One of the first things I thought when I started DE wet shaving was that I needed to pick up a shaving bowl. I had no idea what they did or how they worked, but it seemed like something I would need…I guess.
Subsequently, that was one of the first misconceptions about wet shaving that I found myself corrected on. As it turns out, a shaving bowl isn’t necessary at all.
For months I simply lathered directly on my hand or face. It wasn’t until I had worked my way through my first shave soap puck and needed to melt it down that I got around to actually trying a bowl out. What I found was that while I wasn’t using it for building a lather, it did help significantly with loading the brush with soap. So when it came time to get more soap I decided to find myself a bowl (my wife, ever patient with my commandeering the dishware, gently requested that I find an alternative container).
Shaving bowls can run for $10-15 or more online, but being cheap I had no desire to pay that much. Instead, I hit up Wal-Mart and got this one for a dollar:
Is it specially intended for shaving? No, but it fits perfectly in my hand, is a great depth and width for a brush, and oh yes, it costs a dollar.
I’ve never used shaving cream from a tube, which is usually then mixed in a bowl before application. Nor do I use a bowl much for lathering, as I mentioned. So what do I use the shave bowl for? Loading the brush, which is getting the soap into the brush and bristles so that when you try and lather you have something to work with, is one of the most important steps in a good shave. You can load directly off a free standing block of soap, and I did so for many months. But I’ve found a bowl to be helpful, and so that’s what I decided to use it for.
First I molded the soap into the bowl. The most universal method of this is, from what I am told, using a hand cranked grater to shred the soap, then packing it by hand. However, if you know that the soap can be melted in a microwave (not all can or should) then you can save yourself a lot of time. I decided to use Col. Conk’s Almond soap, I’ve melted their Bayrum scented soap before without problem so I assumed that the Almond would work just as well.
Once the soap is in the bowl I used short bursts in the microwave to soften and melt the soap without cooking or bubbling it. Eventually, in a minute or two, it liquified.
Once it cooled I had a full puck’s worth of soap in the bowl, ready for use. Having used it for several weeks now, I can report that the bowl has been working great! While a specialty bowl might bring some additional benefits, and melting it into the bowl means that until I use all of the soap the bowl is tied up (reducing its use if I feel like more soap variety), the low cost and ease of acquiring (as opposed to ordering online) makes it a welcome investment and tool in my growing shaving kit.