What's in my shaving soap

Boab

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Excellent post Henk and very well written.Thanks a lot for taking the time and effort.I have no doubt this will spark quite a debate.
 
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OK, I've just read that properly, and since it's all hard science written by a chemist I'm happy to take it as uncontroversial fact. Which leaves me in the same position as Tony: slightly shaken but still convinced, however irrationally, that tallow soaps work best for me. Perhaps what we like about them is just the texture of the lather, though I swear that my skin is in better shape if I use Wool Fat exclusively for a week, regardless of what I put on afterwards.

Henk: how would you feel about giving us the lowdown on after shave balms and moisturisers which claim to address the problems you set out?
 
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Arrowhead said:
OK, I've just read that properly, and since it's all hard science written by a chemist I'm happy to take it as uncontroversial fact. Which leaves me in the same position as Tony: slightly shaken but still convinced, however irrationally, that tallow soaps work best for me. Perhaps what we like about them is just the texture of the lather, though I swear that my skin is in better shape if I use Wool Fat exclusively for a week, regardless of what I put on afterwards.
That may be because companies making tallow soap have been at it long enough to know what makes a good shaving soap in the first place ;-) Of course, if you're making shaving soap with primarily oils and fats, tallow is one of the best bases to start from.

Henk: how would you feel about giving us the lowdown on after shave balms and moisturisers which claim to address the problems you set out?
I'd have to read up on the actual effects but I will think about it...
 
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Thank you Henk a really interesting post. I've noticed that one of my favourite soaps, the Palmolive stick, has potassium hydrogenated tallowate as it's major ingredient. Is this a lot different to the normal potassium tallowate found in other soaps?
 
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Pete said:
Thank you Henk a really interesting post. I've noticed that one of my favourite soaps, the Palmolive stick, has potassium hydrogenated tallowate as it's major ingredient. Is this a lot different to the normal potassium tallowate found in other soaps?
Should be even better ;-)

Tallow contains 47% Oleic acid, 26 % Palmitic acid, 14% Stearic acid, plus some minor fatty acid ingredients. Palmitic and Stearic acid are saturated fatty acids, and are the prime movers in a shaving soap. The oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, is what makes olive oil soap such a weak latherer. WHen you hydrogenate the tallow, you convert oleic acid into stearic acid, boosting the stearate content in the soap from a measly 14% to a whopping 61%. If one could easily obtain hydrogenated tallow, that would be the ultimate homecooking shaving soap feedstock!

Henk
 
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That's really good info Henk, thanks. A lot of shavers have been baffled as to why a 49p soap stick can outperform their expensive soap from Jermyn Street. :lol:

Here is another one. Erasmic sticks were reformulated about a year ago and the opinion of most users is that the new soap is a terrible performer compared to the old. Any clue from the ingredients? (old formula on the left)

 
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Pete said:
Here is another one. Erasmic sticks were reformulated about a year ago and the opinion of most users is that the new soap is a terrible performer compared to the old. Any clue from the ingredients? (old formula on the left)

That's an easy one, assuming that the info is correct (if not, they'd be in flagrant contempt of the law ;-) ). The new one contains ONLY sodium soaps, contains palm fatty acids and coco fatty acids, and NO synthetic foam stabilizers. Coco fatty acids give a cleansing soap with no lather, palm contains a reasonable amount of stearic and palmitic acids but not enough to provide an excellent, creamy lather, plus without potassium soaps and without synthetic surfactants, there is no stability to the lather. In fact, this formula spells disaster even from reading it. Formula looks like it was generated by someone without knowledge of shaving soaps, and without testing (or with no regard for customers...). The old one, with tallow, stearate, potassium soaps and PEG14, will easily be a great lather recipe.

Henk
 
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Thanks Henk, more good info. :cool:

Another puzzle for me is the Culmak soap. Many people have said it is the same soap as the Truefitt & Hill so I got a cake of the much cheaper Culmak to compare it. They are wrapped the same, look the same, weigh the same and smell the same. After using both I would say the T&H is better but not by much.
On examining the ingredients I got this

Culmak:
potassium stearate, sodium stearate, potassium cocoate, aqua, sodium cocoate, glycerine, paraffinum liquidum, parfum, tetrasodium EDTA, pentasodium penetate, tetrasodium etidronate, CI77891

T&H:
sodium palmate, potassium palmate, sodium palm kernelate, aqua, glycerin, potassium palm kernelate, stearic acid, parfum, paraffinum liquidum, isopropyl myristate, tetrasodium EDTA, sodium chloride, bht, tetrasodium etrioronate, pentasodium pentetate, CI77891
 
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Pete said:
Thanks Henk, more good info. :cool:

Another puzzle for me is the Culmak soap. Many people have said it is the same soap as the Truefitt & Hill so I got a cake of the much cheaper Culmak to compare it. They are wrapped the same, look the same, weigh the same and smell the same. After using both I would say the T&H is better but not by much.
On examining the ingredients I got this

Culmak:
potassium stearate, sodium stearate, potassium cocoate, aqua, sodium cocoate, glycerine, paraffinum liquidum, parfum, tetrasodium EDTA, pentasodium penetate, tetrasodium etidronate, CI77891

T&H:
sodium palmate, potassium palmate, sodium palm kernelate, aqua, glycerin, potassium palm kernelate, stearic acid, parfum, paraffinum liquidum, isopropyl myristate, tetrasodium EDTA, sodium chloride, bht, tetrasodium etrioronate, pentasodium pentetate, CI77891
Definitely not the same. T&H has a load more sodium soaps than potassium soaps whereas the Culmak is probably 50/50. Culmak has 'saponified' stearic acid and coconut oil, where T&H has saponified palm oil and palm kernel oil. Neither have foam stabilizers, so I would expect the Culmak to provide the better, creamier, more stable lather. Both have vaselin for lubrication. If you prefer the T&H this may be due to the isopropyl myristate, an emollient not unlike lanolin.

Henk
 
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