Friday, February 7, 2014

Soap Book Reviews

I've been making soap for years using a cold process method.  There were just a few books on the market when we started making soap but there are several new books out there now and I realized it was time to check them out.  So much fun to read through a pile of new soap books!  I liked these two the best.  Soap Crafting, and Handcrafted Soap. 

For those of you new to soap making, let me answer a couple of questions first.

'Melt and pour' is when you buy pre-made soap, usually clear glycerine soap, at your local craft store and then all you have to do is melt it, add some color and scent and pour it into fun molds.  Easy.   These books aren't about that.  They are about making cold process and hot process soap.

Hot process and cold process soap making start the same way:  with oils and lye.   You start by mixing the lye into water and cooling it to under 120 degrees.  You melt your oils together and cool them to the same temp as the lye solution.   Then you mix them together to make your soap mixture. 

Cold process is when you pour the new soap mixture into a mold and let it cure slowly on its own.   You can unmold it after a couple of days, but saponification occurs slowly over the next few weeks.

Hot process is when you pour the new soap mixture into a slow cooker or pot and heat it up to quickly finish the saponification process in an hour or so.  

Soap Crafting: Step-by-Step Techniques for Making 31 Unique Cold-Process Soaps is a new book on cold process soap making that takes you through the basics and then shows a bunch of beautiful techniques for how to mix colors and make your soaps fancier. It was written by Anne-Marie Faiola, the Soap Queen, who has a terrific blog and who owns Brambleberry, an excellent (if pricey) source for soapmaking supplies.  The book is clear, beautiful and excellent for beginning and intermediate soap makers.  There's a good list of ingredients and a troubleshooting section.  It's got a spiral binding that allows you to open the book and keep it open while you're working.  I love it!  I've put this book on my book widget [See BOOKS tab above], too, if you need to find it later.

The second book Handcrafted Soap is all about hot process soap making, something that I had never tried. This book is by Delores Boone, who has done a great job of introducing soapmaking for beginners who want to finish it quickly by heating it at the end. There's a good description of oils, the basic process and the finishing processes. A great book for people who want to use the hot process method. Only one problem. The book is now out of print and it is way too expensive. I include the link here only so you know what book I'm talking about and so you can keep your eye open for it at used book places. It's definitely worth a few bucks to put in your how-to library, but not more than that.  The process is EASY.   I tried it right away and will give you a report tomorrow.

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