Finally, I took the time to take pics of my soapmaking! Following is the recipe and full instructions.
Please bear in mind that I make utilitarian soap. You certainly can take the basic recipe and add all kinds of bells and whistles and come up with a more "boutique" soap.
However, I have constant comments on this basic recipe being a great soap for body and face. It isn't as harsh as commercial soaps and so doesn't dry you out so much.
First, before we get to the recipe, I wanted to show you that this IS A REAL SOAP. When you look at the recipe, you might think "Ick! That can't make a real soap. It must be greasy!" Not true at all. It lathers and washes just like commercial soap. Here is the tupperware I use as a soap mold when I was rinsing out the excess soap. See? Regular lather!
Basic Soap Recipe & Instructions
First, here is the equipment you will need...or something similar:
Large stainless steel or ceramic coated stock pot (soap-making pot)
Other large stock pot
Large tupperware tub
Stick blender (or 1 strong arm for stirring)
Wooden spoon (mark it for soapmaking only)
Pair long dishwashing gloves
13 oz Lye
6 lbs fat
5 cups cold water
1/3 to 3/4 oz essential oils
Prepare your fat
You will want to know the weight of your empty stock pot so that you can determine when you have enough fat in it. Mine weighs 17 oz (1 lb 1 oz).
You will need 6 lbs of fat. I usually just save my cooking fat (bacon grease, fat from frying meats, fat from boiling ribs to bbq). I save it all in a coffee can in the frig until I am ready to make soap. This time, I didn't have much saved up, so I supplemented with lard purchased from the store. You can also get fat from the butcher and rend it yourself.
So, to prepare your fat, put it in one of the stock pots and melt on the stove. Then pour from one stock pot to another through the strainer, back and forth, to remove any food particles. When you finish, the fat should all be in your soap-making pot.
Next, set your soapmaking pot on the scale. If your pot is hot, you will probably need to put a potholder between the pot and scale. If so, weigh the potholder first.
Add lard or other fats (pure coconut oil, olive oil, etc.) to the pot until you reach the desired weight:
6 lbs fat
+ weight of stock pot (1 lb 1 oz)
+ weight of potholder (mine is 2 oz)
= 7 lbs 3 oz (yours will vary of course!)
Finally, melt your fat over low to medium heat until it is clear.
Prepare your container
I use this tupperware container because I can easily bend the sides to get the soap out later. However, I also put a very light coating of fat on it to help it not stick.