Good afternoon and thanks for stopping by! I’d like to try and add some interesting facts about the ingredients I enjoy using in the soaps I make to this blog, so I’ve designated Sundays as “Soap Ingredient Day”, where I’ll attempt to write up about the variety of ingredients I use, why I use them, their history, and maybe a simple recipe or two if I have time! I recently had my wisdom teeth removed, so there’s been plenty of time to sit around and type out some blog posts since I can’t do much of anything else right now.
Today I will be writing about coconut milk—one of my absolute favorite ingredients for making soap. Coconut milk is chock full of nutrients, is easy to find, and imparts a wonderfully unique and unrivaled creaminess to soaps. It’s thick, rich, and incredibly high in nourishing and natural vegetable fats. Even goats milk, in my opinion, has got nothing on coconut milk in terms of lather and moisturizing capabilities, for reasons I’ll explain later. Plus it’s vegan, which is always a bonus for all the animal conscious people out there.
So where does coconut milk come from? Unlike coconut water, which is the liquid that comes directly from the inside of the coconut, coconut milk is processed from the coconut meat itself. The coconut meat is typically squeezed or pressed, or processed with hot water, which extracts out the fats and aromatic compounds we know as coconut milk.
The fat concentration in coconut milk varies depending on how its processed, but can rival the fat content of whole milk if prepared properly. Lauric acid is the main medium-chain saturated fatty acid present in coconut milk, which is the same nourishing fatty acid that is found in breast milk, goat milk, and cow’s milk. Lauric acid comprises about ~50% of the fatty acids found in coconut milk, whereas in goat milk it is present at about ~3%. In handmade soap the lauric acid is converted into sodium laurate, the sodium salt of lauric acid. Sodium laurate acts as a gentle natural cleanser with anti-microbial properties which promotes skin and hair health. The harsh and irritating detergent known as sodium lauryl sulfate is also commonly derived from the lauric acid found in coconut’s milk and is found in most commercially available soaps. It is not to be confused with sodium laurate—they are two separate compounds though they both come from the lauric acid present in coconuts.
Also present in coconut milk are a variety of vitamins, antioxidants and fatty acids besides lauric acid. They combine to relieve dry skin and provide extra moisture without stripping natural oils from the body like detergents are known to do. All in all, this makes coconut milk a popular choice for a variety of skincare products.