Kevin Dunn. Scientific Soapmaking.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

Until now, there were just two kinds of books on soapmaking. Books for the commodity soap industry emphasized the economical production of soap by the ton and were written for those with a background in chemistry and chemical engineering. Books for the emerging craft industry emphasized the production of high-quality soap by the pound and were aimed at those familiar with the format of cookbooks. Makers of handcrafted soap often wish they had paid more attention in chemistry class so that the information of the commodity soap books would be accessible to them. Scientific Soapmaking answers that call by bridging the gap between the technical and craft literatures. It explains the chemistry of fats, oils, and soaps, and it teaches sophisticated analytical techniques that can be carried out using equipment and materials familiar to makers of handcrafted soap. Presented in a college textbook format, Scientific Soapmaking guides students and individual soapmakers alike to formulate questions about soap and design experiments to answer those questions scientifically.

Reviews and Comments

With the publication of Scientific Soapmaking, we who make handcrafted soap will finally have the true science and chemistry we need, presented in a way that is understandable even to those of us who didn't pay attention during science and chemistry classes.

--Marie Gale, Past President, Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild

Kevin Dunn is the best source I know for scientific information about soapmaking. His book is interesting, informative, well-written, and unique among soapmaking books. Though not for the absolute beginner, it will become indispensable for soapmakers who want to learn and improve their craft.

--Anne L. Watson, Author of Smart Soapmaking

I believe that every soapmaker should at least read this book, if not complete it as a textbook and class. It's important, not merely for learning more about the craft we're so engaged in, but also to appreciate the scientific method that we too, can employ. This allows us to find the answers to our questions and to free ourselves from old wives tales. Knowing that we can accomplish this learning in an entertaining manner is even more appealing.

--Beth Byrne, Saponifier Magazine Jul/Aug 2010


  1. Tools of the Trade

  2. Weights and Measures

  3. Material Safety

  4. Single-Oil Soaps

  5. Multi-Oil Soaps

  6. Scaling Up

  7. Oil and Water

  8. Acids and Bases

  9. Stoichiometry

  10. Fatty Acids

  11. Alcohols and Esters

  12. Saponification

  13. Soaps and Detergents

  14. Moisture

  15. Alkalinity

  16. Caustic Soda

  17. Free Fatty Acid

  18. Saponification Value

  19. The Dreaded Orange Spots

  20. Superfatting

  21. The “Water Discount

  22. Time and Temperature

  23. Time to Trace