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Boys and Their B.L.A.D.E.S. (Part 5--Synthesis....Create Your Own Recipe)

Posted on 26 June 2015

by Carrie

Darren and I were asked to give a talk on shaving at the recent Alabama Soap & Candle Meeting.  Our presentation was entitled, "Boys and Their B.L.A.D.E.S.: Gaining a Cutting Edge in the Wet Shaving Community" and this series of blog posts shares some of the highlights from our session.  Today's post is Part 5---Synthesis (Create Your Own Recipe). (Also check out Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.)

A quick overview of what B.L.A.D.E.S. stands for:

  • Basics (Intro)
  • Lather Up (Shaving Gear)
  • Acronyms (of Traditional Wet Shaving)
  • Diversity (Types of Shaving Soaps)
  • Explore (Research and Development)
  • Synthesis (Creating Your Own Recipe).....this is the really fun part!

And now it was my turn to do some chatting!  Creating a shaving soap recipe isn't hard, but creating a GOOD shaving soap recipe can be a bit tricky.  There are some introductory recipes online to get people started, but we highly urge people to use them as such.....as starters, knowing that you're going to test and tweak to come up with your own formula. Two places to head for some starter recipes are shaversoaper.com and the Facebook group, "Shaving Soap Makers".  Once you're a member of the FB group, you can access the Files section, with links to multiple recipes.

**PLEASE NOTE**  If you've never made bath/bar soap via the cold process or hot process method, I would advise you not to jump directly to experimenting with making shaving soap.  I won't take the time to list them here, but there are many reasons that it's best to begin with "regular" soap making and plenty or resources to set you on the right track for doing so.  

Since we were addressing a group of soapmakers, most of them were already familiar with using SoapCalc, an online soapmaking tool for formulating and evaluating soap recipes.  (If you are unfamiliar with using SoapCalc, you need to read this page first to better understand how it works.)  SoapCalc is a tremendous asset (and time-saver) for calculating lyes and formulating the fatty acid profile of your soap.

And speaking of lyes....you'll notice that most shaving soaps contain a combination of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and potassium hydroxide (KOH) (or just KOH alone), whereas most true bath/bar soaps utilize NaOH only.  This variance is typically noticed in the firmness/softness of the soap, as potassium hydroxide not only makes the stearic salts more soluble, but also contributes a softer texture to the end product.  (Soapmaker Kevin Devine has recorded a great video about his experimentation with varying lye ratios.  Check it out here.

Since our audience at the meeting was mainly comprised of soapmakers and our main readers here on the blog are shavers, I'll skip over the next portion of my presentation where I addressed fatty acid profiles and what typical shaving soap ingredients individually contribute to the whole.  If there's enough interest, this might be a future blog post, so make sure you comment or email us if you'd like to hear that information.

Yes, there was actually an impromptu song during this lathering.

Darren wrapped up our presentation with a great "live" demo of lathering a bar soap vs. lathering a shaving soap.  He pretty much wowed the crowd with the visual differences between the two lathers, creating more than a few on-the-spot converts (and entertaining them with his soapy serenade).  

In his closing remarks, he shared that the goal of creating a good shaving soap is to provide your customer with the following:

  • Fragrance (good and strong, but within IFRA guidelines!)
  • Latherability (too many bubbles are bad)
  • Lather Stability
  • Custion/Protection
  • Slip/Glide
  • Post Shave Feel

Of course Darren and I also have another goal with our shaving soap, and that is to deliver an empowering experience to you, every time you shave.

Thanks for letting us share part of our presentation with you!  We were honored with the opportunity to speak and truly had a fun time doing so.  If you have any questions about the information we've shared or want to know more, we're all ears.

What qualities do you personally look for in a good shaving soap? 

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