Hello everyone! A here!
There’s more to soapmaking than goat’s milk. The alternatives to goat’s milk are vegan, generally behave nicely in soap, more likely to be organic, and easily extracted at home. Additionally, they add a creamy texture to soap which other additives fail to impart.
Of all the possible milks to make at home, coconut milk is probably the most rewarding because you yield tons of milk for a small amount of money. You’ll need dried, unsweetened coconut flakes or fresh shredded coconut meat, a large pot, water, a large container, ice cube trays, and cheesecloth or a fine sieve.
What to Do:
- If you are using dried coconut flakes, soak them overnight in water that’s at least 3 or four times the flakes’ weight. If you’re using fresh coconut meat, go ahead and proceed to step two.
- Add your fresh coconut milk or your soaked flakes and their water to the pot. Add more water to the pot (I’d estimate a good 1 to 2 times the flake’s weight). If you’re using fresh coconut meat, add water that is equal to 6-8 times the weight of your coconut milk.
- Turn on your stove and allow the water to boil for three minutes. This will release coconut cream, which will look like white foam floating atop the water in your pot. The below water below will turn cloudy. That’s the coconut milk.
- Turn the heat down low so that the water simmers and place a lid on it. I allow mine to simmer for about 20 minutes while I go do dishes or photograph some soaps or something. Don’t forget about it. You don’t want burnt milk.
- After 20 minutes have passed, turn off the heat and put it out of the way so that it can cool down.
- Place the covered pot in the refrigerator overnight. This allows the coconut cream on top to harden, allowing it to be easily skimmed off in the morning.
- Take the pot out of the refrigerator and use a spoon to skim off the coconut cream. DO NOT THROW THIS OUT! It’s great in soap! Place the cream into the large container.
- Strain out the coconut meat or flakes with your fine sieve or cheesecloth, letting the resulting milk fall into the large container.
- Break up the coconut cream some using a spoon, stickblender, or nuking your container in the microwave.
- Pour into your ice cube trays and freeze for further use!
Coconut milk in soap is awesome. The fat in coconut milk saponifies along with the rest of your oils, increasing your superfat by a small amount and making your soap less stripping. The sugars within coconut milk affect lather. It’s both a sugary and fatty additive, which is always great in soap. It’s also affordable. I made 90 ounces of coconut milk and cream from 12 ounces of dried coconut flakes that cost $3.85. Compare that to buying 13 ounces of canned coconut milk for the same price.
When you use coconut milk in soap, pay attention to your temperature. I recommend freezing your milk and adding your lye to it slowly before mixing the milk-lye solution with your oils. You could also add chilled coconut milk to your oils and make a separate lye solution for a quick fix, though I find that my soap moves quicker. With proper temperatures, coconut milk isn’t a hard ingredient to work with. Due to the sugars in coconut milk, soaping without paying attention to temperature can result in superheated batches, accelerated traces, or other soapy mishaps.
I don’t strain my coconut milk-lye solution into my oils. Instead, I give the solution a mix with my stick blender, making sure the coconut cream and fat is well incorporated before I mix it into the oils.
This is a soap made with coconut milk. It did go through gel phase, but remained a great, creamy white color. I used an oil combination that produced a very white soap (coconut, shea, pomace olive) to further the white-ness. If it hadn’t gelled it would’ve been close to the color of paper. It’s hydrating and has lots of great bubbles that will only increase in cure as the pomace olive oil contributes to lather.
Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts… It’s easy to make milk from nuts! You’ll need a fine sieve, a spoon, a blender or something similar, ice cube trays, nuts, and water.
What to Do:
- Soak your nuts of choice in water overnight. You want to soak them in more than enough water; about three or four times their weight.
- Add your nuts and the water they were soaking in to your blender. I make my milks in large batches, so I usually end up splitting my nuts and their water accordingly, repeating the next couple steps.
- Blend your mixture of water and nuts. You can pulse, hold, grind, liquefy–whatever. Just make sure evenrything is finely ground. You’re going to start seeing some type of light colored liquid–whether that be a warm light tan (almond milk) or an almost off-putting white (brazil nut milk).
- Strain your milk with a fine sieve, using a spoon to help the process along and squeeze those last little bits of milk out.
- Pour your milk into ice cube trays for future use!
- *Optional*: Save those ground nuts and dry them out in the oven on low heat. Once completely dry, go ahead and grind them to a fine powder. It’s a great, small-particle exfoliant in soaps or body scrubs!
Nut milks have different benefits depending on the nut you use to make milk. I’ve found that brazil nut milk is fattier than almond milk, which might mean that it’s more likely to decrease lather. Additionally, the milks contain different vitamins and minerals due to the variances in the nuts. I encourage you to do some of your own research. I generally follow this rule: the fattier the better. I stay on the lookout for affordable macadamia and brazil nuts as well as pecans, although I do, on occasion, pick up some almonds or cashews if I’m in the mood.
They generally don’t give me much of a problem in soap because I treat them the same way I treat coconut milk: frozen in cubes with an eye on my thermometer. They’re not a sugary additive; they’re just donating more fat and fatty acids to soap, helping it be more conditioning and skin-pampering. Because many people are allergic to various nuts, make sure to put a warning on your soap label.
Try “milking” some raw seeds like those of sunflower and pumpkin. They’re especially great if you want to make seasonal soaps. (Fall Pumpkin soap with pumpkin seed oil, pumpkin seed butter, pumpkin seed milk, and pumpkin puree; summer sunflower soap with sunflower-infused sunflower oil [GREAT OIL in soap, similar to olive and less expensive] and sunflower seed milk topped with small dried sunflowers)
A soap made with brazil nut milk. Very creamy, behaves well in soap. Yum yum.
Have you ever taken a bath in collodial oatmeal? Remember that cloudy, milky-looking bath water; that’s what oat milk is. You’ll need a fine sieve, rolled or steel-cut oats, a blender, a large container, ice cube trays, a spoon, and water.
What to Do:
- Use a 1 to 3 ratio of oat to water. Pour the oats into the blender and cover them with water. Let them soak for 30 minutes before blending.
- Pour your blended oats through a sieve, using a spoon to help the straining along. Don’t press down, though–you don’t want big oat particles in your milk. Just stir a little.
- It’s all sieved, right? Do it again before pouring into your icecube trays. You want the finished milk to be ultra smooth!
- Freeze your milk in trays.
Very much like collodial oatmeal baths, oat milk is soothing. I’ve noticed that my soaps made with oat milk lend a certain silkiness and make my skin feel all nice and hydrated. I really do suggest using organic rolled oats for your milk. They’re still very inexpensive; I found a 32 ounce bag of rolled oats for about $4.79 through a quick Google search. Just go to your local health food store–they should have them!
I really do love oat milk; it’s never done me wrong. However, after mixing your lye into your milk cubes, I do recommend straining the solution into your oils–just to make sure your solution is ultra smooth.
This was made with oat milk. The white spots came from oat particles that I didn’t strain. It’s a very silky soap.
That’s all for now, folks! What are some alternatives you use for animal milk?
This post was prepared by Akeylah Wellington of Halcyon Baths, also known as A. Check out her blog on soap and assorted things for all sorts of goodies!