Best Books & Reference Material for CP Soap & Body Products

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Cellador

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I've been (mostly) lurking around here the past couple of weeks, and I just wanted to say I am floored by the amount of information you all have in regard to the craft. You've also been super helpful and nice too- so thank you!

Are there books, websites, and/or reference material you can recommend to a beginner? Either with technical/science info or great recipes? I am a "research, research, research" type of person. Where did you all start? There's so much out there!

:think:
 

Zany_in_CO

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When I first started soaping I borrowed every book on the subject, including essential oils, from the library -- a couple of dozen books in all. Some I browsed; some I read cover to cover. I picked the best of the bunch to start my soaping library. I still refer to them today.

The Natural Soap Book and Soapmaker's Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch
Soap Naturally by Patricia Garzena and Marina Tadiello
Making Soap and Scents by Catherine Bardey (my first book; love it; Used her technique to make transparent soap)
Making Liquid Soaps by Catherine Failor (good info but technique is passé)
Soapmaking for Fun and Profit by Maria Given Nerius (a gift from my daughter)
Handcrafted Soap by Delores Boone (Beautiful Pictures!)

I learned how to make lard & tallow soap from an online site called Walton Feed. They had a section about how they used to make soap with lots of old timey pics of people making soap outdoors in a kettle. Fun place to visit but long gone now.

Most of what I learned came from an on-line forum with a great group of mentors who graciously and patiently shared their experience, recipes and techniques and a few Mad Scientist types who entertained us with their latest experiments ... also long gone. We were "family" and I miss them a lot.

From there, I joined a few other groups and forums, the best one being Southern Soapers Yahoo Group. The owner, Kelly Bloom, was a great teacher! She anot only knew everything there is to know about soap, but also lotions and potions and stuff. She was also very business savvy and many members owe the success of their start-up businesses to taking her advice and building from a solid foundation.

Sorry to ramble on... got caught up in a web of nostalgia... :neutral:
 

shunt2011

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Personally, I learned way more from reading here and watching reputable YouTube videos than from any book I had. Most books are old and as for recipes there are some pretty bad recipes in them as well. Watch soaping101 or even Brambleberry videos. Then read read read here on the forum. You can find pretty much all the info you need. The science, equipment, safety and recipes.

Welcome!!
 
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dibbles

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I took a community ed class long before I ever actually made soap. It was fine, but to be honest the only part of value was seeing what trace looked like.

I read through a couple of books, but by far the best information I have gathered came from this forum and watching YouTube videos. The ones mentioned by Shari are a very good starting point.
 

Susie

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This forum is better than any book out there. We will answer questions, and you get the new information.

I would suggest you read at least 5 pages of the Beginner and the Lye Based Soap forums. Then, if you have proposed recipe, post it and ask suggestions. We can save you lots of time, effort, and materials.
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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I would also read the older posts in the two recipe sections - these are great for learning what makes a recipe potentially good or bad, what certain oils bring to the party and the amounts people usually use. Sets a great basis
 

gloopygloop

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Personally, I learned way more from reading here and watching reputable YouTube videos than form any book I had. Most books are old and as for recipes there are som pretty bad recipes in them as well. Watch soaping101 or even Brambleberry videos. Then read read read here on the forum. You can find pretty much all the info you need. The science, equipment, safety and recipes.

Welcome!!
I absolutely and totally second that, plus many of the recipes in books are flawed often due to typos or mistakes along the line, so never take them for granted always check and double check a recipe.
 

Cellador

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Thanks, everyone! I have been online for months looking at YouTube videos and have been reading here. I think I'm ready to take the plunge and start on my first batch by myself, although it is a little intimidating :) I'll post my recipe later and get some feedback.

I would also read the older posts in the two recipe sections - these are great for learning what makes a recipe potentially good or bad, what certain oils bring to the party and the amounts people usually use. Sets a great basis
I did not even realize there was a recipe section until you mentioned it. Thank you! :)
 
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littlehands

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I love anything and everything by Anne Watson. I've read books by others, but I always come back to hers.
I also really love this series. They are short, sweet, cheap and packed with tons of information for beginners.

For body products I like The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Natural Beauty Products. There are a million bad body product books out there, but this one is very solid, safe and comprehensive. Anne Watson also has a lotion book that is very good, but I have a slight preference for the recipes in Idiot's Guide.
 
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dixiedragon

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I recommend what Zany said - check out all of the books at your local library. A lot of the information is repeated so you probably won't want your own copy of each, but that's a good starting point to see what each has to offer.

I definitely do NOT recommend the "Soap and Candle Making for Dummies" book - It's about 80% candles and 20% M&P.

Also, Kevin Dunne "Scientific Soapmaking" for the nitty-gritty of the science.
 

IrishLass

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Although I have read many soap-making books (checked most of them out at the library), I must say that everything I really and truly know about soap-making I learned from reading and interacting with other experienced soap-makers here at SMF and also on a few other forums in real time, and then putting it all into practice. And let me not forget one of the best teachers of all- learning from the myriad of mistakes I made along the way. :lol:

When it comes to books on soap-making, buyer beware. Some soap-making books are good and can be quite useful, but even the best ones can take you only so far since they are snapshots frozen in time, i.e., they are only as good as whatever reliable soaping info was known and included in it at the time of its printing.

For example, one of the books that I read instructed you to pour the water into the lye instead of the other (proper/safe) way around; and several other books erroneously instruct you to refrain from adding your special super-fatting oil to your CP until it has come to trace so that it will remain untouched by the lye in your finished soap (a myth that has since been thoroughly busted in more recent years).

Personal biases can muddle things, too: for example, the author of an otherwise fairly good book that I read strongly advised against using lard or tallow in soap because (in her opinion) they are inferior fats that don't make good soap. I found out later while reading that she was a vegetarian.

All of the above are the reasons why I'm a big advocate of reading the forums over books, and even over watching Youtube videos for that matter. Books, as well as many youtube videos are limited to the experiences/opinions/biases of one person, while on a forum there is up-to-date info and wisdom among many to be gleaned.

Of all the books I've read, the most helpful to me has been 'Scientific Soapmaking' by Dr. Kevin Dunn, which he wrote as curriculum for his chemistry students at the university that he teaches. I must warn you that it is not a how-to' book with lots of pretty pictures and/or recipes with which you can cozily curl up on the couch to read with a cup of tea. Instead, it takes you behind the scenes into the molecular underbelly to be able to gain a better understanding of what takes place inside soap though all its stages.


IrishLass :)
 

Zany_in_CO

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The Natural Soap Book and Soapmaker's Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch
Soap Naturally by Patricia Garzena and Marina Tadiello
Making Soap and Scents by Catherine Bardey (my first book; love it; Used her technique to make transparent soap)
Making Liquid Soaps by Catherine Failor (good info but technique is passé)
Soapmaking for Fun and Profit by Maria Given Nerius (a gift from my daughter)
Handcrafted Soap by Delores Boone (Beautiful Pictures!)
 
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shunt2011

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Is there a reason you posted your own quote on a post over a year old with nothing else added? I’m not understanding.
 

lsg

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Would you like your post moved to the new Book Review thread?
 
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