Customer Reviews: The Handmade Soap Book
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Showing 1-6 of 6 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on May 4, 2001
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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on January 5, 2003
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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on March 13, 2001
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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on May 29, 1999
I think this book is, for the most part, well written. The photographs are excellent. And I think she does a good job of explaining what to do and what supplies you need. There is a list of suppliers in the back of the book. But my first try at this, using the peach melba recipe, was a disaster. It was supposed to trace in 90 minutes. Well, 5 hours later, I still did not have trace! I couldn't wait any longer, so the whole thing was pretty much ruined. I don't even want to think about how much money I wasted on that. I am going to try it again, but only after I learn how to get the mixture to trace. And of course, I will try a different recipe. I think the one thing lacking in the book is the instructions for how to make the soap trace. Do you stir it constantly, ocassionally, or what? It doesn't really say. And it would have helped if she had mentioned that coconut oil and palm oil are actually SOLID, not oil! You have to melt them to get them in the oil state, and that was really confusing for me when my oil came in the mail and it was a hard brick! All in all, a beautiful book. And the recipes must work, because other people have tried them with success. I would suggest buying this book, but get someone who has made soap to help with your first batch.
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on September 18, 2002
I am a beginner soap maker, and found the recipes and pictures good for inspiration. Also, the sequence of pictures for a basic recipe from heating stage to the trace stage are useful. However, the book is not useful for creating your own recipes. While the book has a saponification table and a description of how to calculate amount of lye to use, it does not tell you how much liquid to use in a new recipe.
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on October 25, 1999
The photography is absolutely beautiful. This book can be very inspirational when it comes to creative thinking. Some of the properties of oils and additives are listed and can be very helpful and interesting to read, however this is not a book for beginner's. Some of the recipes call for fresh fruits, like strawberries and bananas, which I prefer not to put in soap or in the bath tub. Although the photos are lovely, some of the soaps, if looked at closely, seem crumbly. I haven't attempted any of the recipes yet, so time will tell.
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