Usually I make cold process soap. When it's "done", I pour it into the molds, let it set for 24 hours to saponify and go through the gel process, then remove it from the molds, slice into bars, and let it cure for 4-6 weeks.
However, we have a party to go to in early April and we want to give some of my original unscented Antique Lace soaps as gifts. I didn't have any in stock, and time is short - the party is only two weeks away.
The solution is to make hot process soap. It's the same process right up to the point of pouring the soap into the molds; instead, I pour it into my crockpot. (My older crockpot is my dedicated soapmaking crockpot.)
Turn the crockpot on Low, and leave the soap to cook, checking occasionally. Eventually the soap will begin climbing the sides of the crockpot and fold in towards the middle.
When the "waves" reach the middle of the top surface, so that no pool of smooth soap remains in the middle, and the top is dry, it's done. It looks rather like mashed potatoes at this point, although my milk & cream soap is never white like potatoes.
If I were adding fragrance and colorants, this is the time I'd add them, but this is my original, plain recipe. So I just scoop it into the molds, and bang them on the counter a bit so there won't be any holes in the soap (hopefully).
I use sections of plastic downspout as molds. The bottom end is covered with freezer paper held on by several layers of duct tape, and the inside of the mold is greased with petroleum jelly. I've tried mineral oil and baby oil, but petroleum jelly is the only thing that ensures the soap will come out of the mold when it's finished.
The soap can be removed from the molds and sliced as soon as it cools and hardens. It's useable right away, but if you have time, it's best to let it set for awhile; the bars will be harder and last longer. As you can see, these bars are still a bit "shiny" and need to dry a bit; I took this photo immediately after slicing the bars. The color will lighten up a bit too over the next few days.
And there you go... soap!