Making Soap with Goat Milk: the Equipment You Need to Get Started

Two bars of cream-colored goat milk soap on a green and white cloth.

Goat milk soap and other skin care products are incredibly good for your skin, and handmade soap isn't hard to make at home. If you'd like to get started making your own soap, you'll find the soapmaking supplies you need in this post - and how to make soap in this six-part series on soapmaking.

The supplies you need to make goat milk soap

When I brought home my first two weanling goats, Hope and Dream, I really wasn't thinking about making goat milk soap. 

I might not have known that I could even make soap from scratch. But a friend told me that when my goats kidded and I was ready to use their milk to make soap, she'd help me get started.

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I thought, why would I waste that great goat milk on soap making? 

Little did I know that I'd have more than enough milk. So much in fact that we could have bathed in it, whether or not we had any handmade goat milk soap.

But I kept her words in mind, and although we moved to Oak Hill before my goats were old enough to be bred, as soon as our first kids were born I was ready to give soapmaking a try.

If you're in the same boat - "have milk, will make soap" - let's talk about what you need in order to make soap with goat milk, or with any other liquid.

This yellow plastic batter bowl with a handle and spout holds the melted fats and oils for soapmaking.

Why you should make your own soap

If you're still wondering why I'd want to waste that goat milk by making soap with it, let me tell you.

Commercial soap bars are actually detergent, not soap (most of the major brands anyway). 

Detergent is very drying, and the harsh ingredients aren't nourishing to your skin. In fact, industrial soapmakers remove the glycerin that is a natural by-product of soap, and use it in other products.

Making your own soap gives you control over these factors. You decide what oils and fats you will use, according to the natural properties of those oils and fats. 

The natural glycerin is still in your soap, acting as a humectant to attract moisture to your skin. Glycerin creates a barrier on your skin that locks in moisture and even attracts additional moisture from the atmosphere.

You can even add herbs and essential oils to your soap that will benefit your skin. 

Using goat milk instead of water as the liquid in the soapmaking process adds even more goodness to your soap. The fatty acids help repair your skin and make it noticeably softer. Lactic acid acts as a magnet to attract and hold in moisture.

Soapmaking equipment you'll need

I started out with the bare minimum of soap making equipment because money was very tight. I couldn't afford to spend a lot of money on what might just be a one-time experience.

After reading as much information as I could find online, I decided the items I must have included the following:

  • a scale to weigh oils, liquid and lye
  • something to heat the oils in
  • something to make the soap in (must be non-metallic)
  • something to stir the soap batter with (non-metallic)
  • something to use as a mold (non-metallic)
  • safety equipment - this is very important! Don't skimp on this part!

The Chief (my husband) and I brainstormed and gathered a few items together.

After making a batch or two of soap, I made some changes. I had enough experience to know that I could do this - I could make soap and it was worth making. 

I also had enough experience to know what I needed to change!

The first thing I replaced was the simple, mechanical kitchen scale I used to weigh the liquid, fats and lye. I knew that measurements need to be precise in soapmaking, and I realized that this analog scale was not accurate enough.

Next I added an immersion blender so I wouldn't have to spend hours (literally hours!) stirring soap batter until it reached trace. 

And I graduated to better molds than the cardboard-box-inside-a-plastic-bag I used at first!

That cardboard box worked, by the way, but I really wanted bars that were relatively similar in size and shape, and that looked nice. I'll tell you what I replaced the box with in a bit.

I found a set of plastic batter bowls in a shed on our homestead, left by a previous owner. I shopped around for good prices on the rest of the things I needed, and some items (like the digital scale and immersion blender) were given to me as birthday gifts.

This digital postal scale is ideal for weighing the oils, fats, liquid and lye for a batch of soap.

Here are the items I recommend

Let's take a look at these items one at a time, so you know what to look for:


You'll need a scale to weigh oils, lye and liquid. 

The little mechanical kitchen scale I used at first wasn't accurate enough, and accuracy is extremely important. Get a digital scale that weighs in grams, which is a more precise measurement. 

This is a nice scale similar to the one I have.

The scale I use, pictured above, is no longer available, which is a shame. It's lasted more than ten years with no problems. I had to replace the 9-volt battery once, but that's it.

A pot or pan

You'll need something in which to melt and warm the oils and fats, but you can use a saucepan or stockpot from your kitchen. 

As long as you don't use it for mixing your soap batter (which you won't, because that container should be non-metallic), you can continue to use it in food preparation. 

You can also heat your oils in a plastic container (see the next item below) in the microwave if you are so inclined.

Plastic or glass bowls

These containers will hold your soap ingredients as you work. I have two: one for the liquid (milk or water) and another for my oils. 

The container that holds the liquid is where I mix the liquid and lye together. The second container holds the oils and fats which I melt in the microwave in this container.

I use a set of plastic batter bowls that were left in a shed by the previous owner of our property, but if you need to purchase yours, batter bowls with handles and pouring spouts work really well. 

Dedicate these items to soapmaking only; don't use them in preparing food. 

A plastic dish pan

I use a plastic dish pan to mix my soap batter in when I make a large batch. For smaller batches - a batch that fits one mold - the large batter bowl is big enough for mixing. 

Dedicate this item to soapmaking only.

A plastic or wooden spoon

Find a large wooden or plastic mixing spoon to use when mixing the soap batter. You might have an extra in your kitchen. 

Dedicate this item to soap making only.

Immersion blender

Stick blender or immersion blender is optional but believe me, it will make your life so much easier! 

At first I used just the long-handled spoon, but with one batch I had to stir that soap batter for over an hour! My arms were so very tired when it finally reached trace.

This item should also be dedicated to soap making only. 

Soap molds

Yes, you can used a shallow cardboard box like I did, lining it with a plastic trash bag to keep the soap batter from being absorbed by the cardboard. It worked. 

The bars were ugly though, and my orderly mind craved that the bars be more uniform.

So I eventually bought soap molds such as this one and this mold. I have two of these now.  I use one if I'm making a small batch of soap and two if I'm doubling the recipe.

But after I ditched the cardboard box and before I bought those nice plastic molds that I still use today, my husband made column (upright) molds for me out of plastic downspout pieces from the home improvement store.

(The uncut soap from an upright mold is called a "column," while the uncut soap from a rectangular mold is called a "loaf".)

I liked the size and shape of those column molds but the heat from the soap as it saponified melted and warped the plastic downspouts over time, and it became very hard to remove the log of soap. 

Remember, your molds can't be metallic, because lye will react with metal. So downspout molds can't be made from metal downspouts.

When it was finally impossible to push my soap logs out of the downspout molds, I upgraded out of sheer frustration.

Silicon loaf molds work so much better!

Safety Equipment

Safety when making soap is a big deal

Lye is a scary ingredient, but unless you're making melt-and-pour soap, lye is a necessity.

Lye is a caustic substance, and contact with skin or eyes can result in a nasty, permanent burn. 

There are horrible pictures on the internet of lye damage, and I don't want to be in one of them. Please take these precautions seriously.

I have a very healthy respect for lye, and I always wear safety equipment. Don't skimp on it, and please don't try to make soap without it. 

You'll need the following personal protective equipment:

Long sleeved clothing is a good idea, and I wear an apron over my clothes too. Hubby jokes that I look like a strange, mad scientist.

Good planning is essential to making soap safely, so gather these items together before you try making your first batch. We'll talk about ingredients and how to make soap in the next post.

The next post in this series is How to Measure Oils for Soapmaking

You can find all of these items in my Amazon storefront, where you can browse the items I use every day. All of my soapmaking posts are here.

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learn about the basic equipment you'll need when making goat milk soap.

Everything you need (and a few frugal substitutions) to make your first batch of soap.


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