This post is going to be rather picture heavy, but I wanted to do a post answering my own question: "When you buy soap from us, are you getting a good deal?" To answer this question, first consider all of the benefits to your skin that we're always talking about: added moisture, extra vitamins, the benefits of the goat milk itself, etc. Also consider the time and actual manual labor in making our products.
To answer my question for myself and for you too, I've decided to write a post not only telling, but showing what is involved in bringing you a bar of soap! I hope you'll find it very interesting!
As you know, we add goat milk to all of our soaps. Having the ability to add such a wonderful moisturizer to our soaps is an entire story in itself. I'll just say here that it involves taking care of all of our goats well. Without proper care, the does will not produce milk. I've added this first picture to the post because it's important to remember that the goat is the real beginning of the process. We milk the goats twice daily. Without their milk, we couldn't make our soap... So, they're pretty important... :)
After we get everything measured, we melt our oils. We heat all of the oils to a particular temperature to make sure they are all melted and will mix well with the other ingredients. We put the 3 gallon pot on the stove top and turn it to med-low. If the oils get too hot, the entire process slows because it takes longer to cool it than it does to heat it. Before moving to the next step in the soap making process, we put on the proper safety equipment. This includes a face shield and rubber gloves. Closed shoes are preferred over flip flops, because if the lye or hot oil were to drip, it would definitely burn your feet.
Now we can move on... The next step is to melt the lye into the goat milk. This is where we differ from many 'goat milk soap' makers. Some people use powdered goat milk, which speeds up the process drastically. We use fresh goat milk (no preservatives, no powders, no extracts) in our soap. So to melt the lye without burning or scalding the milk, we must add it slowly and keep constant watch of the temperature to make sure the milk doesn't get too hot. We usually put the bowl of milk in a sink full of ice water to keep the milk a little cooler, but it still takes a while.
Now that our lye is completely dissolved and our milk/lye mixture and oils are approximately the same temperature, we can add them together. We stir constantly and pour slowly to ensure that the milk and oil blend properly and no separation occurs. Notice the soap molds in the upper left-hand corner of this picture. These are wooden molds that we pour the liquid soap into. We line the molds with wax paper to hold the soap in, and to ensure that the soap doesn't stick as it cools.
After we pour all of the milk into the oil, we use a stick blender to mix it. This step takes anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the day... We stir until we have what we call 'trace', the point at which soap trails stay on top of the mixture rather than just blending with the rest. We also keep track of the temperature during this step as well. When we reach trace and the temp. has risen several degrees, we know it's OK to pour. A 'false trace' is possible, which can spell D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R for our soap. After we get trace and add scent and other additives, it's time to pour the soap mixture into the mold. The entire process up to this point can take 1.5 - 2 hours. Then we wait.... The molds containing the soap must be left undisturbed in a draft-free area to cool. After 24 hours we can cut the soap. Then there's more waiting.... We let the soap cure for a minimum of 4 weeks before moving on.
Labeling comes next. We design and print our own soap labels. Each label is a little different. After printing and cutting each label, it's time to begin wrapping. Here you can see a good many fresh labels that have just been printed and cut.
They're Fresh Snow labels to go on this batch of soap. This is one of our 42 bar batches, so it'll take quite a while to wrap all of these.
We take special care with each of the bars we wrap. I documented the time it took to wrap one bar of soap. Each bar takes approx. 50 seconds to wrap. That sounds like a long time, so I'll break it down for you...
1. Center the logo design on the soap bar.
2. Wrap the label around the bar to fold corners.
4. Crimp edges to create a crisp corner. (This helps the label stay on longer, and ensures that the bar has a crisp look.)
5. Return the label to the bar.
6. Fold the edges making sure the corners are tight, and the back is folded squarely to prevent poor overlapping.
7. Straighten back and tape.
And there they are waiting for you!
So to answer my question, Yes! When you buy soap from us you are getting a very good deal. We enjoy making soap and using it ourselves, so that's why we do it. We offer it to you because we've seen personally what it's done for our skin. In our family we have no more dry flaky arms, cracked knuckles, itchy legs, or rough elbows. We know that it's because we use fresh goat milk in our soap. We know it's because we don't add preservatives or remove the glycerin that is so beneficial for skin...
We enjoy it, and hope you do too!