06-09-2015, 03:28 PM
#1
  • chamm
  • Expert on nothing
  • Central Ohio
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Is there a reason that there are no artisanal hard soaps? (At least, I am not aware of any.) There are a few that come to mind (Stirling, CRSW) that are firm, but both of those can be mushed into a bowl.

The real hard soaps that come to mind, MWF, Valobra, MdC, Tabac, are all produced in larger quantities and sold through distributors.

Is there something inherent to the soaping process that makes achieving a really hard consistency difficult? Or is there equipment needed that tends to create a barrier to entry for smaller entities? I know a small razor manufacturer who just bought a $35,000 CNC machine, so I would think that there would be one or two soapers who might make that sort of investment.

I'm just curious. I really enjoy artisan soaps, but I also really like a nice, hard soap, and was wondering if those were just out of reach for some of the soapers we all know and love.

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 06-09-2015, 03:32 PM
#2
  • Agravic
  • Super Moderator
  • Pennsylvania, USA
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Equipment needed for traditional hard milled soaps is cost prohibitive for the smaller players, I suspect.

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 06-09-2015, 03:35 PM
#3
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WSO had really hard soaps. Great soaps too; not sure what happened or why he closed down.

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 06-09-2015, 04:35 PM
#4
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(06-09-2015, 03:32 PM)Agravic Wrote: Equipment needed for traditional hard milled soaps is cost prohibitive for the smaller players, I suspect.
+1 

(06-09-2015, 03:35 PM)Starkicker Wrote: WSO had really hard soaps. Great soaps too; not sure what happened or why he closed down.

He had some personal issues from what I understand.

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 06-09-2015, 05:14 PM
#5
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There are a few Hard Glycerin soap makers. Mama Bear and Benton Clay (AWOL again) come to mind.

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 06-09-2015, 05:48 PM
#6
  • kwsher
  • Senior Member
  • Austin, TX - USA
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Charles at QED makes a good glycerin soap as well.

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 06-09-2015, 05:49 PM
#7
  • Steelman
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  • Delaware
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is Saponificio Varesino considered artisan?  Likewise, Meissner?

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 06-09-2015, 05:50 PM
#8
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(06-09-2015, 05:48 PM)kwsher Wrote: Charles at QED makes a good glycerin soap as well.
I believe he is out of the game now as his soap maker retired.

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 06-09-2015, 05:55 PM
#9
  • kwsher
  • Senior Member
  • Austin, TX - USA
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I had no idea- I still have three of his soaps in the house and really enjoy the mint/grapefruit in the summer months. Thanks for the info.

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 06-09-2015, 05:56 PM
#10
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Saponificio Varesino called their soap triple milled soap. 
"Green Mountain" is the only artisan triple milled hard soap artisan came to my mind. 
Their soaps are very stiff, odd shaped and performed well. 

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 06-09-2015, 06:00 PM
#11
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Gingers Garden makes a hard glycerine soap.

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 06-09-2015, 06:29 PM
#12
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(06-09-2015, 05:50 PM)Bruce Wrote:
(06-09-2015, 05:48 PM)kwsher Wrote: Charles at QED makes a good glycerin soap as well.
I believe he is out of the game now as his soap maker retired.
He's back, this time with a line of vegan (non-glycerin) soaps.

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 06-09-2015, 06:30 PM
#13
  • Shanman
  • Reserve Collection Squirrel Hair
  • NE Florida
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(06-09-2015, 05:50 PM)Bruce Wrote:
(06-09-2015, 05:48 PM)kwsher Wrote: Charles at QED makes a good glycerin soap as well.
I believe he is out of the game now as his soap maker retired.


Well that is some really sucky info right there.

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 06-09-2015, 10:11 PM
#14
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I don't really have anything to add to this, but I've tried all 3 scents of the MdC in jars and I didn't consider that a very "hard" soap. No harder than any of the HTGAM,  PPF or Mike's that I have tried.

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 06-10-2015, 08:35 AM
#15
  • kwsher
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  • Austin, TX - USA
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I thought of another that I have that is a good performer- WM Neumann. I only have the 1911 and it is definitely an "old school" scent but it is a hard soap that lathers very well.

Right on the fringe of my wife's scent threshold, usually involving comments along the lines of "smelling" and "old man" combined. Scent is very lasting but I actually find it pleasant.

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 06-10-2015, 12:30 PM
#16
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QEDUSA has 5 new soaps on the website. Charles states the soaps are similar in consistency to Valobra soft soaps. His scents have always been top shelf.

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 06-10-2015, 01:21 PM
#17
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TFS makes a beautiful ' dure '  soap!
See for instance: http://www.barbieredifigaro.nl/scheerpro...-282593824

I especially like the Pelli Sensibli line and have actually a few in stock.

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 06-10-2015, 02:10 PM
#18
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I saw that WSO is offering limited quantities again today .... Jim makes an excellent soap that is hard milled.

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 06-11-2015, 07:13 AM
#19
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As I understand it, "triple milled" soap is as hard as it is because the mill (sets of rollers) basically crushes all the crystals of soap into very fine texture, which allows them to crowd closely together. (In many ways, this aspect is like churning icecream.) This action also squeezes out more liquid that is left over after curing, but that's secondary.

Industrial applications sometimes get bulk soap pearls/shavings of a particular kind (say, sodium stearate or potassium tallowate) and mill them together with fragrance.

So the biggest problem with making a soap as hard as DRH or MWF as a small operation is the cost of equipment. Maybe, just maybe you could do something with a smaller press of some kind, like maybe a high end pasta roller. But it would take so much extra time and effort that the resulting soap would probably be far too expensive.

Another reason is that potassium salts are more soluble, and therefor easier to load and lather, than sodium salts. And potassium soaps are inherently soft. Even if cured for a long time like MdC the result is still fairly soft. I think most artisans have embraced this approach because of the popularity of all- or majority- potassium soaps like MdC and others.

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 06-11-2015, 07:53 AM
#20
  • kwsher
  • Senior Member
  • Austin, TX - USA
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Very informative post Eric. I make it a personal point to try and learn at least one new thing a day and you have helped me accomplish that goal today- thanks!

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