Elevate Difference

How to Make Soap Without Burning Your Face Off

The ever-present danger of burning one’s face off is, in fact, one of the reasons I have hesitated to take up the hobby of soap making. Raleigh Briggs’s How to Make Soap zine helped to make the process seem less daunting and intimidating. While the zine is relatively short, at ten pages, it is chalk full of useful tips and information for beginners. The overall tone is lighthearted and fun, with a sprinkling of sarcasm and a wee bit of sass. Briggs does a wonderful job maintaining the cheery air, yet is still able to stress the importance of following all safety precautions and explaining some potential dangers of working with lye. Lye is a key ingredient in soap making, and if not handled with respect and caution, can be quite harmful.

Overall, I’m quite impressed by the layout and design of the zine. It is entirely handwritten with doodles and sketches, staying true to its DIY roots, but is aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. The zine begins with a brief history lesson, followed by important information on working with lye and a crash course in working with fats and oils. Towards the back of the zine, Briggs provides two basic soap recipes, along with some additional tips and tricks on customizing your soap with colorants and additives. The actual instructions are laid out in a flow chart type format spanning two pages.

While I find it visually appealing, I’m not convinced it’s the best way to present the information. If I were to have this handy while making soap, the layout would be difficult to quickly glance at and consult. The zine touched on many different aspects of soap making, but due to its concise nature, I found myself wanting additional resources to consult. Something I would have liked to see included would have been a short list of links, blogs, or favorite books to check into if the reader wanted additional information. Another useful addition would be a few recommendations on brands or places to order your soap making materials online.

I look forward to my first soap making attempt and thanks to Briggs’ zine, the task is much less intimidating and seems fairly straightforward. And I feel confident that I will emerge from the experiment with my face intact.

Written by: Liz Martin, December 30th 2010
Tags: how to, soap, zine

is chalk full a new phrase? I have not heard this one before and am curious to know what it means.