The main ingredient is Crisco, or some similar brand of vegetable shortening.
Start by gathering equipment.
1) A big spoon for stirring. Although it's not required, an immersion blender makes the process go much more quickly. Say, five minutes of stirring versus an eternity.
2) A scale. Most soap recipes measure ingredients by weight rather than volume. I use an inexpensive postal scale.
3) A soap mold. In this case, I used a plastic shoe box. Most recipes suggest oiling the mold with something like mineral oil, or lining it with plastic. I find I don't need to do this with flexible plastic molds.
4) A large non-reactive pot for cooking processing the soap. I use a stainless steel soup pot.
5) A large, heavy glass bowl for mixing lye and water. I make large batches at once so I use an eight cup Pyrex measuring bowl. It's nice that it also has a handle.
6) a wooden spoon for stirring lye and water.
7) a cooking thermometer
8) Safety equipment. This includes safety glasses and heavy gloves. Long sleeves, long pants, and closed shoes wouldn't hurt either.
Always use non-reactive containers and utensils -- that means wood, plastic or stainless steel. And protect counters with thick sheets of newspapers. More importantly, remember you will be working with a strong caustic, so keep children and pets well away. That said, with simple precautions, soap making is easy and pleasant. I've yet to burn myself or anyone else.
(2) 3 lb cans of vegetable shortening
12 oz lye
24 oz water
essential oil is optional. I added about a half ounce of lavender essential oil.
1) At medium to low temperature, melt vegetable shortening in large pot on the stove.