Or, How to Justify Buying More of the Things You Love
I love books. You might even say that I have a little problem with them--they keep accumulating! This picture shows just one half of my room that houses the majority of our family's book collection. Yes, there are also books behind the doors at the bottoms of the shelves. I also have similar shelving in the bedroom, the living room, and then there's the piles of books lying around the house on any given day. I've tried giving them away--and honestly, I've given probably HUNDREDS away over the years--but you know what they say about Nature and vacuums ;-)
It started with simply loving to read. As a girl, spending time at the library was pure bliss. When I was a young adult, first out on my own, I didn't own too many books, simply because of finances and also, sharing a home with 3 other roommates doesn't exactly leave for a lot of personal space.
However, when my husband and I moved into our first house together, I could finally indulge. My husbands loves yard sales (yes! he does!) and I found that I could get books really cheaply that way. My first obsession was for cookbooks, especially the older ones from the 1920s-1960s. When our first son came along, I started down the path of children's books. New hobbies required new books, such as crocheting and knitting. The first house we bought needed renovating, so of course--you get the picture!
With the Internet, I had to tell myself that I didn't need so many books, not with free information out there to be had. And, for the most part, I have stopped buying cookbooks and pattern books. I will still buy books for my kids; anything to encourage them away from a screen! So, when I first started soaping, I went the direction of free information, of which there is loads of out there. (see my post relating to that subject here)
However, at some point, it was clear to me that finding inspiration is one thing, but having a book in hand for referencing, or recipes on hand to try (I make up my own recipes, but that's not saying I won't try someone else's, especially if it's something new and fiddly, like soap frosting). Plus, since I am eventually going to sell my soaps, I need to know the legalities of labeling said items, and there's even a book for that.
I've managed to limit myself (so far!) to five books. To be honest, there's only so many soap making books out there, especially ones written in the more recent past. I don't think I could fill an entire shelf with soap making books if I wanted to. But that's okay, since once you understand the chemistry behind making soap, that's when the creative fun can begin and you can start to do your own thing.
I'll link these titles to their Amazon page for you. (By the way, I'm not in any way affiliated with any of these authors, nor will I benefit from any sales made due to this blogpost. I'm simply sharing information with friends :-)
Soap and Cosmetic Labeling is not a book you'll need unless you want to sell your soaps (or other handmade cosmetics). It's quite thorough, and frankly a little dry in places, but then, she wasn't setting out to write a gripping novel! I feel much more confident about my future packaging labels.
The Natural Soap Chef was the first book of soap recipes I picked up. It's a nice little book, all of which use basically the same recipe, (with a couple of "deluxe" soaps that use ingredients such as beer) but with different additives for different properties. The nice thing about using mostly similar recipes is that once you have the ingredients on hand, you can play about with the percentages to see how that changes your final soap. A good book for a total beginner who doesn't want to be bogged down with technical details.
The Everything Soapmaking Book is on many lists for must-have beginner books. It is full of recipes, using both oils you can find at the grocery store and some with specialty oils and butters. Entire chapters are devoted to fragrance oils, colorants, equipment to creating your own recipes and selling your finished products. Then there's a chapter for different types of soap: cold process, hot process, liquid soap, soap casting, hand-milling (which is just like rebatching), and natural and organic soaps. It really is all laid out nicely for the beginner.
Finally on my list are two books by the same author. Anne-Marie Faiola is THE Soapqueen and founder of Brambleberry.com, both websites chock full of information about soap making, tutorials, as well as supplies. Each of her books here cover some of the same information as above, but also have beautifully illustrated step-by-step recipes for dozens of soaps. Soap Crafting has the more colorful, fun soaps that use colorants such as micas or lab color and synthetic fragrance oils. Pure Soapmaking is an equally beautiful book, but this one has recipes that use only natural colorants and essential oils for fragrance. I love both books for different reasons, but obviously you might have a favorite depending on your soap making interests.
So, I suppose I've found some justification in buying a few more books for my bookshelves. It's always good to be able to go right to a page for specific information. Maybe it's my age (Gen-Xer that I am!) but sometimes nothing can beat a good book. I hope you'll find some inspiration here too!
Grace and Peace,