Top critical review
108 people found this helpful
A decent reference, many limitations as a how-to, somewhat dated
on September 15, 2007
I bought this book years ago, when I first started making soap. It has a wealth of good reference information on different oils, colorants, additives, etc., information that I still refer to occasionally. Unfortunately it's usefulness as a guide is somewhat limited by several things:
1) She is biased against the use of any ingredients of animal origin, especially animal fats. No coverage of the use of animal fats in soap is given at all, and her only excuse is lame, not backed up by any actual science, and demonstrably untrue.
2) Her recipes are too large, are overly complicated, and way too superfatted. Plus she recommends the use of GSE, an ingredient whose use as a preservative has been thoroughly discredited.
3) Some of her warnings/cautions are odd, to say the least. Her paranoia of clay, for one, is downright bizarre. Her admonition against pouring raw soap down the drain, in the event of a ruined batch, is utterly nonsensical.
4) The chapter on the chemistry of soap making is too much. She tries to go so in-depth that she's obviously in over her head, to the point that I was embarassed for her when I read it. The information here that would be useful/interesting to soap makers could have been condensed to a couple of pages.
5) She only covers cold process, and then, only cold process where the ingredients are combined at higher temperatures. There's no excuse for only covering the cold process in a "comprehensive" guide, but the fact that she only gives one basic cold process method may be an artifact of the next problem...
6) This book is dated. I started making soap around 2000, and even then people were using stick (aka immersion) blenders to mix their soap. There's no mention of stick blenders at all in this book, and that's a HUGE ommission. There's also no mention of alternative cold process techniques that are very mainstream today; e.g. discount water cold process, and room temperature cold process.
The bottom line is that there are a number of other books on the market that contain much more up-to-date soap making information than this one, not to mention all of the resources available on the internet. This book is still worth checking out, but don't expect it to be what it claims to be.