When we first started out, it was because I had realized that the double edge safety razor market hadn’t bothered to target women. To me, this was an absolute outrage because shaving with a double edge safety razor is the absolute best shave you’ll ever have. Hands down. I know, I’ve tried everything. But this is the wrong post for a love letter to DE shaving. Just know that as someone who has struggled for years to find a shaving solution that worked for me, I wanted to shout my discovery from the rooftops, “Ladies, steal your husband’s DE razor!”
After a good Google search we realized two things, 1.) to make shave soap you should first learn how to make regular soap, and 2.) this was going to be an interesting adventure.
We immediately hit the road to our local library for instruction and ideas; and to the Dollar Store to gather basic tools. Over time we’ve learned so much about the precise chemistry required to make great soap. To be successful in soaping, you must measure everything to the gram! Did you know that the amount of lye to turn an ounce of olive oil into soap is completely different from the amount of lye needed to turn an ounce of coconut oil into soap? In addition to precise measurements of ingredients, you also have to keep a keen eye on the temperatures you’re soaping at. And above all, maintain safety standards when working with such a caustic ingredient as lye.
Our first attempt was…SOAP! We did it, on the first try; we made a perfectly useable (albeit smelly) soap. It had its issues, it wasn’t a great soap, but it was a successful attempt for complete novices. The recipe was primarily made from lard and olive oil, scented with orange fragrance, and had dried orange peel mixed in. This was before we sacrificed our immersion blender to soaping and had to stir the pot by hand for hours to achieve saponification. Now, our orange lard soap smelled so sad, but we learned something from it. Never use lard in such a high quantity in soap again. We had so much fun, despite the outcome, that we were hooked on soaping.
After learning basic techniques and the science of soap making, we were able to experiment with recipes, fragrances, and color swirling. Without knowing how lye behaves with certain oils and fragrances we would never be able to achieve some of our amazing soaps. That’s science, baby! Honestly, our Bourbon & Sandalwood soap was a huge surprise, even the interior swirl of our Terra Rosa was a happy accident. The process of experimentation in soap making is a truly exciting endeavor. Without experimentation, we never would have been able to come up with our proprietary blend of essential oils for Terra Rosa, our Wild Berries and Butterflies soap would look bland, and we might not have ever thought to use local craft beer in a number of our recipes.
One of the biggest reasons we fell in love with soap making is because it is the perfect blend of both art and science. It appeals fully to our left and right brain sensibilities.
All-in-all we both find soap making extremely fulfilling. It’s something that allows us to work together, and isn’t that what marriage is all about? Finding ways to spend more time together, to have excuses to collaborate and brainstorm? Thousands of bars after that original batch, we still find new techniques to explore and fun ideas to try.
And yes, we are well aware that we have yet to create a woman’s shave soap, but if you’re already “borrowing” your husband’s razor, why not also “borrow” his shave soap? Bourbon Vanilla is a lovely unisex scent. (Don’t worry ladies, I’m working on it).