The soap situation has improved somewhat. I'm still smarting from having two batches not turn out, especially considering how many times I've made that particular recipe on many occasions and never had any trouble. It's so frustrating! There's nothing like having a batch of soap start out just fine, go through all the stages without a hitch, and then start crumbling like stale cheddar as soon as it comes out of the mold. It's disappointing to say the least.
Yesterday's batch was pumpkin soap. Yes, it had real pumpkin in it, and cinnamon and nutmeg. I unmolded it this morning and thought it looked a little shaggy, but since there aren't any chunks or streaks of lye, I went ahead and cut it into bars. The shaggy parts can be trimmed since I don't think they're indicative of any chemical problems. The other cosmetic problem, which I also hope is really just that, is that there some inclusions consisting of hard, dry bits of soap from around the edge of the lining; they got mixed in while I was stirring things up last night, but I have no idea if they'll present a problem later on. It's a little soft yet, but hopefully that'll go away as it cures.
Still have a few more batches to go, but I'm not sure what I'll make.
The picture at the top shows everything but the failed batches of pomegranate soap. From the left, the pale beige soap is hard cider with oatmeal; the gray-green with black on top is green tea with silk--Christine of Aquae Sulis Soaps suggested dissolving a pinch of silk fiber in the lye solution, and it really, really does work; the darker brown in the rear is oatmeal cookie soap with peanut butter, honey, and spices; the orangey stuff to the right is the evil pumpkin soap with pumpkin puree and spices. Mmph. Now I want pumpkin pie....