Okay, so the first batch looked good. The second batch looked good too. Time to make it more challenging. How do you do that? Well, you try to make clear soap.
Turns out that one method for making clear soap involves adding some amount of ethanol and dissolved sugar to the mixture. And some glycerin as well, although why should I do that just because some recipes do and some don't?
Well, attempt number 3 of soapmaking (the first attempt at transparent) went horribly wrong. The soap didn't even saponify properly. That was before I acquired some nice measuring stuff. I now can measure with impunity! Anyway, 3 was a disaster. 4 worked really well for part 1, the saponifying. Part 2, the clarifying, was interesting. With the use of a blender and some Britta filtered methylated spirits (I figured it was the best source of ethanol I was going to get), I went about estimating from some vague online recipes the amounts of ethanol I needed given the amount of Lye. It certainly did turn out translucent, and with my new set of dyes, I went to make bars of translucent soap! Now it turns out that either my calculations were broken, or that glycerin(e)/glycerol actually does something I should know about. Anyway, I now have a bunch of liquid soap that looks like this in close-up:
I have also acquired some pH test strips which clearly indicate 1-14 using 4 different indicators. Very cool. Also, quite sure my successful soaps are good now and not going to burn anyone's face off.