Local Spotlight-Kickin K Ranch
By Gretchen Hein
When challenges arise we are sometimes offered opportunities and those opportunities take us to places we’d never venture, they turn our life around and we become thankful for the difficulty that led us through a new door. That is the metaphoric story of how Kickin K Ranch came to be. Tom and Michelle Kuettner, along with their goats, a few chickens and dogs are Kickin K Ranch and the makers of Kickin K soaps and assorted products.
What started out in 2004 as a quest for better health became a new way of life for Tom and Michelle. The search for health led Tom online and, before he knew it, he was lost in a world of grass fed meat, raw dairy and using food as a way to better health. They started out with cows so they could have raw milk, but a drought created a move to goats. The herd grew and milk became plentiful. In 2006 the Kuettners began experimenting with making soap, another attempt to keep pure all that goes onto their bodies. As Tom said, “Soaps are full of chemicals and things that are bad for you.” That Christmas, homemade soaps were their Christmas gifts to family and friends. Requests for more soap began to arrive and they turned some of their resources into making goat milk soap, large scale. They now offer ten different ‘flavors’ of soap on a regular basis.
Their soaps are luxurious, rich in lather and gentle on the skin. They are made from 100% pure goat milk; healthy goats that are loved and well cared for. Making soap with goat’s milk as the only liquid is tricky business. And why is that you might ask?
We’ll start first with a lesson in soap making, some basic chemistry. All soaps are made by combining a fat with an alkaloid. In this case, the natural fats in goat milk and sodium hydroxide, more commonly know as lye. When you add lye to goat milk, the temperature rises and if the temperature gets too high, the milk burns and you not only have a discolored soap, you lose the benefits of the goat’s milk. The Kuettner’s use a more time consuming cold-process thus maintaining the healing qualities of their goat milk. During this process called saponification, the liquid separates into soap and glycerin. In most commercial soap making processing the glycerin is skimmed off for other purposes. However, in most homemade soap making the glycerin is retained and combined with soap to make a product that moisturizes and nourishes the skin.
And just what are the benefits of goat’s milk soap? The exact origins of using goat’s milk are not known, however, we do know that milk has been used in all kinds of skin care products for thousands of years. It is said that Cleopatra’s beauty was preserved by bathing in goat’s milk. The ancient Greeks and Romans used milk products to treat many skin ailments and injuries.
On a more scientific and practical note, goat’s milk contains all the essential amino acids, vitamins A and B and a host of minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. All milk contains natural emollients, vitamins and triglycerides, which moisturize skin. Goat milk specifically contains the reputed highly effective moisturizer caprici-capriyllic triglyceride. For those who have sensitive skin or other skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or acne, goat’s milk soap is a godsend. Goat’s milk pH is very similar to our own so when we lather up with a homemade bar of goat’s milk soap, our skin is cleansed, but not stripped, thus, keeping our natural oils that protect our skin and adding a few more.
Before the soap making process is complete, the Kuettners add a few more special ingredients. They add essential oils and other therapeutic skin products, using only stream-distilled or cold-pressed. I’m curious about their camper’s soap with citronella and eucalyptus; will it really help to keep the bugs away. Other soaps contain kelp, dead sea mud, honey, oatmeal, tea tree oil. Their cucumber and mint soap sounds good enough to eat.
A visit to their web-site, www.kickinksoapcompany.com will introduce you to all their soaps, their bathing salts, palm oil candles and a few other special items, not to mention pages of information about their goats. For the Kuettner’s, life has turned around and raising dairy goats and chickens, and producing healthy skin care products has become a passion, not just a way to make a living.