A list of the best soap making books, for beginners and beyond. Explore new soap recipes and techniques when you add these to your bookshelf.
First of all, I don’t think you need a book to get started making soap. If you are a complete beginner, there are a lot of resources here to help you, including my beginner soap making guide and my list of recommended soap supply sources. If you’re a little more experienced and just want new recipes, you can see my collection of cold process soap recipes here.
Sometimes you just love a hobby and want to get as much information about it as possible. I totally get it! So if you are looking for the best soap making books, I have purchased plenty and have found something enjoyable in each one. Here are my favorites.
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The Everything Soapmaking Book
If I had to choose one all around best book for soap making, this would be it. Why? It takes you from not be able to make soap to being able to confidently make it. It presents all the information as if you are a complete beginner at soap making, and does so in a clear, easy-to-understand way. It starts with safety precautions and goes all the way up to producing soap in bigger amounts.
There are recipes included for beginners and slightly more advanced soap makers, but there are no professionally styled photographs.
If you want to dive into milk soaps or liquid soaps, you will need a separate book on those topics, but this is a great starting point if you want a book to help you make that first bar.
The Natural Soap Making Book for Beginners by Kelly Caple
This book sort of picks up where the last one left off, teaching you how to use essential oils, plant based colorants, and other natural ingredients in your soap. The focus is on natural soaps, so there are no bright soap bars or artificial fragrance oils used.
When you read customer reviews you will see some frustration with the fact that these are recipes using lye and that the title is “natural” soap making. It is important to understand that every cold process soap recipe uses lye. It does not make it unnatural. And every recipe in this book is cold process. If you are not comfortable with that, you will want to choose something else, like the book below.
Melt and Pour Soaps by Jan Berry
This is a great choice for the beginner soap maker, or if you aren’t comfortable working with lye. Melt and pour soap recipes simply involve melting a soap base and adding in fun things like color, fragrance, and “mix-ins” like herbs and exfoliating beads. It is fun, easy, and safe to do with kids around. The fact that this is a book of 100% melt and pour recipes makes it one of the best books if you are just getting started. There’s nothing wrong with moving into cold process soapmaking later on.
Simple Natural Soap Making by Jan Berry
This book is another all-around favorite soap making book of mine. The recipes have a simple and natural look, and the illustrations and photographs are beautiful.
Natural Soap Making focuses on using herbs, essential oils, and other more natural ingredients in soap.
The author’s approachable writing style and eye for creating beautiful projects makes this one of the best soap making books overall.
Milk Soaps by Anne Marie Faola
If you are an experienced soap maker, there is a lot to love about this book. First of all, it comes spiral bound (unless you choose the kindle version) which is lovely laying flat on the counter while you are working. The pictures are lovely and the steps are clearly written. Most important of all, the recipes are nourishing and wonderful.
However, it is not for beginner soap makers. Working with milk in soap making is tricky because of how it reacts with lye. Make sure you are comfortable with the basics of reading a soap recipe, working with lye, and making cold process soap confidently before you move on to milk-based recipes.
Scientific Soapmaking by Kevin Dunn
This book isn’t exactly a light read, nor is it full of pretty pictures like the others. But if you are one of those analytical types who wants to know the why of everything you’re doing, this book is for you. It book feels more like a college textbook than a how-to manual, and it is not for everyone. Soap does indeed have a science behind it, and if you intimately understand that, you can create your own recipes easily.
It’s suitable for any level of soapmaker, just not every type of person, and there’s nothing else out there quite like it.
Soap Crafting: Step-by-Step Techniques for Making 31 Unique Cold-Process Soaps
This is another book more suitable for experience soap makers, as it is dedicated to unique and somewhat complicated designs.
You’ll find elaborate swirls, unusual ingredients, and other techniques to take your basic bars to something a little more special.
To be perfectly honest, the tutorials in this book are not quite my style: they are very fussy and rely heavily on artificial colorants. But they are well explained and if you like “fancy” soaps, you’ll like this book.
I hope you enjoyed this list of the best soap making books to help you on your handmade soap journey!