap more soluble, which means more/easier bubbles. Just remember that the bubbly number will still appear low in the calculator, as the only thing it "sees" are the oils, not any of the additives. :)

Meanwhile, keep up the great design work - those lines look great!
 
Wow...this is so helpful! Thanks to each of you, @Ford, @Relle and @AliOop for the guidance. I somehow did not realize how high my cleansing value was. I am still tyring to figure out water and lye percentages I but I will bring the water amount down. I also dug around the Forum and learned more about how Irish Lass makes goat's milk soap with a simpler process, which I will try (I have been freezing the milk).

@AliOop, do you recommend a separate lye calculator for the dual-process lye? Also, does making the soap more soluable mean that the bar will be softer/not last as long? I will definitely add sugar for added bubbles.

One thing I'm uncertain of: I have had friends with eczema tell me that oatmeal soap (like Aveeno or homemade oat soap) is really good for their skin. That's how I got on the oats kick! So I need to research that more.

It will be a bit before I get more goat's milk and the chance to try these adjustments but I will keep you all posted, if that's ok I have been fiddling around in SoapCalc and have attached what I have so far...feel free to comment. Thanks again!
 

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I had not even considered that. Oh my gosh, the possibilities are endless in this soapy world! Thanks for sharing the milk recipe. I assume you don’t add the honey and vanilla?
 
I had not even considered that. Oh my gosh, the possibilities are endless in this soapy world! Thanks for sharing the milk recipe. I assume you don’t add the honey and vanilla?
Correct : )

Be aware that if you mix the lye with the oat milk it will go very thick and gluggy. You can still use it in your oils as usual, so don't freak out. Some people strain it, as I used to, but i don't bother anymore. Just ensure that your lye is fully dissolved before mixing the solution into the oils.
 
I will second that opinion of oatmilk soap ~ I have super sensitive skin also and started making my own soap to avoid fragrances and artificial colorants and well anything artificial. I followed the path of goat's milk soaps and it was ok but the results weren't what I was expecting. Then I tried an oatmilk recipe. In my recipe I soaked my oats in an almond coconut milk blend (Almond Breeze is the brand), and I left it in the fridge for a few days (because I get forgetful and/or easily distracted). Then I blended the soggy oats in their milk into a slurry, adding a little extra almond coconut milk to make it a bit more runny than thick, and poured that into an ice cube tray and froze it. I started with about a cup of the almond milk and a cup of oats, I think, then added about another half a cup of milk (maybe more) to it when I was blending because I was going for something more liquid than sludgy. When it was frozen, I substituted the frozen oat milk 100% for the water in my recipe to make the lye solution.
That bar is by far the creamiest and most gentle overall of all the bars I've made ~ go figure 🤷🏼‍♀️😃
I also agree with @AliOop that low cleansing numbers is the way to go for a gentle soap. Coconut oil is great but in soap but it literally strips the oils from your skin so it's really not all that gentle, in that sense. If I add it to recipe, it's usually for it's hardening/cleansing qualities and I keep it at 15-20% at most, but I will also use shea butter to help with hardening/moisturizing, so sometimes I use them together at 10% each and just play with a recipe in soapcalc until I like the numbers. Maybe use the search feature here in the forum to search for gentle recipe suggestions because I know there have been a lot shared. I started out using high olive oil percentages but have started lowering that and adding more butters (I like shea, cocoa, mango and kokum so far) to add other qualities and I'm loving the difference!
I know it's a lot to take in, but that's all part of the fun and excitement of this crazy addiction! I hope you find your perfect recipe!
Happy soaping! 🧼🫧🧼🫧🧼
 
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@Lanie the SoapmakingFriend.com calculator allows you to calculate dual lye right into your recipe.

If you want to save or edit more than a few recipes, there is a small subscription cost per year. I happily pay for that bc I really like all the features, including calculations for dual lye, master-batched lye, lye adjustments for vinegar, water adjustments for other liquids, adding ingredients as a percentage of oil weight, and more.

Besides the wonderful oat milk tutorials shared above, you can also use colloidal oats. These are much finer than anything you can get from grinding your own oats; it leaves no exfoliation at all.

Good luck, have fun, and we will be waiting to see your next creations!
 
Back with a report on my latest goat's milk soap! Thanks for your advice and kind words so far. Would greatly appreciate your guidance as I continue to learn.

What I did: I revised the recipe to decrease the cleansing amount, changed my lye concentration to 33%, and took out the ground oats. I'm still getting my arms around lye concentration, water amounts, etc. so please let me know if it would be good to adjust those further. I have not tried the dual-lye process yet. For now, I stuck with honey rather than sugar because I love the smell and would like to try make honey work. I still plan on trying sugar, though. And will try an oatmilk soap. I also used Irish Lass' approach to getting 100% milk soap with the split method (see notes on my recipe). I still added 1 t. white kaolin clay. Also, I continue to experiment with pencil lines. In this small loaf I used paprika, turmeric and ground sea buckthorn berries in 3 separate lines (I'm curious about the colors and bleeds they create). I soaped when the lye was about 85 degrees and the oils/milk were at 89 degrees. I did not force gel. The small 1 lb silicone mold was in the freezer for 17 hrs and then the fridge for about 3 hrs. The soap easily came out of the mold and seemed firm enough to cut but I should have waited. I had some crumbling, so I stopped and more easily cut the next day (this morning).

What I got: There was a very small gel ring in one section. Also there are a couple of dry, crumbly-looking spots (some still visible in photos). The small mold makes 4 bars and I ended up with 3 due to crumble. There are a few air pockets here and there (probably from hanger swirling the pencil lines too late). I do like the creamy color of the soap.

My questions: Would I have not gotten the small gel ring if I had left the loaf in the freezer longer? Why did I get crumbling? Did the kaolin clay cause problems? What about water levels/lye concentration? Should I switch to the fan method rather than freezer?

Thanks for your sage adive, folks! Luckily I have my little 1 lb mold so I'll just keep adjusting and trying.
 

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@Lanie BTW ~ I do love your pencil lines in your soap! I hadn't thought about adding neem or chamomile powders as pencil lines ~ I've been adding them as infusions into my oils. Nice work! 😉

I love using powdered herbs for pencil lines of different colors, especially when the pencil lines get swirled. This can make some very nice effects! ❤️

One thing I'm uncertain of: I have had friends with eczema tell me that oatmeal soap (like Aveeno or homemade oat soap) is really good for their skin. That's how I got on the oats kick! So I need to research that more.

If I'm using oats in soap & don't want them to be very exfoliating, I grind them very finely, sift them through a very fine mesh strainer, then grind again, sift again until I get a very soft, light texture. I will also soak them in a little bit of water overnight, covered. This makes a big difference. If I want the exfoliation, I just grind them, sift them slightly, grind the rough parts again & add everything in altogether.

Oats are absolutely beautiful for skincare, as a face wash with nothing but water. as a gentle facial scrub, as a mask, you name it....and oat oil is PHENOMENAL for the skin,....so yes, adding oats milk gets a big 👍 :thumbs: from me too.
 
Oats are absolutely beautiful for
I love using powdered herbs for pencil lines of different colors, especially when the pencil lines get swirled. This can make some very nice effects! ❤️



Oats are absolutely beautiful for skincare, as a face wash with nothing but water. as a gentle facial scrub, as a mask, you name it....and oat oil is PHENOMENAL for the skin,....so yes, adding oats milk gets a big 👍 :thumbs: from me

Thank you! I am looking forward to trying oat milk. Do you make your own milk like @KiwiMoose? I want to try that.
 
Due to the sheer quantity of nut-milk consumed in our dairy-free home, I purchased an Almond Cow machine. Worth every penny! Besides nut milks of all kinds, it can also be used to make oat milk and more. It's pricey, but you can catch a sale now and then, which thankfully I was able to do.
 
@KiwiMoose and @AliOop, these are both interesting options. We do drink a lot of almond milk around here so the Almond Cow is something to consider. I bet that fresh milk tastes amazing. But I do like the ease of getting more calcium with Almond Breeze (that brand has 35% dv of calcium). 🤔

Meantime, is it worth using the store- bought oat milk to try out an oat milk soap? Or do the additives in the milk have a weird effect? Thanks.
 
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