Rub A Dub Dub, Breast Milk Soap in the Tub

by , 08/30/09

We are major advocates of breastfeeding here at Inhabitots; and we were intrigued to see that breast milk not only nourishes your little one, but may be just the ticket to getting squeaky clean as well. Milk soap is not a new idea by any means; it’s been said that milk based beauty products date back to Cleopatra’s time… but breast milk soap? Breast milk soap in particular is far less common, but if you can spare some of your expressed milk, it might just make the perfect soap for your baby.

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Why milk soap?

Milk is touted as an ideal ingredient for skin care products because it contains essential proteins, amino acids, and vitamin A, which nourishes skin. Milk is also rich in lactic acid, which cleanses and softens. Of course, most milk based beauty products contain goats milk or cows milk not breast milk. Breast milk, like other milks contains skin healthy substances (fats, vitamins, proteins, and more) but still, you may be wondering if breast milk soap is safe to use in soap products.

Is breast milk soap safe?

According to La Leche League, “Human breast milk may aid healing,” which is why it’s recommended that you rub fresh breast milk on cracked an sore nipples, and may even offer antibacterial protection. La Leche League also notes that “Breast milk has no adverse effects for either mother or baby unless the mother has a yeast infection. Because yeast thrives in human milk.” Sharing breast milk is not considered completely safe, even by huge breastfeeding advocates unless the milk has gone through a HMBNA milk bank. That said, keeping your breast milk soap in the family is probably a good idea.

How to make breast milk bar soap:

In 1999 soap maker Casey Makela published her Mothers Milk Soap recipe in the Birth Gazette. This is a good bar soap recipe for breast milk soap, incorporating many natural ingredients such as olive oil, honey, Safflower oil, and of course breast milk. Sadly, like most homemade soap recipes, this one also calls for lye. Lye, or sodium hydroxide is a caustic chemical, which on one hand allows it to dissolve fats (good for soap making) but also means it’s a dangerous substance to work with. Skin Deep, a cosmetic database that rates products on their safety, notes that lye in soaps presents only a moderate hazard — but be aware that it can also cause chemical burns, permanent injury, and scarring if you get it on your skin during the breast milk making process. If you’ve never worked with lye before, you need to be careful or better yet try making an organic cleansing liquid milk soap with your breast milk instead.

The last word:

Breast milk soap has pros and cons. Your breast milk can be a safe and natural cleanser for your baby’s skin, and since you’re making the soap at home, you know what’s in it. However, many mamas can have trouble expressing milk even with a good breast milk pump. Giving up some of your baby’s precious food (that frankly took a lot of work to pump) for soap may seem ridiculous. If breast milk soap is not your idea of how to put that milk to good use, use your breast milk to feed your baby and try a non-toxic baby soap like some sweet little barnyard natural soaps or Epicuren Baby.

What do you think? Would you make breast milk soap?

Source: Mother Nature Network

Image via karencc’s flickr

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4 Responses to “Rub A Dub Dub, Breast Milk Soap in the Tub”

  1. [...] A naif child blog: sustainable organisation for the incoming generation. Continued here:  Inhabitots » Rub A Dub Dub, Breast Milk Soap in the Tub Posted in Uncategorized | Tags: design-for, next, [...]

  2. Traci Perg says:

    I’ve made breast milk soap. It’s SO wonderful. It leaves skin very clean and soft. I have a question, though, as you mentioned, the oils in soap are saponified with lye. The lye is actually dissolved in the milk, raising the temperature significantly. Then it is added to the oils and heated further. After all those chemical and physical reactions, do you think there is any significant risk of infection? I would think the two together would kill any organisms that might be present. Regarding obtaining the breast milk, I worked full time when my son was younger, so I pumped a lot for him. When he was a year old, I was able to stay home with him and he no longer needed pumped milk. Eventually the milk I had left over was too old, so that’s how I got enough to make soap.

  3. Traci Perg says:

    I’ve made this soap! It turned out wonderful. It leaves the skin soft and clean. I had enough milk left over when I left my job to stay home full time with my firstborn, and eventually it was too old for anything else. I wonder about the infection issue though. Do you think any organisms could actually survive the saponification process, and then the heating involved in making soap? I thought lye was pretty caustic, and can’t imagine any risk from microorganisms.

  4. nvbc says:

    Is there any place that we can purchase this breast milk soap?

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