Goat Milk Soap

With our recent yearly customer survey, I noticed a question that I thought would be perfect for this newsletter and the Blog.  It was “Why isn’t goat milk the first ingredient in Goat Milk Soap?” I love questions like this because the person who posed it is really interested in understanding the product! 

Let’s start with a correlation.  When we make bread, the ingredients are flour, sugar, salt, yeast, milk or water, oil or butter, etc.  The “structure” of the bread comes from the flour and the interaction between the yeast and the salt.  The milk or water has an incredibly important job of acting as a binder and supporting the yeast reaction to a finished loaf of bread.  The liquid portion cannot be the largest portion or there would be nothing to “rise”. We must have the flour/sugar/yeast combo for building a gluten structure.  

Building Blocks of Goat Milk Soap

So now, let’s relate this to soap. The big building blocks are the “fatty acids” which come from select fatty, vegetable oils and sometimes even animal fats, such as lard.  We have to convert these fats INTO soap and need a reagent (something that causes a reaction) to do so.  Lye or sodium hydroxide needs to blend with the fatty oils.  But we need a carrier.  This is where the milk (or water) comes in to bind with the sodium hydroxide crystals (lye). Once the lye is dissolved and is fully blended with the milk, the combo is added to the oils to kick start the “saponification” reaction into high gear.   The reagent portion cannot be larger than the base oils.  You won’t have soap, you will have one gloppy mess.  

Soap Labeling

The first ingredient listed in any product description should be the one that is used in the largest portion. Additional ingredients are listed in descending order by weight.  If it is at the bottom of the list, it is the smallest ingredient used in the manufacturing process.  This description does not tell you how much of each ingredient is used, it only informs you of the ingredients present and their contributory size in relation to EACH OTHER.  

Soap “Chemistry”

If you notice in our soap, organic coconut oil and organic olive oil are the two largest ingredients by weight.  They carry the primary structure.  In our recipe, goat milk is next as we do use a significant amount in a batch.  Most goat milk soap bars, regardless of who made them, typically contain 1 – 1.5 ounces of milk per bar.   Chemistry does not allow milk  (milk is 92% water by the way), to be the primary ingredient. While not the primary building block, the skin altering value of the milk lies in the amount of butterfat, lipoproteins, lactose and vitamins present.

Unfortunately, some makers are not aware of the rules for product ingredient descriptions and will list goat milk first, somehow thinking it will impress the customer.  They may use a large amount, but it will not exceed the combined oil structure and that is what should be listed first.  

Butterfat and Goat Milk Soap

I saw a website a few years ago where the maker said “butterfat” did not matter. That told me they do not understand the chemistry behind their soap or perhaps their particular breed of goat had a low butterfat history and they felt the need to justify it.  However, even lower butterfat milk can make a fantastic bar of soap. How good it is, depends on the specific recipe and how the milk is used to work with the other ingredients.   

The higher the butterfat, the higher the emollience.  Period.  The milk “fat” adds to the fatty acids in the plant oil, boosting the amount of moisturizing molecules.  “Superfatting” is the term used in the soap world when there is more fat actually present than there is lye to convert it.  

In Conclusion

So hopefully I have answered that survey question thoroughly.  As always, any concerns or comments feel free to email Regina@honeysweetieacres.com