Okay, I have a basic soap making recipe, it is the first recipe I ever used. Like you I just hopped right in and got on with it (after reading quite a bit about it on the internet)
If you can get to a library go in and see what books they have. Otherwise do a search on google and you will doubtless come across several soapmaking tutourials. I have several soap books myself but at this time couldn't tell you what they are called, would remember if i had it from a picture though
I also have a good soap recipe for laundry, it works well and is the one I always (used to use) and which I really must start making again as buying it is becoming expensive again. The laundry soap is actually a gel more than a liquid which was a surprise to me at first. now it is just normal.
Unfortunately I am on my sisterinlaws computer at the moment but as soon as I am on my own again I shall be happy to pass on the recipes. As for what I used for making the soap, well I preferred a combination of oils and used mainly this - olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil and a little castor oil.
While the other oils do lather adding castor oil was found to give the soap a silkiness and nicer lather. (my opinion only) I have used animal fats such as you mention but on the whole stick to vegetable based ones as I found the animal fat ones to be "grainy" Saying this they do make a great "mechanics" soap and my hubby loves the one that I make for him to clean his hands with after he has been working outside.
Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
- John Lennon