Soapmaking books reviews
After I started this nice hobby, my soapmaking library expanded quite quickly. There is an incredibly high number of books in this domain, of different content and quality, generally reflecting the categorization of different methods and types of soap.
Those I have read I will review here (I will add more reviews – see below for my complete library) and to my best knowledge divide into two basic categories:
1) books that are suitable also for complete beginners
2) books for more experienced soapmakers
(suitable also for complete beginners), the carousel shows books in my library which I will review.
This is a very nice book for melt&pour soapmaking – this means using a meltable soap
The photo-documentation is excellent and explains basic and more advanced techniques for creation of different shapes and combinations….
What I like is that author emphasize the technique and discuss well all possible problems you can encounter and their solution. There is a nice section on colours and a lot of ideas and advice.
I very frankly believe, this book should be on a shelf of each melt&pour soapmaker.
The very first book, that showed me some years ago the wonderful world of natural soapmaking. It does not contain photos or colored pictures, but explains very well the basic principles of cold process. Not only the technology and instructions, but also the necessary basic chemistry. It explains how to compute the necessary quantity of NaOH for your own recipe. The instructions are very detailed. The book is a bit older, therefore it does not mention using blender. I believe that the other book of Susan Miller Cavitch: The Soapmaker’s Companion might be better choice.
When I was in Bologna in Italy to visit my friend, I bought this book and even when I do not speak italian, I could see that this book was really good.
I speak well french and I really believed that I can understand at least something. Well, I understood that this is one of the best and the most detailed books on soapmaking ever! I liked it so much that I scanned it to pdf, used the text recognition program and translated it by google translate.
The book has 235 pages of high quality paper and photographs and you can find there everything:
- history and chemistry basics
- detailed characteristics of a large number of oils and fats, hydroxides, SAP calculation
- section on using different liquids and additives (beer, milk, …)
- detailed description of cold process (CP) and hot process (HP) methods
- detailed description of new techniques of CP and HP
- detailed description of liquid and transparent soap making (did you know you can make liquid soap by cold process?)
- Of course a selection on scents, essential oils and and their fixation, coloring and a very good section on troubleshooting.
Everything is written in detail, like if it were multiple specialized books in one. If you speak italian, or has the patience I had to translate it, this is THE BIBLE! As I have found later, there is an English version of this book on the US market, called Soap naturally. I don’t know if this is the same version or not.
the carousel shows books in my library which I will review.
In cold process
it is good to have some experience with cold process method
If you plan to make milk soaps, this is the book of reference for you. Anne introduces the “cold technique” a “warm technique”, but these are only variants of the cold process as “cold” and “warm” reflect the process of how the milk is incorporated to the soap.
The book has no photos, however the process is described in detail and there is a nice collection of recipes (two of my favorite recipes come from this book, see:
The book assumes you are already familiar with the cold process technique.
In hot process
it is advantageous to have experience with hot process
I would say a bible of liquid soapmaking.
First book on this subject, well done with plenty of photo-documentation.
Quite detailed, however, sometimes the author forgets to explain important facts.
For example that the “excess of KOH” in her recipes (13% of KOH more than necessary according to SAP values), is just a consequence of the fact that KOH flakes contain only 85% of potassium hydroxid (I figured this out by chance). Oherwise alpha and omega for liquid soapmaking.
Contains detailed chapter on troubleshooting.
This book requires an experienced reader in the hot process soapmaking.
If you would like to make transparent soap from scratch, this is one of the books you should have on your bookshelf.
On the other hand, it is definitely not a book for a complete beginner, the way the information is presented can be confusing and some things are not explained.
However, once you are an experienced soapmaker, you can find a lot of important information. The book is organized in a similar fashion as the liquid soap book from the same author, again with a very good chapter on troubleshooting.
I managed to make my first batch of transparent soap following this book.