Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Another great shave, but lather problem resurfaces

with 11 comments

SOTD 8 Mar 2014

A return to the original situation, and once again I experienced lather collapse disorder. The brush had very good lather for the first two passes, but by pass three, no lather remained. Very strange. This brush works great with other soaps, and I found that the soap worked pretty well with other brushes. I think I’ll just have to abandon this effort without solving the problem.

Still, the shave itself was great. (I reloaded the brush with another soap for the third pass.) The Maggard razor is quite nice and delivered a BBS result, and Krampert’s Finest is an excellent Bay Rum. The weekend begins in style.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 March 2014 at 8:53 am

Posted in Shaving

11 Responses

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  1. Michael, we have really hard water here in Nebraska. Can you recommend any shave soap brands that excel at lathering under that constraint? So far, I’ve tried Honeybee Spa, Momma Bear, Ogalala, Prairie Creations, Colonel Conk and I currently use VDH. I have a puck of Stirling on the way. I have a good battery of brushes from $10 Omega Boars to a Kent BK4. I’ve never really mastered lathering from soap alone, so I superlather with cream over a puck of VDH in a mug. I look forward to your thoughts.

    Ryan

    8 March 2014 at 9:21 am

  2. A couple of thoughts. You can buy distilled/”purified” water at the drugstore for around $1/gallon. It’s used for steam irons, steamers, vaporizers, and the like. Using that in a shave will give you a good idea of what you’re going for in a lather, and some regularly use it as a workaround. Something like the Sunbeam Hot Shot can be used in the bathroom if you regularly use distilled water: put 1/2 c of distilled water in the Hot Shot and turn it on before you shower. It will turn itself off and should cool enough to be used by the time you’re ready.

    Another option is to try Citric Acid, a crystalline powder that looks like salt and in fact can be used as a salt substitute (just as some squeeze a lemon over their food in lieu of salt). A small pinch in a basin of water will soften the water to improve the shave.

    Some soaps—Arko, for example—include chelating elements that make them work better in hard water, so you might try an Arko shave stick.

    LeisureGuy

    8 March 2014 at 9:43 am

  3. I received my R&B brush yesterday. I used a mild shampoo on it as I do with all new brushes. I soaked the brush this morning while I showered (something that a very wise man told me to do with boar brushes). When I then used the brush with a soap that normally gives me good results, I, too, experienced the “disappearance” of my lather. I switched to a cream to finish the shave.

    Maybe I need to use the brush a few more times before it really performs(?).

    JH2

    8 March 2014 at 10:37 am

  4. Now that’s a very good thought. I’m thinking of other instances in which I experienced this, and to the best of my recall there’s some likelihood that they also were new brushes. I had blamed the soap, whereas the brush is probably the problem: and the experience with this new Omega R&B is exactly consistent with the idea that brushes may need to break in some before they perform well—the older brushes I used did not have the lather problem, the new brush did.

    I’ve always been thinking of “breaking in” for a brush to be something that happens at the tips of the bristles. This suggests that the breaking in affects the shaft as well—perhaps by loosening up the keratin shingles that hug the shaft, thus making it take on water easier and hold more of it.

    By George, I think you’ve solved it!

    LeisureGuy

    8 March 2014 at 12:17 pm

  5. I am finding more than a pinch of citric acid is needed in a basin of water to soften it. I am using 1/4 tsp now with good results on all my soaps. I left the basin full while I shaved then rinsed everything in the basin and let the water out. I kept adding small amounts of citric acid until there was no soap scum ring left when it drained. I remember as a kid when we installed a water softener the tub was a breeze to clean. I rinse everything in tap water as a final rinse and can’t find any degradation or corrosion on brushes (boar, badge, synthetic).

    phil

    8 March 2014 at 2:16 pm

  6. I meant to include razors & blades with the brushes.

    phil

    8 March 2014 at 2:18 pm

  7. Excellent idea to test how much citric acid is needed for your own local water. I imagine the amount required will vary with the hardness of the water, so some experimentation is indeed called for.

    LeisureGuy

    8 March 2014 at 3:01 pm

  8. Glad to hear that the problem has been solved! We were a little concerned for awhile. :D

    Barrister & Mann

    8 March 2014 at 7:18 pm

  9. Certainly this explanation—that a boar brush requires breaking in not only for the tips of the bristles but for the shaft as well—does fit with observations. Correct or not, it saves the appearances, as is said of the various Ptolemaic devices of cycles and epicycles: not physically correct, but accounting for what we see.

    And you’ll notice that this time the lather did not die after the first pass, but only after the second—i.e., there was improvement. And it occurs to me that this explanation also covers the observation that a new boar brush seems to “lack capacity” so that, for example, I would not use a new boar brush with a shave stick for fear of running out of lather. The brush’s capacity increases with break-in and may just be the other side of the coin of the way at least some new boar brushes kill rather than sustain lather.

    That the effect is more pronounced with the R&B brush is perhaps the result of the knot, untrimmed, has perhaps had less treatment and handling than other boar knots. One would expect the break-in period to be diminished if the knot gets more processing—e.g., a boar knot with a dyed strip might be quicker to be friendly to lather than an untreated knot. That requires testing, of course: I am merely making a prediction based on the hypothesis. If the prediction turns out to be true, it’s another added bit of supporting evidence.

    Of course, it could also be that some soap formulations are less affected than others. But right now the brush is the focus of my interest. I think I’ll use the R&B daily for a while, then return to the Hallows and see how the brush fares once it has had more breaking in.

    LeisureGuy

    9 March 2014 at 7:12 am

  10. I used the R&B again this morning (I shave every day). This time I used it with a TOBS cream that gives excellent lather. I noticed in the second pass that the lather was noticeably thinner and very *dry*. Once again, I had to re-lather to finish the shave. I will continue to use the R&B every day until I see that it is performing as well as my other brushes.

    I just don’t know if I should count each day as one use or two. After all, I did lather twice each day.

    JH2

    9 March 2014 at 10:35 am

  11. I think the thing that breaks it in is the cycle of wetting-lathering-rinsing-drying. Friction does not play much of a role, I would guess.

    LeisureGuy

    9 March 2014 at 11:45 am


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