My First HandMade Shaving Soap

My First HandMade Shaving Soap

I never thought that I will have my first handmade shaving soap. My journey to a better shaving experience has led me to craft my own shaving soap. I will tell you the reason why later. I will also give you a full report how my shaving soap performs.

This is the video of me making a lather. It is my first handmade shaving soap. Pardon my English and my nervousness. It is also my first Youtube video, too.

 

I Joined a Wet Shaving Community.

I joined Badger and Blade forum. It is a community for wet shaving enthusiasts and hobbyists. I learned so much from this community about the traditional wet shaving. The best part of this community is its spirit of Pay It Forward (PIF).

I got my first REAL safety razor from a member of this community. It was PIFed to me. He just asked for my address and sent the safety razor to me. Read the full story here.

That safety razor hooked me to this new addiction. I love to shave now.

 

A Travelling Box Around The World

That PIF also made me want to get other PIFs. LOL. Who doesn’t like free stuff, right? That was how I found a thread in the Badger and Blade forum about a traveling box around the world.

This traveling box idea is for us to try wet shaving hardware and software. I love the idea. The first person prepared the box with his shaving supplies. The supplies are not to be revealed at any time unless you took it out from the box.

If you take any item from the box, you should replace it with another item. This is to prevent hoarder that just want to “capture” this box.

The supplies that I want to try the most are the software. It is hard to find a good hardware in Indonesia but it is even harder to find a good software. There are no shaving soaps and aftershaves readily available where I live. I mean, really, I live in the capital city but all I get here is the shaving gel in the can. You know how they perform.

I Dream of Shaving Soaps

You can’t live without dreaming of a good shaving soap when you join a shaving community. They mention brand after brand after brand.I dream of shaving soaps-my first handmade shaving soap

They make you drool with the shave reports daily. One person will praise the slickness of a certain brand. Another will says another brand is even more slippery.

They also mention the cushion of the lather. It gives protection while shaving.

Or the smooth feeling they feel after shaving.

Or the lingering scent of the shaving soap.

Arrgghhh…. You just can’t help dreaming of using those shaving soaps. That’s why I participated in this traveling box around the world.

 

Disaster

I know that disaster can happen anytime. I just can’t prepare for this. You know, I already registered to have the box sent to me. I was already next in line. I was so excited.

I thought that my dreams of trying shaving soaps would come true. I imagined that I will be able to build a rich lather. So rich that it could cover my whole face twice.

After waiting for months for my turn, I finally received a letter from my postal office. YAY! I just had to go to my post office to collect the box.

But….

The letter didn’t say that. It said that the box contained cosmetics. I was bewildered. The box didn’t have make-ups! It had shaving supplies!!

The letter went on explaining that Government’s regulation prohibits people to import cosmetics for personal use. They said that I need to have an import license before I could collect the box.

If I don’t have an import license, the post office only gave two other options:

  • Collect non-cosmetics but they confiscate and destroy the cosmetics.
  • Return to sender.

Now, I was furious. I had been waiting a long time for my turn and now this. My dreams were cracked.

 

Try to Negotiate

So, I went to the post office trying to negotiate. I knew that the chance was slim. The officer that I met insisted on me having an import license if I want to collect the box. He was nice, though.

He even suggested me to take a look inside the box. It would help me decide if I would take the non-cosmetics and let them seize the cosmetics. I agreed.

How wrong that was. my first handmade shaving soap 1

When I opened the box, it was like a anime movie. I swear there was a light shining brightly coming from inside the box! I was blinded for a moment.

After the glow subsided, I could see that the box was full to the brim. One shaving cream tube was leaking its inside. Other shaving software were comfortably sitting inside the small box. I searched for hardware. I found some.

I couldn’t help to cry inside. There were so many good items inside the box that I dreamed of using them. Cleaning the leaked shaving cream didn’t help. It even made me feel worse. The shaving cream was so slick. I never had that slippery feeling ever. Can you imagine how smooth the shave would?

The officer, after looking inside the box, could only suggest that I return the box to the sender. I could not take anything. Even though, my friend sent me a chocolate bar inside it. The post office didn’t even let me take the chocolate. That was sad.

I had to say goodbye to all the wonders that were inside the box. My dream was shattered now.

 

The Turning Point

I was really disappointed with this experience. But I learned the hard truth. I CAN’T BUY any shaving soaps from overseas. Even the cheapest Arko stick from Turkey can’t get into my hands.

I had to think around this. How can I improve my shaving experience if I can’t get the best software?

The answer to it was to make them myself.

Ouch. I didn’t like the answer. I knew if I started something new, I would have another hobby or addiction. Why would I need another hobby? This new hobby would make another dent in my pocket again.

But I had to make a better shaving soap. The Body Shop Maca Root for Men shaving cream is good enough. It is just not that slick. I keep remembering how slick the exploded shaving cream that was inside the box.

Badger and Blade forum has threads about making a shaving soap. I couldn’t find them, though. I think I am not that tech savvy after all.

I found the recipe and the know how at the Soap Making Forum.

 

The Shaving Soap Making Adventure Begins

It is funny how the world works. Do you know that the recipe that I found in the Soap Making Forum was actually the recipe from Badger and Blade? Funny, right?

I headed back to Badger and Blade but the thread does not contain information on the basic soap making. So I returned to the Soap Making Forum.Let the adventure begins-my first handmade shaving soap

The thread has grown into a long and educative one. I learned why you need certain oil. I learned why you need to add glycerine. I learned what lye is. I learned that soap making is dangerous and must be handled with care.

After all the reading from just one thread, a new feeling rushed in. I knew what this feeling was. It was an exciting one. A feeling of a new hobby. Darn! I knew it!

I dug around Soap Making Forum to see what kind of equipment I should have to make my own first handmade shaving soap.

You should consult the nice people there for the complete list, but here is what I bought:

  • A digital scale with 0.1 g accuracy
  • Spatulas
  • Measuring glasses
  • Egg whiskers (No.. we do not use egg for soap or do we?)
  • A safety google

I already have other things that I need to make a shaving soap.

Crafting My First Shaving Soap

My basic recipe is based heavily on Coconut Oil. I learned that coconut oil will give a lot of creamy features. It might be too drying for some people but so far this recipe was praised by many that had tried it.

The people on the thread said that the final product would not be a hard bar shaving soap. It would have a consistency of a playing dough. They also said that this handmade shaving soap would produce a lot of lather. They even showed some lather that can hold its consistency for more than an hour. That would be some lather, wouldn’t it?

 

Preparing the Lye Solution

First, I prepare my lye solution. This is the most dangerous part of the soap making process. You should wear your protective gears at any time, especially when you are handling lye. I used KOH as my hydroxide. This is the reason why the shaving soap is not a hard bar.

I used 30% lye solution. When making a lye solution, please remember to add the hydroxide into the water, NOT the other way around. If you add water to the hydroxide, there is a possibility that it will explode.

Yes, you read that right. Potassium hydroxide or Sodium hydroxide is pretty caustic. You need to handle them right. The wrong sequence can result in fatal consequences.

After putting the potassium hydroxide to the water, the water immediately heated up. That is why you should always add potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide into the water. It will generate heat pretty fast.

Oh… Stay away from the fume, too. You should make a lye solution with a nice fresh air circulation. Do it outside your home if you can. If not, always turn on your kitchen fan. The key is to NOT breathe the fume.

You need to cool the lye solution a bit before you can use it.

 

Preparing the Oils.

I use coconut oil and stearic acid. I need to liquify the stearic acid first. The way to do this is to heat it up. I don’t have a double boiler. So I just heat the stearic acid straight in my pot. It is an amazing sight to see that small balls turn into a liquid.

I also set aside the stearic acid to cool it a bit.The first handmade shaving soap batch

While the stearic acid cooled down, I measured the coconut oil. Using a rather big measuring cup, I weigh the oil to the exact 0.1 gram.

After that, I put the lye solution into the coconut oil. I have seen people mixed the coconut oil and stearic acid first. But the mix will immediately seize when you put the lye solution. It would prevent the lye to react with the oil perfectly.

That’s why I put the lye solution into the coconut oil. I whisk it for quite a while. It would turn the oil into a milk state called trace. Trace is a state where lye has emulsified the fat in oil. It marks the saponification process.

 

Mixing All The Ingredients

I put the emulsified solution into the stearic acid which was still in the pot. I could see why people choose to do it this way. The lye solution and the stearic acid reacted immediately.

In a matter of seconds, I had a mashed potato like dough. I needed to keep whisking, making sure that all the stearic acid reacted with the lye, too. Meanwhile, the pot was still on the stove with a small fire on.

I think it was about 10 minutes that I had a vaseline gel consistency. I turned off the stove. I added 10% glycerin and 5% Castor Oil. This additional glycerin and castor oil were too add the slickness and superfatted it. (I got complained later because some people don’t like a super fat from Castor).

At this point, I didn’t know if I had a successful shaving soap or not. I did a zap test and the soap passed the test.  I distributed all the soap into several containers. The soap was still like a clear vaseline gel.

 

Testing The First Batch of My First Handmade Shaving Soap

I couldn’t wait for at least a week to let my shaving soap cure. I took a sample after 3 hours. I made a lather from it.

I just couldn’t believe my eyes. The lather was a lot. It was super creamy and very very SLIPPERY! I was so excited. I wanted to shave with it right away.

But this was just a lather test. I also wanted to see if it can hold itself after an hour. But I was so busy cleaning up that day, I forgot about it after two and half hour. You will see that the lather did not lose any significant volume.

 

The Shave Test

Finally, after letting it cured for 2 days, I went ahead and use it. (Told you I couldn’t wait for a week). I had 3 days hair growth.My first handmade homemade shaving soap - be shaved

I built the lather for almost two minutes. This was the first time that I built a lather that long. Usually, when using The Body Shop Maca Root for Men shaving cream, I instantly have a lather after several whisks.

I kept adding water to the bowl. This shaving soap is rather thirsty. In the end, I had a full bowl of thick, slick and creamy lather. It was a perfect lather for me.

I was a bit nervous when trying my first handmade shaving soap. I had been reading the soap making forum thread for quite some times and they reported that this soap was the BOMB.

And boy… it was the Bomb! I couldn’t feel the blade at all. The cushion the lather gave was amazing. The added glycerin performed superbly. My razor glided smoothly, cutting all whiskers without any problem.

The shave gave me no razor burn at all. This was the first time my alum block gave no feedback at all. Can you imagine how happy I was? Even my aftershave said nothing.

It was the smoothest razor burn free shave.

 

Final Thoughts

I think I would never buy another shaving soap ever. I already know how to make one. I even think about making my own product line. Of course, my first handmade shaving soap will be my first product.

 

What do you think? Should I sell my handmade shaving soap?

 


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Arief Wibowo

I am a wet shaving enthusiast that is on a journey to find a better shaving experience.
Never received any training on the subject.
That’s why you may read that the journey may be colored with some blood.
Ouch.

8 Comments

  1. I was one of the lucky ones to have the first try. It was foamy and slick. I needed to whisk it quite a bit to get to the thickness i wanted. But overall, awesome.

    • Hi Richard,

      It is nice to see you here. I am glad that you enjoyed my first handmade shaving soap. Can you give me more pointers on what feature to be enhanced or added?

  2. Yes, why not try to sell your own shaving soap? If you think the results are so good, I’m sure others will also. I was so interested reading your article. I’ve certainly heard of people making regular soap before, lots of times, but never shaving soap. It does sound like a lot of work though. Is it as hard as it sounds? You know, to tell you the truth, I use regular soap to shave with. I’m lucky that I don’t have any skin problems and I can get by that way.

    • Hi Jim,

      I am seriously thinking about making this shaving soap marketable. I am still developing the package and the marketing tools.

      You should consider using a shaving soap while shaving. It performs much better because it is for shaving. Regular bath soap has not the property of protection against the blade.

  3. Arief,
    I think you should go for it. Take a chance. It sounds like you make a quality product, and there is no reason why you should not market and sell it. Good luck, my friend!

  4. Man’s gotta have soap! But even from where you are, it should be clear that there is altogether too much “by beginners, for beginners” business in the United States. If I were to rewrite our history, they would have copied Tcheon Fung Sing, like Italian Barber varieties “for sensitive skin.”

    What you describe about the rapid soaking in, and not feeling the aftershave, are typical of the high glycerin experience. I do not believe glycerin is really good for anyone, as it tells the skin to become more porous. Maybe that’s appropriate to Indonesia, which I imagine is a very humid environment. Around here, I think it’s just makes it easier to avoid injury when acquiring the skill. Jojoba oil releases a different alcohol when saponified, and I believe that is where nirvana lies, for all mankind.

    • Hi Thad,

      Thank you for your inputs. There are a lot of start-up businesses. I can’t argue with that. Can’t blame them for trying, even though the target market is for beginners.

      I think I will try to use Jojoba oil for my next batch. I want to experience the Nirvana that you talked about.

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