This is a batch of liquid soap paste.
Making liquid soap starts with the same basic process as hot process bar soap [only with potassium hydroxide instead of sodium hydroxide]. You mix it, then put it in the crock pot to cook for a few hours until it looks like dark vaseline.
Then you dissolve it, neutralize it, clarify it, sequester it, thicken it and a bunch of other stuff that is way more complicated than just cutting and drying it like you do with bar soap.
I'm slowly wrapping my head around it.
This is my 4th batch of liquid soap and it turned out just fine. I used the jojoba recipe from Chickens in the Road. http://chickensintheroad.com/house/crafts/how-to-make-liquid-soap// This is a terrific tutorial, but it is very comprehensive. I had to read through it several times just to grasp all the different things you can/should do AFTER the soap is made. [Neutralizing, sequestering, clarifying, thickening, etc.]
My advice is to choose a recipe and make the paste. Then dissolve it. Then neutralize it so you can use it right away. Then take a break of a few days and think about the other options.
In the end, I made the jojoba recipe which goes cloudy. I could have tried clarifying but didn't want to add more stuff to it, so I'm leaving it thin and cloudy. It has a pH of 8 which is perfect and I'm calling it finished. We use it in the kitchen for hand soap. It's fabulous.
As I mentioned before, this was my 4th batch. The first one was a total fail. The second and third ones were useable. This one was just what I expected. On the road to this batch of soap, I learned a bunch of stuff.
1. ONLY use distilled water when making liquid soap. It really matters. We have hard water and I get by using that for bar soap, but the liquid soap never turns out unless I use distilled.
2. Dissolve the soap in the crock pot on low. It takes about 5 hours. Try to ignore it while you're waiting. Neutralize it while it's hot.
3. You can use old citric acid solution cold to neutralize your soap once it's dissolved, as long as the soap is still hot. The acid will immediately go white and clumpy, but don't panic. Just stir it in and it'll be just fine. The clumps will melt into the soap pretty fast.
4. Once the soap is neutralized, you can use it right away. The thickening, clarifying, etc. is cosmetic [pun intended]. It makes your soap prettier and more store-bought-like, but doesn't improve performance. 'Neutralize' does not mean getting a pH of 7. It means bringing the pH down from 9-10 to 8 or so. Soap is supposed to be a bit alkali; that's why it works as soap.
5. Take some notes with each batch. They'll pay off later. Really.
I have just ordered this book [affiliate link]:
Rumor has it that it is the best resource for learning all the ins and outs of liquid soap making. I'm excited to try some more liquid soap now that I can turn out a basic one. Maybe a shampoo? Bath gel? Something clear?
It's going to be fun. I'll keep you posted.