There are lots of reasons why breastfeeding mothers express breast milk for their babies.
A mother might express breast milk when she’s planning to be away from her baby for a few hours.
Or perhaps, knowing the benefits of breast milk, she might simply want to make sure there’s a stash in the fridge or freezer in case of an emergency.
More often than not, no case of emergency arises. As a result, she’s left with a freezer full of frozen breast milk, and not enough time for her baby to use it all.
Any breastfeeding mother who has expressed breast milk for her baby knows the amount of time and effort it takes.
For that reason, rather than discard any unused frozen milk, she might be looking for another way she might use the leftover milk for her little one.
If you’re expecting a baby or you are already a breastfeeding mother, you’ve probably heard about all of the benefits of breastfeeding.
But did you know breast milk is also good for your skin?
One way to use breast milk that’s no longer fit for consumption is to add it to a bath.
Another great way to use excess expressed milk is to make your very own breast milk soap.
What is breast milk soap good for?
Breast milk has natural healing properties, so it offers just as many benefits when used in the form of breast milk soap as it does when your baby drinks it.
If you or your little one suffer from dry skin or eczema, homemade breast milk soap could be the perfect solution.
Breast milk is higher in fat than cow’s milk, meaning soaps made from breast milk are less dry and more creamy.
Even if you’re not suffering from any particular skin condition, breast milk soap can make your skin feel softer and will reduce redness, control oil and prevent acne.
This makes breast milk soap perfect for the whole family – not just for children.
How to make breast milk soap at home
It’s easy to make breast milk soap at home. It’s likely you will already have everything you need to make breast milk soap without going to the store.
All you need to get started are breast milk; regular soap; essential oils; some containers or molds to form the soap bars; and of course, a breast milk soap recipe.
How to make breast milk soap without lye
Lye (sodium hydroxide) is a chemical used in commercial soap making.
Lye is also used in commercial and industrial oven cleaners and drain openers. The reason it’s used in soap is to make the soap softer and easier to dissolve. A bar of soap made with lye also produces more bubbles.
Some ingredients in commercially made soap (such as lye) contribute to dry skin and eczema in lots of people – especially in babies and children.
By using natural ingredients, and a ‘melt and pour method, it’s possible to make a more gentle soap that doesn’t contain lye.
How to make breast milk soap with a soap base
Here’s a simple breast milk soap recipe, for making your own melt and pour soap. It has an existing soap as a base.
To make your soap, you will need the following ingredients:
- 500 grams of regular soap
- 250 ml or 1 cup of room temperature breast milk
- 2-3 drops of essential oil (for its scent)
- Melt the soap using a pan on the stovetop or in the microwave
- Pour soap base into a container and add the expressed breast milk to the hot melted soap
- Stir gently. Add the essential oils and stir the ingredients until combined
- Allow the liquid to cool slightly, then pour it into a plastic or silicone mold that you wish to use to make your soap
- Set the molds aside in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the breast milk soap to set.
Top tip for making soap: If you use goats’ milk soap instead of a regular soap base, it will be even more gentle on your little one’s skin.
How to make breast milk soap with oatmeal
Natural oatmeal contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cleansing properties. This makes oatmeal the perfect ingredient to add to your DIY breast milk soap.
Oatmeal also helps to treat dry skin.
If you want to make breast milk soap using oatmeal, you can use the method above to make your soap base, with the following addition:
- Blend 1/4 cup of oats with 1 cup of water for 30 seconds
- Add the oats to the melted soap and breast milk
If you plan to make breast milk soap with oatmeal, you might like to replace the essential oil with honey instead.
Oats and honey don’t only make a great tasting breakfast, they also make a soap that will smell as good as it feels.
As well as an essential oil, you can also add olive oil to your breast milk soap. Olive oil helps produce a rich lather. This is particularly beneficial when you make soap without lye, as it tends to have fewer bubbles.
Does breast milk soap go bad?
Just as store-bought milk and frozen milk have an expiry date, so too does breast milk soap.
The melt and pour soap-making method will not preserve the milk component of the soap. Unlike breast milk intended for consumption, using expired breast milk in soap making will not harm you, but eventually, it will start to smell bad, even if you’ve used essential oil in your breast milk soap recipe.
To preserve the soap for as long as possible, you can store it in the fridge, or wrap it and leave it in a cool place.
Another way to make breast milk soap last as long as possible is to make it using a cold process method.
Cold process breast milk soap
If you want your breast milk soap to last longer, a cold process method might be more effective.
Cold process methods for soap making involve the use of lye. Soap made with lye is suitably provided you aren’t suffering from any existing skin conditions, or if it’s intended for someone other than an infant.
The use of lye causes a chemical reaction that quickly creates heat and emits fumes.
For this reason, it’s recommended to take the following safety precautions when working with lye at home:
- Wear rubber or latex gloves
- Wear protective eye goggles
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt
- Work in a well-ventilated area
- Add lye to the other ingredients, rather than adding the soap base to the lye
Breast milk soap recipe using lye
Here are the steps for making breast milk soap using the cold process method and lye:
- Freeze 80-100mls of breast milk in an ice cube tray
- Place frozen milk cubes in a plastic container
- Place container in an ice bath
- Gradually add 50 grams of lye while stirring continuously
- When the lye has completely dissolved, stir for an additional minute
- Set aside to cool
- Add essential oils
- Blend ingredients using a stick blender until a pudding-like consistency is achieved
- Scoop soap batter into molds
- Place soap in the freezer overnight
- Leave at room temperature for 24 hours before removing soap from molds
- Cure for 6 weeks.
Is it legal to sell breast milk soap?
The National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a branch of the National Institute of Health, states the following in regards to the sharing and sale of human milk:
“Laws prohibiting the sale of bodily materials provide little protection against the informal sale of human milk, as human milk is not included within the scope of the National Organ Transplant Act”.
It goes on to say:
“Many states exclude ‘replenishable’ or ‘self-replicating’ body fluids and tissues, such as human milk, hair, and sperm, from the scope of their laws prohibiting the sale of certain bodily materials”.
The NCBI further states:
“Sellers may face criminal liability under federal and state laws if they know they have certain communicable diseases that are transmitted through breast milk, such as human immunodeficiency virus, tuberculosis, and syphilis, and nevertheless sell their milk to unknowing buyers.
“In addition, sellers may be liable under federal law for shipping adulterated products, or under federal and state criminal and tax laws in certain circumstances.
“However, because these laws have yet to be enforced against informal sellers of human milk, they are unlikely to serve as deterrents to this practice”.
This information means that although there might be concerns about the selling of products containing human milk, it’s unlikely that you would be penalized for informally selling homemade breast milk soap.
Is there a market for breast milk soap?
A quick search of the Etsy marketplace shows there are currently more than 60 sellers in Australia and the United States offering their homemade breast milk soap for sale online.
There are also rumors of mothers selling their breast milk on the black market to elite athletes and bodybuilders!
As seen in the information above, although you might not be penalized for selling your breast milk, you might find it more ethical to donate it to a worthy cause.
The Mothers Milk Bank Charity in Australia provides screened and pasteurized donor breast milk to families where a mother’s own milk is not available to her baby.