The goal for the next few weeks is to be able to produce 500 oz. of soap in a single pot. That would be 10 times as much soap as I’ve ever been able to make in a single batch. I also expect the soap that I make in the new batch to be consistent and awesome. That is, I want to be able to make beautiful batches of yellowish-white, creamy soap every single time. This is a reasonable goal, because it will allow me to get a lot more of a feel for both how good this soap actually is (or can be) and what’s involved in scaling up it’s production.
My first few attempts this week have not gone so well. However, there are a lot of confounding factors. For one, I am in a completely different lab than the one in which I originally figured out how to make wood ash soap. I don’t have 3D-printed stirrers like I did there, for example, and I don't have as easy access to a 3D printer. Another challenge is that home-made pH meter had to be reconstructed (great improvements in my pH meter are forthcoming). Perhaps the most challenging issue I’ve faced, however, is that the quality of the ash I am using is far inferior to what I was using in my old setup. The ash is inferior because it contains a lot more charcoal. It comes from a smokehouse rather than a wood oven, so the wood gets soaked before it gets fired so that it smokes more.
Specifically, the soap that I have created has come out black, bad-smelling, and appears to contain a large amount of some kind of oil in it. I believe the dark color is due to a combination of poor quality ash and my doing a bad job of filtering out the "dark sludge" that has shown up in this lye water, but not other lye water that I've made.
Another big problem is that I am a little rusty on the process. There were details that I did in my old lab that I did not know were important, but which turn out to be super important if you want to make good stuff. For example, After initially boiling the ashes, it’s important to decant the lye water into a bucket before boiling it down. In that bucket, ash that was suspended in the water settles down to the bottom. I believe this was the cause for the very dark, polluted lye water and soap that I have been producing for the past few days.
There is nothing that helps your reinforce knowledge than to relearn it from scratch.