Homemade soap

Do you like artisan, handmade soaps? I admit to having a serious weakness for luxurious soaps. The real stuff: none of this cheap shower gel or body wash. When I was at school and university, I used to invest my part-time job earnings into nice soaps, maximising their effectivness by putting them in my lingerie drawer. Oh, how I love the aroma of genuine essential oil soap (especially lavendar). Or of energing cinnamon scrubs, with citrus peels and the promise of making the new day fresh and exciting.

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Some of my readers may know about my efforts to increase breast milk after the birth of my second child. Lactation was so successful that this created a conundrum: what to do with all that excess breast milk.

I had pangs of guilt about needing to supplement my eldest son, born prematurely, with formula. But the upside was that I did so much research, and tried so many different techniques to increase my milk supply that I had more than I needed to feed sumo baby number two. I froze excess milk in the freezer, in slimline clear bags that looked like Popsicle treats. These were useful stocks to support baby when I went back to work. I also tried to donate to the Taipei milk bank – twice. Unfortunately this was not successful, so I moved onto another plan.

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A carer at our local park mentioned that Taiwanese mothers like to make soap from their breast milk. At first it sounded like a whacky idea, but for some reason the idea would not go out of my head so I thought about it some more and decided to give it a go. Breast milk after all has healing properties, and is incredibly good for the skin. I used to rub collosterum into my cracked and bleeding nipples when I first started feeding baby number two, and was surprised that it really did actually work. So I figured that breastmilk soap would have to be good for using on the delicate skin of young children. And perhaps even make me look more radiant — wishful thinking perhaps?

P1080097Mr Taiwanxifu did some research on the Internet. It turns out that making breast milk soap is quite a popular home industry. Many Taiwanese women apparently like to make breastmilk soap as a kind of momento to their breastfeeding experiences. Mr Taiwanxifu eventually contacted a lady named Angie, we decided which essential oil fragrances to include (lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary and unfragranced), and delivered 4.2kg of frozen breast milk from our stash in the freezer. (350ml of breastmilk is required to make 500g of soap.)

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Then we waited. And waited, and waited. It takes nearly three months for the soap to set, so in the intervening months I almost forgot about it. And then, quite unexpectedly, one day we received a large box. We opened it with delight to find an exquisite array of artisan soaps, some shaped into rosebuds, scallop shells, sheep, cows or flowers and others with jellybean like colors. They looked and smelt good enough to eat. And there were a lot — six bubble wrapped packs of thirteen soaps each.

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So, you are probably wondering, what is breast milk soap like to use? Well, at first it took some getting used to. The soap is soft, incredibly soft and will dissolve in water much quicker than commercial soaps. It lathers well, but does not form into large bubbles the way that Mr Taiwanxifu’s favorite — Cussons Imperial Leather — does. And it has an almost slimey textuer: not like Halloween fake-alien goop, but still it has the sense of having something organic rather than artificial in it.

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Moo — my son’s favourite was the cow-shaped soaps

But, OMG, it is so smooth on the skin. Angie’s instructions to mothers who have purchased the soap notes that it is PH neutral and suitable for use by both adults and infants alike. She also says that it can be used to cleanse your face and even hair — an all purpose, natural option. (She uses all natural oils and other ingredients, listed in Chinese on the back of each soap.)

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This was not a cheap option, costing us nearly NT$5,000 all up. But compared with other artisan soaps, or baby-suitable PH neutral soaps, it was actually slightly cheaper. And it has enabled our family to put to good use something that might otherwise have gone to waste. Now we have more soap than we perhaps need. Perhaps for Christmas presents?

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About taiwanxifu

‘Taiwanxifu’ (pronounced ‘shee foo’) means ‘Taiwan daughter-in-law’ in Chinese and has been my nickname ever since I married my Taiwanese husband, Sam. I love sampling Taiwanese food, even local specialties such as stinky tofu, pigs blood cake and Taipei beef noodle soup with offal. But there are many other options on the menu. Promise!
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8 Responses to Homemade soap

  1. Bronwyn says:

    I’d like to add my name to your Christmas list! What a lovely idea to ‘use up’ that precious breast milk that is no longer needed by your little one. I’ve never heard of anyone making soap before. All your fragrances were well chosen…. And the shapes are just great – especially the cow! Reminds me that I still have a bottle of EBM deep in my freezer – I find it each time I defrost (which obviously isn’t often enough) – but I just can’t bring myself to throw it out. There are so many memories attached…..

    • taiwanxifu says:

      I must say that my family are not yet quite up to receiving breastmilk soap for Christmas. But it really is divine; so different from commercial soap.

  2. Hi, I loved reading your posts. I’m a soap maker here in Taiwan and was recently given the awesome gift of a freezer full of breast milk. I literally do not know what to do with it all and do not want to throw any of it out as it is way too precious. I’m slowly soaping away at it, one awesome soap recipe at a time. I usually soap with more conventional milk including goats milk but people really love the breast milk soap. I make it as a special soap while it lasts and would be happy to share some with you if your stock runs low! Just contact me. :)

    • taiwanxifu says:

      Thank you so much for your comment. I had never realized before that soap making is such a time intensive process. I would live to sample your soap, if it is not too much trouble.

      • jaynee says:

        hi taiwanxifu, i am interested to do bm soap. i will be travelling to taiwan this coming nov 4 days stay there. I do not want to waste my bm, thus if possible can i send my express breastmilk for you to make the soap in taiwan. once its done and post to malaysia? you can contact me via email at J_huei8782@yahoo.co.uk looking forward and thanks.

    • Jaynee says:

      hi dear riaan, how to contact you? can you send me email please? J_huei8782@yahoo.co.uk

  3. Bronwyn Parsons says:

    Thanks so much for my special gift!

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