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Author Topic: Goat's milk-lye solution thick like pudding?  (Read 2246 times)
jrose
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« on: March 08, 2012, 04:13:22 PM »

Hi, all! I made my first batch of goat's milk soap today. All seems well, but something interesting and unexpected happened to my lye solution and I'm curious what it was all about.

I substituted goat's milk 100% for the water. I bought the goat's milk fresh at the grocery store - it wasn't condensed or powdered. I froze the GM first and slowly added my lye flakes, stirring as I went. I initially kept my lye pitcher in an ice bath in the sink because I didn't want the lye solution to get very hot. After a while, though, I took the pitcher out of the ice bath because it was taking a long time for the lye to thaw the GM and the temp was only 51 degrees F. The frozen milk thawed after about 10 minutes of stirring out of the ice bath and stayed a nice, creamy yellow. The lye seemed to be all dissolved, too. The lye solution never got above 100 degrees F, and it was a good fluid, liquid-y consistency.

I set my lye pitcher down for a few minutes while I dealt with my oils. I had them combined and ready, but they were still a bit warm. So, I stirred my oils in the ice bath for a few minutes until they cooled some. When I went back to get my GM-lye solution, it had thickened up to an almost pudding-like consistency. It didn't scorch or change color - it was still pale yellow and the temp was around 95 degrees. I wish I had taken a photo, but I was a bit freaked and wanted to get it into the oils. Once I poured/spooned the lye solution into the oils and began stick blending, everything seemed fine, like a normal batch of soap. My lye solution was at about 94 degrees and my oils right around 100 when I combined them.

The soap seems okay, it's gelling now as I type. What are your thoughts on the thick lye solution? I found an old thread from another forum describing something similar, and it seems that the consensus was that low temps possibly contributed to it, and that perhaps the fats in the milk were starting to saponify.

Anyone else experienced this? How can I avoid the pudding lye solution next time? Would getting the GM-lye solution warmer help, or would I just risk burning the milk? I think the soap will be fine (fingers crossed), but I'd like to avoid this again in the future, as it makes pouring and cleanup more difficult.

Thanks for any insights!  Smiley
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panzerakc
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2012, 05:47:04 PM »

My own theory is that the phenomenon results because the lye is stupid - put it with fats, and it's busily making soap.   Cheesy

I tend to freeze my GM in an oversized, plastic measuring cup.  I take the cup out of the freezer about half an hour before I'm going to add the lye.  That way, I've got a little bit of liquid to start dissolving the lye, and as I add more, more liquid thaws out.

I also keep my liquid container in an ice-water bath.  Sometimes it stays cold, sometimes it heats up.  I'm not sure the cold is the culprit in the pudding-solution problem. I think it's just the fact that there is a lot of lye with not much fat, so the lye kind of runs amok when all it has to work with is the fat in the goats' or coconut milk.  (I don't ever see this if I'm using 100% beer, which was frozen before I combined it with the lye.)  I usually mix my lye in whatever frozen non-water product I'm using after I have my base oils heated, while they are cooling.  If my solution starts to thicken, I'll pull it out of the ice-water bath.  I leave it right at the edge of the sink in case it starts to get too hot, so I can put it back in the ice bath.  If it looks like its getting to thick, I just give it a stir or two, fairly quickly.  That seems to make it thin out again.

One odd thing I've noticed is that sometimes if the GM or coconut milk is thickening, when I add it to the base oils, the two separate into layers, with the milk/lye solution sinking to the bottom.  Once I get after it with the stick blender, though, the whole thing mixes together smoothly and uniformly.

I don't have any objection to the pudding solution, so it's not a problem for me to clean-up.  I don't know if letting your frozen GM thaw out more would help??

Another warning, since you said this was your first GM:  for a few days after you unmold and cut, your soap will smell PUNGENTLY of ammonia.  Don't panic, this is normal.   Cheesy  The smell dissipates after a few days.  (Seem I read somewhere it's the initial reaction of the proteins in the milk with the lye.)

Hope this is helpful.   Smiley

Anita
« Last Edit: March 08, 2012, 05:51:58 PM by panzerakc » Logged
Mesha
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2012, 10:36:41 PM »

Had a similar problem with my last batch but mine was not pudding- it became rock hard clumps! Pudding is fine and can be easily dealt with by stick blending. When I make pumpkin soap the lye mix is always a pudding. I think my problem was that I forgot about the ice bath. When I dumped the hard clumps into my oils I was able to break them up with the stick blender but the soap batter was still grainy. It didn't help matters that the FO speed up trace too. I ended up switching to HP which seems to have fixed the problem. I'll let you know when I unmold it.
 I think the easiest way to deal with it is to make a more concentrated lye mix with water- like 25% or 50% then add the milk in at trace and stick blend until fully incorporated. Sometimes I put it in my oils before I add the lye water though. If you want 100% goat's milk then use the canned and use half water half canned goat's milk since it is concentrated. Made the mistake of using the canned undiluted once and YEW! It sure stunk!
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jrose
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« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2012, 05:53:45 AM »

Thanks for the replies, Anita and Mesha! I'm sorry I didn't make it back to the forum sooner - we lost power last night.

Sounds like having the GM-lye solution thicken up is normal. I was just not expecting it at all. None of the books or articles I had read mentioned it, and of the videos I watched on making GM soap, none of them had the pudding lye. I guess if I want to use milk 100% in place of the water, the thickening up may just be part of the deal sometimes. I was mostly wondering out of curiosity since I had not seen this phenomenon mentioned before.

Anita, I figured something like that must be going on, that the lye was probably working on the fats in the milk. I froze my GM in a plastic baggie and set it out on the counter once I started measuring my oils so that it would have some time to thaw a bit. I broke it into bits when I added it to my lye pitcher. And you're right - I have used slushy beer before and not had a problem with thickening, and I always keep my distilled water chilled. Once I added the GM-lye pudding to the oils and started stick blending, it acted like a normal batch of soap, nice and smooth. Pouring the thickened lye is a bit tough, as I had to scrape and spoon the last of it out and couldn't quite get all of it. It wasn't as easy to clean and it got my rinsing water all murky. Not a big deal, but if there is a way to avoid it, that would be nice. And thanks for the heads-up about the ammonia smell - I knew to be on the lookout for that. The soap had a bit of a funky smell, but not too bad.

Mesha, I have heard that you can use the minimum amount of water needed to dissolve the lye and add the rest as milk at emulsion. I may try that next time. I wanted to do GM 100% in place of the water this time. Other than the thickening, it went well and the soap is going to be fine, I think. I hope that your soap with the clumpy lye turns out okay!

I'll unmold and test for zap in a day or two, but I am expecting the soap to be fine. I'll keep you posted!  Grin

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soap1967
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2012, 11:34:44 AM »

Jrose I also am half water half goats milk.  I add water into the lye then goats milk at trace
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jrose
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2012, 12:18:33 PM »

Thanks, soap1967 - I may have to give that method a try, too.  Smiley
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Mesha
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« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2012, 04:16:27 AM »

When I am making a lye mixture that I expect to be thick like when I made pumpkin soap I do it in one of those mixing bowls with a handle similar to the pyrex one only plastic. It is much easier to scrap it all out then.
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jrose
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2012, 05:29:30 AM »

Thanks, Mesha! I use a plastic pitcher with a handle, too, for my lye. I managed to get most of it out, just couldn't quite get all of it. Not a huge deal.

I was just surprised that this happened and wondered if it was normal. I did happen to see a new YouTube video this morning of someone using coconut milk in place of their water and it was thick like mine. I guess this is fairly common, but I had just never heard anyone mention it before.

I cut the soap the other day and it seems fine. It looks normal and there's no zap. I'll take some photos sometime in the next few days and post them in the gallery soon!

Thanks for the help, everybody!  Smiley
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velvet
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« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2012, 06:21:54 AM »

I have just translated the milk section from Soap Naturally, yesterday night.

...so this is the translated text:
The water used for dissolving lye may be totally or partially substituted by milk. In general, cow milk; goat milk or vegetable milk may be used. In contact with lye, milk initially takes a more or less intense yellowish shade; when the temperature of the solution is too high, it turns more reddish-brown and emits ammonia odor. This inconvenience- caused by decomposition of sugars in milk- does not influence the final quality of soap - it may be avoided by adopting the freezing system.
When deciding to make milk soap, measure the liquid and place it in freezer for 6-8 hours in the freezer. Then let it thaw for a few minutes at room temperature, until you manage to break it in small pieces, unless it was placed in a cube tray. Add about two thirds of milk to the lye container, little by little, mixing constantly to avoid saponification of milk fats. The right temperature for lye solution should lead to a canary yellow color. Proceed as planned with making the soap and add the last third of milk at trace. End of that paragraph.

I poured a GM over the wekend. Lye solution was made with 850 ml water, let cool to about 80F in the freezer, while I was doing the rest, oils, and such. My GM was not frozen. I measured 500 ml out and slowly poured into my lye solution. It did not go over 100F at all. Did it become thicker? yes, the fats in the milk will saponify; did it smell? no, sugars need higher temp to decompose, did it turn yellowish? yes, but a light tone of yellow and somehow a little translucent.
So I poured my GM/lye/water mix into my oils and mixed, added hemp with lavender and orange at trace and poured into my big mold. And yes, I did insulate it; my soaping room is in the basement, with a 65-70F temp. I checked for cracking, overheating, etc., but everything went just right.

The only thing I messed up was using some alkanet infused olive oil which in combination with the very green hemp, came out sort of grey. I will let go for a while to see which way the alkanet will morph, but right now looks ugly. The soap itself will be great though with all those goodies in it.

One more thing: the " Soap Naturally" says water could be tap, fountain, distilled, or bottled.

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jrose
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« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2012, 01:43:35 PM »

Thanks for all of that info, velvet! Sounds like I didn't do anything too terribly wrong - I let my GM thaw for a bit while I was getting my oils and everything else ready, and then I broke the frozen GM into smaller chunks (I had frozen it flat in a plastic baggie). I added my lye bit by bit and stirred in between additions. The milk stayed a creamy yellow and didn't burn. I kept my lye solution below 100 degrees, too, and it didn't stink much of ammonia. Sounds like the thickening is just a normal reaction of the lye beginning to saponify the fats in the milk. At least next time I'll know to expect this so I won't be surprised! Thanks again!  Smiley
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