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8 Best Soapmaking Books For Beginners [Pros and Cons Review]

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Starting with making soap can be a fun experience, a nightmare, or even both! However, finding the best book on soapmaking for you can help you have a positive, safe, and fun experience when you first start making soaps.

The best books on soapmaking offer at least one in-depth tutorial for making your first soap and include various recipes to test as you learn more. Additionally, the best soapmaking books usually include charts and dictionaries to help you understand the basic science of soap making.

Though you can find this information about soaps online most of the time, hunting it down – and then remembering what webpage it was that you found it on – can be aggravating. Plus, it can help to have a consistent guide as you’re starting out.

So, let’s look at the best books on soap making together, going through the pros and cons of all of the best guides. We chose these books based on how much we like them, their reviews, and how popular they are within the soapmaking community, so you can’t go wrong with any of them. However, one might fit your learning style and the types of soaps you want to make more than the others.

Our Picks for the Best Soap Making Books

soap-making-cutting-finished-soap-in-pieces
I love soap making. It’s gratifying, and you can create super basic, simple soaps or go all out and add herbs, colors, and other ingredients. Plus, it’s a useful hobby that serves a real purpose.

Soap making is a lot of fun, but it can also save you money and help you use some of your resources that might otherwise go to waste. If you want an example, check out our guide on how to make soap from beef tallow!

So, look no further than soap making if you want to find an inexpensive, easy, and practical hobby.

Getting started is pretty simple, but having a guidebook to help you learn the basics is incredibly beneficial. There are many types of soapmaking, different oils to use, and ways to cook and cure your soaps. Learning the basics in the beginning will allow you to start customizing, improvising, and getting creative with your soaps in no time!

So, ready to get started? Let’s look at our most beloved guidebooks for learning how to make soap and talk about what each one covers. That way, we can help you find a book that fits your interests and learning style.

  1. Easy Homemade Melt and Pour Soaps: A Modern Guide to Making Custom Creations Using Natural Ingredients & Essential Oils
    $21.99 $17.50
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    04/14/2024 06:49 am GMT
  2. Simple & Natural Soapmaking: Create 100% Pure and Beautiful Soaps
    $33.64
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    04/14/2024 01:53 am GMT
  3. The Complete Guide to Natural Soap Making: 65 All-Natural Cold-Process, Hot-Process, Liquid, Melt-and-Pour, and Hand-Milled Soaps
    $22.99 $18.64
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    04/14/2024 01:56 am GMT
  4. Soap Crafting: Step-by-Step Techniques for Making 31 Unique Cold-Process Soaps
    $19.95 $13.43
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    04/14/2024 06:49 am GMT
  5. The Natural Soap Making Book for Beginners: Do-It-Yourself Soaps Using All-Natural Herbs, Spices, and Essential Oils
    $14.99 $9.71
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    04/14/2024 06:52 am GMT
  6. Making Soap From Scratch: How to Make Handmade Soap - A Beginners Guide and Beyond
    $11.95
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    04/14/2024 06:52 am GMT
  7. The Everything Soapmaking Book: Learn How to Make Soap at Home with Recipes and Step-by-Step Instructions
    $17.99 $14.81
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    04/14/2024 02:01 am GMT
  8. Milk Soaps: 35 Skin-Nourishing Recipes for Making Milk-Enriched Soaps, From Goat to Almond
    $21.95 $17.99
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    04/14/2024 02:01 am GMT

Read More How to Make Super Simple DIY Tallow Soap [30-Minute Recipe]

1. Easy Homemade Melt and Pour Soaps by Jan Berry

Melt and pour soaps are a great place to start for and complete beginner at soapmaking.

Melt and pour, if you don’t already know, is one of the easiest and safest soapmaking techniques since you don’t need to mix any lye into the oils in your soap base. Instead, you get a melt-and-pour soap base ready-made. Then, all you have to do is melt it for a few minutes, add any scents, herbs, or colorants you want, then pour and let it cool. After it’s at room temperature, it’s ready to use.

While melt-and-pour soapmaking is very simple, it can get a little more challenging when you want to add homemade fragrances, colorants, and exfoliants to your soap. That’s where this book for soap making really stands out!

Easy Homemade Melt and Pour Soaps teaches you how to add dried flowers and homemade herbal infusions to your melt-and-pour soaps, allowing you to use herbs and flowers from your garden in your soapmaking. It also has simple recipes for making natural colorants for your soaps from plants.

It also has pictures almost exclusively of finished soaps, so you don’t really get the step-by-step pictures you might be looking for. 

Pros

  • Detailed instructions for infusing melt-and-pour soaps with dried herbs and flowers
  • Includes a basic melt-and-pour tutorial for beginners
  • Offers guides for choosing herbs and flowers to add to your soaps, listing the dermatological benefits of each common plant
  • It has an awesome soap dough recipe for a unique soap
  • Has over 51 truly unique and spectacular recipes for different soaps, including face soaps, shave soap, shampoo bars, pedicure scrubs, camping soaps, and mechanic’s soap.
  • Doesn’t call for unusual ingredients and often recommends using natural herbs, plants like loofah and oatmeal, and other commonplace ingredients instead of expensive ones.

Cons

  • Offers little information on using essential oils in the soap recipes
  • Since this book is only about melt-and-pour soap making, it doesn’t have any information on making your own soap bases

2. Simple & Natural Soapmaking by Jan Berry

Simple & Natural Soapmaking is the best soapmaking book for anyone who wants to learn how to make hot and cold process soap recipes on their own. It’s my all-around favorite soapmaking book since it’s a great beginner’s guide to making all-natural, organic soap that uses some of the plants already growing in my garden.

The book’s recipes use both hot and cold processes, and the author even includes a section on converting cold process recipes to hot process ones. That section has helped me many times!

The recipes are great, and you’ll find lots of hot and cold process recipes that call for natural scents and colorants. The recipes go from beginner-friendly to more advanced techniques and include milk soaps, honey soaps, scrubs, shave cream, shampoo bars, and others.

You’ll also find recipes that teach you to use color to create swirls, blocks, and stamped designs on your soaps!

At the end of the book, there are also some helpful guides on infusing your oils with dried herbs and flowers, incorporating various additives like honey into your creations, and even using tea in your soaps.

Also, instead of giving you the formula to calculate the lye you need, this book tells you to go online and use a lye calculator. While learning how to use a lye calculator in hot and cold process soapmaking is helpful, it would have been nice to have the actual formula in the book.

Pros

  • Serves as an excellent reference guide for creating your own soapmaking recipes
  • Includes over 100 unique recipes that call only for natural ingredients
  • Teaches herbalism and aromatherapy soapmaking with guides on creating infusions, blending essential oils, and much more
  • Has unique recipes for soaps of various consistencies and strengths (e.g., shampoo bars, shave soap)
  • The atmosphere is very earthy, and all the sections are divided into different types of gardens and natural places, like the forest, apiary, veggie garden, and orchard.

Cons

  • The book’s font is pretty small, which can make it difficult to read.
  • The layout of the introductory sections is not the best, as there aren’t too many subdividers, graphics, or small images to break it up.
  • Only covers hot and cold process soapmaking

3. The Complete Guide to Natural Soap Making by Amanda Gail Aaron

The Complete Guide to Natural Soap Making is one of the best soapmaking books for people who want a no-frills guide to the different types of soapmaking.

I liked the fact that it had plenty of charts. These charts make excellent reference guides for the future, which is why I think this is one of the best soapmaking books for beginners.

Additionally, since this book covers the basics of melt-and-pour, cold process, hot process, liquid, and hand-milled soapmaking techniques, it makes an excellent reference guide for experimenting with different types of soapmaking.

It also includes 61 recipes, which is plenty to get you started!

Pros

  • Offers a comprehensive guide for five different soapmaking techniques
  • The instructions are very easy to follow
  • Includes 61 different recipes using the five different soapmaking techniques to help you move from beginner to intermediate without needing another guide

Cons

  • What is not so helpful is the lack of pictures. There are around two or three pictures per chapter and recipe, which is not always enough to give you a good visual representation of the end product. So, this book is not ideal for visual learners.
  • Also, some of the recipes are not listed properly. For example, some of them are listed as vegan, while just one glance at the ingredients will tell you that they are not.
  • Many of the recipes used alcohol. 

4. Soap Crafting by Anne-Marie Faiola

Soap Crafting: Step-by-Step Techniques for Making 31 Unique Cold-Process Soaps is the best soapmaking book for cold process soap making.

It’s by Anne-Marie Faiola, also known as the “Soap Queen.” She’s really the authority on modern soap making, and this book is full of fabulous recipes with tips and tricks that will change your whole soap making game.

This book focuses on cold-process soap making, which is a bit more complicated than melt-and-pour. cold-process requires you to mix the soap base yourself, which means you will be handling lye.

Although this technique is a step up from melt-and-pour, Anne-Marie Faiola offers a fantastic in-depth guide to getting started in this book. Complete with many pictures, it’s a great place to learn how to cold-process.

After the tutorial, this book has 31 different soap making recipes divided into different chapters about color, additives, homemade molds, swirls, and food-inspired soaps.

The best part about this book is its ability to inspire creative soap making. While the cold process tutorial and info on different oils for soapmaking are invaluable, the images, layout, and ideas really open up doors to creating unique, imaginative soaps.

Our major gripe with this book is that every recipe uses ingredients from the author’s store, Bramble Berry. This makes buying your soap ingredients from cheaper places very chancy because it might make her recipes not turn out properly. 

In addition, in one of the recipes, “the one on “Pumpkin-in-the-pot-swirl,” the palm oil percentage is far too high. It should be 25%.

Still, if you are just getting into making cold-process soaps, this is one of the very best books.

Pros

  • Offers an excellent beginner’s tutorial for making cold process soaps for the first time
  • Has a useful oil percentage chart for creating custom cold process recipes
  • Full of gorgeous photos with unique coloring and molding techniques that inspire
  • Written in a very friendly, conversational tone, which makes the instructions fun and easy to follow

Cons

  • The recipes only call for items available in the author’s personal shop.
  • One of the recipes we used was inaccurate and the trace was just too thick before pouring (“Pumpkin-in-the-pot-swirl”)

5. The Natural Soap Making Book for Beginners By Kelly Cable

This book clearly states that it is for beginners, which is a good start when looking at the best soapmaking books for beginners. This book is all about cold-process soap making, so if you’re looking for anything else, you might be better off with something like The Complete Guide to Natural Soap Making.

This is the best book on soapmaking for people who want to learn the craft to treat skin issues. The author, Kelly Cable, offers detailed explanations of when, how, and why to include specific ingredients in each soap. That includes offering details on how to make a face-safe lather, what ingredients can help alleviate acne, how to create bug-repellent soap bars, and so much more.

So, if you want your soap to serve a purpose beyond being a helpful cleanser, this is the guide for you! With 56 recipes and even more guides on coloring techniques, oil substitutions,

Pros

  • The organization, layout, and writing style are superb, making each recipe and guide very easy to read and understand.
  • We love the natural colorant chart in this book, which teaches you how to color your soaps with herbs and other plants
  • The recipes include all-natural ingredients, no exceptions
  • There are quite a few vegan recipes
  • With 56 recipes, there are a lot of potions to choose from
  • The author explains why she chose to include every ingredient in each soap recipe, which can help you get a good understanding of how to create your own recipes in the future

Cons

  • Our biggest complaint about this book is that there is a lack of scientific research in some recipes. For example, the recipe for pet soap includes geranium essential oil, which is actually toxic to dogs… So, before making your soap, we recommend double-checking that the ingredients are safe for how you plan to use them
  • Only for cold and hot process soap making
  • The section on making your own recipes wasn’t the best

6. Making Soap From Scratch by Gregory Lee White

This one is for beginners and those wanting to start their own soap business using the cold process.

This is the best basic soapmaking book if you want to fully understand the science behind soapmaking. With easy-to-understand explanations on what saponification is, how the ingredients interact with each other, and why you need to do certain things in a certain way, Gregory Lee White gives you all the background information you need to start writing your own recipes.

Still, the no-frills recipes in this book are beneficial and easy to follow, allowing you to get a really good understanding of soapmaking before you get too artistic with it.

Pros

  • The writing style is very conversational, so it’s an easy, approachable book
  • The basic soap recipes are very good, and the author is careful not to get too fancy with the ingredient list, which means you won’t have to purchase expensive items to recreate the recipes
  • Offers a wonderful explanation of how cold process soap making works, giving you a firm understanding of how to make any cold process soap
  • Teaches you how to create master batches of soap, allowing you to get more out of each soapmaking session

Cons

  • There are a lot of typos
  • There are no pictures, which is very unfortunate since this book’s info is so good

7. The Everything Soapmaking Book by Alicia Grosso

The The Everything Soapmaking Book by Alicia Grosso is a great beginner handbook for soap making. It has a unique organizational structure, breaking every concept up into its own chapter before offering recipes.

This soap making book moves from the most beginner information to the most advanced, which is nice for someone who wants to work through the entire book. It also includes info for making cold process, hot process, liquid soap making, cream soap making, casting, hand-milled soap making, and more. For that reason, it is one of the best guides if you want to experiment with different techniques.

Our biggest complaint about this book is that all of the pictures are grouped together in the center, and not in the tutorials and recipes where they belong. The Kindle version doesn’t even have pictures at all. 

Despite its shortcomings, this book is more comprehensive than others when it comes to technical information like curing time and clean-up procedures. It also includes tips on packaging your soap and selling it for profit.

Pros

  • Includes walkthroughs, info, and guides for many different types of soapmaking including hot and cold process, liquid, cream, hand-milled, cast, and transparent soaps.
  • Information-dense, which means you really only need this one book to get started with multiple soap making techniques
  • The guides move from the most basic to the most advanced
  • Offers instructions for advanced coloring techniques
  • Includes a guide for packaging your soap and starting a soapmaking business

Cons

  • The pictures are all in the middle of the book, which can make some of the recipes hard to follow

8. Milk Soaps by Anne-Marie Faiola

This option teaches you about making soap using all sorts of milk in soap making. Inside, there are 35 different recipes that call for many kinds of milk, ranging from goat milk to almond milk and even some less common ones like camel, hemp, and rice milks.

While this guide is definitely not for advanced soap makers, it isn’t the ideal book for complete beginners. It has a limited guide on the basic cold process soap making technique, but lacks a fully-fleshed-out guide to it.

However, with all of these kinds of milk and only a certain number of recipes, you are either going to have to get ingredients that are hard to find, or you are only going to be able to use certain recipes. 

This soap making guide is super useful if you have lots of dairy animals on your farm, though!

Pros

  • The organization and beautiful photos are perfect! It’s a gorgeous book
  • Even teaches you how to make your own nut-based milk
  • Instructions are very clear and take you through the whole process step-by-step
  • Spiral bound so it lays flat
  • Offers a basic guide for cold-process soapmaking

Cons

  • Not the best guide for absolute beginners, since it doesn’t spend much time teaching the soap making process. However, it makes an excellent companion to another book, like The Everything Soapmaking Book or Making Soap From Scratch
  • Some of the milks and oils in this book’s recipes are slightly exotic and can be costly

What to Look for In the Best Soapmaking Books

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A lovely batch of handmade soap! Photo by the author

The best soap making books explain things to you in detail so you can get started making handmade soap straight away.

As a beginner, you want pictures, graphs, and other details so you can see what the instructions are saying instead of just reading it and trying to figure it out in your head.

But there are a couple of other main things that you want to look for in soap making books as well. 

The Soap Making Methods

There are several different ways to make soap, including cold process, hot process, and melt and pour.

Some feel that the hot and cold process soap methods are the only true ways to make soap. That’s because you start this soap from scratch, mixing lye water with oil to create your own soap base.

However, in melt-and-pour soapmaking, you don’t have to mix the soap base yourself. You usually buy the soap base, then melt it in the microwave and add anything else you want to it. Then, just pour, and the soap will be ready to use once it cools.

Still, melt-and-pour soap has its own merits. It’s easier and safer than making cold and hot process soaps since you won’t have to handle lye (which can and will burn your hands if you touch it before mixing your soap). Plus, cold and hot process soaps need a while to cure, and you can use melt-and-pour soaps just a few hours after making them.

Some soap making books will have recipes for exclusively one or the other (think Easy Homemade Melt and Pour Soaps). Most of the best soap making books will have recipes for both types so that you can try them out. 

Additionally, if you choose a cold process soap making guide, it should have some soap safety information in the front to help you learn how to comfortably and safely work with lye.

The Science Behind Soap Making

soap-making
Soap making is a great hobby! When you’re choosing your best soap making book, make sure you’re getting one that focuses on the ingredients you like to use. Tallow soap is a favorite in our household, but if you don’t have a steady supply of tallow, or don’t like the idea of using it, tallow-centric books won’t be for you.

All the best books on soap making should include background information about what happens chemically when you make soap. Understanding the basic science will allow you to start customizing your soaps and creating your own recipes in no time!

Any good beginner soap making book will also include reference guides such as tables, conversion charts, and other helpful charts that you can refer to as you progress in your soapmaking journey.

Most of the books we recommended include such charts, but the ones that really stand out in this regard are The Everything Soapmaking Book and Simple & Natural Soapmaking.

The Ingredients 

Some soap-making books focus on certain ingredients. However, depending on your personal wants and needs, there may be some ingredients in soap that you want to avoid.

For example, tallow soap can be very nice for your skin, and you may even make your own tallow if you have animals and want to add that to your soap. However, vegans won’t want tallow of any sort in their soap. It all depends on what you want. 

Soap Making Supplies

Soap making supplies don’t have to be expensive or hard to get. However, some books recommend using exotic ingredients, special supplies, and expensive molds, usually sold from the author’s store.

Thus, the best soap making books won’t try to make a profit off of you, and they’ll likely recommend using everyday ingredients to make your soaps. Some may even teach you how to make your own soap molds and offer ideas of how to substitute ingredients for others to help you use what you already have.

It’s easy to find the tools and supplies you need to make your very own handmade soap, and anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is probably just trying to sell you something.

Craft Your Own Soap With the Best Soapmaking Books

Soap-making can be a great hobby, and you can even make it into a business if you want to.

What I love most about crafting my own soap is the fact that I know everything that is in it. Plus, making your own soap allows you to fully customize it, helping you incorporate the things you love, whether it be a certain color, a specific herb, or a fragrance, into your daily washing routines.

So, feel free to give any of these soap-making books a try. At least you will be able to buy them with your eyes wide open as to what flaws they have. Then again, they may be just what you were looking for. 

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