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29 Reviews
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Every Penny!
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...
Published on November 24, 2001 by Stephanie Rose Bird

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98 of 102 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Most recipes are lye heavy...
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...
Published on November 27, 2000 by Jane R Milner


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98 of 102 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Most recipes are lye heavy..., November 27, 2000
By 
Jane R Milner (Grass Valley, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Handmade Soap Book (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
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Photos, Iffy Recipes, May 4, 2001
By 
S. D. Shaver (San Clemente, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Handmade Soap Book (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Every Penny!, November 24, 2001
This review is from: The Handmade Soap Book (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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Only One You'll Need, December 14, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Handmade Soap Book (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
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful , inspiring book, November 16, 1999
By 
Elke Verreet (Lier , Belgium) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Handmade Soap Book (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
2.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Awe-Inspiring Photos, but Poor Recipes, February 21, 2001
This review is from: The Handmade Soap Book (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
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Source of Information but Caution on Recipes, January 5, 2003
By 
This review is from: The Handmade Soap Book (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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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definately Worth A Look!, October 31, 1998
This review is from: The Handmade Soap Book (Hardcover)
I just purchased this book and made a batch of soap. I found her directions easy to understand. This book would be wonderful for beginners as well as an advanced soaper.
I did feel, tho, that she needed more warning for adding fruits and veggies to her recipes. People may not understand that these do not have the shelf life that other soaps will as the fruits/veggies rot.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some Pretty Photos and Some Not-so-Pretty Ones, March 13, 2001
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This review is from: The Handmade Soap Book (Hardcover)
I checked out this book along with Susan Miller Cavitch's The Soapmaker's Companion. The information in this book is presented simply. It's more of a picture book with a few recipes. I found the other book much more informative for a new soapmaker. This one does present some interesting recipes and the photos do help. As others have mentioned, some of the soaps pictured look lye heavy. I recommend checking the recipes with a lye calculator before trying them.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but some recipes appear to be lye-heavy, February 14, 1999
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Handmade Soap Book (Hardcover)
I have made several recipes from this book. Most have turned out wonderfully, but some of the recipes appear to have excess lye. I would recommend checking the recipes using a SAP calculator prior to using them. Other than that, this book is excellent. It has great ideas and beautiful pictures, with excellent descriptions of the process of soapmaking and the various ingredients used.
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The Handmade Soap Book
The Handmade Soap Book by Melinda Coss (Hardcover - January 9, 1998)
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