Gumbo Lily (that's Jody) asked about how the latest soap batch turned out, so I thought I'd show you.
The lavender soap turned out nicely. The wooden box mold holds heat well, and the soap I pour into it always gels fully and cures well. The soap is hard and firm. If you want to see what the box mold looks like and how it works to cut soap, here's a post with pictures of it. I just slide the soap down and cut it with a bench knife. Aren't the swirly colors pretty?
Here's a page that tells about soap ash and what you can do to eliminate it.
Jody asked about cutting the OJ can soaps. I wait until the soap is totally cool. (Okay, that's a lie. I'm over-eager about fiddling with my soap. I do wait, but probably not long enough.) I peel the sides of the OJ cans off, as you would the sides of a can of raw biscuits from the store, in a spiral. They pop out pretty easily. Then I place the cylinder of soap into my box mold (with paper around it to protect it) and cut it in there with the bench knife, as I did the box-molded soap.
Which brings up a good issue: when to unmold your soap. Some people tell you to wait weeks. I prefer to wait until the soap is firm, but perhaps not hard as a rock. I want to be able to cut it when it still has some "give" to it. So, I cut it when it still feels a little damp to the fingers. That's probably about 24 hours after I made the soap. Then I lay the bars out and let them dry for a week. I feel that if I let good air get to them (say, with an overhead fan running), they dry quickly, and I can sell them. They're perfectly safe to sell; they're just not as dry as they will be later. But most people take specialty soaps like this home and put them out as decoration anyway, and use them later. If I feel that a bar of soap is still a bit soft to sell, but people want it, I'll tell them, "Set it aside for a week before you use it. It'll last longer that way." That works, and they understand.