When I first started making soap in 2001 the internet was still very young. Etsy didn’t exist yet and I wasn’t really aware of other soapmakers or crafters online. Eventually I discovered the Craftster.org – an online community for crafts and DIY where other craft novices and craft pros would share their finished projects and tutorials. That group eventually led me to Etsy when it first made its appearance in 2005 and I signed up while it was still in beta. Listings were free then; it was also a very different ecommerce site from what it is today. So essentially I learned how to make soap on my own through trial and error and what I considered the bible of soapmaking at the time, The Soapmaker’s Companion, by Susan Miller Cavitch which was first published in 1997.
Nowadays there are scores of books on how to make homemade soap as well as blogs and forums full of tutorials, recipes, techniques and other handy advice as well as communities like Etsy. There is also the book, Soap Crafting: Step-by-Step Techniques for Making 31 Unique Cold-Process Soaps, by Anne-Marie Faiola which was published in August of this year. Faiola, endearingly referenced as the “Soap Queen” ventured into soapmaking very similarly to the same way I did through book research and trial and error. As a result, unlike The Soapmaker’s Companion, Soap Crafting presents its content in a simple, straight forward manner that leaves no room for confusion. Easier for a beginner to grasp than The Soapmaker’s Companion, Faiola’s book not only breaks down the basics of soapmaking in a way that is simple and easy to understand, it is also presented with beautiful photography to guide you through the process so there’s no confusion – something that is lacking in The Soapmaker’s Companion which consists only of limited hand drawings and no actual photography. That said, The Soapmaker’s Companion is still an invaluable resource for those who are in pursuit of the all the information there is to have on making cold process soaps.
While this book is perfect for beginners wanting to make their very first batch of soap, this book is also suitable for those who enjoy making homemade soaps for more than simply function but aesthetic beauty as well. Faiola covers not only the basics, colors, molds, and food ingredients you can include as part your soap recipes, but she also delves into embedding soaps, funnel pours and gorgeous swirling techniques. In addition to the instructional content of this amazing soapmaking book, there are also thirty-one homemade soap recipes to get you started.