The Everything Soapmaking Book by Alicia Grosso is a good introduction to basic soapmaking. Unlike some other soapmaking books I’ve seen, this book also discusses hot process and hand-milling techniques. The chapters on essential oils and fragrance oils were interesting. Not too many other books I’ve read devote so much space to fragrance, and it’s an important reason why people buy soap. Even though essential oils and fragrance oils are expensive, I can’t imagine making soap without them. Also, Grosso dedicates useful space to chapters on packaging, gifting, and selling soap, which is extremely useful information (and probably my favorite part of the book). The book also includes helpful appendices: a glossary, troubleshooting, DIY molds, and resources.
I think some of Grosso’s information may be out of date. I checked the copyright, which was 2003 and was renewed in 2007. I’m not sure what updates or changes were made for the 2007 edition, but Grosso makes a statement that it’s hard to sell soap online, and I’m sure it is hard if you have a stand-alone website and are slowly trying to build a business, but I think storefront sites like eBay and Etsy are changing that. I know eBay was around when the book was published, but Etsy wasn’t. Or at least it wasn’t large enough. Also, I think social networking in the form of sites like Twitter, Facebook, and especially Pinterest can make it easier to spread word of mouth about your soap. I have been sharing pictures of mine on Facebook and Instagram, and I have already have a few inquiries about purchasing it, and I’m not even ready to begin selling yet. I am not saying Grosso was wrong—I think she was probably right in 2003 or even 2007, but I think it’s a little easier to build a web-based business now than it might have been then. You have to be ready to do some serious social networking to move a large volume of soap, I’m sure, and good photography will be critical to your success, but I think perhaps the web is not the near lost cause she intimated it is.
Another issue I have with the book is a lack of pictures. You can’t have a soap-making book without full color pictures of soap! It might be that I’ve just been spending too much time on Pinterest lately, but I am learning that visuals are so important in soaping. I have learned more from looking at pictures and video tutorials than I thought possible when I started making soap. Even an instructional book for beginners, like this one, should have good, high-quality pictures to inspire readers.
That said, this book covers all the basics and is excellent for beginners. Highly recommended!
Note: I borrowed this book via Amazon on my Kindle through the Amazon Prime program.