I thought...how hard can it be? Just follow the recipe, and everything will be fine. This works, but it also requires the added ingredient of patience, and maybe pure luck. I have yet to make a completely failed batch of soap (*knock on wood*). For me, the definition of "failed" implies "non-functional" - Where I just throw my hands in the air, toss everything in the garbage, and start new.
I came very close to doing that for the first time this week. I started out making what I thought would be a nice coconut, vanilla, and honey soap (hot process). I formulated a recipe and had everything carefully calculated. I had this vision of producing a luxurious two layered bar, with a chocolate-y bottom layer (mixture of red and bentonite clay), and a contrasting smooth cream top layer with some poppyseeds. I decided to try a bigger batch, using a simple shoebox mold. Everything was going very well - fantastic actually. There was beautiful bubbling soap in the crockpot. I planned to split the batch to make the darker bottom layer after I added the honey and essential oils. However, once I added in the vanilla, that's when things went awry. First off, the vanilla turned the entire concoction dark brown (so much for my nice light cream layer). Fine, I could handle that... but then... THEN everything turned into a soupy mess. My smooth soap transformed into a curdled mountain of poo. Water and/or oil started to separate out, no matter how much I cooked or stirred.
At this point, I was about to just let it all cool down and throw it out. But I pressed on (that's a lot of time and materials invested). I added the clay to see if it would thicken up the soupy mess. Nothing. Desperately grasping for straws, while staring at this now dark dark brown mixture, a light bulb suddenly went off. I reached for the instant coffee...I put two tablespoons in, stirred. Nothing. Two more - nope. After ten tablespoons (!) I seem to have finally salvaged some of this disaster by absorbing all the liquid and smoothing it out again.. I quickly poured the concoction into my shoebox, sprinkled with a little bit more instant coffee on top, and popped in the freezer, lest it try to separate again.
Voila! Beautiful handcrafted artisan luxurious vanilla latte soap! (Or something like that...)
I read all the warnings about using vanilla products in soap - they may cause discoloration or separation. I only see this as a challenge - One I may step away from for now until I gain a bit more experience. I'm going back to the basics again to try to perfect the first recipes I've attempted. I think this will give me the confidence in the future to tackle the vanilla dilemma - and I have learned now to always listen to the advice of those who have already been there and done that! You know why? Cause ain't noboby got time for that.