The Complete Soapmaker Book Review by ChristineMM
Title: The Complete Soapmaker: Tips, Techniques and Recipes for Luxurious Handmade Soaps
Author: Norma Coney
Publication: Storey Publishing, 1996
My Star Rating: 3 stars out of 5 = It’s Okay
Summary Statement: Beautiful Photos and Inspiring but Focus on Remilling and Most All Tallow Based
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: My edition has an error on page 34. Do not ever pour water on top of lye! Lye should be poured into the water. My edition has errors in step 5 and 6.
This book is beautiful and inspiring. The directions on soapmaking (other than the error on the lye and water mixing) are thorough. I appreciated the many photographs when I was first learning. However now as a soapmaker with about a dozen batches under my belt I no longer need this detailed information on basic instructions.
There are seven “basic soap” recipes, which are plain (no extra ingredients or scents) – five of these have tallow as an ingredient. One uses a combination of vegetable oils and one for castile soap uses only olive oil for the oil ingredient.
All the rest of the soap recipes are for HAND MILLED SOAPS. There are 46 recipes! This is where a batch of the basic white soap with tallow is made and then is hand grated and reformed with added ingredients. The author advises one cannot use a food processor or any other kind of machine to grate the soap. This is a time-intensive process to do by hand.
There are some other specialty soap recipes such as some liquid soaps and shampoos, marbled soap and confetti soap.
Some of the recipes use fresh ingredients such as fruits and fruit rinds. Benzoin is required to be used in those recipes so that the fresh ingredients don’t spoil (that’s not something I have on hand or can easily find).
While I found the lovely photos and the creative beautiful soap recipes inspiring I rate this book 3 stars = It’s Okay because I am not interested in making tallow based soaps. I find it too nasty smelling to work with and it is not easy for me to obtain. Second, I have no interest in making hand milled soaps as it is too labor intensive and not fun for me.
My interest is to work with various vegetable based oils in different recipes to make different soaps with different ingredients added such as lavender blossoms, calendula petals, oatmeal, and goat’s milk. I want to make one batch of soap in one step, pour it into a mold, cut it, let it cure and be done.
I am also interested in working with special oils for superfatting such as shea butter and cocoa butter and that is not a focus of the book (there is only one recipe and it’s a hand milled recipe).
In order to do what I want to do I must rely on additional books or other sources for recipes and information. Currently Clean, Naturally is sufficing.
Again this book is inspiring but I rate it 3 stars = It’s Okay because it doesn’t meet MY NEEDS.