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Soap Making Instruction Books

There are three basic soap making methods:

Cold process soap making is the traditional way that soap has been made for thousands of years. Using a combination of oil and lye mixed in water, the soap maker creates a chemical reaction called saponification which transforms the basic ingredients into soap.

Hand-milled soap, also called "rebatch" soap (or rebatching) is much easier. Here the soap crafter melts soap scraps or grated pre-made soap blocks, adds various herbal ingredients or scents, and remolds the soap. It takes several weeks for this kind of soap to set ("cure"), but the advantage is that you end up with genuine all-natural soaps without the use of lye.

The newest and easiest soap making method is called "melt and pour." In this case, all that's needed is to melt glycerin blocks, add your colors and scents, and mold an infinite variety of specially blended, shaped soaps - which set within an hour. This is the method used for transparent soaps.

Buy Books about Making Soap
The Soapmaker's Companion
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The Soapmaker's Companion: A Comprehensive Guide With Recipes, Techniques & Know-How
by Susan Miller Cavitch

An extremely thorough guide to cold process vegetable-based soap making (eg, using various oils such as mineral, palm, coconut rather than animal-based). While the book has tons of useful information and the directions are clear, it may be a bit difficult for beginners. The recipes make large batches. This is the bestselling soap book out there right now, especially among fans of Cavitch's first book, The Natural Soap Book, described below.
The Natural Soap Book
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The Natural Soap Book: Making Herbal and Vegetable-Based Soaps
by Susan Miller Cavitch

Cavitch's first book offers an historical overview of soap-making, lists the advanages of using all natural soaps, and gives very detailed, in-depth instructions on making cold process soap. Many popular recipes are included, though the batch size is very large. This is a terrific book for the serious soap maker, but can also be put to good use by the beginner. Cavitch also includes a suppliers list and a bibliography. A good value. We recommend this book be purchased before her second one (above).
Making Natural Liquid Soaps
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Making Natural Liquid Soaps: Herbal Shower Gels / Conditioning Shampoos / Moisturizing Hand Soaps
by Catherine Failor

This is a very good book on hot process liquid soap making with lots of fabulous recipes and quality illustrations and charts. Provides good information on fragrance use and blending, and instructions for making alcohol-free soaps for those who want them. Even includes a recipe for dog shampoo. If you are motivated to learn to make great liquid soaps, this is the book for you.
Making Transparent Soap
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Making Transparent Soap: The Art of Crafting, Molding, Scenting & Coloring
by Catherine Failor

From the back cover, "contrary to popular belief, making beautiful see-through soap doesn't require loads of special equipment, supplies, or overly complex preparation methods. All you need are some kitchen basics, such as pots, stirrers, and a thermometer; some inexpensive supplies from your local supermarket or craft store; and basic know-how." This book is a great introduction to melt and pour soap making for the beginner, with easy-to-follows directions and illustrations.
Essentially Soap
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Essentially Soap
by Dr. Robert S. McDaniel

Dr. McDaniel's Essentially Soap gives detailed instructions on making cold process soap, as well as "melt and pour" and rebatching. Clear scientific explanations and instructions make it easy to understand the "whys" of what you are doing. Includes a section on the aromatherapy benefits of using essential oils in your soaps. A very good reference, good recipes.
Milk-Based Soaps
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Milk-Based Soaps: Making Natural, Skin-Nourishing Soap
by Casey Makela

Outstanding introduction to milk-based soaps, either cow or goat's milk, using common ingredients to create a dozen wonderfully crafted soaps for a beautiful complexion. Clear, detailed directions make this guide very easy to use and well worthwhile. It's no wonder women have used milk on their faces for thousands of years - it's one of the best natural beauty products around. Recommended.
The Handmade Soap Book
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The Handmade Soap Book
by Melinda Cross

Lavish and stylish photographs of the finished product abound in this guide designed to inspire soap making. The recipes are good and the instructions clear, though many readers suggest a small problem with lye amounts. Hopefully, if the book is reissued in a new edition, that problem will be corrected. Beginners and experienced cold process soap makers will find much value and inspiration here.
Melt and Mold Soap Crafting
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Melt & Mold Soap Crafting
by C. Kaila Westerman

"Soapmaking has never been this easy! The revolutionary melt-and-mold method is taking the craft world by storm. Beginning with a meltable glycerin base, crafters can create stunning specialty soaps in minutes, with no lye and no waiting. It's as easy as melt, pour, mold, and decorate." Yes, it's true, this is the book for those of us who've yet to develop the patience and zeal needed to make traditional soap. Melt & Mold Soap Crafting is chock full of fun, easy recipes that would look great in your home or given as gifts. If you're not sure about taking the plunge into soap-making, give this book a try.
300 Handcrafted Soaps
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300 Handcrafted Soaps
by Marie Browning

Highest praise for this wonderful book on melt and pour soap making. Make gorgeous soaps using basic kitchen utensils and ingredients - no lye, no animal fat. As a sequel to her bestselling Melt & Pour Soapmaking, this new book focuses more on recipes using essential oils, botanicals and spices for richly scented creations. Fabulous soaps, incredible variety, perfect for your own home or for giving or selling. Very highly recommended.
Natural Soapmaking
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Natural Soapmaking
by Marie Browning

"Making your own fragrant, softly tinted soaps--as well as bath salts, massage oils, and facial scrubs--is not only much less costly than buying them ready-made, it's also remarkably easy with the recipes in this book. The secret behind these simple but satisfying hand-milled soaps is to begin with purchased bars of plain white soap, rather than cooking up your own soap base from scratch." Browning teaches you to rebatch ready-made soap into lovely custom, personalized soap creations. Easy and fun. The hardest part is finding truly plain white soap (apparently Ivory won't do).
Soapmaking for Fun and Profit
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Soapmaking For Fun & Profit
by Maria Given Nerius

An invaluable resource for crafters hoping to make a profit on their hand-crafted soaps. Filled with information on equipment and setting up a "workshop" area in your home, as well as some very solid information on the various methods of soap making, the greatest strength of this books are the legal information (permits, licenses, etc.) and the advice on how to get going at craft shows, stores and more. A great starting point for both beginner soap makers and beginner small business people.