Above: I line my soap molds with freezer paper. Then I very carefully mix a water and lye solution in the garage with good ventilation and protective gloves and safety glasses. Mixing the lye into the water causes a chemical reaction that heats the solution. I then let it cool overnight. The next day I carefully weigh out the oils that I have chosen to use for this batch of soap. This time I am making an oatmeal, wheat germ and honey soap with olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, castor oil, cocoa butter and vitamin E. I heat the oils on the stove top just enough to melt the oils that are solid at room temperature such as coconut oil and cocoa butter. I also put the container of lye solution in a sink of hot water to bring it up to temperature. For optimum results all the ingredients should fall into the same warmed temperature range.
I'm the only one I know who does this, but once you mix the lye solution with the oils, you have to stir like crazy for a long time. I discovered I could make a batch of soap that was just big enough to fit in my Kitchenaid mixer and not have to do the stirring by hand. Most soap makers now use stick blenders. The mixture in the bowl will begin to turn lighter and more opaque. Stirring continues until the mixture comes to a "trace" or thickens slightly. At that point the fun begins: I add oatmeal that I've ground into powder, wheat germ and a little honey.
The whole mixture gets poured into the prepared mold and covered. I usually have to wait a couple of days before the slab of soap is ready to unmold. It will continue to turn lighter and more opaque as well as becoming harder as the saponification process progresses.
Two days later I grip the freezer paper and pull the slab free of the mold. I double check that it is hard enough to cut into bars.