Last year, I set out to make soap. My first try was a cold processed castile soap, which didn't turn out great. To satisfy our needs for hand soap at our house, I decided to try to make some transparent soap.
Luckily, the Minuteman Library Network had an orderable copy of Making Transparent Soap, by Katherine Failor. Go Minuteman!
Last summer I made about 2kg of transparent soap bars using a recipe based on the Jurassic Soap recipe from this book. I tried to process them in the crock pot using the method where you add the alcohol along with the hydroxide solution and cook. In Failor's books, she puts a tight fitting plastic head on her pot which contains the foam generated by this process. I figured with plenty of head room in the crock pot and a more controlled source of heat I wouldn't have to worry about foam over. I was wrong, and ended up needing to completely disassemble the crock pot to clean soap out of every crevice and off every surface. Oops!
The soap made nice, hard, neutral and well performing bars, but for some reason they clouded up around the edges of my soap form. I put the form in the freezer after I poured it, and the clouding was worst around the edges where the soap was touching the form. If anyone has any ideas on how to avoid this next time, please let me know.
The bars are pleasant to use and the rosin gave them a subtle but enjoyable odor. I've given away quite a few of these, but I think we'll still have enough to make it a whole year before needing another batch.
I get the feeling that some people find receiving home made soap as a gift a little... weird. Can you imagine??!
My spreadsheet from this soap run can be found here.
On the same day, I also made a new batch of shave soap, mostly along the lines of my previous effort. This time I did adjust the recipe a bit, replacing castor oil with rosin, hot processing the soap, and using avocado oil for a post-process superfat. These bars came out so ugly that I didn't bother to take pictures of them, but their performance is quite nice and I've been shaving with them for about 5 months now. You can find the recipe at the bottom of this spreadsheet.