Soap n’ Things

Market Analysis and Goat Milk Info

Great news for all y’all soap makers out there! According to Research and Markets brand spankin new publication:

The (US Cosmetic & Toiletries) market grew by around 2.8% in 2010 crossing US$ 36 Billion over the previous year…The organic and natural personal care sector has observed higher growth rate compared to the total market for personal care products in the US…In the current scenario, marketers are pressing their R&D efforts to develop greener products to satisfy consumer demand with sustainability becoming the prime focus for them. Locally made products or sourced ingredients are also gaining popularity…there is a large room for future growth in the US. As per this study, the total market for cosmetics and toiletries is projected to reach around US$ 42 Billion by the end of 2015. Maximum of the growth will be accounted by the natural beauty products and anti aging products as consumers are becoming more aware of natural ingredients and their benefits.

According to this research, I’d say we are positioned perfectly for success in our industry (assuming we manage to stave off the looming financial crisis).

The catch is every soap maker has to set herself apart from the rest of the crowd. Consider the preferences and habits of your target demographic, your passion as a crafter and business person as well as the resources most available to you. In those thoughts and questions you will find the foundation for your unique line of products.

For example, I’m the goat milk gal. Other soapers at the markets I attend specialize in herbals and essential oil soaps. But I’m the only one with a complete line of goat milk products. For the remainder of this post I’m going to give you a few tips I’ve learned about using goat milk in hot process soap making.

Tip #1: Use Partially Frozen Milk

The most important thing about using goat milk to make hp soap is to freeze the milk before hand. If you fail to freeze your milk, the lye will most likely scorch it, turning your mixture bright orange and causing it to have a strong ammonia like odor. I measure the liquid milk by weight into sandwich-style plastic containers with lids. I put enough milk to make one batch of soap in each container and pop them in the freezer. When I’m ready to make the soap, I partially defrost the milk in the microwave until it has a slushy consistency and transfer the slushy milk to a large glass bowl. Then I slowly incorporate the correct amount of lye, stirring gently with a plastic spoon. I try to let my lye mixture to reach between 90* and 100* before adding it to my melted oils.

Tip #2: Rich Goat Milk May Throw off Your Lye Calculations

I had trouble using the lye calculators. I tried them all, even the ones that have a goat milk ratio. My soap always came out way too lye heavy. I have no idea why this happened but I eventually got the correct lye to milk ratio through trail and error. My guess is that the high butter fat in Nubian goat milk causes the calculations to be off? At any rate, I use WAY more liquid than suggested by the calculators and a tad less lye. And I don’t superfat.

Tip #3: Educate Yourself and Your Customers on the Benefits of Goat Milk

There’s so much information out there about how great goat milk is for you and your skin! Make sure to research it so you can let your customers know why you use goat milk in your product line and how it will benefit them.

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesdays.

Tips for Hot Process Soap Making

Admittedly I’m a farmer / business woman before a soap maker and as such I’ve learned in the mysterious realm of oils and lye, where there’s a will there’s a way. Now anytime you hear a gal use that phrase you can be sure she’s survived many a battle. Such is the case with me and soap making. You see, I’m far from patient and the thought of waiting several weeks to unmold my first batch of soap was just more than I could bear. Thus, I turned my attention to what is known as “hot process” or hp soap making. This technique isn’t for everyone. It certainly has its drawbacks which I will try to cover in this post along with tips I’ve learned to overcome some of the more annoying problems experienced by many who choose to use this particular method.

As mentioned earlier, patience isn’t a virtue I’ve mastered yet so I haven’t even attempted to make cold process soap. If you’re looking for info on that you won’t find it here. But if you’re like me and you want to whip up a batch of handmade soap, pop it out of the mold and bathe with it all in the same day, you’ve come to the right place.

For a great tutorial on hp soap making, I recommend this link http://www.candletech.com/soap-making/hot-process-soap-instructions/.

Once you’ve got the basics down you may realize some persistent problems. The challenges of hp soap making are numerous:

  • Most essential oils (EO’s) will flash off due to the high temperatures.
  • Some fragrance oils (FO’s)  and other additives will cause your batch to accelerate, making it dry and thick.
  • The soap can be difficult to get into the molds and even harder to get out of the molds.
  • The constant heat and stirring required will quickly add wear and tear to your equipment.

But consider these advantages:

  • The soap is ready to use right away.
  • No insulation is required.
  • You don’t have to wait 3 weeks to find out if your recipe is good.
  • You can replace your stock much faster. As a business woman, I find this to be a crucial benefit. The last thing you want is to turn down a large sale because you don’t have enough product to meet the order.

For me the decision was a no brainier. HP is WAY faster so that’s how I roll. Here are some tips I’ve learned through trail and error that make my hp soap turn out great every time.

  • I never use essential oils. It’s true. Sadly I’ve just given up on this one ‘cause I’m in this business for the $$. EO’s are expensive and tricky and I’ve found that market is pretty well cornered by the cold process soap makers. So it’s FO’s for me and I’m fine with that.
  • I stick to FO’s that cause little or no acceleration. This takes research but its well worth it. Find a supplier who provides detailed descriptions of each FO they carry, including how they behave during soap making, and  you will have a much easier time choosing your fragrances. But of course there’s no substitute for learning the hard way.
  • I pour the soap into the molds well before the “thick mash potato stage” when it is more like pancake batter. This eliminates most of the chunky weird bumps and stuff on the back of the bars. Of course if you use a loaf style mold and slice your bars, that’s not an issue. I prefer individual molds because they are unique and add an aesthetic quality to my bars that sets them apart from other soaps on the market. Individual molds are however a pain because the soap doesn’t want to pop out of them. But if you freeze them (with your soap in them) for an hour or so, the soap will come right out.
  • As for the equipment, I have a stash of crock pots I’ve collected from various thrift stores. When one wears out I just dig around for another. I also keep 2 stick blenders on hand for the constant stirring. That way, when the motor on one gets hot, you can give it a rest and pick up the other one. Using the two intermittently is the key to keep them from burning out.

Check back next Wednesday for more Soap ‘n Things!

The 3 L’s of Handmade Soap

Soap is near and dear to my heart and my wallet (which is one of the reasons it’s near and dear to my heart). I love soap for its many exclusive traits including the fact that it cleanses, but more so because I can actually make it on my farm and sell it to people legally. Soap is the only “unregulated” product I’ve found that I can sell to the public and fortunately it happens to be a very popular item. However, I’ve also discovered not all handmade soap is created equally.

There are some things that will set a good handmade soap apart from the rest. These details are quite important because as you may have noticed; there are a lot of soap products on the market these days. But first let’s talk about why handmade soap is so different and better than commercially manufactured soap like products.

We can sum this up with one word, glycerin. Glycerin naturally occurs during the soap making process and is full of skin softening properties. The commercial soap industry uses salt to extract glycerin from the soap which results in a harder, more drying bar. That’s why your skin tends to feel tight and dry when you use “store bought” brands. The extracted glycerin is then sold for other more lucrative purposes and you’re left with a less than satisfactory bar. But not to worry! Plenty of entrepreneurs like me are hard at work to bring you the real deal, glycerin rich, luxurious body care.

So what makes the best handmade soaps? This is a matter of personal preference but there are some things every soap maker should consider. For the purpose of this post, I’ve chosen to concentrate on three things my customers seem to appreciate the most about my soap. I call them the 3 L’s:

  • Lather, folks want their soap to lather and not to have a slimy feel. This can be achieved by choosing oils with sudsing properties.
  • Long Lasting, no one wants to spend 6 bucks on a bar of soap only to have it melt away in a couple of days. Make sure your soap isn’t too heavy on oils that aren’t solid at room temperature. Also give your soap plenty of time to cure before you put it on the market. During the curing process excess moisture will evaporate causing the bars to harden and shrink. The proper curing time will result in a harder, longer lasting bar.
  • Looks, an eye catching label or mold will set your soap apart from the crowd. Choose something folks can easily recognize as your signature. This can be your logo, your color scheme, a special stamp, a unique shape…anything that will create visual interest around your brand.

Please stay tuned for future posts as I will be blogging more about handmade soap every Wednesday!

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesdays on We Are THAT Family and Simple Lives Thursday.

21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The 3 L’s of Handmade Soap « Diary of an Outlaw Farmer
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 15:37:51

  2. Deb
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 16:35:02

    Just FYI — that long-lasting part is a big feature of your soaps. I have a bar of Totty’s Bend Soap that I put out just before a party in mid-December. It’s still there, still going strong! I keep it on one of those spiky things so that air can circulate. That way, the bar dries between uses and obviously lasts forever.

    Reply

  3. outlawfarmer
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 17:00:59

    Those spiky things are a must have if you plan to invest in real soap. They really extend the life of your bar. Oh and thanks for mentioning the name of my soap company. Got that y’all? http://www.TottysBendSoaps.com. Go there and buy some of the best soap you’ll ever find anywhere on earth! And get one of those spiky things to put it on.

    Reply

  4. Laurie
    Jun 16, 2011 @ 12:36:09

    Thought you should know that your link on WFMW is bad —
    http://www.the 3 l’s of handmade soap.com/ is how it comes up.

    Reply

  5. Tips for Hot Process Soap Making « Diary of an Outlaw Farmer
    Jun 22, 2011 @ 13:58:07

  6. Claudia
    Jun 24, 2011 @ 04:25:09

    I am so glad and excited to have found your blog! I have a small herd of dairy goats (only 2 does right now) and one of the things we want to do is make goat milk soap. Do you have a recipe or book you can share? We have tried cold process soap, but have never made any milk soap yet. The hot process sounds fantastic, and we’ll be doing that next! As many sites and books as you can find on making milk soaps, that’s how many opinions you’ll find about when/how to add the milk! It seems a little intimidating at times. I’ve enjoyed poking around your blog and reading up on your goats!

    Reply

    • outlawfarmer
      Jun 24, 2011 @ 11:40:35

      Hi Claudia,
      Thanks for your comment. I’ll probably be posting some recipes on my soap page from time to time. The truth is, I only use one recipe anymore and I came up with it after months of trail and error. The oils I use are palm, coconut, olive, soybean and castor. I also use partially frozen milk so it doesn’t get scorched in the cooking phase. Please check back on Wednesdays for more tips!!!

      Reply

  7. Soap Market & Goat Milk Info « Diary of an Outlaw Farmer
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 13:48:25

  8. Meg
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 00:01:14

    thank you!

    Reply

  9. Heather
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 03:19:15

    Hi! I just found your blog as I was searching info on hp goat’s milk soap. I just made my soap after reading this and did put my milk into the freezer before using it. It came out and had some slushiness that I broke up with a spoon then added the lye to it slowly. I read in my recipe that I should add the lye-milk mixture to my oils before it turned orange. The mixture started turning orange almost immediately, I continued stirring for maybe 30 seconds more and then added to my oils in my crock pot. It looked grainy like the lye hadn’t completely dissolved, which didn’t surprise me since it hadn’t been in for very long. I stirred as much as I could and then started with my immersion blender. It started to look more correct so I continued with the stick blender. Suddenly it started to grow and it grew right out of my crock pot! I had my crock pot on high heat so I’m not sure if that was the problem but I’ve never had this happen with lye and water. Any ideas why this happened? Could it be because the recipe was for cp, do you think? I haven’t ever seen anything that said you can’t use either process for any recipe, but maybe you can’t? Thank you in advance for your advice.

    Reply

    • outlawfarmer
      Jan 25, 2012 @ 16:19:11

      Hi Heather,
      Sounds like the lye may have scorched your milk which may have caused you to jump the gun on adding it to your oils before it had dissolved completely. The fat and sugars in goat milk causes the heat to accelerate very fast. Here’s what I do:

      In my recipe I use 9 oz of lye per 24 oz of goat milk (both measured by weight). I came round to this ratio through a lot of trial and error. It is much more liquid than the lye calculators say I should be using.

      I use the milk when it is still quite frozen to prevent any scorching and I pour the lye in very slowly. The lye will eventually melt all the chunks of frozen milk before it is totally dissolved. It is important that your lye is completely dissolved in the milk before you add it to your oils.

      I heat my oils to 100* while the lye and milk are doing their thing. If the oil gets too hot, I wait for it to cool to 100* before adding the lye/milk.

      That’s just what I do. Hope this helps! In the end if you get things just right for your particular recipe, the soap will be wonderful. Goat soap is the bomb!

      Reply

      • Heather
        Jan 26, 2012 @ 02:41:34

        Thank you for your reply! If I attempt the goat milk soap again I will certainly take your advice!

  10. tumblingcreekranch
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 02:39:13

    Thanks for blogging! As a goat milk soap business owner myself, I’m hesitant to share all my secrets, but from one soaper to another, sometimes we need a little extra info.
    I noticed your comment about pouring the soap into the molds before it’s at the “mashed potato stage”. I’ve been making goat milk soap for about a year now, and was wondering, isn’t it still caustic at that stage? I’d love to pour it earlier to avoid the funny back (as you mentioned), but I cook mine for 4 hours in the crock pot because I found that the more water you evaporate the faster it pops out of the mold and is ready to use. I would think if you poured it so early, not only would it need to cure a lot longer, it would take days to get it out of the mold without damaging it?
    What oils do you particularly use? When you mentioned not to go heavy on nonsolidifying oils to preserve the bars, were you referring to olive oil? I use olive oil, coconut oil, and plam kernel oil (which has so many benefits (ie hardening the soap), but is getting a ton of bad hype from the media lately :/ ).
    Thanks!

    Reply

  11. outlawfarmer
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 18:03:53

    Hi, Thanks for your comment. Here’s my take on your great questions:

    1. I don’t have a problem with my soap being caustic when it is poured (before the mash potato stage). If you want to know if your soap is caustic you can get those little ph strips and test it. However, I do let the bars cure a while (maybe 7 days) so they get good and dry. That helps them last longer.

    2. Don’t have a problem getting it out of the molds either, as long as it is frozen.

    3. You can find palm and coconut oils that are “sustainably harvested”. I think it may be worth the extra $$ because the type customers who spend money on goat milk soap tend to care a great deal about the environment.

    Happy soaping!

    Reply

  12. tumblingcreekranch
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 16:31:32

    Thanks for the answers. Could you explain your comments about being “lye heavy”? Maybe that is why I’m confused as to how you are able to pour so early. I have to cook mine at LEAST 2 hours to neutralize, (I use phenolpthalein drops to test mine) and by then it’s already thick.

    I don’t mind, I’d just love to have smooth backs on my bars, you know?

    Reply

    • outlawfarmer
      Apr 03, 2012 @ 17:28:33

      Sorry tumblingcreek but I don’t have an answer for ya.

      Reply

  13. Aria
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 18:06:32

    I am so happy to have found your blog! I have Nigerian Dwarf goats that also have a higher butterfat content in their milk and I haven’t been able to find any real info on how to compensate for that in soap making – until now, thank you! I have been researching like crazy on how to make hp goat milk soap, but haven’t yet tried it as I want to conserve what little milk my girls give me until I figure out a good recipe. I’m fairly dissapointed that soap calculators don’t reformulate for milk and would think that “hardness, creamy, etc” would be off? I was wondering if you use a general ratio of hard oils to soft oils that works best with the milk? Also, most recipes call for a lot of olive oil, but with the higher amount of milk in the recipes would that make it mushy or take longer to set? It seems like there’s a lot of variation in how much olive oil to put in and I’m scared I’m going to end up with a great big pile o’ mush. Thank you so much for your help and your wonderful blog!

    Reply

  14. Heidelberg Kindergeburtstag
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 09:56:15

    Yes! Finally something about kletterhalle.

    Reply

  15. Sarah TH
    Jul 25, 2013 @ 19:30:06

    Finally! I have an answer as to why my coconut milk soap (2 days ago) came out hard/brittle and lye heavy! I used the exact amount of liquid that the calculator said. But as you have so informly pointed out, you really have to use more milk or water to account for the fats! I finished rebatching it this morning with more milk, water and a little extra sunflower oil. I’m hoping that it comes out okay. It was only a one lb batch sample for a shampoo bar. I didn’t use any olive oil or palm but did use coconut, lard, sunflower, castor, apricot, almond, and jojoba oil. I was hoping to have something extra good for my fine hair. Thank you so very much for the answer to my boggled mind:)

    Reply

  16. Roxanne
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 02:51:55

    Could you explain more about the pancake stage, I’m interested in this, I would live a little less lumpy soap for hp

    Reply

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