For aaaages now, almost my whole life I think, I have wanted to have a go at making soap. I think that's because my Mum used to make it, and it was a terrifying and very grown up activity because it involved hot mutton fat and caustic soda. Excuse me while I answer your questions: Yes my Mum did make soap out of mutton fat. No it did not smell like a roast dinner. No she did not make us wash ourselves with it, it was for washing the clothes, or the floor.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, the soap. At the age of 38 I have deemed myself grown up enough to give true soap making a go. I was a little put off by the long list of equipment that most instructions deemed necessary (special soap-making pot, two thermometers, a stick blender, etc. etc.). When I mentioned this off-putting list of needs to my Mum she chortled and gave me "the mother look" and then pointed out that people have been making soap for thousands of years without that long list of stuff. Good point, mother bear, good point.
So, I bought some lye from these kind people, who have a soap shop near my house, and I bought everything else at Binn Inn or the supermarket. I did not use a thermometer at all and all my mixing was carried out not with a stick blender but with a wooden spoon, which is now marked "soap only". I used stainless steel bowls for the lye and the soap mixture itself, and then washed them out carefully and popped them back in the kitchen cupboards afterwards. They have never looked cleaner, incidentally.
I followed a basic castile recipe here, and followed all of their links re. using a lye calculator and the basic soap making instructions. I added a couple of things, so I will write the full recipe here for the sake of interest.
800 g olive oil
200 g coconut oil
20 g beeswax
133 g lye
300 ml water
2 T honey added at 'early trace'
5 ml manuka oil (a complete waste of time, as you can't smell it at all)
And, to half of the batch, I added some oatmeal, because that seemed like a good idea at the time. Now I'm not so sure because it looks a little, well, horse-food-esque. Still, you live and learn. Anyway, badabing, badaboom, soap.
So there it is. If I die tomorrow I can consider my life fulfilled. Sometimes I wonder about what things my children will remember fondly, and what things they will roll their eyes about, when they recall their childhood. I have a feeling that my crazy schemes will not all be remembered fondly.