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Best CP Soap Books?

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Gryphonisle

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I bought “Scientific Soap Making” out of an abiding respect for Science, and figured it would make a good research and reference tool, answering why things went south, with a scientific explanation of what was happening. I was wrong. It is more of a science course in soap making, and goes off the deep end right at the start. The other book I bought before that would have required hundreds of dollars worth of oils, colorants, essential and fragrance oils just to sample a few of its recipes.

So...

While I’ve been turning to the Internet and Soap Forum, I’d really like a good reference book that is based on fact more than opinion or consensus, without making me have to invest in a lot of equipment to be the scientist I’m not. Anybody have any recommendations?
 

shunt2011

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I'm going to be honest with you. When I first started I purchased several books. None of them had as much helpful information and helpful people as this forum. I learned more here than from all the books and had already been making soap for over a year before I joined here. You don't have to spend a ton of money on equipment or ingredients to make a good soap. There are several topics in the beginners section that has equipment and many have shared easy recipes to get started. Here's a good source for some great information too from our own DeeAnna

https://classicbells.com/soap/soapyStuff.asp
 

Karmic

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If you have Amazon Unlimited there are actually a lot of soapmaking books available in kindle/ereader form that you can read for free. I can't say how good they are because I'm still reading and learning myself, but they're there and a good resource if you're interested
 

Gryphonisle

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I'm going to be honest with you. When I first started I purchased several books. None of them had as much helpful information and helpful people as this forum. I learned more here than from all the books and had already been making soap for over a year before I joined here. You don't have to spend a ton of money on equipment or ingredients to make a good soap. There are several topics in the beginners section that has equipment and many have shared easy recipes to get started. Here's a good source for some great information too from our own DeeAnna

https://classicbells.com/soap/soapyStuff.asp
I am finding that to be very true, this site and its members is a very good resource.
If you have Amazon Unlimited there are actually a lot of soapmaking books available in kindle/ereader form that you can read for free. I can't say how good they are because I'm still reading and learning myself, but they're there and a good resource if you're interested
I don’t have kindle, or an ereader but that’s good to know. Thanks.
 

BattleGnome

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I don’t have a book that I would recommend but an idea if you want to soap along.

Anne Marie from Brambleberry has written a few books and sells soap kits, along with all the ingredients she uses in her recipes. You can get one of her kits, the accompanying book, and check if she has a video or blog post about the recipe for further reference.

I’m not a fan of most of the Brambleberry recipes but they aren’t bad recipes, just not what I like/formulated for my climate. She also formulates to use all the fanciest ingredients she sells. I can say a good thing about her kits is that there’s usually enough extra ingredients to play with in another batch and a mold. It’s great for learning but if you’re serious about soap you’ll quickly outgrow this method.

I know RoyaltySoaps on YouTube also has a kit and there are probably others out there. I just know Brambleberry has options for all learning styles if you have a preference
 

Gryphonisle

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I don’t have a book that I would recommend but an idea if you want to soap along.

Anne Marie from Brambleberry has written a few books and sells soap kits, along with all the ingredients she uses in her recipes. You can get one of her kits, the accompanying book, and check if she has a video or blog post about the recipe for further reference.

I’m not a fan of most of the Brambleberry recipes but they aren’t bad recipes, just not what I like/formulated for my climate. She also formulates to use all the fanciest ingredients she sells. I can say a good thing about her kits is that there’s usually enough extra ingredients to play with in another batch and a mold. It’s great for learning but if you’re serious about soap you’ll quickly outgrow this method.

I know RoyaltySoaps on YouTube also has a kit and there are probably others out there. I just know Brambleberry has options for all learning styles if you have a preference
Their customer service isn’t anything to write home about either! But, I have seen and used her posts. I’ve also put some and those of other sites on Pinterest as a reference. There are still gaps though, answers to questions like “how do you know what (natural) colorant works best diffused in lye, or oil or water, or mixed to trace?”. There must be a good reference book that isn’t a science course or recipe book.
 

Nanette

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Hmm..I dont think Ive ever seen a book with a natural colorants chart of the colorant dispersed in different ways....Ive seen the colors over a period of months and how they change but only on soapmaking forum have I seen folks researching the different ways colors look in lye water, oil infusion, etc...once again Soapmaking Forum rocks!
 

shunt2011

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I've never seen anything in writing that breaks down natural colorants for you. Many don't work in CP soap and most have a tendency to fade over time.
 

DeeAnna

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Arimara

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If you have Amazon Unlimited there are actually a lot of soapmaking books available in kindle/ereader form that you can read for free. I can't say how good they are because I'm still reading and learning myself, but they're there and a good resource if you're interested
Many of those books are fraudulent and rife with plagiarism. There are a few that were decent enough to tell you to use a soap calculator and seemingly a handful that are actually good.
 

melinda48

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I'm going to be honest with you. When I first started I purchased several books. None of them had as much helpful information and helpful people as this forum. I learned more here than from all the books and had already been making soap for over a year before I joined here. You don't have to spend a ton of money on equipment or ingredients to make a good soap. There are several topics in the beginners section that has equipment and many have shared easy recipes to get started. Here's a good source for some great information too from our own DeeAnna

https://classicbells.com/soap/soapyStuff.asp
Gregory Lee White’s book Making Soap from Scratch is an excellent (in my opinion)beginners book. It is one I used and fund it full of good, sensible information for the beginning soapmaker.
 

Arimara

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Gregory Lee White’s book Making Soap from Scratch is an excellent (in my opinion)beginners book. It is one I used and fund it full of good, sensible information for the beginning soapmaker.
My sister has that book. I bought a few books from Anne Watson. Both are good books. I have to look for my kindle to sort through the trash from the decently priced ones.
 

Mistrael

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I picked up two books by Susan Miller Cavitch - The Natural Soap Book and The Soapmaker's Companion - plus The Everything Soapmaking Book by Alicia Grosso before I bought any ingredients or tools. The Companion and Everything books have a lot of instructive info for beginners, material about ingredients, and recipes from people who aren't trying to sell expensive supplies. I'm sure all the info in them is freely available online, but sometimes it's handy to have a reference book on hand. I'd rather accidentally spill something on a paperback book than my phone or tablet, yanno?

As for natural colorants, Nurture Soap has several, plus a lot of micas and lakes, and they show examples of how they look in products. I'm only just starting to tinker with colors, so I can't personally vouch for much, but I liked the info on the site enough to place a couple orders.

You could always check your local library for soaping titles. Some areas have cooperative agreements where they'll transfer books from one town's library to your own town, so if there's nothing good on the shelves, it could be worth asking. (One of my friends is a librarian, and has opened my eyes to all kinds of nerdy goodness. :D)

If you do decide to try Kindle books, you don't need an e-reader. There are free apps for phones and computers. That said, the free how-to books I've tried in the past weren't worth the time or effort it took to locate, download, and read them. There's some atrocious crap on Amazon.
 

Zany_in_CO

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I picked up two books by Susan Miller Cavitch - The Natural Soap Book and The Soapmaker's Companion - plus The Everything Soapmaking Book by Alicia Grosso before I bought any ingredients or tools.
I bought both of Susan Miller Cavitch's books for my reference library because of the excellent info on ingredients we use to make soap. NB her recipes contain 10% SF which is a little high IMHO and antioxidant grapefruit seed extract which is not only pricey and hard to find these days but over time it has shown to be not as effective as ROE (Rosemary Oleoresin Extract).
 

Mistrael

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I bought both of Susan Miller Cavitch's books for my reference library because of the excellent info on ingredients we use to make soap. NB her recipes contain 10% SF which is a little high IMHO and antioxidant grapefruit seed extract which is not only pricey and hard to find these days but over time it has shown to be not as effective as ROE (Rosemary Oleoresin Extract).
That's good to know! I haven't used her recipes yet, but if I use recipes that aren't given in percentages, I first break them down to understand the exact formula.
 

lucycat

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I agree that the Cavitch books are good reference. They were how I really understood calculation of lye amounts without relying on soapcalc. I also used some of her EO blends. However, a lot of her recipes are way too large for a beginning soapmaker. Costs were also different when she wrote the books n the 90's so using EO's like she did I would consider a luxury now. She believed in adding oils at the end phase for superfatting and we now know that doesn't control a superfatting oil. So, as much as I think there are great things about her books they have weaknesses because they reflect knowledge at the time she wrote the books.

I also own Soap Naturally by Garzena and Tadiello (2004) that I think is pretty good as a reference. I think it is somewhat dry to read but it does contain a lot of general information and I have used it as a reference.

As a new soapmaker I would use the internet because what you read will be more current with how soap is made today. I would check out books from the library. You may see something you want to purchase because it provides inspiration or decide that a reference book isn't needed as much today as it was 20 years ago.
 

Zany_in_CO

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I also own Soap Naturally by Garzena and Tadiello (2004) that I think is pretty good as a reference.
I agree. I have that one too. One chapter is even devoted to the ABC's of skin care. Available on Amazon (used) for $50 - $169.99!!! LOL

Soap Naturally, out of Australia, was one of the best online groups back in the early 2000's. It was very well organized. The first page had an index where you could find whatever your interest was very easily. Members from all over the world participated. Great fun!
 

SoapySuds

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I have four books in my library:

Soap: Making it and enjoying it by Ann Bramson

This book imho, is THE book on soap making. Her recipes are simple, and she has wonderful information about soap making. If you can find it, even second hand, this book is worth it.

Catherine Failor’s books on liquid and transparent soapmaking are good launching points for making either one of those types of soap. I feel Making Natural Liquid Soaps could probably be updates with some additional information that I’m sure she’s learned since publishing. Stuff you learn from doing it, but meh, you learn by doing.

The Everything Soapmaking book by Grosso is a really good overview.

Most books on amazon kindle plagiarize Bramson’s book, especially her brief history overview, and rehash her information without finesse or the love of soap she writes with.

ps

Candle maker books are the worst though. Melt wax. Add scent! Wax will only hold a certain amount! Pick the right wick for the container and wax! Add color! Buy from reputable people. - you have now read every single book available on candlemaking. You’re welcome.
 

Wendy90292

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Hmm..I dont think Ive ever seen a book with a natural colorants chart of the colorant dispersed in different ways....Ive seen the colors over a period of months and how they change but only on soapmaking forum have I seen folks researching the different ways colors look in lye water, oil infusion, etc...once again Soapmaking Forum rocks!
Anne Marie's book "Pure Soap Making" really DOES have such a spread on pp. 52-53. It's quite informative.

The situation I find is that to make any of the recipes in this book, one must buy her rare and extremely expensive ingredients, and often the batches are so tiny (4-8 bars) as to be rather a waste of all that time and money. But as for teaching, I've learned more from her than anyone else's books or videos...until I joined this forum.
 

SoapySuds

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When I first started making soap, I found this forum (I think it was this forum, it was well over a decade ago, possibly even more) and the soap calc. It was pretty sparse back in the day, and looked a bit different, but the information is phenomenal. This forum is as good if not better than most individual soap books, but takes longer to find just what you’re looking for and it does involve making soap.
 

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