soap

Old Spice- Early Glass Mug 01

A couple months ago while on vacation to upstate New York, we checked out a local thrift store and found an Old Spice shaving mug on sale for $4.  I knew nothing about the history at the time, but based solely on it looking old and seemingly like it would make a good blog post we picked it up.

Turns out it’s what’s called an Early Mug 01.  Why that?  Because it’s the first glass mug Old Spice ever produced.  A lot of good info on the history can be found here, but this is the short version.

Before 1948 Old Spice bottle and mugs were made by a pottery company.  But due to inconsistencies in pottery it wasn’t ideal for mass production, so they switched to glass.  The Early Mug 01 was the first mug to come off the line after the change.

There’s a few ways you can tell what it is, but the easiest is to look at the Old Spice lettering.  In the early 1950s the logo changed to much smoother “S,” rather than a sharp line cursive, and a more decorative “O” (a comparison can be found on the site linked above).  This mug was produced sometime between 1948 and 1950, after that they switched to the Early Mug 02 which was nearly identical, but which featured a ridged bottom to help get the soap up out of the water. 

It's unsurprisingly hard to get a good wrap-around picture of a mug.  Consequently, you don't get to see the word "Old."

It’s unsurprisingly hard to get a good wrap-around picture of a mug. Consequently, you don’t get to see the word “Old.”

You can also tell what it is by the markings on the bottom, with the single star on either side.

You can also tell what it is by the markings on the bottom, with the single star on either side.

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of using it.  The sides are steep and the edges sharp enough that when I try to lather with it I tend to bang my fingers on it and the brush makes a lot of knocking noises.  My $1 Wal-Mart bowl is a lot easier to use.  But it’s a heck of a collection piece, and maybe using it will grow on me some day. 

I definitely got my money’s worth.

Getting Myself a Shave Bowl

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:

It came in several colors, I picked red because I thought it looked best.

It came in several colors, I picked red because I thought it looked best.

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.

Though my experience remains limited, Col. Conk's has been my favorite shaving soap thus far.

Though my experience remains limited, Col. Conk’s has been my favorite shaving soap.

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Step 1: Put soap in the bowl.

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.

You don't have to cool it off, it does that on it's own, but I decided to put it in a bowl of cool water to help speed things up.

You don’t have to cool it off, it does that on it’s own, but I decided to put it in a bowl of cool water to help speed things up.

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.

Lasts Gasps of a Dying Soap

Col. Conk’s bayrum shave soap was the first shaving soap I’d tried. Before that it was either gels or Barbersol, applied with my hands. But after I purchased my double-edge razor my wife got me the soap and a brush as a gift, and I’ve been loving it ever since.

I wasn’t sure that I would. Lather didn’t interest me as much as the razor, and I wasn’t sure it would be worth the effort.

But what I found was a rich and rewarding experience. My first attempts, in hind sight, were terrible. Then I thought I got the hang of it, and it was fun. In hind sight though, the results here were also terrible. I just didn’t know enough to know that yet.

The last couple months have seen a lot of improvement. More foam, thicker and longer lasting lather, better protection.  When I wore through the puck, the melted remains in a small dish taught me about the benefits of using a bowl to load.

But the time is far spent, and there is little soap remaining. Probably just a few more shaves at most.

It lasted about 5 1/2 months. Not bad. A good soap apparently goes a long way. It also means it may be time to get new soap soon. It’s hard not to simply get another puck of Conk’s, but I’ve heard good thing about some of the other brands out there (such as Mama Bears) so I think I will try some out. Experiment.

In the meanwhile, I heartily recommend Col. Conk’s bayrum. I can’t speak to their other products, but this one treated me well.