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The Handmade Soap Book Hardcover – January 9, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"But it is Melinda Coss, in "The Handmade Soap Book" who assures the uninitiated that they can make soap. She is the playful coach who, with humor and joy, shows the delightful side of soapmaking. Her book is also chock-full of the work of still-life photographer Emma Pelos, and sure to capture the heart of any gardener. It is a creative presentation that brings out the extraordinary beauty of ordinary garden goods, such as herbs, fruit, and twine, in combination with soap." -- The Register-Guard

From the Back Cover

In a world filled with artificial and synthetic products, this book shows you how to creat your own soaps and bathtime luxuries using only natural ingredients and very little specialized equipment. Gorgeous photography and simple, easy-to-follow recipes will inspire you to start right away.

-- Create a soap to suit your own personal skin type

-- Choose from a range of scintillating and mouth-watering ingredients, including peach, cucumber, ylang ylang, cinnamon, pine, pepperment, camomile, lavender, sandalwood, chocolate, goat's milk and many, many more

-- Includes recipes for shampoo bars, body splashes, bath oils and foaming bath creams

-- Solve all your gift problems -- with soaps for grown-ups and kids, men and women

-- Plus great ideas for packaging and presenting your finished soaps

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC; 1ST edition (January 9, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580170846
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580170840
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 9.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,134,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book is THE ONE to inspire you to start making soap.
Elke Verreet
For one thing there are photos of "trace", which eludes most beginners because there are so many conflicting definitions.
mememe
There are better books out here and this one is pretty mediocre.
K. Wesley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Jane R Milner on November 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book after reading all the reviews as one of my information sources for soap making. However, now that I have about a year's worth of experience, I would not recommend this book for the beginner. ALL of her recipes need to be checked with a lye calculator as they are lye heavy. This will cause the soaps to be crumbly, harsh, drying. She also feels that beeswax is needed in most of her recipes, which one doesn't need. Also, most experienced soapers wouldn't use such high amounts of coconut oil as this is drying, even though it makes wonderful lather. Fresh fruit nave no place in cold process soap...they will mold. Fragrances need to be added at the rate of about .5 ounce per pound of oils, she falls way short, so the soaps will have very little fragrance. The photographs appear wonderful, until you have experience making soaps, then you will notice how lye heavy they are. The amount of water that is needed in her recipes is also off. Her recipes are small (32 ounces) so your margin for error is very slim. I suppose you could use the book for ideas, but you really need to rework the recipes. After you have learned how to make cold process soap elsewhere.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By S. D. Shaver on May 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The recipes in this book are, compared to the recipes in the Susan Miller Cavitch "Soapmaker's Companion", deceptively simple. This can be good and bad -- I've made two soaps from this book, and one came out super-soft and the other came out fine. As for their lye content -- yes, compared to Cavitch's computations, they do seem on the heavy side. Someone recommended calculating before you make the recipes, and I think that's a good suggestion.
The photos are gorgeous, and give you a sense of what your final product will look like. She has some good technique suggestions, and the standard list of sap values for soaps. Her list of ten things to do when making soap is amusing.
But I don't recommend this as a first book for beginning soapmakers. I do recommend it if you are buying it along with other books on soapmaking (such as the above-mentioned Cavitch book) and for those who are moderately familiar with soap-making.
This book does contain animal-fat based recipes, which can be a drawback to some.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Rose Bird on November 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As a professional soapmaker I own just about every soapmaking book published. "The Handmade Soap Book" by Melinda Coss is my favorite and I highly recommend it. The photographs by Emma Peios are sensual and entice you to want to make each and every soap in the book. The recipes are for small batches which works well while you are just learning and when you've found your favorites you can double or triple the recipes. The recipes are well written and pretty much fail-proof. Coss is not a soap snob or purist, rather she uses color freely to produce delightful results. Coss features both vegetable soap and animal-based materials for those who would like to experiment and choose for themselves rather than have the decision made for them which is done in many soapmaking books. Yes, the book is a bit pricey but it is hardcover so it is durable, the photographs are inspirational and the recipes make "The Handmade Soap Book" worth every penny.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This was the first soap book I read and I keep coming back to it! The recipes are easy to follow and the author encourages you to experiment with different ingredients. I have had tremendous success with these and have become a total soap addict! The pictures are exquisite and inspiring. The list of suppliers and internet links were also very helpful.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Elke Verreet on November 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is THE ONE to inspire you to start making soap. It has the most gorgeous pictures in it and also gives a lot of ideas and tips how to decorate and package your newly made soaps. If you are interested in this craft , buy the book and give it a try.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By mememe on February 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book was the first soap book I purchased, and I found the photographs to be absolutely awe-inspiring. The soaps in the pictures look fabulous, and there are photos of the soapmaking process that would be valuable to a beginner. For one thing there are photos of "trace", which eludes most beginners because there are so many conflicting definitions.
Unfortunately, I found the recipes to be very disappointing. They are a little on the lye-heavy side, for one thing, and as other reviewers have pointed out, this can cause major problems on small batches. The recipes are also quite complex, and the ones I've tried made soft, short-lived bars. However, they did inspire me to incorporate some of the ideas in my own recipes.
I would have given this book a 2 1/2 star rating if that had been available.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Liz on January 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I like the way the book is organized and written, and the photos are inspiring. The writer does a good job of organizing the topics. I found the lists of additives, essential oils, and fillers especially interesting and informative, and I return to this section often. However, after plugging in a few of her recipes in a lye calculator, I was disappointed in the lye heavy recipes. I felt this was very lazy editing and a potential danger to new soap makers who do not know how to design their own recipes. I checked some of her sap values and they are correct, but, out of a sampling of 5 recipes, 2 recipes are lye heavy: "Grapefruit Slice" is -1.6% lye heavy; "Fresh as a Cucumber" is also -8% lye heavy. However, "Blackberry Smoothy", "Peach Melba", and "Strawberry Soap" are all okay. If you already know how to design your own recipes, this is a good book for inspiration.
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The Handmade Soap Book + The Soapmaker's Companion: A Comprehensive Guide with Recipes, Techniques & Know-How (Natural Body Series - The Natural Way to Enhance Your Life) + The Natural Soap Book: Making Herbal and Vegetable-Based Soaps
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