Soapmaking is a craft that you definitely want to do a little research on before you begin. The first time I tried to make cold-process soap on my own, I had already read every library book and every website that I could find on the subject, and I had taken a basic soapmaking class, and still found myself running to the computer halfway through to find out why my lye solution had just solidified and frozen to my mixing bowl (I had measured my water by weight, not volume–oops!).
Even after you’re comfortable with a particular cold-process or hot-process soap recipe, it’s still good to keep up with the resources. For instance, the tutorial on tie-dyed soap using six different colors of soap dyes that I skipped over for the longest time because it was simply above my level of expertise? Last night I read it all the way through, going “Hmmmm…..”. I sense a new technique coming my way!
Below are my favorite books, sites, and forums on soapmaking, and my go-to lye calculator. If you’re a soapmaker, then pretty please add your own favorites in the Comments section to this post. If you’re not yet a soapmaker, then I just dare you to read any of these resources and NOT immediately run to your kitchen and start mixing up a batch of soap.
Good books are essential to good soapmaking. The Soapmaker’s Companion is the basic soapmaking text used by…well, almost everybody, I would imagine.
You’ll love The Soapmaker’s Companion because of its chemistry. It will teach you how soapmaking actually works, what different oils do and why we like them, what colorants and scents do and don’t do, and why temperature is so important.
I don’t personally use the recipes in this book, because I’ve found my own go-to soapmaking recipes in other places, and I also create my own recipes, but the explanatory material here is invaluable.