Apparently, the type of soap you use makes a big difference in how this stuff turns out. I used bars of Dove soap, and it did not thicken up at all. I ended up having to add twice as much soap as the recipe called for, making me wonder if it was really that economical.
Another frugal friend of mine, DimeSavinDiva, had given me some guar gum, which is used as a thickener and stabilizer in the food and cosmetic industry. I noticed today that our body wash was all out and decided to make some more...but in my usual Kitchen Magician style, I modified the recipe and made the thickest, most luxurious homemade body wash of all the batches I've made so far.
Here's the original recipe:
Homemade Gel Soap
2 c soap flakes (grate soap with a grater or in a food processor)
1/2 gallon water
2 Tbs glycerin
Combine all ingredients and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until soap is dissolved. Transfer to container and cover tightly.
Just a word of caution, Zest hardens! I think she ended up with four gallons before she finally got it to the right consistency once it cooled off. Dove, not so much...here's my fix:
I waited to add the honey so as to not hurt the antibacterial properties of unpasteurized honey. The end result was thick, luxurious liquid soap, much better than the first few times I've made this. Can't wait to take a shower tomorrow!
1 bar Dove soap, grated
1/2 gallon water
1 Tbs Himalayan Sea Salt
1/4 c Dr. Bronner's Lavender soap
1/4 c unpasteurized honey
Approximately 1 1/2 Tbs guar gum
Melt soap and sea salt in water over low to medium-low heat. Add Dr. Bronner's, mix well. Add guar gum slowly, a 1/4 tsp or so at a time, whisking well. Apparently, it takes a bit of time to thicken so stir it well for a few minutes before adding more, at least after you've added half a tablespoon or more. Once it's the consistency you like, let it cool. Once cooled, add the honey and stir well. Store in a container. Add essential oils if you like.
A very interesting thing has been happening with my homemade soaps, and only in the last two batches. They get fizzy/foamy and ooze out of the container. And if the container is, say, one with a snap-on lid and not a screw-on one or not a pump dispenser, the lid comes open part way and the soap ooooozes out all over. I am not sure what is causing it! The last two batches I used honey...one a commercial processed generic brand and another local unpasteurized. I also used a different pot...one coated in Teflon with some of the Teflon flaked off. My guess is that it's a reaction to the metal in the pot...I've seen other recipes similar to what I've used for liquid hand soap that include honey, and a friend of mine gave me her recipe and said she never had any problem with it. I think I'll go back to using my ceramic-coated pot, it's just a bit too small so I guess I'll have to make it in two batches or find a bigger, non-reactive pot.