Sunday, January 13, 2013

Shaving Soap, Then and Now

Melt-and-pour shaving soap that I made for Valentine's Day, 2010.
Let's go back to early 2010 for a moment. The Winter Olympics were about to start in Vancouver, a U.S. postage stamp cost 44 cents, and Steve Carell was still on "The Office." And I had been making melt-and-pour soap for about a year.

Valentine's Day was approaching and I wanted to give my hubby, Ken, something special. With Christmas over, I was fresh out of gift ideas. I decided to make something for him. In the past, I had baked him something sweet or made homemade pralines. In 2010, I realized that I could make something else:

Soap.

Yippee, right? I mean, we were drowning in soap. Why would anyone in my household get excited about, well, more soap?

Because this soap was just for him. See, I made him a shaving soap. I went out and bought a shaving kit, tossed the soap that came with it, and filled the bowl with my own. I used Bramble Berry's melt-and-pour shaving soap base, added one teaspoon of bentonite clay per pound of soap, and scented it with a Eucalyptus and Cedar fragrance oil. I even made some red soap hearts (created with a candy mold) to stick on the top.

Ken liked the shaving soap very much and asked that I keep making it for him. So I bought another shaving kit - so I'd have another bowl - and replenished his supply as needed.

Flash forward to the summer of 2012 when I made shaving soap from scratch for the first time. While the melt-and-pour shaving base is very nice, I wanted to create my own since I now knew how to make cold process soap.

Cold process shaving soap, July 2012

I found this shaving soap recipe courtesy of Steve from Soap Making Resource and decided to give it a try:

~ Olive oil (45% of total oils )
~ Coconut oil (20% of oils)
~ Castor oil (20% of oils)
~ Palm oil (8% of oils)
~ Sweet almond oil (7% of oils)

Steve's recipe makes five pounds of soap, but I needed only one pound to fill three of my shaving bowls. (I now have four bowls so I can make three more shaving soaps when Ken starts on his last one.) So I plugged the percentages of oils into SoapCalc to customize the recipe to my needs. (It's a good idea to run a recipe through a lye calculator to double-check it. And always run a recipe through a lye calculator if you make any changes to it.)

Steve also includes some additives in his recipe. I adjusted the amounts of the additives so they would fit into my parameters. I ended up using:

~ Bentonite clay (one Tablespoon per pound of oils)
~ Colloidal oats (one Tablespoon per pound of oils)

Bentonite clay adds a layer of protection to the skin and gives the blade some slip, and the colloidal oats (I used finely ground regular oats) make the soap extra soothing. I added the bentonite clay at trace and stickblended briefly to fully incorporate it into the batter. Then I stirred in the oats. Once the clay and oats are added, the batter gets pretty thick.

One thing worth noting is that bentonite clay has a tendency to clump. To get around this issue, I used a mini whisk to mix the clay with some liquid glycerin before adding it to my soap batter. I would think that mixing the clay with some oil would also work, although I have not tried that myself.

Grinding oats, mixing clay with glycerin, and pouring soap into shaving bowls

For the scent, I chose Bramble Berry's Blue Man fragrance oil, which behaves beautifully and smells great. The fragrance oil does discolor to a medium brown due to the vanilla notes, which make this scent a bit sweet but masculine.

Probably one of the first things you'll notice about this recipe is that it has a high percentage of castor oil. This is to help create a rich lather for shaving. It does make a soft soap initially - I had some batter left over that I poured into individual molds and the soap bars were quite soft when I unmolded them a few days later. After a few weeks of curing time, though, the water evaporates out and the soap hardens nicely.

I actually made this soap several months ago, but I decided to save this post until now because I have been focused on holiday soaps the last few months. So, Ken has had some time to use this shaving soap, and he enjoys it very much. He reports that it feels good on the skin and that the lather is creamy and dense. The shaving soap lasts quite a while, too - he's been using the same soap for about three months now and still has a bit to go before it's gone. And he's got another bowl of shaving soap from the same batch waiting to be used. I figure the pound of shaving soap I make for him will last him somewhere between 9-12 months.

Are you a fan of shaving soaps? Do you make or buy them for yourself or someone else? Got a favorite recipe?

38 comments:

  1. I loove the ideea of a shaving kit!, and the one from 2010 looks so sweet, I imagine it can be done in cold process soap too, only a little bit more work. my first recipe for shaving soap was a castille with 60% olive oil and 25% coconut oil. the rest were castor, hemp, and cocoa butter. But I like the ideea of a higher percent of castor oil too, because it increases lather and is really moisturising...

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    1. Thanks, Iulia! Your shaving soap sounds wonderful, too with the olive and hemp oils and cocoa butter. I was a little worried about using so much castor oil, but it worked out well and kicks up a nice, fluffy lather. I usually shy away from embeds because of the extra work involved, but I think you could totally do it with cold process, too. Or I guess you could put some M&P embeds on top and then pop the soap in the fridge so that gel phase doesn't melt the M&P. Lots of fun stuff to try! :)

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  2. Your M&P valentine's shaving soap was such a sweet gesture, Jenny. Lucky, Ken !! And your CP recipe is one I'm going to mention to my son - I think he'd like it if I could convince him to give up the canned stuff :-D xx Suzy

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    1. Aww, thanks, Suzy, for the compliments on the Valentine's soap. It seems like it was so long ago that I made it, but it has been only two years. Steve's shaving soap recipe is very nice and definitely worth trying. I think your son would like it, too!

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  3. Nice,creative gift you prepared for your hubby,Jenny!
    I haven't made any for mine yet, he doesn't even know that I could! I'll try it some day. How does it behave in a bowl,doesn't it tend to dissolving? Or,does it become slimy?

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    1. Thanks, Maja! The soap behaves well in the bowl - it lasts a long time and it doesn't seem to get goopy or slimy. Ken makes sure he empties out any puddles of water in the bowl when he's done shaving and the soap dries out nicely between uses. I think your hubby would like this shaving soap, too!

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  4. Great idea, Jer -- Ken is very lucky!

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    1. Thanks, Mom! I'm lucky, too. :) And Ken seems to enjoy the shaving soap - he's asked me to keep 'em coming!

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  5. Look at that rich and creamy lather! I love your first one too, so cute with the little hearts! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe Jenny!

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Cee Gee! Steve's recipe does make a rich lather, and the ingredients are so nice on the skin. It's definitely worth checking out!

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  6. They both look great Jenny! I'm glad your husband enjoys your shaving soap, and it really does look creamy and dense in the picture. Only once I've made a batch of shaving soap to give to male family members..got comments on how it made their face feel soft, but they still prefer to use store-bought. :/

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    1. Thanks, Kalla! I'm surprised that your male family members still prefer shaving cream after trying your shaving soap. Ken converted quickly - about the only time he uses canned shaving cream now is when he's traveling. This recipe would make nice shower bars, too.

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  7. Such perfect present! I haven’t made yet this type of soap yet but thank you very much for sharing your recipe. Those shaving bawls are also very beautiful…

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    1. Thank you, Gordana! Steve's recipe is very nice and worth trying to see how you like it. I like the bowls, too - they are sturdy and easy to reuse. Shaving soap makes a great gift!

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  8. I'm definately giving this a try. If my boy friend Gijs doesn't like it, I'll just use it for shaving my legs.

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Marieke! I hope your boyfriend likes the shaving soap. If not, I'm sure it would be wonderful as a shower soap, too, for shaving your legs. The soap is a bit soft initially, so be careful unmolding it if you make bars. I hope you enjoy it!

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  9. Such a creative idea to have it in that little cup! I love it. =)

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    1. Thanks, Anne-Marie! The cup makes it easier for the guys to use, and I love that the bowls are reusable. It makes for a neat little gift set with the shaving brush!

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  10. So sweet of you to make such a present for your husband, Jenny! I haven't tried them yet, maybe I should give it a try!
    Thanks for sharing your recipe!Love that cute cup too;)

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    1. Thank you, Natalia! I'm glad that Ken likes his shaving soap. I hope that you enjoy the recipe, too, if you give it a try!

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  11. Jenny, your soap looks so nice. I love those bowls! My husband likes to use an electric razor so I never made shaving soap until my older son asked about it. My recipe is similar to the one you used but I used lard rather than palm. I'll have to try adding the oats next time. Thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Linda! I'm glad that your son enjoys your shaving soap. This recipe is nice with or without the oats!

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  12. Oooh, shaving soap! I want to make this so bad for my hubby and our roommate that stays with us (He especially loves sandalwood) but I havent decided on a recipe yet. I really like yours -- I may end up trying it when I get around to getting some shaving kits of my own!

    I'm being a silly person and reading your earlier posts, by the way. It's interesting to watch people's techniques and focuses evolve! Keep up the lovely soaping, hun! :)

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    1. Thanks, Ashley! And thanks for reading my earlier posts, too! This is a really nice shaving soap recipe. I made another batch using a different recipe, and my husband really likes it, too: http://candleandsoap.about.com/od/soaprecipes/a/cpshavingrecipe.htm. If you give either recipe a try, I hope that your hubby and roommate like it!

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  13. I do make shaving soap and mine also has clay and a high castor oil content. It lathers up nice and thick initially. But my husband and other users have commented that once on the face and shaving, it needs to stay on the face better once the hot water hits it... so although my recipe is good, it could be improved and I continue to experiment. I think I may lower the coconut oil as although it is our first instinct to increase lather, the suds are light and fluffy... Thanks for the great post!! xo Jen

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Jennifer! The percentage of coconut oil in this shaving soap recipe is lower than what I normally use in regular soap. It has less palm oil, too, and a lot more castor. If you try this recipe, I hope you like it! I recently tried a shaving soap recipe by About.com's David Fisher (http://candleandsoap.about.com/od/soaprecipes/a/cpshavingrecipe.htm), and my husband really likes it, too. The oil percentages in that recipe are quite different from those in this one. I'll have to blog about that one as well soon. I hope you find a recipe that works for you!

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  14. hello, I made a shaving soap and it bubbles wonderful, i am kind of new in this and sometimes I do not have such a great imagination to end the product as you do. congrats!! the way you presented this soap gave me ideas!!..thanks!!

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    1. Hi, Eugine! Thanks for your comments! I'm glad that the post and video were helpful. Sounds like your shaving soap turned out great!

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  15. I would like to try this, but all the recipes I found make several pounds of soap and I just don't need that much. I find the online soap calculators confusing as I am a complete newbie at soap making. When you altered the recipe to make just 1 pound of soap, what were the ingredient measurements? I feel like I am swimming in the percentages and can't just get a recipe for a small batch of soap! Thanks!

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    1. Hi, Emily! Converting recipes can be confusing. I just gave the percentages here so that they could be applied to any amount of total oils. For this recipe, I used 7.2 ounces (205 grams) of olive oil, 3.2 ounces (91 grams) of coconut oil, 3.2 ounces (91 grams) of castor oil, 1.28 ounces (37 grams) of palm oil, and 1.12 ounces (32 grams) of sweet almond oil. This recipe has 16 ounces of oil, so it actually makes a little more than one pound of soap once you account for the liquid. (If you want one pound of soap, including liquids, I'd try starting with 12 ounces total oil weight, which would be 5.4 ounces olive oil, 2.4 ounces coconut oil, 2.4 ounces castor oil, .96 ounces palm oil, and .84 ounces sweet almond oil.)

      I like to use the Soap Calc lye calculator (http://www.soapcalc.net/calc/SoapCalcWP.asp) for figuring out my recipes. If you try this recipe, I recommend measuring your ingredients in grams for better accuracy, especially for a batch this small (Soap Calc will give you the measurements in grams as well as ounces). And it's always a good idea to run a recipe through a lye calculator to double-check it, too. You can tell Soap Calc how many ounces of oils you plan on using, and then have it calculate the recipe in either percentages or ounces. (Select your oil from the column in #5 and click the "+" sign to add it to your list in #6.) It will even estimate the total soap weight for you once you calculate the recipe.

      Soap Calc makes it easy to resize a recipe, too. Say I find a recipe for five pounds of soap, but I want only three pounds. I'll run the five-pound recipe through Soap Calc as-is so I can see what the oil percentages are. Then I'll recalculate the recipe using my desired amount of total oils and plug in the percentages from the original recipe. For example, let's say I find a recipe that calls for 25 ounces of olive oil, 15 ounces of coconut oil, and 10 ounces of palm oil (50 ounces total). Let's say that I need only 32 ounces total oils for my three-pound mold. I'll run the original recipe through Soap Calc and see that percentage-wise it calls for 50% olive oil, 30% coconut oil, and 20% palm oil. Then I can change my total oils in Soap Calc to my desired 32 ounces and recalculate the recipe by plugging in 50% olive oil, 30% coconut oil, and 20% palm oil. Soap Calc will then tell me how much of each oil I need based on the new figures. It will also calculate the water and lye amounts, too. (And speaking of water, I'd stick with Soap Calc's default setting of water as 38% of your oil weight if you're new to soaping. Once you get more experience, you can start experimenting with water discounts.)

      I hope that makes sense and helps some. Thanks for reading!

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    2. Emily, here's another resource that might help you, too, especially if you are using a new mold and don't have a feel yet for how much oil you need for your recipe. The Summer Bee Meadow Soapmaking Calculator (http://summerbeemeadow.com/content/lye-calculator-and-recipe-resizer) is a lye calculator that will also resize a recipe to fit your mold's dimensions. Once you have that figured out, it will be easier to resize recipes in the future. I hope that helps! Happy soaping!

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  16. I'm new to this, can you let it cure in the jar or do you have to take it out to cure? Thanks in advance !

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    1. Hi, Nathan! I let the soap cure in the bowl and didn't notice any problems. Thanks for reading, and happy soaping!

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  17. you probably already figured it out, but if you havent---premix clay (bentonite or any other) in warm oil works well. happy soaping =)

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    1. Hi, Thanh! Thanks for the tips. I mixed the clay with liquid glycerin before adding it to the soap batter here, but you could hold back a bit of oil from your recipe before mixing in the lye and use it to mix with your clay as well. Happy soaping to you, too, and thanks for reading!

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  18. What a wonderful idea to pour it directly in the bowl! How long does it take to cure compared to soaps that have more surface area exposed to air flow?

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    1. Hi, Sherry Lynn! I've let my shaving soaps cure in the bowl for the usual six weeks and it seems to work fine. Thanks for reading!

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  19. Do you have the recipe and directions for this recipe? I would love to try it out!

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