Book Review Pure Soapmaking by Anne-Marie Faiola
Review by Dawn Thomas
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC
Crafts and Hobbies
I was very happy to review this book since I am making soap again. Recently, I read Anne Marie’s first book, Soapcrafting, and her Soap Queen Blog for Bramble Berry Soap Making Supplies Inc. Soapmaking can be a rewarding hobby as long as you take the proper precautions. The book begins with an introduction to handmade soap. The author recommends reading the science of soapmaking before attempting the soapmaking process and I second her opinion. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye and it is best to be diligent to prevent them. She also explains the environmental impact palm oil has on the orangutan population.
In the first chapter, the author explains the soapmaking process. She begins with the science behind soapmaking and includes some common terminology. Anne Marie also includes a page on emergency response actions. When working with lye, you should take every precaution for safety.
The next chapter is devoted to selecting the proper tools and equipment. There is a list of necessary tools and recommendations along with optional tools. She explains the different types of molds and which type of soap works best with each one. For a frugal soapmaker, yogurt and milk containers can be used as molds. The chapter ends with the clean-up process.
Chapter three details the systematic process for cold process soap. The author also provides a recipe for a basic two pounds of soap. The following chapter is all about oils. Anne Marie goes into detail on the various oils used in soapmaking. She mentions the importance of listing all nut oils used on labels to avoid allergic reactions.
In chapter five, the author discusses using herbs and other natural additives to soaps. As in the previous chapter, Anne Marie discusses the importance of listing any additives for possible allergic reactions. She also advises on the use of botanical products and FDA regulations. The author lists common additives that can be used in soapmaking. I was surprised the first time I heard coffee grounds were used as an additive for exfoliation. I had not heard of some of the additives listed. Different types of colorants are included along with how to make herbal oil infusions. There are examples of fresh and 5-month old colored soaps.
The next chapter has information for adding scent to soaps. The author begins by explaining the difference between essential and fragrance oils. She also recommends researching specific essential oils if you have any concerns before using them. Anne Marie describes the process of blending essential oils using top, middle and base notes to hold a fragrance. She suggests making small soap batches to test the fragrance.
Chapter seven shows how to design recipes to make the perfect soap. The chapter begins with a caution to check lye calculations before you swap out oils in a recipe. The author then discusses using other liquids in place of the water in a recipe. I learned several things in this section. I was unaware caffeine could reduce skin redness in body products. I also did not know you could use wine in soap.
Chapter eight is all about simplicity. I found several recipes I have to try. These are the oatmeal soaps for babies and the buttermilk honey soaps. The lemon linear swirls soap is so elegant and the banana cream pie soap looks like a slice of pie with whipped cream on top.
Chapter nine includes recipes with embedded soap. The annatto-yarrow soap looks amazing with calendula petals on top. I can imagine the cucumber layers soap feels soothing with the cucumber puree in it.
Chapter ten contains recipes that are colorful and creative. The shapes are unusual and colors are so vibrant. I think my favorites in this chapter are the aloe vera swirl soap and the black tea funnel pour soap.
This is an excellent book for anyone interested in making soap. The recipes and instructions are easy to follow. This book is a great addition to any soapmaker’s library.