I may have mentioned this before, but: I don’t follow recipes. Even when I’ve never cooked a given dish before, or indeed when I’ve never eaten a given dish before, I seem entirely incapable of just following the path someone has laid out to prepare it.
This sums up the way I do more or less everything, really, but the relevant aspect of my life is of course the making of soap and other products. I’ve read hundreds of recipes for soap. I read dozens of them before I so much as contemplated in earnest making a batch myself. I even, in fact, followed one – once. My very, very first batch of soap was made from tallow I had rendered myself from suet I’d bought from a local free-range butcher shop, based precisely on a recipe from one of the books I’d bought to learn this new craft. My second, third, and fourth batches were variations on this recipe, and by the fifth batch I’d thrown it out entirely and was designing recipes from scratch based on characteristics of various vegetable oils, leaving the smelly tallow-rendering process behind as well.
I don’t bring this up in order to brag about how I don’t need recipes or anything silly like that. Someday I’ll tell the story of the dozens of hideous failures I had before I finally hit upon a successful way to make lotion, for instance; sometimes this don’t-tell-me-what-to-do attitude can send me off down some crazy blind corners. No, the intent is to point out that for my purposes, a good “recipe” is more a map than a set of directions: It outlines the territory, points out hazards, and shows you the intended destination without going into excessive detail about the One True Way to get there from here.
Which is all by way of saying that, I’m intending to write up a product recipe or two in the weeks to come to share with all of you, but please, if you decide to give it a whirl and try to follow along, don’t think you have to do things just the way I tell you. If something shouldn’t be varied, or should be varied only with caution, I’ll let you know. Other than that, go wild!
(…and yes, I do generally follow my own recipes, at least when making product for sale. After all, once something is tested and may have customers who really like it the way it is, it wouldn’t be right to go tinkering with it excessively without warning! Every now and then, though, I have to head off into the tall grass and do something entirely different – and write down what I do, of course, in case it turns out to be awesome and I want to do it again.)