Most helpful critical review
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The best of slim pickin's
on June 8, 2000
I selected Ms. Cavitch's books because they appeared to be the best of a mixed lot. They could, however, still use some improvement.
The Soapmaker's Companion is generally more valuable than its predicessor, The Natural Soap Book, and most of the descriptions of process, oils, colorants, and fragrance remain identical. The recipies are considerably improved in quantity for the new soapmaker, down to 3.75 lbs per batch from 10 lbs in the original book. And the newer book includes detailed chemistry with SAP values for most fats, fatty acid percentages, and a detailed lye calculator to assist in making your own recipies or modifying other's.
Unfortunately, the instructions, recipies, and troubleshooting have a way to go before they are foolproof. I just made my first batch of Soap Essentials II, and it took over two hours to trace. Mixing by hand. It was NO FUN. And, unless the recipie was wrong to start with, I have absolutely no idea WHY.
This may very well be the most complete book available for vegetable-based soaps and the easiest to follow, but it is not foolproof enough to be a sole resource for the beginner.