I finally figured out how to get my soap to a trace quickly - use my hand mixer with just one beater!
If you're not a soaper and don't quite know what I mean about getting soap to a trace, it's just this:
When the lye/water combination is at a certain temperature (100 degrees F for my recipe) and the fat combo (my recipe takes shortening, canola oil, soybean oil, coconut oil) reach a certain temperature (100 degrees F), you blend them together. The two compounds have a chemical reaction and you must stir by hand, which can take all day or even multiple days, or blend mechanically until the mixture "reacts" and comes to a trace. A trace is when the mixture is as thick as pudding. If it doesn't get to that stage, it won't make soap and you'll have to "rebatch" the stuff. That's what I had to do with my first couple of batches. I had to crumble the mess and remelt it, repour it, and wait for it to set up once again.
My last batch of soap is so far as nice as the previous one. I added 3 T of Shea butter to the fats this time to hopefully create a moisturizing bar. The other soaps to this point have all been very mild and moisturizing, but I'm adding a little more benefit this time. The scent is Christmas Wreath again. As it dries and hardens, the soap smells less strong of pine tree and more of a spicy scent reminiscent of men's cologne. Should be interesting.
I'm trying to come up with ways to market my products to the public. I'm working on better labeling too. Once people actually try some of it they inevitably tell me how wonderful it is. The problem lies with getting people to actually pay me for it. I could give tons away, but alas, everyone has trouble spending a little more for homemade and natural than they are chemical laden stuff from a store. Oh well, such is life.