Eric, I'll start by giving you sort of a continuum:
Triple-milled soap-->hard soap-->soft soap/croap-->cream
Croap is soft soap, sort of a hybrid of cream and soap. There's a continuum in there with firmer things like Cella or Valobra soft soap on one end and softer things like RazoRock, QCS cream (not the soap pucks, which are a hard soap), and Al's The Bomb on the other. QCS, for instance, can almost be lathered like a cream.
Triple-milled soap is its own thing, hard soap that has been repeatedly milled to make it harder. It's very concentrated stuff, and a puck of triple-milled soap usually will last longer than an equivalent weight of soft soap or cream.
Proraso - tubes are cream; tubs are soft soap
Razorock XXX - croap
MWF - hard soap, sort of artisan
Queen Charlotte Vostok Soap - hard soap, artisan
Razorock Caprician Lemon - soft soap/croap, artisan
Tabac - hard soap
Palmolive - hard soap
Speick - hard soap
Cella - soft soap
Harris - triple-milled soap
In general, the triple-milled soaps are made by larger soap manufacturers who have the equipment to do the milling. Hard soaps can be made by large manufacturers or artisans, ditto for soft soaps, croaps, creams.
Technically, all of them are the same thing: saponified fats. However, the type of lye used, the oils used, and the way the soap is treated and aged afterward affect the final texture. So, for instance, Proraso uses the same ingredients to make tubes of cream and tubs of soft soap. OTOH, QCS uses different ingredients to make its hard soaps than its creams/croaps.
I usually prefer hard soaps like Palmolive or Tabac to triple-milled as they tend to load more easily on the brush and thus lather quite well. I prefer soaps to creams or even soft soaps/croaps as they are more traditional, require fewer preservatives (generally...some creams have no or few preservatives), and are easier to keep around forever: you can hold onto a triple-milled soap for decades and its texture and scent, if it's cared for correctly, will be largely intact. Creams dry out, and in the case of some croaps, they can go rancid or otherwise "off."
Artisan is just a term to refer to soaps made by smaller producers, often out of their homes or small facilities. It's not a term with any real legal or universal definition. MWF is really pretty close to an artisan product: small producer, minimal facilities (compared to, say, Maurer & Wirtz who make Tabac and Irisch Moos). Used to be that most artisan soaps were glycerin soaps, but these days, Alraz, QCS, Prairie Creations, RazoRock, and a few others offer artisan soaps that are true, traditional soaps very comparable to soaps from big manufacturers.
Hope that helps.
Last edited by TRBeck
on Mon Nov 14, 2011 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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