I think I was about ten when my mom dragged my sister Nell and me to a friends house. We were going to make soap out of goat milk! Goat milk never thrilled me to begin with. It tasted fine as long as it was fresh but the idea of mixing it into my soap and then washing my skin with it was pretty weird.
We pulled up to the house. The stone driveway crackled under the tires of my mom’s navy blue 1989 Taurus Station Wagon. I was pretty excited. I was always into magic tricks as a kid. Chemistry seemed sort of like a magic trick to me. My mom’s friend had already tried to make soap once before with disastrous results, so we measured everything and checked it twice. We melted all the oils together and let them cool to the appropriate temperature. We poured the milk into the cold stainless steel pot, quickly mixing in the white snowy lye stirring it frantically in an effort to prevent the milk from burning or curdling. After adding the oils in, we stirred the tan mixture (boy did it look like scrumptious vanilla pudding) until it “traced.” Tracing is the point where the mixture is thick enough to keep a trail or drip of soap on top for a moment before it sinks under the surface. Once that happened we were ready to pour it into the molds. Next, we waited a day before we could take it out. You have to wait another four weeks before it’s dry enough to use.
So after the four weeks were up my mom started using it and just fell in love with the soap. My whole family loved it. I don’t think she got me to use it for a couple weeks though. Being a ten year old, I wasn’t keen on washing with milk. Eventually my mom started researching goat milk soap and fiddling with the recipe. She started making different scents for Christmas presents. Everyone who used it raved about it. My dad Dean has always wanted his own business, so he put together a website and my mom started by making one batch of 12 bars every week. It wasn’t long before we had a following.
That was ten years ago. Since then we’ve developed a line of lotions, bath salts, and almost 50 varieties of soap. Our batch size has increased to about 310 bars, too, but don’t fret; all of our products are still handmade. I’ve taken over the soapmaking aspect of the business, mom has moved over to quality control and shipping. Dad and I do most of the technical and administrative work.
So that’s the short story of Alabu, and how we stumbled on the best soap in the world.