DIY Homemade Soap Recipe: The Modern Homesteader Bar with goat milk and tallow.

Soap making: A brief explanation:
Soap is simply the combination of lye and oils.  When you combine them, they produce a chemical reaction called saponification and the end result is soap.  You cannot make soap without lye.  ALL soaps are made with lye, or they aren’t soap, they are a detergent.  You can buy melt and pour soap kits, but all that means is that the saponification part has been done for  you already, and you are simply remelting the soap and adding other ingredients.  From Zest, and Ivory, to Dr Bronners and any local soap, all have been started with lye.  Soap must be left to rest, or saponify, for 3-4 weeks before you can use it.  If you use it too soon the lye might not have completely chemically changed, and you could potentially burn yourself still.

This particular soap I have called the Modern Homesteader soap.  I love the challenge of using ingredients I can produce myself, with ingredients homesteaders in my area would have had access to 100 or more years ago. The tallow (beef fat) which I rendered myself from grass-fed beef, and the goat milk from my own goat, satisfy this “homesteader” urge I have.  The coconut oil and olive oil in the recipe are available now to “modern homesteaders” because we have the privilege of transporting these products to where we live so we can benefit from them too.  Old time homesteaders in my area wouldn’t have had access to these ingredients, so this is the modern part.  Olive and coconut oil are both fantastic ingredients in a soap, making a nice, hard soap with a great lather.

Before you start making soap, make sure you read through the recipe and the notes.  Have all your material on hand and your safety precautions in place.  If you are totally new to soap making, you might want to use water instead of goat milk since goat milk can be a bit tricky to use at first.  But, if you are like me, my second time making soap I was using goat milk.


Stick blender
Soap mold (even a shoe box)
Plastic garbage bag
Old towels or blankets
Rubber gloves
Safety goggles
White distilled vinegar, in case of lye burns
Long sleeved shirt
2 thermometers
1 large bowl, 1 large pot
Stainless steel whisk
Several smaller bowls for measuring ingredients into


44 oz. tallow
20 oz. olive oil
20 oz. coconut oil
11.7 oz. lye
27 oz. goat milk, partially frozen in ice cube-sized chunks (or water, if preferred)
1 oz. essential oil


  1. Have all tools and materials ready and available ahead of time.
  2. Prepare your soap mold.  You can use an old shoe box or a fancy soap mold, whichever you like.  If using a simple wooden mold or box, line it with a plastic bag, trying to keep as smooth as possible.  You will be pouring your liquid into this so you don’t want it to leak.  Keep your stack of old towels or blankets for wrapping it in, nearby.
  3. Wear your gloves, safety glasses and long sleeved shirt!
  4. Measure, melt and combine tallow, olive and coconut oil.  Set aside.
  5. Combine lye with goat milk.  When adding lye to goat milk, do so VERY slowly, stirring VERY thoroughly to prevent scorching the milk.  If it starts to turn even the slightest bit orange,  back off with the lye, and put the bowl in a separate bowl of ice cubes to slow down the heating.  The milk will melt.  The key to adding milk to soap is to do it very slowly.
  6. Measure the temperatures of both bowls.  When both are between 110F and 115F, combine the lye mixture with the oil mixture.
  7. Using a stick blender, blend, in a figure 8 pattern, making sure you are blending all of the combination.  Continue to do this until the soap reaches trace. (Trace is when you lift up the blender and a drip sits on top of the mixture slightly, like pudding).
  8. Add and mix in essential oil.
  9. Immediately pour into prepared soap mold.
  10. Cover mold completely with a board, or you can lie plastic wrap or a garbage bag carefully across the top of the soap.
  11. Wrap well with old blankets or towels to prevent from cooling too fast.
  12. Store in a warm location (room temperature, no drafts) for 24 hours.
  13. After 24 hours are up, using gloves, remove from soap mold and cut into pieces.
  14. Place pieces on an old towel, with air being able to circulate between each piece.
  15. Let sit for 4 weeks, turning soap once a week.
  16. If a haze appears on your soap you can simply scrape it off after 4 weeks, or just leave it.



  1. Lye is caustic.  It is a powder, and is activated when any moisture touches it.  It gets very hot, very quickly.  Use rubber gloves, long sleeved shirt and safety glasses to prevent burns.  If you do get burnt, pour plain white distilled vinegar directly onto the burn.
  2. You want to combine your lye mixture with your oil mixture when they are both about the same temperature.  Sometimes you will have to reheat either the lye or the oils to ensure they are at the same temperature.  That’s ok!  To reheat the lye mixture, place the bowl in a bowl of hot water.  To reheat the oil mixture, put it back on the stove and reheat.
  3. When dealing with goats milk (or any milk) you don’t want to scorch your milk.  This can happen very quickly since the lye will heat up very fast.  Freeze the milk in ice cube trays, for easy measurement and a more even melting.  Allow the milk to partially thaw, being slushy when you need it.  If, when  you are mixing your milk and lye, it starts to turn orange, stop, place the bowl of milk in a bowl of ice cubes, and try again.  Add the lye VERY slowly to prevent scorching.  If your mixture is a bit orange, that’s ok… it will turn brown when it saponifies.
  4. You can replace the milk content with plain, distilled water if you prefer.
  5. If you don’t want to use tallow, don’t use this recipe!  It isn’t recommended to change amounts and types of oils in a recipe since each oil has a different way of reacting to the lye.  I will be posting other recipes that don’t use tallow shortly.
  6. This recipe is a large one, and will produce about 7 lb. of soap.
  7. What types of oils to select?  Any grade of olive oil will work.  The more virgin it is, the lighter the soap will be in color.  Pomace grade (the cheapest kind) seems to come to trace a little bit faster but may contribute to a darker, slightly greener color.  For the coconut oil, I use an RBD grade (refined) coconut oil.
  8. Where to buy your ingredients?  Mountain Rose Herbs has a lot of high quality, organic soap making ingredients.  I have linked to them in the ingredient list above.  Lye cannot be mailed since it is caustic so you will need to find a local supplier.  I have a soap making supplier who is local and I pick up the lye at her store.  The oils can often be bought at grocery stores.
  9. Soap-making isn’t scary. It isn’t hard. And it is lots of fun to do with a friend. These bars turned out to be about $1.30 each which is MUCH cheaper than buying quality, homemade soap from a store.

This post has been shared on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #17, 75th Wildcrafting Wednesday, From the Farm #34Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #75 and Homestead Abundance #9

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  1. I can’t wait to make this! Awesome recipe.
    Part of the ingredients is ’44 oz. tallow’, though you did not mention adding it in your Directions. If we do have to use tallow, can we replace it with an equal amount of Olive and Coconut Oil (i.e. 22oz each)?
    I’ve always wanted to make my own soap, this recipe sounds very promising! I will wait for your clarificaion on the tallow before I attempt to make it :).

    • Hi Zed, This recipe uses tallow, olive oil and coconut oil. If you start changing the oils, you’ll have to run it through a soap calculator (or lye calculator, as often called) to make sure you adjust your percentages since different oils react differently with the lye. When I said melt and combine oils, I meant the tallow, coconut oil and the olive oil all together. I will make it clearer in the recipe. Thanks! Hope that answers your question. I also have a recipe coming for goat milk soap using just olive and coconut oil, and also a recipe using just coconut and olive, without goat milk.

  2. I’m so excited to try this! I have been looking into this for quite some time now! Have you actually ever had to use vinegar for burns from the lye? I read using vinegar for lye burns makes it worse.

  3. What kind of coconut oil do you use? My friend buys a hydrogenated coconut oil for her soap because it is way cheaper than the extra virgin kind, or even expeller-pressed. How would the soap turn out without using an essential oil? Which oil do you recommend (I haven’t ventured into essential oils but really need to look into it). Thanks!

    • No I don’t used hydrogenated coconut oil. I use RBD Coconut oil. Here is a link to understanding it a bit more. Since you aren’t eating it, perhaps the hydrogenated part isn’t an issue. The soap would turn out just fine using no essential oil. It would smell like basic soap, which is very mild. I use primarily peppermint essential oil simply because it is one of the most common and one of the cheapest. It also provides a bit of a cooling effect on the body when washing with it, because of the menthol in it. I love the smell too :) I’d choose based on what you enjoy the most, and cost!

  4. Thanks for sharing this on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

  5. I heard about your blog from a friend of yours that ordered some seed bombs from me. I am so glad she told me about it as it is right up my alley. I cannot wait to try out this recipe. Could I use dried lavender in it for a calming effect? Or does it have to be in oil form?

  6. I also like to use vegan products. Recently i bought a vegan essential soap from soap just @ 1.80$ us. I am satisfied.

  7. michelle says:

    How many pounds of soap does this recipe make and can it be doubled or tripled?

  8. Anne Stallworth says:

    Made this with water the other day and it turned out great! I have a small bar in the kitchen that I am using while the rest is curing and I am enjoying it! Very mild only 2 days after cutting!! Now, I am going to attempt using goat’s milk. I have it in the freezer right now and will try tomorrow! Thanks for sharing your recipe!! :)

    • Good for you! Thanks for sharing.

      • Anne Stallworth says:

        I did it! This is the first time I have made soap with goat’s milk While most of the batch is curing I have been using a sliver and I amazed at the huge difference between using goats milk and water….and this recipe using water is great. I guess It must be because of the extra fat in the milk that makes it extra smooth and creamy?? It is awesome! I am hooked on GM! Thank you once again for sharing such a GREAT recipe! God bless!!!

  9. Jamie Fahey says:

    So excited to try and wondering if instead of a stick blender I could use a hand mixer instead, or have you used a regular blender?
    don’t have a stick blender and wanting to make soap

  10. Sanctification is complete within 72 hours. The rest of the cure time is for the liquid to evaporate to make a harder bar.

  11. Kevin Legendre says:

    Cathy L Johnson is almost correct, it "could" take up to 72 hours before the lye is neutralized, although most often it is neutralized as soon as the batch solidifies. The 4-6 week wait time is to allow excess moisture to dissipate, thus allowing it to harden. For instance, a pure olive oil bar of soap (considered a 'true castile') is an extremely soft bar of soap for the first 6-8 weeks of curing…However at about the 10th or 12th week, those bars will be the hardest bars you have ever made. And the most gentle on skin. Thanks for sharing your soap recipe! I think everyone should try to make soap at least once. It's highly addictive…Ask me how I know…;)

  12. Great post. This week over on Wildcrafting Wednesdays we’re hosting a special Hygiene Edition and this post would be perfect in the carnival. I’d love it if you would pop over and share this post with our readers.

  13. Mayumi Myrdahl says:

    I absolutely LOVE this recipe! My favorite! Thank you so much!! I want to try adding beeswax and honey for scent instead of essential oil. Any idea how much I can add to it?

  14. Ok, this may be a dumb question, but can you use lard instead of tallow??

  15. Susan T. Woo says:

    Can I use solid coconut oil…looks like shortening. Absolutely love your site!!!

  16. Susan Woo says:

    Can you use solid coconut oil. It looks like shortening. Says it is cold pressed.

  17. I just finished a batch!!! can not wait. It is Blood Moon Goat's Milk Pumpkin Cheesecake soap. I love the fall<3

  18. Hi, I am reading all this and I love it.. However Lye and Tallow is not something I can get where I live, in the recipe it seems like something i should be buying. It seems ( from a google search) I can make both of these products at home, however is this advisable and / or is there another method. – I have looked up other soap making recipes that all suggest using glycerol soap, surely this is already soap and so defeats the object??

    Thanks in advance

  19. Hi,
    I just made a batch of raw goats milk soap from a different recipe and had the middle of my loafs turn brown. I thought this occurred when the mixture got too hot in the moods but I had them in the fridge. Maybe should have been the freezer but your recipe says you actually covered your molds and left them at room temperature. Any thoughts? Thanks!
    This is the recipe I tried.

  20. Can this recipe be halved or would it alter the result?

  21. Hi! I’m going to try this recipe for my 1st ever batch of soap tomorrow. But I’d like to have sea salt in it to act as an exfoliater. Any idea how much I should toss in? I’ve saw some recipes that call for putting as much salt in as your total other weight. But being new to this, that sounds crazy to me.

    Also, will THIS ingredient alter your Lye measurements or it just oil type/volume sensitive?



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