Don't Soak Soap

Williams "mug" shaving soap had its profile raised a bit last year, when it was rumored on shaving fora to be departing the market. I just found out yesterday, and also that it wasn't true. But Google will keep that misinformation circulating on page 1 of its search results for a good, long time. I like the stuff, but Arko is better: I say buy it, but don't stockpile it. I think I paid double what it's worth ($1) the last time I saw it at a local drugstore, and that's as much support as I'm willing to give to an apparent artificial demand scheme.

Penetrating the skin of Williams hype further, I would suggest that you also disregard any reference to soaking this soap, in a mug or otherwise. Remember, people today simply don't know how to lather soap with a brush, much less in a mug.

Skip the history

I entered the shaving scene just as this knowledge was being lost, unfortunately prior to the internet boom, in the 1990s. People in real life could still describe methods, but materials were not available. I thought any such speaker was nuts at the time (I was using electric, and mainly interested in foam and cartridges), but I received instruction from an actual ward of the mental hospital I was working in. He wasn't old or anything; authentic traditional shavers are definitely still alive. I think the demographic phenomenon of the "tweeners" makes them relatively rare, and then there is the usual attrition.

Anyway, as I recall: you could soak if you wanted to. Your brush might like it. Mainly, it would make things hot. When it came time to lather, just a little bit of water would be in there, enough to make the lather with. Brushes were long and tight then, so it would mostly lie on the puck in a thin pool, rather than in the canopy. Perhaps the indent on the Williams puck face could be taken as a serving suggestion. (I've mushed mine into a bowl, and cannot test that theory.)

Slow stirring in a counter-clockwise direction (for a right-handed person) with the brushtip square to the surface dissolved the soap, and when the solution reached the right consistency, you would whip it around quickly, clockwise, to add the air and create foam, barely contacting the soap surface at all, sort of an oscillating painters stroke on the mug wall. The mug would be tilted to make that motion as rapid as possible, the one point where the old way seems to me very elegant, compared to the fussy, precious scuttles of today. But if you wanted to keep your lather sort of warm, you could set the mug in the (shallow) water of your basin when you were done.

This isn't chemistry

You can't make a soak water cloudy, then dump the "bad" part of the soap down the drain. The liquid crystal on the puck surface and the dissolved soap in the water are the same substance, only in different states of hydration. It's not supposed to chemically react with anything; it doesn't break down. When you soak soap, you're pretty much just wasting it.

Soapy water would, however, be better for brush soaking than pure, if you're using a brush with absorbent fibers, and have disregarded my prior suggestion not to rinse it out after shaving. Water hardness will have already been minimized then, rather than attacking the lather from a reservoir in the brush.

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