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#1
(This post was last modified: 02-05-2016, 07:45 PM by Chuck. Edit Reason: typos )
A new wet shaver is having trouble learning to make lather, and seeks out advice here or on any of the various online shaving communities. One of the first answers he’ll receive will be to try a distilled water shave.

I think this advice does new folks a disservice, and I wrote an article explaining why. Mark (Mantic) was kind enough to publish it on Sharplogist: Can You Really Get A Better Shaving Lather With Distilled Water?

I know there are folks who use nothing but distilled to shave with, and I am not urging them to change what they do if it works for them. But I'd love to hear what your experience has been with distilled water and if what I have to say in the article rings true or not.

Thanks for taking a look!
-Chuck

"No one wants advice, only corroboration." -John Steinbeck
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#2
(This post was last modified: 02-05-2016, 08:10 PM by gwsmallwood.)
It didn't make much difference for me. The two things that finally snapped me out of my lather funk were loading more soap and face/head lathering.

Early on I didn't realize that with my hard water, 30 seconds was not enough time to get soap loaded. There's no set formula that works. I just have to start with less water in the brush and keep an eye on how much the soap has penetrated into the brush to know when I'm done loading.

I still can't get decent lather from a bowl. I've never tried a real lather bowl with ridges, so that may be part of the problem. But I tried with my VDH mug and other various coffee and cappuccino mugs for quite a while. Once I started face/head lathering, my lather got WAY better.
Head Shaver
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#3

Member
Austin, TX
(02-05-2016, 08:09 PM)gwsmallwood Wrote: loading more soap
I believe this will solve the vast majority of most lathering issues. I live in an area with hard water. Never had or have problems, even with the usual problem soaps. Load. Load some more. One more time. Then lather and enjoy!

Thanks for sharing the article Chuck. Good stuff.
Kevin
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#4

Member
Greenville, SC USA
Good article, Chuck. I'd bet that many new wet shavers don't know what a good lather looks and feels like. If they could spend a half hour with an experienced shaver, it would help immensely.

You'll often find an ingredient in soaps called EDTA (Ethylene Diamine Tetra Acetic Acid). This is a chelating agent that sequesters the hard water ions such as calcium, magnesium & others so that they are taken out of action making the water softer. If hard water is a problem, looking for soaps that have this chemical should help in lather making.
Does Mean I Must Buy High End Shaving Gear?
--Roger--
#5

Vintage Razor Fan
Southwestern NY
I have very hard well water(tastes great, though!) where we live. I also tried distilled water and didn't find an improvement in my lather, but by the time I tried it, I was already "loading like I hate it." I love shaving soap!
-Rob
#6

Member
Greenville, SC USA
(02-07-2016, 08:54 AM)Blade4vor Wrote: I have very hard well water(tastes great, though!) where we live.  I also tried distilled water and didn't find an improvement in my lather, but by the time I tried it, I was already "loading like I hate it."  I love shaving soap!
Interesting isn't it, Rob, how so many myths crumble under the light of testing and investigation? Another is that cold water won't lather as well as warm. Balderdash! I'm mostly cold shaving, nowadays, and a good soap continues to lather as fast, if not faster, into a rich, luxurious lather. This morning my cold water dipped synthetic brush loaded enough Sterling Sandalwood in 15 seconds to make copious amounts of beautiful lather on the face with minimum effort and only a couple of cold water additions to build the lather. Warm water might make the scent a little stronger, but I don't know how to measure that.
Does Mean I Must Buy High End Shaving Gear?
--Roger--
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#7

Member
Utah
I have very hard water, so I understand the frustration, but I don't really think distilled water is a viable option for most people anyway so I'm not sure the recommendation helps for the long term even if it yielded better results. My recommendations would be to try a different soap or switch to a cream, then load like crazy. Beginners also seem to have better luck with synthetics, though quality badger is not hard to lather if you load it enough and nothing feels more luxurious in my opinion than lather filled badger.
#8

Member
Lethbridge, Alberta
(02-06-2016, 12:56 AM)beamon Wrote: Good article, Chuck. I'd bet that many new wet shavers don't know what a good lather looks and feels like. If they could spend a half hour with an experienced shaver, it would help immensely.

You'll often find an ingredient in soaps called EDTA (Ethylene Diamine Tetra Acetic Acid). This is a chelating agent that sequesters the hard water ions such as calcium, magnesium & others so that they are taken out of action making the water softer. If hard water is a problem, looking for soaps that have this chemical should help in lather making.
Good to know! A little science goes a long way.

Sent from my SGH-I337M using Tapatalk
Live well, shave well

www.canadianbladeco.com
#9

Member
Vancouver, BC
(This post was last modified: 02-16-2016, 07:43 PM by celestino.)
I have conducted four experiments with 'hard' water and one specific soap, Mystic Water, as it seems a few folks have had issues lathering it in their 'hard' water and I have never had much of an issue with it in the different waters.

I still believe folks just need to refine their technique with any soap that they are having issues with instead of using distilled water. Unless, of course, they are using well-water which might be 'extremely' hard, but I have never experimented with it, so I won't comment on this.

However, with most tap-water, in the majority of the countries, I believe any good soap should lather well once you adjust your technique. Smile
Celestino
Love, Laughter & Shaving  Heart
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#10

Member
Austin, TX
(02-16-2016, 07:40 PM)celestino Wrote: I have conducted four experiments with 'hard' water and one specific soap, Mystic Water, as it seems a few folks have had issues lathering it in their 'hard' water and I have never had much of an issue with it in the different waters.

I still believe folks just need to refine their technique with any soap that they are having issues with instead of using distilled water. Unless, of course, they are using well-water which might be 'extremely' hard, but I have never experimented with it, so I won't comment on this.

However, with most tap-water, in the majority of the countries, I believe any good soap should lather well once you adjust your technique.  Smile

Agreed. I also live in an area with hard water and have found no problem lathering even soaps with finicky reputations.

Load [more than you think] and hydrate- pretty easy equation with few variables and you unlock the key to great shaves.

Your experiment across a number of community provided "problem" waters really put this to rest celestino in a scientific way.
Kevin
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