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The Soapmaker's Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch

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Soapmaker's Companion

Soapmaker's Companion

Storey Publishing

The Bottom Line

A great book to complement other books - or to give you a better perspective into some areas of soapmaking. Cavitch's coverage of soap making oils and their properties is still one of the best, but I wouldn't recommend this book as your "first."
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Pros

  • It IS quite comprehensive - covers many areas of soap making.
  • One of the best overviews of soap making oils in any book.
  • Great sections on natural colorants and troubleshooting.
  • Great section on soap making chemistry.

Cons

  • No photos, just drawings.
  • A bit dated in recipes and equipment available.
  • Recipes are overly superfatted and not presented in %.

Description

  • Forget the recipes and skip to Chapter 4 - Overview of Soapmaking Oils
  • This is a great book to have as a resource, but not an ideal book for beginners.
  • I (and most soapmakers) disagree with her high level of superfatting (10%) - way too high!
  • Her coverage of the qualities of oils and natural colorants are hands down the best of any soap making book.

Guide Review - The Soapmaker's Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch

The Soapmaker's Companion was the third book on soapmaking I bought, after Norma Coney's Complete Soapmaker(Compare Prices) and Soap by Ann Bramson. When I bought it, I had a good grasp of the soap making process, had made several batches, and wanted to expand my recipes and experiment. This was the perfect book for me at that time, and I've always held it in high regard.

It's several years and several hundred batches later now, and as I picked up this book again to review it, I can see why I loved it, but can also see it's limitations. Don't get me wrong, it's a great book - stuffed with information, tips and experience...but there are (in my opinion) several weaknesses.

  1. Her recipes are too complex for beginners and she doesn't give a good explanation of what goes into creating a soap making recipe.
  2. Her recipes are far too superfatted. She may like all that extra oil in her soap - but most soapmakers do not. It goes rancid and can lead to DOS.
  3. Because of the high superfatting, she includes Grapefruit Seed Extract in her recipes - which even when this book was written was a debateable ingredient, and how now all but been discredited as a useful preservative or antioxidant.
  4. The book doesn't mention stick blenders - the most important advance in soap making since commercially available lye!
So...like I said, other than those (albeit serious) limitations - this is a great book. I still pick it up from time to time to read about oils and natural colorants. Her coverage of these two topics alone is worth picking up this book.

Take what's good...and leave the rest.

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