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on December 13, 2015
Rather a challenge for a first-time soaper, but very informative and a good overview for anyone serious about making liquid soap from scratch (and willing to slog through a lot of reading and arithmetic!). This book is about making real oil-and-lye soap, not about enhancing a commercial product, which seems to be quite common in "soapmaking" books - something to be aware of. Always check to see if you're getting from-scratch or from previously-purchased-product instructions!

The reviewers who say it can be confusing have a point: the book goes through the "basics" and then into the details and specific issues (sequestering, neutralizing, additives, troubleshooting) while referring back to previous parts of the book - it's quite confusing until you've read through it and tried a few recipes. Once you get the hang of the overall layout of the book, it's workable, and when you accumulate some highlighting, post-it flags, and detailed notes from previous attempts, it becomes quite good. Yes, I have a coil notebook with notes on every single one of my soaping sessions and the results, and it's absolutely invaluable when it comes to this book!

A few caveats: first, I started with the Kindle edition. Given the back-and-forth nature of the book, the Kindle version is monumentally useless. Invest in the hard copy! (update 10 months later: still having to flip around and find stuff in the index at times. Really, don't bother with the Kindle version!)

Second, all the recipes are for about 6 lb of soap... this is a HUGE amount (way too much for learning, personal use, or testing) and it's all in imperial units to boot (lbs and oz intermixed - not even just one unit, so it's very difficult to scale). My solution was to convert the recipes and instructions to metric units and percentages... . a lot of work considering the book was supposed to provide "recipes", but this did make it a lot easier to use the book.

Some of the information in the book may be a bit dubious: the two most notable ones are the shampoos (while they look really nice, apparently soap can be very hard on your hair - and really, this is "soap", regardless of the oils you choose... according to most of the sources I've seen the issue is the pH on human hair and that doesn't change with the oils). I would be cautious about using any of these formulas as shampoo. It may be just fine but personally I'm not jumping on that wagon just yet. The other big one is the ambiguity of using the term "preservatives" for antioxidants; this is misleading to someone new to making soaps and cosmetics, and unfamiliar with the distinction (and Ms Failor's use of the terms)

I also would have liked more photos of what I'm trying to avoid. The photos are lovely: there are lots of beautiful pictures of perfect soaps, fancy bottles and perfectly elegant bathrooms and beautiful people, and that's nice, but what I really needed for my first try was the pictures of what to expect if I'm doing it right, and what has "oops!" written all over it. The beginning of the book includes pictures of what the soap stock should look like at every step, which I found VERY helpful. But - there's so often a "but" - there are no pictures of what you DON'T want to see: cloudy soap, separated soap stock, that sort of thing. So when I tried my first recipe I really didn't know if that swirly stuff in there was "cloudy" or just normal. It turned out it was fine, but I didn't know that until the soap was completely finished... making for a tense several hours! This could have been pre-empted with a few pictures or even a word about what to expect.

Also, I'm still having to be super-careful to get things right: it is often not clear whether a "percent" is a percent of oils, oils + lye, total stock etc... whether "borax" is the powder or the solution, that sort of thing. (you simply don't have time, in the middle of a soaping session, to flip back to the beginning of a section to double-check: "rats! was that percent of stock or percent of paste?" ) That said, I have produced quite a few batches of soaps, using Failor's methods and my own preferred combinations of oils, and so far have not had any failed soaps. I also have not found another resource for making liquid soaps.

Also, it would be nice to know what other sort of things you can do and alternative methods to deal with less-than-perfect results. For example, can "cloudy" be turned into the pearly look of some commercial soaps? Can you turn the milky look of lanolin or shea into a design feature (e.g. as a base for the shimmery pearlized look)? What other colourings can be used in liquid soaps? Micas? Ultramarines? other things that would be useful to know about? What are the effects you can achieve or might want to avoid? How DO you get the purple soap on p. 81 (paperback, not Kindle)? An awful lot of questions unanswered.

Bottom line: I liked it enough to have ordered a hard copy after I got the Kindle... It's a basic reference with a lot of the information you need to get started. Whether it's the BEST book out there, I don't know. I haven't found another book either specifically about liquid soap or other resources that include instructions for liquid soaps. So if I had to do it again, yes, i would purchase this book. With a calculator!
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on September 9, 2013
This book gives a very good and informative overview of the chemical composition of liquid soaps, why they behave the way they do and what oils to use to achieve certain results, lye composition and dilution ratios, but the methods to cook the soaps are desperately out of date. Even if you decided to make your soaps the old fashioned "Failor" way, you have to flip back and forth within the book - the instructions aren't structured in a logical way for the beginner (somewhat hard to follow). If you're looking for an all-inclusive book that will teach you how to make liquid soaps with the widely-accepted, quick and efficient crock pot method, this isn't the one for you. While you do need an understanding of how to compose your recipes chemically, no question, you can get your step-by-step liquid soap making instructions on youtube instead.
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on March 23, 2014
I have always wanted to try making liquid soaps, but have been reluctant because of the extra steps involved. This book gives clear, step by step instructions, along with some very useful photographs, of how to make these soaps. Lots of helpful tips are included to help make your batch of soap a success. The best book I've seen on this subject.
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on May 12, 2016
waste of money, for me, I have more knowledge, searching the internet that this book gives me. The method of adding borax to liquid soaps is old and used anymore with so many lye calculators available
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on September 26, 2013
I actually want to find other books by this author and want more recipes! The explanation are easy to follow and the description of each type of oil and their effect was great to choose which one to use. There is pictures and description of each end project with the recipes.
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on September 23, 2017
This book is very interesting. I found information that I didn't find on the internet after a lot of research!!
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on November 22, 2017
Great book nice recipes.
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on February 23, 2014
This book has excellent recipes and great instructions on making natural liquid soaps. I was a bit disappointed though that there were none that could be made without the use of lye. Since I don't wish to experiment with lye at this time I have not tried any of the recipes. I hope to in the future when I don't have more uninterrupted time!
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on October 17, 2016
Tout est parfait. Merci
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on March 28, 2017
Book in Great condition
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