aromatherapy soapmaking

by Elizabeth Wright

An excellent Australian book for beginning soapmakers.

Simple explanations are given for making vegetable based soaps.

Explanations of the soapmaking process are minimal, but all the information needed to turn out a decent batch of soap is contained in this little book.

Instructions are easy to follow and recipes are for small kitchen sized batches, using ingredients that can easily be found in Australian supermarkets.

Pros

  • Excellent book for beginners
  • Written and produced in Australia, so that means it's in metric
  • Simple explanations
  • Suggestions for using existing household equipment including moulds

Cons

  • Lack of soapmaking chemistry
  • Doesn't equip soapmakers with the necessary information to formulate recipes

the natural soap book

by Susan Miller Cavitch

As a stand alone book, it is superior to many other soapmaking books available, in terms of content and information.

Includes information such as comparisons between different types of soap, descriptions of different soapmaking oils and other additives, and a glossary of soapmaking terms.

Snapshots of individual soapmakers with their own businesses is a nice addition.

Pros

  • Basic soapmaking chemistry explained
  • Equips soapmakers with information to formulate recipes

Cons

  • Recommended superfatting of 15% is too high

the soapmaker's companion

by Susan Miller Cavitch

This is my "desert island" soapmaking book. If I could choose just one soapmaking bood to take on a desert island, this is it.

Some soapmakers complain that the recipes contained in this book are expensive to make, but I don't hear the same complaint about gourmet cookbooks, when using fine ingredients will play a big part in the final result.

I have never made soaps from the recipes given in the Soapmaker's Companion, however, the information in this book provided me with all of the necessary tools for me to formulate all of my own recipes.

The information equipped me with the necessary information to formulate a recipe from scratch, and understand the reasons why it needs to be done this way.

The section on the chemistry of soapmaking is excellent, as is the section on commonly asked soapmakers questions.

Some critics have commented about the lack of photos, but I didn't find this detracted from the book at all.

I've read many other soapmaking books with plenty of beautiful photos but less real substance regarding information and content.

Pros

  • Detailed descriptions of soapmaking oils
  • Techniques such as marbling, layered soap, liquid soap and transparent soapmaking
  • Good all round book for beginners and experienced soapmakers
  • Excellent information on soapmaking chemistry
  • Equips soapmakers with the ability to formulate recipes

Cons

  • Most recipes call for too many different soapmaking oils
  • Superfatting of soap by 10% is too high for many soapmakers

the handmade soap book

by Melinda Coss

I haven't made any soaps from the recipes featured, but there is something for everyone, no matter what your preferences.

This is a beautiful addition to your soapmaking library, and it has single handedly inspired many people to begin making soap, which is a fantastic achievement.

A saponification chart is included in the book, but you need to convert the weight of the oils to metric if you are working in metric.

Pros

  • Gorgeous photos of finished soaps and ingredients
  • Photos of soapmaking process are helpful
  • A variety of simple recipes to suit everyone's taste
  • Contains recipes for other bath products

Cons

  • Lack of soapmaking chemistry
  • Doesn't equip soapmakers with some of the necessary information to formulate recipes

the complete soapmaker

by Norma Coney

This was my first soapmaking book and I learned a great deal from it, the most important to my mind, learning to make a true castile soap.

There are two recipe sections in the book, one for basic soap recipes (containing only the base ingredients) and the other for handmilled soaps (soap from base recipes plus other additives such as colours, textures, fragrances etc).

Many batches later I discovered that "handmilling" is really rebatching, involving time consuming and unnecessary extra steps that don't produce better results.

The advice to use liquid fabric dyes as soap colouring is questionable.

Coney's method of mixing lye is dangerous, and the lye should always be added to the water, not the other way round.

However, I do thank Norma Coney for inspiring me to make Castile Soap.

Her book contains a recipe and instructions for true Castile soap made from olive oil without the addition of other soapmaking oils.

It is rare to find a soapmaking book containing a recipe or instructions for Castile soap that doesn't require the addition of soapmaking oils or additives other than olive oil.

Pros

  • Easy to follow instructions with step by step photos
  • Instructions for rendering tallow
  • Instructions for Castile soap
  • Photos of finished soaps for every recipe

Cons

  • Too few vegetable based recipes
  • Implies that traditional cold process soap is inferior to rebatched soap
  • Incorrectly refers to rebatching as "handmilling"
  • Lack of soapmaking chemistry
  • Doesn't equip soapmakers with the necessary information to formulate recipes

soap: making it, enjoying it

by Ann Bramson

I borrowed this book from my local library, when soapmaking books in Australian bookshops weren't widely available from bookstores.

Most bookshops will order books for you, but it is helpful to at least look at a book before ordering, so you know what you are getting.

This is one of the earlier soapmaking books and much of the information is still worthwhile and relevant.

Of special interest is the section which includes a brief history of soap making, and readers will recognise the names of many large soap companies still in existence.

Instructions are given for rendering tallow, and not many books provide this information for those who wish to use tallow.

Overall, a good basic soapmaking book, and one that I would recommend to beginners, with confidence.

Pros

  • Good beginner's book with simple explanations
  • Interesting history section

Cons

  • Not enough technical explanations
  • Not enough vegetable based recipes