05-06-2012, 02:27 PM
#1
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To truly understand a subject, you have to experiment and try a lot of things. With that attitude, I bought a puck of Williams – expecting very poor performance, given the purchase price of $1.57USD and the online reviews often bemoaning poor quality and lack of latherability. I am also aware that Williams periodically gets hyped and then put down, so my expectations were minimal. On to reading the label -- the first two ingredients are potassium stearate and tallow, ingredients typically associated with high quality soaps. In fact, the only other soaps (that I am aware of) that have both potassium stearate and tallow are Art of Shaving and Fitjar (price $25-26USD). So how can Williams charge so little for a soap with these ingredients? Now I am intrigued, and I rub the puck directly on my face (as if a shave stick) and was pleasantly surprised that a reasonably thick lather came up with the addition of a few dribbles of water. Though I did have to refresh the lather when it died down, it wasn’t a big deal and just took a second or three. IMO Williams is an acceptable soap in terms of lubricity and skin care – though not of the quality of some of the high-end brands. It does not have a noticeable (to me) fragrance, which would be a problem for some shavers but an advantage from my viewpoint. Bottom line: Williams would be better-than-OK in a pinch if one ran out or was on vacation/business out of town and had to buy locally and/or in a hurry. With a price of $0.87USD per ounce and no delivery charge or waiting time, one can argue it is a bargain. Many of you have more experience than I; what are your thoughts?

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 05-06-2012, 02:36 PM
#2
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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I've never tried it but feel I should. Who knows. Although I can't imagine it replacing my MWF or TABAC.

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 05-06-2012, 02:49 PM
#3
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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It does not agree with my face (I get a tingling sensation and it dries out my skin) and I do not care for the scent. That said, I can get it to lather without much issue.

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 05-06-2012, 02:49 PM
#4
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Williams is a good soap. I had my problems with its performance when I first tried it. The lather would to quickly break down on my face. On another forum I sent out an International Challenge to a much respected member who lives in Italy to allow me to send Williams to him and tell us his experience. I also sent out several bars to other members who lived overseas. In fact many members got involved and they too sent out William Soaps to international members. The thread became I thought a very good discussion about Williams and it allowed me to learn from other users how to get better lather from this soap. One poster made a great statement that Williams requires a Stupid amount of Water. Well, he was right, I learned to soak the puck for a minute in water and also my brush then I proceeded to get not just shaving lather, but luxurious shaving lather. My misconception of Williams had totally been shattered. For many it is not worth the trouble as there are so many other great soaps available. For me I wanted to be able to get Williams to work and I did. I also benefit as it along with VDH are the only two soaps that I can actually purchase in most local grocery stores.

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 05-06-2012, 02:55 PM
#5
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Oh NO! There you went and did it... a Williams thread! Biggrin

Williams loves to be hated by many folks. Here's my take on it, and it's only guesses.

Lots of folks don't like the scent, others don't like the price, after all, how can something so inexpensive work, right? It's also been reformulated and the previous Williams is supposed to be lots better.

I don't know about any of that. I use it also at times. I don't find it to be high quality, but it gets the job done. For less $ I find ARKO to be a bit better.

BTW, it's a water hog, so don't be afraid to put it to it. When it has enough water it should be fairly stable.

Edit: Matt wrote that some folks drown their puck for a time. I don't, and have no problem. Just load the brush like you mean it.

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 05-06-2012, 02:56 PM
#6
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I love vintage Williams and I rub the puck on my face too.

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 05-06-2012, 03:00 PM
#7
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I have used it daily in the past for years in a row. I think the attribute that throws people off is it is a hard die-pressed soap. This makes loading problematic for some.

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 05-06-2012, 03:13 PM
#8
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(05-06-2012, 03:00 PM)SteelTown Wrote: I have used it daily in the past for years in a row. I think the attribute that throws people off is it is a hard die-pressed soap. This makes loading problematic for some.

SteelTown - I have not heard of die-pressed soap. How is that different from any other manufacturing process? I assume the non-die-pressed soaps are poured into molds? You have piqued my curiosity. Thanks for the education.

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 05-06-2012, 03:20 PM
#9
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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(05-06-2012, 02:36 PM)Johnny Wrote: I've never tried it but feel I should. Who knows. Although I can't imagine it replacing my MWF or TABAC.

I need to correct this statement. I should have said I have not tried the current formulation of Williams soap. When I first started shaving many, many years ago, I used Williams, Colgate, and Old Spice soaps. Since being introduced to MWF a few years back, I have not gone back. I believe I'm correct when I say neither Colgate or Old Spice make shaving soaps anymore.

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 05-06-2012, 03:31 PM
#10
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(05-06-2012, 03:13 PM)slackskin Wrote:
(05-06-2012, 03:00 PM)SteelTown Wrote: I have used it daily in the past for years in a row. I think the attribute that throws people off is it is a hard die-pressed soap. This makes loading problematic for some.

SteelTown - I have not heard of die-pressed soap. How is that different from any other manufacturing process? I assume the non-die-pressed soaps are poured into molds? You have piqued my curiosity. Thanks for the education.

Most commercial soaps are die pressed or slug cut. Some are harder the others. Williams is a pretty hard soap compared to most shaving soaps. It's consistency is close to most typical bath bars. Bath bars are compressed in a die to last longer and keep their shape in the shower or bath.

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 05-06-2012, 03:36 PM
#11
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A lot of soaps are milled and made quite hard in that process...there is absolutely nothing unique about Williams in that respect. Yes, pretty much any newbie might have issues with loading a hard milled soap, and many might pick up Williams since it's at so many local grocery stores. BUT since many experienced shavers also have issues with Williams and not other triple milled soaps, I think it really is the soap (poor formula) rather than the way it made.

I can get modern Williams to lather, but the lather isn't something that I'd want to shave with. After a few minutes and using an obscene amount of water I had stable lather but it was quite airy. I made several test lathers using different techniques and this was the result. I even soaked the soap for a few days and let it swell up.

To me, modern Williams is not worth the effort or the hassle. The lather is sub-par, even if you can get it to be stable, and the citronella scent actually caused my eyes to tear up. It also dried out the skin on my hands so bad that it took over two weeks for them to look normal. IMHO, it's garbage and I see no reason to use it at all. Even if I was "in a pinch", I'd probably buy a bag of Bic Sensitive disposables and some shaving gel before even thinking about using it.

Now, if you can get your hands on some vintage Williams, that is actually a decent soap that will produce very good lather with a lot less effort. By the time you get a vintage puck, most of the scent will also be gone, btw. Vintage pucks can be found on eBay.

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 05-06-2012, 03:56 PM
#12
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Cvac sorry to disagree but I have used Williams with no issue, both vintage and modern. To me it is a good soap and performs well above its price. The scent is blah I agree it that is a YMMV issue. It has been made for 160 years and used by many shavers with no issue. Probably has been used more than any other soap in current production for shaving. The Internet shaving community is a very small slice of the population that shave daily, both past and present. I would not say that they are the final judge on whether a soap is " good".

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 05-06-2012, 04:07 PM
#13
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(05-06-2012, 02:27 PM)slackskin Wrote: To truly understand a subject, you have to experiment and try a lot of things. With that attitude, I bought a puck of Williams – expecting very poor performance, given the purchase price of $1.57USD and the online reviews often bemoaning poor quality and lack of latherability. I am also aware that Williams periodically gets hyped and then put down, so my expectations were minimal. On to reading the label -- the first two ingredients are potassium stearate and tallow, ingredients typically associated with high quality soaps. In fact, the only other soaps (that I am aware of) that have both potassium stearate and tallow are Art of Shaving and Fitjar (price $25-26USD). So how can Williams charge so little for a soap with these ingredients? Now I am intrigued, and I rub the puck directly on my face (as if a shave stick) and was pleasantly surprised that a reasonably thick lather came up with the addition of a few dribbles of water. Though I did have to refresh the lather when it died down, it wasn’t a big deal and just took a second or three. IMO Williams is an acceptable soap in terms of lubricity and skin care – though not of the quality of some of the high-end brands. It does not have a noticeable (to me) fragrance, which would be a problem for some shavers but an advantage from my viewpoint. Bottom line: Williams would be better-than-OK in a pinch if one ran out or was on vacation/business out of town and had to buy locally and/or in a hurry. With a price of $0.87USD per ounce and no delivery charge or waiting time, one can argue it is a bargain. Many of you have more experience than I; what are your thoughts?

Ya just had to go and bring up the "Williams thing" didn't ya.Laughing1

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 05-06-2012, 04:57 PM
#14
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(05-06-2012, 04:07 PM)CyanideMetal Wrote: Ya just had to go and bring up the "Williams thing" didn't ya.Laughing1


It is funny the amount of vitriol it causes. In celebration I just went and shaved, was going to take the day off.

Williams
Vulfix 2235
Merkur 38
Treet - 4 shaves
Pinaud Bay Rum
Nivea Balm

Face lathered - BBS in 2 passes with touch up, no irritation, no burn.

One thing about Williams is it is one of the slickest soaps I have used. The scent is boring but oh so slick

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 05-06-2012, 05:07 PM
#15
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Boring, but slick sums this soap up for me.

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 05-06-2012, 05:07 PM
#16
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Well - this has generated more buzz than I expected. Lots of good opinions here. Two questions remain:

1. How can they so inexpensively produce a soap containing both potassium stearate and tallow?

2. If the answer to #1 is that the ingredients themselves are inexpensive, then why do the big names cost so much?

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 05-06-2012, 05:13 PM
#17
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(05-06-2012, 05:07 PM)slackskin Wrote: Well - this has generated more buzz than I expected. Lots of good opinions here. Two questions remain:

1. How can they so inexpensively produce a soap containing both potassium stearate and tallow?

2. If the answer to #1 is that the ingredients themselves are inexpensive, then why do the big names cost so much?

#2 answers #1. To answer #2 just find some posts by RazoRock_Joe. He is able to bring us great products at affordable prices by not trying to gouge us & make us think it's worth more due to some fancy packaging. Some $30-60 soaps he's brought to us for $4-10.

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 05-06-2012, 05:15 PM
#18
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(05-06-2012, 05:07 PM)slackskin Wrote: Well - this has generated more buzz than I expected. Lots of good opinions here. Two questions remain:

1. How can they so inexpensively produce a soap containing both potassium stearate and tallow?

2. If the answer to #1 is that the ingredients themselves are inexpensive, then why do the big names cost so much?

Soap is cheap. You are paying for packaging, presentation, boutique factor, contract markup etc. Tabac is my favorite for the scent. Is it worth $15 a puck? Yeah to me it is. Does it cost them more than Williams to produce? Probably not much more on a cost/weight basis.

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 05-06-2012, 05:19 PM
#19
  • bullgoose
  • The Enabler
  • Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A
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(05-06-2012, 05:07 PM)slackskin Wrote: Well - this has generated more buzz than I expected. Lots of good opinions here. Two questions remain:

1. How can they so inexpensively produce a soap containing both potassium stearate and tallow?

2. If the answer to #1 is that the ingredients themselves are inexpensive, then why do the big names cost so much?


One of the most expensive ingredients is the essential or fragrance oil. Natural smelling scents and complex scent blends are very expensive. Other things factor into it for sure but scent is a major factor. For example, Bulgarian Rose Essential Oil is going for $88.00 per .08 OZ or $1100 per ounce.Hmm

The cost of the ingredients though is not the only factor in expense...you have to think of craftsmanship and labor costs. Let's take wine as an example. The Basic ingredients for 2 buck chuck and a French Bordeaux are essentially the same however not many would argue that they are equals. It's not just fancy packaging. Cool

When I think of the expense of a soap I like to think of the price per shave. Whether you are using Williams, $35.00 Harris, or a more expensive soap, the cost per shave is negligible.

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 05-06-2012, 05:47 PM
#20
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I used vintage Williams years ago (when it wasn't vintage) and the current formulation. I can't remember the earlier version being anything special at the time.

Today's Williams produces a some what thin, yet slick, lather that is acceptable, but not in the same class as other tallow based soaps, such as MWF , TABAC and Arko.

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