New books for the reference collection (soapmaking reference, that is)

For those who just can’t get enough of soap making books, here’s something to check out next time you’re looking for something quick, simple & fun to read, something to learn from and refer to over time. Anne Watson now has two more in her series of “Smart” books –

Cool Soapmaking: The Smart and Simple Guide to Low-Temp Tricks for Making Soap with Milk, Citrus, Cucumber, Pine Tar, Beer, Wine, and Other Special Ingredients


Castile Soapmaking: The Smart and Simple Guide to Making Lovely Castile Soap from Olive Oil Quickly, Safely, and Reliably

That’s quite a mouthful, I know, but the contents are helpful, no-nonsense and approached in a clear slightly humorous way.  She explains how to make soaps that will be safe and ready for use faster, with a boost to bubbles, or how to make them with foods that won’t ruin the soap over time with DOS or worse, mold.  She also includes a way to contact her for questions you might have that weren’t clear or not covered in her books with the note she’ll respond within hours.  How helpful!  This sort of transparency & approachability in knowledgeable experts is a rare treat in any field!

Under the Castile Soapmaking’s covers, she includes how to create castile, why it should be done a certain way, and even how to get it to trace and saponify faster.  Even though I’ve been a soap maker for more than 8 years, I still found very useful info in here to finish out the book with a few pages of notes to add to my reference notebook.  She’ll teach you how to calculate for a blended lye solution to help avoid the slimey texture castile is prone to with a blend of KOH and NaOH, use a bit of uniodized salt to help firm it up if the oils used are not characteristically hard oils in a finished bar or by adding warmth to the oils and how to boost the bubbles using a bit of sugar or castor, to name a few tricks contained in its chapters.

Within the Cool Soapmaking book she offers tips and tricks for working with cucumber, avocado, honey, various types of milks, yogurt, apricots, and clays.  She uses essential oils predominantly for the soaps in this book though some include the use of fragrance oils only as suggestions. There’s even one recipe that includes orange juice.  Are your taste buds tingling yet?

This book is not a beginner’s guide type of reference so it would be best to read through her previous book Smart Soapmaking or Milk Soapmaking and practice with a few of her small batch recipes to get a feel for the touch needed using alternative liquids in soapmaking particularly alcoholic liquids such as ales, wines, champagne, beer, stouts, etc.  Those are very tricky and definitely not for beginners.

Cool Soapmaking and Castile Soapmaking are available in Kindle format, which is how I got mine (for $0.99!), as well as in paperback format.  They both also include numerous recipes to try out and learn from as you expand your soaping skills horizons.

I highly recommend her books for every level of soapmaker looking to have a robust reference library to turn to for confirmation of certain techniques without all of the clinical or technical jargon that some other books may have.  They touch on the science of soap crafting with easy to read and follow text in a light, friendly way that’s neither overwhelming or intimidating.

In case you’re sold on these two spotlighted titles or any of the others mentioned, I’ll include links below for them.  Happy soaping!


Castile Soapmaking

Cool Soapmaking

Milk Soapmaking

Smart Soapmaking

PS: she has also published a book on Lotionmaking – Smart Lotionmaking


Scams are everywhere

Today I received a letter.  A letter from an opportunistic leech.  Now maybe I’m presuming guilt where there is none.  Perhaps they are legit and just trying to help, but the cynic in me thinks they just want to steal my money and run with it.

The company sells domain names, allegedly.  Internet Domain Name Services.  They sent a letter telling me the date my domain name ownership expires. which I already knew.  They then proceed to state I should lock in my name to protect myself by getting the .net and .org names as well so there is no confusion on my customers’ part.  It’s only $540 to do all of those.  A pittance I suppose to protect my domain name, right?   Of course there’s an equal chance they are honest and trying to help me out, but they made the mistake to reminding me of something I already knew long before was necessary, voluntarily sent me this form requesting I send them $540 without any knowledge of their integrity, honesty, or ability or intention of providing the services I sent them the money to do.  I don’t trust anyone who sends me such mailings when they’ve purchased or found and nabbed my name from the net in hopes of profiting from it somehow.  I would hope that all other independent crafters and artisans will be as cynical and not trust strangers too quickly.  Their numbers are legion.

The host I use for my web site, Weebly, has always been friendly, helpful, honest, forthright, and extremely quick to respond when there’s a problem or question.  I asked them about this company and they might very well discover this company is legitimate, but I’d rather be safe than sorry (and broke!) so I sent along the name that I received the mail from today.

Many others are out there, the Nigerian scam promising millions in overseas funds, ship our products overseas if we’ll accept their credit cards and (which aren’t real), buy their supplies from a country we regard as highly suspect or sell second-rate goods.  The list grows every year and our hard earned money is constantly under threat.

Be aware of those seeking the quick money stolen from your pockets.  Ask your fellow crafters about those hinky  emails you’ve received, they’ll be happy to help you discern the company’s legitimacy.  We’ve all been on the receiving end of those trying to part us from our income and learned to recognize the signs from a mile away.