My Soap Making Story
Hello, my name is Jeanette Drake. Our family has a commercial goat dairy in West Jordan, Utah. The farm was established by the Drake Family in 1880. We sell milk, cheese, yogurt, and handmade goat milk soap.
I started making soap in 1994. Our family had been raising dairy goats for about ten years. My children were very involved in 4-H Clubs and I was one of their 4-H leaders for the dairy goat projects. We were anxious to learn everything we could about goats, so we subscribed to Dairy Goat Journal and United Caprine News. I read articles in these two periodicals about "goat milk soap" and even tried some recipes that they featured.
I went to our local public library and checked out some books about soap making. I joined some email lists about soap making. And I practiced my recipes until I was happy with my products. I minored in chemistry in college so it was quite interesting to me to observe the chemical reactions as the ingredients were transformed into soap. I still keep laboratory notes for every batch I make.
As I smelled the lye dissolving in my very first batch of soap, childhood memories came rushing back into my consciousness. My mother made soap when I was a little girl. She learned to make it from her mother.
Generations of my grandmothers were soap makers. I am more fortunate than my grandmothers because:
- I do not need to use wood ashes to make my own lye. My source is a chemical supply store.
- I do not have to spend hours stirring my soap in an large kettle over a fire. I have a soap making lab in the basement of my home.
- Instead of floating an egg in a lye solution, I am able to scientifically calculate the saponification values of the oils I use.
- Many wonderful and exotic oils are available for my use.
- I have rendered fats and made lard and tallow and made some great soap with this method, but most of my soaps contain vegetable oils.
- Numerous essential oils and fragrant oils and herbs are available to me.
- And of course, I have wonderful goat milk produced fresh at our farm every day.
A soap-making experience from my heritage: "We will not leave here until my soap is done."
My great-great grandparents Byram Lee Bybee and Betsy Lane Bybee joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Indiana and moved to Nauvoo, Illinois in 1842. They were living two or three miles south of Nauvoo when one day five armed men rode up to their farmhouse and demanded that Byram move his family to Nauvoo. Betsy was stirring soap in a large iron kettle in the yard. She took the stick she was using and shook it at the leader and said, "We will not leave here until my soap is done." The men laughed among themselves and at their captain and rode away. The next morning Byram was standing in the door yard when a bullet whizzed over his head. They left as soon as possible for Nauvoo.