I have been interested in the process of making soap in a vague way since I started shaving with a double-edged razor, in December of 2011. The concept of soaps and their different properties and ingredients came to my attention in a way that they never had been before.
I read a forum thread about a guy who was making his own shaving soap. It was interesting. One part chemistry, one part artistry, and it was neither difficult nor expensive. A bit of oil, a bit of horribly dangerous caustic chemicals, and voila. I have a problem with dry skin on my hands, so I thought the ability to create my own hand-and-face soaps with extra emollients and the like would be great.
Game on, then! I decided to give it a shot. Unfortunately, the raw materials of soap making, while not expensive, are not easily available for the low prices that make soaping affordable. Olive oil, just to give you one example, is far more expensive in the grocery store than from a soap/cosmetics supply, with warehouse store prices falling in between. So over the course of a couple of weeks I picked up some vegetable shortening (palm oil), economy bottles of olive oil, and coconut oil. Pure lye is available at home improvement stores as drain cleaner, so I picked up some of that. A second hand crock-pot and a paint-stirring paddle for my drill, and I was ready to give things a try.