This isn’t just one of those zines with a clever title that has nothing to do with what is inside. Though it is a great title, reading How to Make Soap Without Burning Your Face Off really will teach you how to make soap and keep your face intact.
But in order to keep your skin you have to be careful, Raleigh Briggs insists. After her plea to watch yourself around the potentially dangerous chemicals detailed within, she proceeds to explain the legend of how soap came to be. As it goes, rumourous tales claim soap was made after the fat of sacrificed animals ran down a mountain in Rome called Sapo. Briggs assures us this rumour is untrue, and while she doesn’t have the real story on hand to share with us (it’s likely much less gory), she gives us a quick account of how soap (much like many things invented by humans) has come full circle from being a homemade luxury, to a routinely store-bought necessity, to an item that people now make or buy from soap artisans as a treat.
Reading all the instructions for soap-making I know one thing pretty early on: this game is too dangerous for me. Lye is one creepy substance. Any time I see a corrosive symbol on cleaning products I get far away from them. Skin melting is something I hope to never experience, so I do what I can to stay away from anything that could potentially put me in that position (including fire — stay away from me with your candles). So memories of that soap-making scene in Fight Club spring into my head as Briggs details the rules we must follow to safely escape being maimed by this key ingredient in soap.
But if you’re not a scaredy cat like me, and you have the patience to go through all the detailed steps of safely making your own soap, Briggs’ book will get you there. Her step-by-step instructions come complete with illustrations and she ends the zine with some recipes for special soaps that include jasmine flower, peppermint and chamomile teas. After braving the dangers of lye at least you’ll have some fancy soaps to help you relax. (Lindsay Gibb)
Zine, Raleigh Briggs, Microcosm Publishing, microcosmpublishing.com, $3