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on October 25, 1999
The information and techniques of cold process soap making are clearly and thoroughly covered in this book. This is definitely a good book to learn the process of soapmaking. The lack of pictures, makes the book slightly less enjoyable. Several recipes include expensive oils or butters that most soapmakers may not be able to find locally, which in my opinion don't belong in a beginners soap making book. It is however a great book, maybe not for beginner's recipes, but the information is well worth reading this book.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 16, 2002
I bought this book right after I took a class in cold process soapmaking, so I was a beginner, but not an absolute beginner. As of this writing, I've made about 6 batches of soap, and this book has been a big help. I've used The Soapmaker's Companion as a reference for things like properties of various oils and herbs.
There are a couple of charts that I constantly refer to when creating new recipes. I have not, however, used any of the author's recipes, and I doubt I ever will. They tend to be rather detailed as well as sometimes refer to ingredients in grams - sometimes listing an ounce equivalent, sometimes not.
I wish the book had a hard cover, too, for the spine isn't holding up well. My other complaint is with the ink and printing process. Two colors are used throughout the book: an evergreen color, and a salmon color. The intensity of the colors vary throughout my book. In places where the headings are in the salmon color, some pages the print is so light that I have trouble seeing the headings, yet I can turn a few more pages, and it's nice and dark. This may just be a fluke with the printing of my book.
All in all, The Soapmaker's Companion has been a wonderful resource for me. I've only had two questions that I couldn't find the answers to in the book: (1) The SAP value of monoi oil, and (2) Guidelines, a rough range, or any discussion whatsoever on how much essential oil to add per pound of soap.
I recommend absolute beginners don't buy this book with thoughts that it will teach the soapmaking process. Either take a class first or find a better first book, and then buy this one once you've learned the basics.
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on October 15, 1998
This is a big, fat book with a lot of discussion of soap-making temperatures, sodium hydroxide discounts, and the properties of various ingredients. It's an interesting addition to an experienced soap-maker's library, but it would not be very useful for beginners. (Beginners would probably be better off with Coney's "Complete Soapmaker".) I did not like the complicated recipes with zillions of ingredients, the small, hard-to-read typeface printed in horrible green ink, or the fact that the recipes often measure certain ingredients in ounces and others in grams, necessitating the use of two different scales. On the plus side, the book does include the saponnification values of various oils for those who wish to design their own recipes, although the formula given for doing so is rather complex.
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on June 12, 2004
This book has great charts and Susan Miller Cavitch does a great job of explaining the science of creating soap - fascinating. I only wish chemistry had been this interestingly explained when I was a college student; I would have had a much better grade.
BUT...
The recipes in this book are really annoying. I am a veteran soapmaker and enjoy writing/making my own recipes, but I love to expand my knowledge and skill by making other people's recipes from time to time, too. The source of irritation in this book is the way the amounts of oils, liquids, scents, additives, etc. are delineated. The recipes veer wildly between English and metric measures and I find this very haphazard. I think it could be a real source of confusion to many. It sure confuses me, and I have made a LOT of soap.
I will say, though, that if you can work around the measures, the recipes she has presented do make some nice soap.
Since the confusing recipes comprise much of the book, I can't rate it as highly as I'd like to, considering the bounty of great technical info Miller imparts. So, three stars. But it is worth buying just because of the thorough explanation of the artistic science of soapmaking.
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on June 25, 2011
I learned to make soap 13 years ago from Susan Miller Cavitch's first book, "The Natural Soap Book." I was very surprised to see some reviews here that criticized the practice of superfatting soaps. The moisturizing qualities of these soaps is why I CAN'T KEEP THEM IN STOCK. I can't make enough to keep up with family, friends & customers. Anyone who's had the experience of stepping out of the shower and feeling like you're going to pop out of your skin because it's so dry and tight will appreciate superfatted soap. I can get drying soap at Wal-Mart, thank you very much.

I've had a few very minor problems with her recipes, but overall they have always, ALWAYS worked for me. I go back to this book again and again for inspiration and advice (along with her first book). It is the classic resource, and her books are the perfect place for a beginner to start. I made my first batch in 1999 using her recipes, and I've been making soap ever since.
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on December 21, 2004
This book is a great reference for soapmakers. I found her troubleshooting section especially helpful when I was a beginner. As a more advanced soapmaker, I refer back to this book for base recipes and as a quick reference for the benefits of different ingredients.

If you think you'd like to try making your own soap, this is the book to start with.
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on August 24, 2002
The information available in this book is amazing. The recipes are smaller and "friendlier" than those in Ms. Cavitch's first book, "The Natural Soap Book." However, I feel her first book still is a must-have and works great in tandem with this book. Do not be fooled - this is real soap making, and not a guide to the "melt-and-pour" method. This uses real fats and real caustics to make real, natural, homemade soap. The ingredients, for the most part, are not things that you will find in the grocery store. They call for ingredients (like pomace olive oil and palm oil) used in the cold-process natural soap industry. I particularly liked the addition of the natural lotion recipes and the anecdotal sidebars, as they provided a nice tangent from the material in the book. Cover to cover, and excellent reference!
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VINE VOICEon July 16, 2006
I picked up this book at the library and I am impressed with the sheer amount of information Cavitch has stuffed into it. I learned things in this book that I haven't seen anywhere else, such as the idea to cut your PVC pipe in half to make it easier to remove your soap. I also found the information about petroleum lip balms. They fix the problem temprarily but ulitmately dry out your lips so you become addicted to it. That floored me because I AM addicted to lip balm! She gives us a recipe for a simple lip balm that is composed of beeswax and oil. I can't wait to try it!

Of course, she also includes many recipes for soaps, but I'm a little daunted by them. They require tons of ingredients. One recipe, called "In Good Condition" calls for TWELVE different oils and butters; that's not including the lye and water. I don't know if her soaps are superfatted because I haven't tried the recipes and can't comment on them.

There was also a lack of photos, another bad thing for beginners. They can't see what trace looks like, they can't see samples of the recipes. I'm a visual learner and photos are a must. But since there aren't photos, there is more room to put information about the oils, colorants and scents. This book does not talk about hot process soap making however.

In sum, this book should be in your collection, however, first learn the basics from a different book. Then use this as a reference as you go along.
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on October 6, 2003
I have found this book to be the best among the books out today for the professional or hobby soapmaker. Susan Miller Cavitch gives you a complete A to Z on how to make soap, leaving nothing out. As a professional soapmaker, we have sold our handmade soaps and lotions on the web for years now on our website at [...] and this book still remains a good reference point. So you see, as professionals in this industry, this review isn't just about the reading material - but also a standing ovation for a fellow soapmaker who knows her business.
During those years, I have been a member of many forums and newsgroups for soapmakers and have seen praise for this book time and time again. When a new soaper has a question, others always ask, "well, have you bought Miller Cavitch's books yet?" In a nutshell, the book is a must and at the top of the list in this niche.
G. White
aromatherapist, soapmaker
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on January 4, 2005
I've recently been fond in soapmaking; and I read and read many soapmaking books and internet available in the market. First, I found this book was hard to follow. I was scared of dealing with lye- one of a dangerous chemical substance. I put it off for a while before I then had a gut to make my own very soap. My soap turned out very wonderful. It was rewarding! I then read other soapmaking books, and I found they are not as comprehensive as the first book-the soapmaker's companion-I read. Any one who wants to try making her own soap should definitely read this book, and you can thank me and the auther later. Good luck with your soap!
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