Book Review: Soap Craft by Diana Peacock

Book cover: a small stack of homemade soap in natural colours, surrounded by herbs

Soap Craft by Diana Peacock

This small book has an enticing photo on the cover of home made soap decorated with sprigs of herbs. The first thirty-nine pages are indeed about soapmaking (although those include the Introduction and 9 pages on essential oils).

However, this book only has 128 pages. Apart from these early pages the bulk of the book is, in fact, about making other toiletries. This reviewer considered the title misleading. Based solely on the title, the book therefore disappoints.

If one puts aside the expectation that this book is wholely or mainly about soapmaking and considers it an information source for making a wider range of toiletries such as bath bombs, shampoo bars and face masks, it is an interesting book featuring clear instructions and some very tasty recipes.

One huge omission is any mention of the increasingly stringent regulations which govern small scale soapmaking. This would be acceptable as this book is clearly aimed at complete beginners, except for the fact that the author suggests users might like to move on at a later stage to taking a stall at a local market or running their own business.

As experienced soapmakers will know there is a huge leap to be made from home soapmaking for family and friends to selling soap to the general public. While it’s understandable that the author wouldn’t want to frighten off new soapmakers by discussing EU regulations, it might have been better in the circumstances to avoid all mention of market stalls and small businesses.

There are minor criticisms. Many of the photos are in black and white, where colour would be more attractive and, perhaps, useful. However, publishers always have to keep a careful eye on expense and most people who buy this book will understand this economy and find it doesn’t detract to any great extent.

The author suggests using food colourings, yet nearly all the ingredients will have to be ordered from a specialist supplier. It might have been wiser to point users more strongly towards colourants manufactured specifically for toiletries.

All in all, at a cover price of £9.99, this is a nice little book whose strength lies in the number and quality of recipes for a wide range of toiletries. As a basic guide to soapmaking, there are better titles on the market. It does the job, but no more than that. It’s inclusivity is its selling point. Shame about the title, but don’t let that put you off.