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Creative Soap Making

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creative soap making by elin criswell

Creative Soap Making by Elin Criswell

The Country Soaper

The Bottom Line

Criswell's goal in writing this book was to "teach the basics of how to make handcrafted soap while also opening your eyes to the whole world of creative soap making." This she has done exceptionally well.

Creative Soapmaking combines an old fashioned heart with a modern brain - an appreciation for the old-fashioned country craft - with all of the modern safety, science and ingredients. It is filled with a spirit that’s almost like the soap makers of the past and present (including some of the soapmaking industry’s leaders and pioneers) have met to chat over a tall glass of iced tea.


  • Simple, yet thorough in its overview of the soap making process.
  • Contains valuable information for both beginners and advanced soap makers.
  • Enough recipes to get you started - and enough information to help you create your own.
  • Inspirational interviews from some of the pioneers and current leaders of the soap making industry.
  • A lot of information in a small book - recipes, how-to, reference, history and inspiration.


  • I wish there were more photos or drawings - people who learn more visually may struggle at first.


  • An excellent, thorough overview on the process of making your own soap.
  • Includes all of the basics including ingredients, equipment, safety, qualities of soap making oils, and recipes.
  • Interviews with pioneers and leaders of the soap making industry give a history of modern soap making from past to present.

Guide Review - Creative Soap Making

I've known Elin Criswell for a number of years. She describes herself as a "fourth-generation Texas soapmaker of Swedish decent." All of those backgrounds - the Texas, the Swedish, and the soap making - all seem to combine into a generous, witty, practical, no-nonsense attitude. But that seems to be how I'd describe a lot of soap makers...so Elin is in great company!

Even before she started making soap, Elin wanted to write, so combining her extensive knowledge of making soap into a book was a natural fit.

The book is very well balanced between the "how" of making soap, and the "why." Reading it, you'll understand the passion that soap makers have for their craft, and will likely be inspired to take the plunge into soap making, if you haven't already.

Criswell covers several different processes, but focuses primarily on cold process soapmaking. She gives several solid basic recipes, and a few popular recipes too, like peppermint tea tree, and oatmeal lavender. She covers the qualities of soap making oils, and lays the foundations for experimentation with colors, fragrances, additives and more. Pretty much everything you need to get started...and then some.

The "how-to" part of the book takes up about the first 2/3. One of the really unique aspects of the book, though, is in the last 1/3. In it, she gives a wonderful overview of the history of soap making, and then showcases interviews with some of the pioneers and current leaders in the soap making industry. In the book, she interviews:

The interviews give a personal overview of the history of the soap making industry, and a snapshot of the industry today.

Criswell says in the book, "[Soapmaking] scratches my creative itch, so to speak. There is just something so satisfying about creating something that is not only unique, but that also serves a useful purpose." Soapmakers around the world agree with her, I'm sure.

If you're a beginner or just curious about soap making, you’ll not only learn how to make your own soap from scratch, but you’ll see just why it’s so enchanting, satisfying and fun...and why making your own soap has become such a popular hobby and business. If you're a soap making veteran, you'll find a kindred spirit in Elin Criswell...and share in the inspiration and passion that we all share for making soap.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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