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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Natural Soaps (Idiot's Guides) Paperback – June 1, 2010

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About the Author

Sally W. Trew is the owner of the online soap maker's supply business Apples, Woods and Berries (awbsupplies.com). Sally teaches classes on soap making and bath and body products, and creates her own recipes and soaps. Sally, with Zonella, are the authors of the book Soaps and Other Obsessions: Living Green and Naturally.
Zonella B. Gould started her soapmaking business, Bosque Bath and Body (bosquebathandbody.com) in 2002, although she started making soap long before then.
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Product Details

  • Series: Idiot's Guides
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: ALPHA (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1615640223
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615640225
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.4 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By R. Gilbert on September 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
Soap making can become one of those obsessive hobbies. But once you make your own cold-processed soap and use it, you realize the benefits of using the soap over store-bought concoctions.

Like most of the guides, the steps are clear. The author makes the process easy to understand and describes each step-- and possible misstep-- in enough detail to make anyone confident.

Making that first batch is really fun and interesting. And the best part is that you get to color it, scent it, formulate it yourself. Store-bought soaps are mostly detergents that have to have added moisturizers added. Home-made soap is made up of oils that have a decidedly different feel on your skin. This is the good stuff that you'd pay extra for at the boutiques and craft fairs. Once you try your own soaps (which can include add-ins like oatmeal, lavender buds, poppy seeds and milk), it is hard to go back to store soaps. And making a couple of batches by following the steps here, you'll realizes the benefits of doing what our great-grandmothers did-- they created a soap that cleaned and put back the oils in the skin.

This book makes it easy. Yes, you should have an Internet connection to use the soap calculator, but it is what the pros use to help them come up with the right combination of lye to oils.

With this guide, you can get hooked on the process.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is the first book that I read about soap making. I found it hugely helpful! It spends quite a bit of time explaining the differenct processes of soap making. This is an excellent book for those who are brand new to the topic, very easy to read and understand, resulting in successful batches of soap immediately. Yes it does rely heavily on soapcalc, but if you're brand new to soap making, you should rely heavily on soapcalc too!
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76 of 97 people found the following review helpful By talexander on November 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
There are three fundamental issues with this book.

1. This book purports itself as the "natural soap" guide. Perhaps naively I would expect this to carry some environmentally friendly/ethical notions (especially with a catch phrase of "live greener and cleaner"). However this book uses palm oil like it is going out of fashion (which indeed it should be) with no suggestions for substitutions. Palm oil has some great qualities for soap making, particularly its hardness, however its production is responsible for vast destruction, particularly of the habitats of orangutans in Malaysia and Indonesia. The alternatives include coconut oil and addition of butters (like shea butter) although these alternatives are not clearly identified in the book.
As a note to soap makers, if you are set on using palm oil, it is possible to source ethical (read sustainable) palm oil. If you are in Australia, here is a great supplier of sustainable products [...]

2. If you don't mind buying a guide that relies on a free internet calculator tool (soapcalc... search google for soap calculator) then go ahead and buy the book, however the calculator is completely self explanatory and does not require an "idiot's guide" to figure out how to use it. Soapcalc is a great tool however I would expect a book to explain how to make these calculations without the internet; and it fails to do this.

3. Inconsistency is a big flaw in this book. Take for example their discussion on amount of essential oil to add. On page 30, the book states "Most essential oils should only be used at .5 percent..." This would equal 5g of essential oil per kilogram. However in a later chapter the book states "If your essential oil is a strong fragrance, use .5 ounce (14.7grams) percent per 1 pound (453.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Candace Dainty on September 11, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Soap makers are always learning something new, but this book was like having my best friend beside me all the way, as I was learning.

It is written in an easy style, but has a ton of information. Only 192 pages, it contains more soap and cosmetic information than I've ever seen. The authors show a true knowledge of herbs and oils and how they may effect us.

There is so much in this little book to talk about, I don't know where to END. Bravo!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Diane Hoffmaster on November 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
Homemade soap makes a great gift and while I have made melt and pour soaps in the past, I have always been a little intimidated by making true soaps from scratch. This book offers a very thorough and in depth look at the science of soapmaking and I found that there were certain things I loved about it and others that I thought could use some changes.

So, to start off, you have a complete introduction into what soap is, the ingredients, the tools you need a ton of safety precautions. Yes, that part did make me a little nervous but working with some of the ingredients CAN be dangerous and I like that the book addresses those issues first thing!

I love the section on essential oils. There are several pages of oils, their characteristics and any known cautions like not using when pregnant or not good for sensitive skin. The book further looks at soap characteristics like hardness and lather, giving us definitions for each term and what type of ingredients and processes effect them.

It is at this point that the book starts heading into the actual math part of soapmaking. This isn't a process where you just throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and call it done. There are caculations, percentages, and numbers that need to be played with and the author delves into a website called SoapCalc to help with the formulas. It is here that I start to have a few problems, mainly because soap has been made for centuries (at least well before the internet!) and I don' want to rely on a website to help me make soap. The authors do discuss quite a bit how to play with with percentages of each ingredient to change it's characteristics but I wanted a formula and just didn't see one...(1 part this to 2 parts that, etc).
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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Natural Soaps (Idiot's Guides)
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