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How to Make Coconut Milk Soap

coconut mild

Lots of soap makers use milk in their soaps. Like Cleopatra's famed milk-baths, milk in soap provides extra moisturizing qualities and a creaminess that can't be matched with just oils. Most soapers use goat's milk, which makes a lovely soap. But this batch uses canned coconut milk. It gives the expected extra moisturizing qualities but also something extra -- super bubbly lather. It's extra creamy and extra bubbly.

To make a 2-pound batch, you need:

5.2 ounces palm oil
6.3 ounces olive oil
6.3 ounces coconut oil
1 ounce castor oil
2.1 ounces canola oil
3 ounces lye
7.2 ounces coconut milk
.9 ounces fragrance oil
The proportions of oil you should have are:

25 percent palm oil
30 percent olive oil
30 percent coconut oil
5 percent castor oil
10 percent canola oil

Preparing the Coconut Milk
Freezing the Milk
Freeze the milk in an ice-cube tray. David Fisher
Freeze the milk in an ice cube tray. This makes the cubes easy to measure out later.

Make the Lye-Milk Solution
Milk Lye
Mix the lye with the coconut milk. David Fisher
After measuring out the lye, add it slowly to a bit of chilled (but not frozen) milk, then add the rest of the measured milk to the pitcher in frozen cubes. As it starts to heat up, the cubes will melt. Keep stirring gently.

The lye will turn the milk a light amber-orange color. It also will (briefly) give off a nasty ammonia-ish smell. This is normal and will go away quickly.

You'll notice that the solution starts to thicken. This is the fat in the milk actually making "soap" with the...

Measure Out the Oils
Measure Your Oils
Measure the oils. David Fisher
Since this is just a small batch of soap, you can use a large pyrex pitcher to measure the oils. Melt the oils in the microwave for a minute or two. Mix in the liquid oils and you're ready to go. As with the lye, keep the oils around 90 F.

Add the Lye Solution to the Oils
Add the Lye Solution
Add the lye solution to the oil mixture. David Fisher
Slowly add the lye solution to the oils, making sure to scrape all of it out of the pitcher.

Mix the Soap
Mix the Soap
Mix the soap. David Fisher
Mix the oils and lye as you would with any other batch. However, because you're working with lower temperatures and a thickened lye solution, mix the soap very well -- get it to a really thick trace before you pour it. If you don't, it's possible to get what's called "false trace" - and your soap will separate or develop pockets of lye in it.

Pour It Into the Mold
Pour into the Mold
Pour the soap mixture into the mold. David Fisher
Pour the soap into the mold; scrape the sides of the pitcher with a rubber spatula if necessary. Knock the mold on the counter to help any trapped air bubbles to rise to the top. Cover the soap with a light cloth and set it aside to do its magic.

Unmold and Enjoy
Coconut Milk Soap
The finished product. David Fisher
After the soap has cooled, you can unmold and slice it. While the soap will be safe to use in just a few days, this milk soap benefits from a cure time of four to six weeks.

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