My basic recipe is high lard and mostly other hard oils/butters - ie CO, PO, Shea plus castor and I never have a problem with it being too hard. There must be something else going on with the process I'm thinking? Great project!
I've often paid equal to or more in shipping compared to the actual price of products ordered - especially on a small order. It's a necessary evil for me so I try to make the order big enough to justify the shipping costs.