The Bottom Line
- 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.
- No photos, just drawings.
- A bit dated in recipes and equipment available.
- Recipes are overly superfatted and not presented in %.
- 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
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.
- Her recipes are too complex for beginners and she doesn't give a good explanation of what goes into creating a soap making recipe.
- 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.
- 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.
- The book doesn't mention stick blenders - the most important advance in soap making since commercially available lye!
Take what's good...and leave the rest.