"That Lather"

What is your opinion on fine shaving creams and hard soaps? Do you like Trumpers, Coates, Taylors, Truefitt & Hill? Post your reviews and opinions here!
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drmoss_ca
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Re: "That Lather"

Post by drmoss_ca » Sun May 13, 2018 3:10 pm

It might be my water, which is hard, but nowhere near the really hard water I grew up with on the Marlborough Downs, where all water came from bore holes deep in the chalk, but I have never had a satisfactory shave from the French soaps that some people love. To whit: I have, and have failed to enjoy, the products sold as:

Institut Karité
Pré de Provence
Provence Santé
Martin de Candre

All of them make thin, stinky and wretched excuses for proper lather. So much so that I begin to understand why the otherwise brilliant Napoleon failed to conquer Europe. Poor bugger didn't have a decent shaving soap. Just as well, maybe. I don't begin to understand how anyone can praise these poor excuses for shaving soap. I have seen some posters in raptures over them - so good for them: I'll send them all of mine if they provide the postage.

If I had to define such things, I'd end up saying the English usually make very good soaps with quite good scents, and the Germans make excellent soaps with unimaginative scents. The French are non-starters in both the race for soap quality and also for scent. The Italians, meanwhile, have created a race of their own with different rules. They make soaps unlike anything from the English and German scuderie, and their scents are primitive single notes.The soaps work very well indeed, but in a different way to the best English and German soaps. Soap and croap are not the same.

If ranked by functionality, the German soaps win hands down, followed by the English and then the Italians. But if you would like to imagine (briefly and hypothetically) the best of all shaving worlds, let us imagine something like the original Klar Kabinett/Speick/Palmolive as unscented soap bases, and then add whatever it takes for Penhaligon to make English Fern, or for Trumper to make their Violet.
I'd pay for that - wouldn't you?
"Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse."
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Re: "That Lather"

Post by brothers » Sun May 13, 2018 5:05 pm

I'll hasten to add Durance l'Ome shaving soap and Monsovan to the disagreeable French shaving soaps I've encountered.
Gary

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by EL Alamein » Sun May 13, 2018 6:03 pm

drmoss_ca wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:10 pm
. . . and then add whatever it takes for Penhaligon to make English Fern, or for Trumper to make their Violet.
I'd pay for that - wouldn't you?
I'd go bankrupt!

Chris

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by EL Alamein » Sun May 13, 2018 6:11 pm

FYI, I didn't drag out the Palmolive today being Mother's Day.The reason is I didn't have the time I'd like to take and dial it in. I just reached for the Taylor's to be sure.

Maybe tomorrow as I have to find it.

I will say this, I am extremely grateful for the soapmakers' posts here helping me to learn. You guys are very generous and dedicated and I think the benefits will reverberate well beyond this forum. I think a lot of non-members read this stuff and benefit tremendously.

Chris

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by TRBeck » Sun May 13, 2018 6:22 pm

EL Alamein wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:03 pm
drmoss_ca wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 3:10 pm
. . . and then add whatever it takes for Penhaligon to make English Fern, or for Trumper to make their Violet.
I'd pay for that - wouldn't you?
I'd go bankrupt!

Chris
Indeed. Blenheim in a base that lathers that way...take all of my money!

Now, as for the French, I'll confess I dislike MdC, although it performed okay for me...a bit sudsy but good. I think people like its instant latherability, which Arko also has with an equally odd scent and better shaving performance for roughly 4% of the price. Pre de Provence is good for me, but IK and Provence Sante...not so much.

Now that you mention the Germans and Klar, I'd forgotten how incredible that stuff was. And Gold-Dachs was no slouch, although the scent was iffy.

I might rank the Italians above the English for functionality if only because of Valobra.

However, to your point regarding the difference between soaps and creams and croaps and inbetweens, I like hard soaps. I enjoy the ease of dealing with them (as opposed to grating, slicing, pressing, mashing, smooshing, or whatever other things we do to work with even very good softer soaps). I like them aesthetically. I like the ability to store them long-term (yes, I do have a few hard soaps in vacuum sealed bags, thanks for asking). I like the connection to tradition. I like that anyone would recognize them as soap.

I'll take Klar in its classic rose, Tabac that smells like Blenheim, Speick that smells like English Fern, and Haslinger in Trumper Violet. And throw in a Palmolive with the GFT Sandalwood or Spanish Leather scent.

For now, though, I do have my new Salter pucks and Harris Almond and Sandalwood, and I am very happy with them. Still, a man can dream.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by TRBeck » Sun May 13, 2018 6:47 pm

EL Alamein wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 6:11 pm
FYI, I didn't drag out the Palmolive today being Mother's Day.The reason is I didn't have the time I'd like to take and dial it in. I just reached for the Taylor's to be sure.

Maybe tomorrow as I have to find it.

I will say this, I am extremely grateful for the soapmakers' posts here helping me to learn. You guys are very generous and dedicated and I think the benefits will reverberate well beyond this forum. I think a lot of non-members read this stuff and benefit tremendously.

Chris
Chris, this kind of stuff is great fun for me. I love soapmaking as a hobby, but I love wetshaving perhaps more for a variety of reasons, almost none quantifiable.

I think the artisan and home soapmaker will always have an uphill battle to make harder soaps. It's doable but tough. You'd have to have a pourable consistency to get the stuff into molds without bubbles or air pockets or texture differences, and then you'd have to let it dry a lot before it would be hard. In the interim, some but not all of the scent would be lost. I do still have the very first batch of peach-scented soap I made back in 2013, and it smells good but is fading. It is a hard soap now, though.

The other great battle for the artisans and home soapers is scent. I have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours blending essential oils, fragrance oils, aromachemicals, and natural fragrance isolates. I can make a passable violet accord from about 30 different raw materials, and I have a dozen or so essential oil blends of which I'm very proud. I have found some good fragrance oils, mixed some others to great effect, and am continuing to try to teach myself some perfumery, if only so I can build a really good sandalwood that smells like real Mysore without the environmental destruction. And after all of that, I can't make anything that smells as good as the English firms (or Palmolive or Tabac), and my favorite homemade soap scents are two one-note essential oil fragrances.

These two problems are met in the act of adding fragrance, which must be done while the soap is warm enough to be pourable (big firms can add it when they mill the soap), and many fragrances are less stable at these high temps. So if you want pourable soap, you have to be choosy about oils, and if you want great scents, you may have to outsource or really get good at perfumery, and even then, you contend with the texture and pourability issues...

But if a few hobbyists can hack making world-class soaps, it's a shame that century-plus-old firms can't hire someone to formulate a truly brilliant product.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by CMur12 » Mon May 14, 2018 5:51 pm

From my point of view, which I hold in high regard, I rather liked Institut Karité when I used it. I found other soaps that I liked better, so I moved on. Martin de Candre performed well but the scent made me want to urp.

English soaps are poisonously fragranced with wanton disregard for the welfare of anyone sensitive to perfumery. It all smells like bug spray to me, so top notes and the rest of it be damned! I will not subject myself to this smug and harmful affront to my health. :x
(So, no, I don´t like English soaps, with the possible exception of Mitchell´s Wool Fat, which I haven´t used in a long time.)

The Italians are where it´s at for commercial shave soap. Valobra hard soap (not milled, though their bath soaps are) and Cella soft soap are both outstanding. I also like any number of artisan soaps, where a lot of effort has been dedicated to meeting the needs and desires of the end user.

I don´t care for the term "croap," as I don't see soft soaps as a hybrid of soap and cream. A soft soap is a soap and it behaves like a soap. I don't care if a soap is soft or hard, as long as it performs as a good soap should.

- Murray
Give me Soap or give me death!

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by TRBeck » Mon May 14, 2018 6:15 pm

I hear you on scent, Murray. I know you've talked about it before, and I can say that Harris Lavender soap sometimes gave me sneezing fits. TOBS creams: the only fragrances that don't cause a skin reaction for me are Avocado and Lemon-Lime (although I haven't tried the more recent stuff like peppermint or cedarwood).

On the croap question, I guess it's all moot in a sense, as creams are really "cream soaps" in the parlance of the soapmaking forum. It's just a shave soap fortified with stearic acid, water, and glycerin and whipped to give it a fluffy texture. There's Castle Forbes cream, which seems not to be whipped. There's "concentrated" stuff like Dr. Selby's, which winds up being a soft soap. It's all soap. I just think the term helps distinguish the actual texture of the product. I don't call Klar or Arko croaps, even though they are malleable, but I would call the Italian soft soaps that, as they tend to stick to everything they touch. It's not a perjorative term, or I don't mean it that way. It's just descriptive.

I am not biased against the soft soap varieties, Murray; as you know, I make them, and I use them. But I wish I could make a hard puck of soap that could be put in a box or shrink wrapped easily and sent or carried anywhere. I just like 'em.

Now about IK, it's too airy for me. The scent never bothered me - some nice ionones in it to give it a bit of a violet tinge - but the shea butter causes a skin reaction and while I worked with it quite a bit, I never got AOS/Valobra lather.

Pre de Provence, though...wish I could use it. The scent is very nice and herbaceous.

So the Italians. We can all agree on the Italians. (And maybe the Germans?) :lol:
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by CMur12 » Mon May 14, 2018 9:39 pm

Tim, just to be absolutely clear, no venom was directed at you. I have issues with certain products.

And while I'm on a roll, I have always seen creams as the the shaving equivalent of mechanical soft food in hospitals. :P

- Murray
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Re: "That Lather"

Post by Gene » Tue May 15, 2018 5:13 am

I guess it's a bit too early in the morning - my brain is fuzzy - for the life of me I can't think what German soaps there are. Speick, I guess, but what others are out there?
Gene

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by TRBeck » Tue May 15, 2018 5:42 am

Gene wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 5:13 am
I guess it's a bit too early in the morning - my brain is fuzzy - for the life of me I can't think what German soaps there are. Speick, I guess, but what others are out there?
Taba and Haslinger are the other ones that I find really great performers. And Klar Kabinett before it was discontinued.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by Gene » Tue May 15, 2018 6:15 am

Oh - of course. I had forgotten about the Klar. I have a small block of that, wrapped in plastic, in the shave vault somewhere. Rose scent if I recall.

The shape of my block makes it hard to use - maybe I will drag it into the shower and use it like a stick.

Thanks for the heads up.
Gene

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Mark Twain

"People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people."
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Re: "That Lather"

Post by brothers » Tue May 15, 2018 3:00 pm

Gene and Tim, the manufacturer of Klar still makes it, and according to all of the forum postings I've seen it's identical in every way. Available at several sources if one wants to google it. Here's a photo. It's called Dusy Kabinett.

Image
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Re: "That Lather"

Post by fallingwickets » Wed May 16, 2018 4:02 am

i have something so say about a square bar of shaving soap but i'll keep quiet lest i get banned!! :D :D :D

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by drmoss_ca » Wed May 16, 2018 4:27 am

fallingwickets wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 4:02 am
i have something so say about a square bar of shaving soap but i'll keep quiet lest i get banned!! :D :D :D

clive
Well cut it the other way. :D
"Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse."
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Re: "That Lather"

Post by TRBeck » Wed May 16, 2018 6:27 am

Gary, thanks. I did some digging and the ingredient list for Dusy is different and IMO better. Less cocoate and more stearate and palmate. A good option for those who like a rose soap. I've got a good bit of homemade rose soap, but I'm glad there's something like this on the market.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by TRBeck » Wed May 16, 2018 1:51 pm

Ingredients (shave soap): Potassium palmate, Sodium tallowate, Sodium palmate, Sodium palm kernelate, Glycerin, Parfum, Sodium chloride, Petrolatum, Palm kernel acid, Orthotolyl biguanide, Linalool, Limonene, Farnesol, Citral, Tetrasodium etidromate, Pentasodium, pentetate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Cl 77891

The above list is from the previous incarnation of Harris hard soaps. I liked them, but I have been truly impressed by the more recent lathers I've gotten with the current edition. The obvious difference is the presence of pure stearic acid in the ingredients list (even more obvious than the presence of tallow first!). Palmate would include stearic acid, but only half as much or so as the pure stearic. There's also potassium palm kernelate in the newer Harris (and the Salter soap), which is some interesting stuff, since it provides "bubbles" and body for the lather but doesn't get airy as quickly as its sodium counterpart.

The big four fatty acids for shave soap are - from most to least water soluble - lauric, myristic (these first two are in coconut and palm kernel oil), palmitic, and stearic (the last two are prominent in palm oil and tallow, respectively). Potassium salts of these acids are more soluble than sodium. The idea is to get as much stearic soap into the lather as you can because it builds stability and emulsifies (the palmitic works in the same fashion) and get some lauric or myristic in there for volume and fluff, but erring heavily on the stearic side. Oleic acid is more soluble than other unsaturated fatty acids but is not great for lather, so a high-oleic oil has to be added in small amounts if at all (tallow has oleic in a small percentage, so it's a good double-duty fat: stearic for sturdy lather and a touch of skin friendliness from oleic acid). Lauric acid can be drying to the skin (note how many great creams use potassium myristate rather than potassium cocoate or laurate...myristic acid is not as inexpensive but is slightly more skin-friendly), but is otherwise very useful: almost any bar soap or shave soap has some in it, and those that don't lather very differently, even if they are nice on the skin (Castile-type soap, Mystic Waters shave soap, and many others). Palm oil has a bit of oleic acid, too, and thus is used interchangeably with tallow in many soaps, but it is higher in the slightly more soluble palmitic acid than in stearic. The use of palm oil in the previous incarnation, particularly potassium palmate, wasn't bad, but it would have yielded something slightly less dense than pure stearate. The structure of the new ingredient list more closely resembles tallow formula AOS/Valobra hard soap.

Here's the Valobra ingredients list:
Sodium Tallowate, Aqua, Potassium Palmitate, Potassium Stearate, Sodium Palmitate, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Cocoate, Potassium Cocoate, Glycerin, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Cocos Nucifera, Lecithin, Parfum, Petrolatum, Zea Mays, Tocopheryl Acetate, C.I. 77891

And here's current Salter/Harris:
Sodium Tallowate, Potassium Stearate, Sodium Stearate, Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Potassium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Cocoate, Parfum (Fragrance), Coconut Acid, Petrolatum, Linalool, Sodium Palmate, Potassium Palmate, Potassium Cocoate, Sodium Chloride, Tetrasodium Editronate, Pentesodium Pentetate, Tetrasodium EDTA, O-Tolyl Biguanide, Coumarin, Geraniol, D-Limonene, Citronellol, CI 77891

Valobra uses a mixture of palmitic and stearic acids, which is functionally almost identical to straight stearic (home soapers ordering stearic acid will often actually be shipped a mixture of the two; check your MSDS and you may see a difference in the actual makeup of what you have). So in effect, the chief difference between these two ingredient lists is that Harris uses some palm kernelate whereas Valobra only uses cocoate (and Valobra doesn't have any mineral chelators). The main thing of note to me is that Harris has potassium palm kernelate ahead of sodium p.k., and ahead of sodium cocoate. That leads me to believe the final product is a pretty substantially potassium-heavy soap (but with some sodium salts) added to a sodium tallowate/sodium cocoate base soap....or more than one base soap.

In use, though, there are differences in lather. The AOS still has the slight edge for me, but it is a very minor distinction. Both are world-class performers. The Harris/Salter lather is abundant and thick. I give a slight edge in rich/slick/sheen to Valobra, which I attribute to the superfat (there's leftover unsaponified stearic acid, coconut oil, and palmitic acid in Valobra, plus corn oil; Harris has only leftover coconut fatty acid) and possibly to proportions of tallow and non-tallow ingredients. While both ingredients list sodium tallowate first, I think there's actually less of it in Valobra than in Harris. Valobra manages some sleight of hand, I think. With palmitate listed separately from stearate and potassium listed separately from sodium, they could actually have sixty percent of the soap or more comprised of stearic/palmitic acid but technically have more sodium salts of tallow than any other individual component. All of which is to say, I find Valobra just slightly richer, but it's a very close race, and I could use either in perpetuity without complaint.

As an aside, there can't be much palmate nor much potassium cocoate in the Harris/Salter stuff. It's listed not only after "Parfum," and petrolatum, but also after one individual scent component, linalool. There's a lot of linalool in the Salter fragrance, since it's so lavender-heavy and has a good dose of bergamot, but still, it must be a trace amount of the palm oil, possibly just added to harden the soap a bit or something. What's interesting about studying the proportions of minor ingredients, though, is you realize how little of some of these things is in the soap. Take the palm kernelate in the Salter/Harris soap formula. There's less of each palm kernelate salt than there is of glycerin. If all of the natural glycerin was left in the soaps, there'd be glycerin equal to roughly 11% of the total amount of whole fats. No glycerin forms when soaping straight stearic, and I'm guessing some gets stripped out of the soap noodles used for the sodium tallowate and cocoate. I think of finished soaps as containing a "soaped" portion - i.e., the actual sodium and potassium salts - and an "unsoaped" portion - i.e., glycerin, water, fragrance, colorant, moisturizing agents, and unsaponified fats. Since almost certainly less than 10% of the "soaped" portion of this soap is potassium palm kernelate, and less than 10% is sodium palm kernelate, the fat profile contained at most 20 percent palm kernel oil. But the stuff has ample volume (and I guess there's some coconut oil in there, although not much). FWIW, the Valobra lather gets going more easily, too, so I think there may be slightly more coconut in it than there is palm kernel in the Harris stuff. Anyway, I have used Harris/Salter 3 out of the last 4 days and have no reason not to do so again tomorrow.

"That lather:" tallow and coconut are like a chassis in these two formulations, and the remainder of the ingredients are the body (palm kernelate), the shiny chrome (petrolatum), the whitewall tires and leather seats (fragrance), and the big, roaring engine (stearic/palmitic acid).

Great stuff.
Regards,
Tim

Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our bad dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? - Henry David Thoreau

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by CMur12 » Wed May 16, 2018 4:05 pm

Incredible explanations, Tim. Thanks!

- Murray
Give me Soap or give me death!

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by EL Alamein » Wed May 16, 2018 8:04 pm

Fascinating stuff!

Chris

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Re: "That Lather"

Post by fallingwickets » Thu May 17, 2018 8:53 am

ATTENTION moderators

I hereby nominate Tim for "The Geek". :D :D

I hope you add it, or something similar to his avatar

respectfully

clive
de gustibus non est disputandum

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