Here’s another first ! I’m very pleased to welcome a guest reviewer today……….
Karl is an artist and runs a local craft group and is always on the look-out for new crafting projects. A little while ago he looked into soap-making and discovered (perhaps unsurprisingly considering what you do with it) that it was a minefield of regulations . There were licences needed and a rigorous testing of products which would make it more of a serious business than the casual hobby that he was looking for. However, the interest in all things soapy remained and when I was given the opportunity to review “Pure Soapmaking” by Anne-Marie Failoa, it seemed like a perfect match. Here is Karl’s opinion of the book.
This is a book for people who want to move away from commercially produced soaps containing harsh and synthetic ingredients and make their own containing natural ingredients tailor-made for their skin type. This is not a book for general crafters, there is no sitting around a table with your friends making up a few bars of soap over a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Here there is a lot of science, a fair amount of equipment required and a lot of ingredients. At the beginning of each of the soap recipes we read the author’s mantra for Safe Soaping – to wear safety gear the whole time, to work in a well ventilated space and no distractions (no kids or pets around) so you can tell that hand-made soap making is serious (and slightly scary) stuff.
The first section of the books deals in detail with the ingredients used, the science, and importantly, with the dangers of some of the chemicals. The soap recipes are clear and well described, with lists of what is needed, ingredients, moulds, special tools etc. The instructions are thorough but straightforward and the photos excellent. In fact, the photos of the finished soaps are very seductive. The bars you will end up making look like little works of art and a million miles from most standard shop-bought soaps. It is clear that this is not really a book for a soap-making beginner but should provide inspiration and instruction for those with some experience and for soap aficionados.
Be warned though, this is an American book and there may be different regulations as to what you can do with your end products. In the UK, I have found with a bit of research that you can make soap for your own use and to give to friends but you cannot sell unless you have a licence.
This book is published in February 2016 by Storey Publishing. Many thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy.