Friday, April 30, 2010

Yogurt Soap Half and Half experiment

We've wanted to make another batch of yogurt soap for a while, and when we read MMS' blog posts about making milk soaps using the Half and Half method, we were really excited! We had made yogurt soaps before, but with a lot of hassle- mixing and freezing the dairy and water, stinking up our kitchen with a horrible ammonia scent when we tried to add lye to it, watching it get darker and darker, not knowing if we did something wrong... We liked the feel of yogurt soaps but not the hassle!

Tonight we actually got the chance to try the half and half method for the first time, and we all loved it! Below is the recipe we used- this is what I call a "desperation" batch, in other words, we make it because of wanting to use up older remnants of oils. (I've found that sometimes desperation batches make the best soaps because you are more daring with your ingredients, thinking "well, if I ruin it, who cares? I was just using up some leftover oils anyway!")

OilsLye phase
25% Palm Kernel oil (approx. 12.6 oz)
27% Olive Oil (approx. 13.6 oz)
17.16% Shea Butter (approx. 8.65 oz)
10% Apricot Kernel oil (approx. 5.04 oz)
10% Wheat Germ oil (approx. 5.04 oz)
5.84% Cocoa Butter (approx. 2.95 oz)
5% Sweet Almond oil (approx. 2.52 oz)

9.576 oz water
9.576 oz yogurt

(optional) 1.575 oz Sodium Lactate
(optional) .8 oz Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
(optional) .9 oz fragrance (We used Jasmine)

First, we checked the recipe in a lye calculator. Then we measured all the oils, the water, yogurt, and the extras, and put the oils in the microwave for two 30-second bursts to warm them. I also took a couple of tablespoons of the water and mixed it in with the yogurt to make it more liquid.

We got our gloves and goggles on, and we were ready to measure and mix the lye! It tried really hard to cake at the bottom of our pan, but we just kept stirring and it all broke up and dissolved. (We started mixing in the lye while the pan of water was sitting in an ice bath- I'm not sure if that helped it to cake up on us, but next time we'll probably save the ice bath for when the lye is mostly mixed in and needs to cool while we finish getting it all in there.) Once it was all dissolved, we took its temperature, and it was about 115 degrees.

Adding the lyeIt really caked up!

Time to add it to our warmed oils and blend with the stick blender!

Adding lye to oilsMixing oils and lye

We mixed for about two minutes, then added the yogurt and kept mixing! The mixture lightened to a pretty tan when we added the yogurt. No scary ammonia-smelling brown mixture here! :-)

Adding dairyWhat a nice color!

At this point it seemed to come to trace VERY quickly! I barely had time to notice how nice it looked, have my older brother assistant take a few pictures, and add the extras before it was setting up in my bucket! The whole family chipped in to hold the bucket and mold, and spatula the quickly-hardening soap into the mold. In the end we had to have my younger brother other assistant give the mold some good slams on the counter to get some air bubbles out (see photos)!

OH NO!A quick fix!

Fortunately, the soap all made it into the mold and was smoothed out before it set up completely. It reached the gel stage very quickly as well.

All done and beautiful!Gel phase beginning

This batch was a lot of fun to make! Next time we're definitely going to be more careful about how quickly the soap comes to trace. I mistakenly thought that it would take as long as some of the other large batches we've made, and wasn't prepared when it came quickly to trace with the stick blender and started setting up! We also broke a bit of a soap rule by putting dairy soap in a mold that wasn't shallow, but that was partly because we like this mold shape and partly because we wanted to see how dark the soap would get when we experimented with the half and half method. We also wanted to note that the Jasmine fragrance is very light and pleasant. We put the soap in the garage because some scents are overpowering, but were happy to find that it stayed true. I noticed that it also smells (to me anyway) closer to true Gardenia than a lot of Gardenia scents out there! We'll have to ask around to get opinions but we may end up just calling it Gardenia.

We also had to rework the recipe early on- we had wanted to make a batch that was 25% palm kernel oil, 25% olive oil, 25% shea butter, 10% apricot kernel oil, 10% wheat germ oil, and 5% sweet almond oil, but we didn't have enough shea butter! When we order more supplies we'll have to try this luxury batch again. :-) But we will definitely be using the half and half method- it took a lot of the scariness out of the process and simplified it quite a bit. If you are someone who dreads making milk soap because the process seems daunting, give it a shot!

Our Mom was the 'facilitator', reading out the instructions as we went along and making sure that everything was done in the proper order. It really helped, and I think that's a good tip for making soap! Have one person assigned to keep things in order and on track. We also had our youngest brother third assistant close by to help with taking a few pictures, opening windows, and putting things away as we went. Even in our tiny kitchen, our whole family enjoyed hanging out together and making this easy batch!

ETA: Here are some pictures of the cut soap!

Take a look at a comparison between yogurt soap not made with the half and half method, and the much lighter batch, made using the half and half method. The lighter tan is very nice!

easy Milk soap directions on the MMS Blog
Magestic Mountain Sage


  1. Congratulations on winning a MMS Perfumer’s Kit! Soapmaking is a great family activity!

  2. Hey, congratulations on your win too! Can't wait to see what we all "cook" up!

    Never thought about yogurt soap. We make our own yogurt so that would be a neat. I made the goats milk soap 50/50 and really liked it but will be trying 100% soon.

  3. Did you calc your yogurt as part of the total water amount? I've never seen a yogurt listing on any lye calculator so i'm not sure how to add in the yogurt. How did you do yours? Can you explain?


  4. @Arianna123 Yes, the yogurt replaces half of the water in the recipe. :-) For example, in this recipe the total water calculated was 19.152 oz, but half of it was replaced by yogurt. You're adding the lye to half the amount of water you'd usually use, but as long as you go slowly and stir well it will be ok- I've never had any problems with it caking or getting too hot- maybe in part because I refrigerate the water for a little while before adding the lye, and I use an icewater bath for the lye/water while mixing as well.

    Here's a description of how to add it in (I'll be doing a more in-depth post in a day or so as well):
    After you add your lye/water to your oils, stick blend JUST until everything is thoroughly incorporated- it's when it looks cloudy-looking and there is no separation between the oil and lye/water layers. (If you've made soap you'll probably already know what I mean.) I make a small batch of just a few pounds and this step can take as little as 15-20 seconds- if making a huge batch, this can take a bit longer.

    Spoon your yogurt into your mixture (I actually add all my extras at this point, too, but it's just a matter of preference) and give it a quick stir with the spoon, then go back to stick blending until very light trace, and pour. I've found that in general, I do the first mixing and the second mixing for the same amount of time- in my small batches, 15 seconds and 15 seconds. You'll have to experiment depending on the batch size. I'll experiment too and let you know how it turns out in bigger batches. :-)

    Well, I hope that helps- let me know if you have any questions, and please also check back for my tutorial post. :-)

    Have fun!

  5. Thanks for answering my question - just a couple more - did you insulate your soap? And if i don't have apricot kernel what would you suggest as a good alternative?

  6. @Arianna123
    It depends- I insulate sometimes, like if I had poured it into a few individual bar molds, but the batch pictured above was huuuuuge and I didn't insulate it because it went to gel phase so quickly. I was a bit afraid it would volcano!

    If you have sweet almond oil, you can use that instead of the apricot kernel oil. If you don't have either, you can replace it with olive oil. Just make sure you recalculate the percentages and run the numbers through a lye calculator, please! Gotta be safe!


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