Posting Freak
(This post was last modified: 02-23-2016, 07:18 PM by celestino.)
Good day, everyone. I hope you are all doing well.

I wanted to share my results from my 4th experiment with hard water and Mystic Water soap.

A new member, here, NeoXerxes, was having some challenges lathering this soap with his hard water which measures 23 gpg (grains per gallon) or 400mgl (milligrams per litre), so I asked him if he would be willing to send a few samples of his tap water to me so that I could experiment with to see if I could get some satisfactory results and offer him some suggestions.
As a reference, the water hardness in Vancouver is 0.3 gpg (uber-soft).  Big Grin

I have also used water from Surry, UK, Phoenix, AZ, and a small town in Kentucky for the other three experiments.

Our correspondence and this experiment began on another forum, but seeing as he is no longer part of that forum, I thought it would be most appropriate and respectful to publicize my results, here.

I used only his water throughout the experiment with the initial lathering on the first day I received his water as visualized in the preceding photos and throughout the six days of using his water for my morning shaves.

I used an Omega Pro #48 and a Semogue 830 to replicate his brushes that he uses, along with a 26 x 57mm 2-Band brush and a puck of Mystic Water Bay Rum. I loaded all of the brushes directly on the puck after a quick 5-10 second rinse under warm water, then shaking out most of the water. I then added water little by little while loading the soap. I loaded for 30-45 seconds with each brush and I didn't find much of a difference between this hard water and my very soft Vancouver water.
It took approximately 3-4 minutes to achieve the lather see in the photos for the bowl-lathering due to my lack of experience with this method.

The Omega was used, firstly, to bowl-lather and I experienced no issues generating the lather, but since I never bowl lather, I didn't quite get the creamiest/most hydrated lather that I would have liked. Nonetheless, it was still quite very good.

The Cobalt Blue 2-Band badger brush was used, secondly, to palm-lather the soap and the results achieved were very good and consistent with my usual shaves without any issues, whatsoever. It took approximately 1 minute and 30 seconds to 2 minutes to generate the lather you see in the photos for the palm-lathering.  

The third brush, the Semogue 830 was used, also, to palm-lather the soap for the equivalent time as the 2-Band badger brush and the results were just as good. No issues with loading the soap, generating the lather and achieving the desired hydration and thickness.

In concluding, I do believe this soap may need some minor adjustments with some individuals' lathering technique, but I would not characterize it as a difficult soap to lather and after this 4th experiment, I would not say it is dependent on the water or brush used, but rather on the technique being incorporated by the user.
Throughout the week of my shaves with this specific hard water, I was using many different types of dense brushes and even while using my M&F 3XL Heritage 31 x 53mm, I still had no issues lathering this soap.

As of now, I am not sure what else to offer anyone having issues lathering this soap except to look carefully at the video (Merkur Man's Mystic Water Lather video) that  I have posted in the soap & cream section under Mystic Water  and see how he generates the proto-lather, then how he incorporates sufficient water while using mainly paint-brush strokes, which I believe will be of great assistance as these strokes will usually alleviate any issues with dissipating lather that you may encounter when using this soap (this is usually caused by not loading enough soap, and or adding too much water, too quickly).

I hope this can be of some assistance to anyone and if there are any queries or if anyone wants me to test their water, then I can accommodate and try to help out as best as I can.

Please, forgive me for the quality of the photos as taking pics wth one hand in very poor lighting is not the easiest thing to do.  Blush

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Porter, clint64, Chuck and 9 others like this post
Love, Laughter & Shaving  Heart

Atlanta, GA
celestino Thank you for such a detailed write up and photos. It took me several times using Mystic Water to get consistently good results but with your help I have it pretty well dialed in. In fact I gave a gift of Mystic Water Orange Vanilla to my motorcycle buddy. After using it a couple of times, he to has it dialed in and is enjoying the soap. Thanks again.

WindsorCitrus and Freddy like this post
celestino amazing thread, very informative. I love that you have put so much effort into this. Obviously have a lot of love for MW soap.

I did have a little difficulty at the beginning when I first tried Michelle's soap but over time it has improved greatly and I get fantastic lathers.

I see that you have tested soap from Surrey in the UK where I live I think I know who (David?) you got that from and he lives 30mins from me and has provided me with samples of MW which I have been very greatful for.

I think most people just have to have a little more patience and spend a little more time getting to know the soap then it will work wonders.

I think we can forgive you for the photos Wink

Freddy likes this post
Oli AKA Windsor Citrus
Surrey, UK.
(This post was last modified: 02-23-2016, 09:59 PM by NeoXerxes. Edit Reason: grammar )
Thank you celestino for the experiment, the writeup, and for everything else Smile. You are a true exemplar of the wet shaving community!

LONG POST WARNING (you have been warned)

Here's my experience, so you folks can hear what led up to this (sadly, the preceding discussion and context is on another forum):

I bought Mystic Water Sensitive on the recommendation of a few folks on a luxury soaps/creams thread that I had written up elsewhere. Highly respected members of the community (including Celestino and Nathan) had suggested that this was a great soap and that I would likely find its performance to be on par or better than many more expensive options. Naturally I decided to give it a try, and since I do suffer from sensitive skin issues, I purchased the full-sized Sensitive puck and bowl.

Long story short, I had a lot of trouble lathering this product. I spent weeks test lathering and shaving with Mystic Water Sensitive, continually returning to the thread for advice and suggestions on my technique. As one example, I copied Nathan's technique exactly, and altered it as new advice would trickle in. Over and over I attempted to lather the soap, and had little success. Occasionally my lathers would look nice, but would ultimately dissipate on the skin most of the time (not all of the time). And however they'd look, the lathers wouldn't be very protective or slick during the shave. This went on for weeks, with me using up nearly my entire puck of the Sensitive formula.

Three things kept me going: First, I'm an extremely stubborn person; second, this soap has an excellent reputation among people who I trust, so I felt I was missing something or somehow failing in my technique; finally, the post-shave qualities of Mystic Water Sensitive are truly phenomenal - even if I got a bad shave, the post-shave was so soothing and calming to my sensitive skin that my skin would feel better after a shave than it did before. In short, my results with Mystic Water ought not be attributed to a lack of persistence, enthusiasm, or interest.

Somewhere around this time, I began learning about chelating agents on another thread. Apparently, some soaps work differently in hard water than in soft water. I first experienced this with Barrister & Mann original formula, which was extremely hard for me to use (though not as hard as Mystic Water) for some inexplicable reason. Later I found out it was because my water rates at around 23 gpg, as Celestino mentioned (for reference, the "very hard" category is the highest on the scale, and it starts at 10.5 gpg). In any case, I noticed that other folks with hard water were having the same issue with lathering and getting a stable lather from Mystic Water soaps.

My friend and neighbor has a water softener and also owns Mystic Water soaps. Right around the time that I was bottling and sending out my water for Celestino to test, my neighbor and I decided to do an experiment whereby we would both test lather MW at each other's home. Lo and behold, he couldn't lather Mystic Water Sensitive in my water. Not at all (he did worse than me!). And when I went over to his house, it was A LOT easier than I had experienced with my own water, and I was able to produce a stable lather with much less effort.

I was annoyed and a smidge jealous (see my first reason for sticking with MW) so naturally I bought a water softener. That solved my lathering issues with Mystic Water completely. Now I can get a stable lather every time without difficulty. Since I've been using hard water, I've noticed a remarkable improvement with Mystic Water performance. Slickness, in-shave performance, and post-shave are all better than before. And it's not just Mystic Water - I've also noticed a huge improvement with Barrister & Mann original formula, which I can now use without issue. Mystic Water is now one of the few artisan brands (along with B&M) that I choose to keep in my rotation alongside much more expensive "luxury" soaps/creams. It's a truly fantastic soap, but some folks with extremely hard water will have lathering issues that won't be overcome except by using softer water.

Now, in light of my own experience, can I explain Celestino's results? Maybe. As I've always said, I expected his results to be different. Celestino has significantly more experience lathering MW soaps than I do. Now, I wouldn't attribute this to some significant lack of technique on my part (per se), since I spent so much time dialing in and refining my technique according to the suggestions of experts. However, when you use a soap for a long period of time (as Celestino has), especially exclusively, you get to learn its quirks and can account for them without effort. Perhaps this is the case here?

Another variable is that we used different soap formulas. I'm not sure how much this matters, or if any of you noticed the same, but during this same period, my friend and I noticed that there was a fairly significant difference in the lathering potential of Mystic Water (regular formula) and Mystic Water Sensitive. Sensitive seems much more finicky and difficult to lather, particularly under hard water conditions. From what I understand, Celestino used the regular formula. Again, I don't know how much this matters, but this might be a partial explanation.

In any event, this was a very interesting experiment. What it demonstrates to me is that some will be better able to account for this lathering difficulty than others. Some (like Celestino) will be able to easily lather the soap under all conditions. Others (such as myself and perhaps my friend) will work and work and work but will be unable to refine our technique enough to account for the added difficulties brought by hard water. In those instances, a water softener is one solution, but if that option is not available, Mystic Water may not work for you.

If you have very hard water and have never before tried Mystic Water, my advice would be to order a sample of both the regular formula and the Sensitive formula (instead of just the Sensitive formula, which was much more difficult for me in hard water conditions). Give it a lot of tries, stick with it, and ask for advice from experts such as Celestino (who will be more than happy to help, I'm sure!). And if it still doesn't work consistently for you, bite the bullet and buy a water softener. It's expensive, but worth it, and you'll notice a big difference across many different brands of soap.

All praise to Celestino for his great work in exploring this issue, and a special thank you to Michelle at Mystic Water for being so responsive, willing to answer questions, and quick to offer helpful advice. Make no mistake - despite the difficulty that some have with lathering the soap under exceptional hard water conditions, Mystic Water is a fantastic soap. When I get around to posting a "revised and expanded edition" of my luxury soaps/creams thread on this forum, Mystic Water will get a special mention for its phenomenal post-shave look/feel properties.

wyze0ne, Kyrlos, kwsher and 4 others like this post

Posting Freak
Peter, thank you for adding your experience with the soap and I plan on getting a puck of the Sensitive Formula to experiment with as I still have a good amount of your water leftover.
I can offer my impressions after I have used this combination.

It would be wonderful to witness your technique using this soap as a visual reference, for me.
I hope to some day be able to post a video of me using this soap, but I still need to figure how to do that. Big Grin

Thank you, once again, for being so generous with your words and for appeasing my desire to experiment with your water. Shy

NeoXerxes, Freddy and WindsorCitrus like this post
Love, Laughter & Shaving  Heart

Super Moderator
San Diego, Cal., USA
This thread has been fascinating to read and I have never even tried Mystic Water soaps. Thanks to all who have posted. Smile

NeoXerxes and wyze0ne like this post
Celestino - your post is quite timely for me. As above, I finally obtained some MW samples after reading so much about this artisan's products. Based on what I read previously about lather difficulties, I was not sure what to expect as I have tried many soaps and had yet to encounter any that really gave me trouble. My water is on the soft side, so that helps with lathering, no doubt. Well, MW is the first soap I ran into lathering difficulty with. Broke out the Dragon sample the other day and tried the wrung out, adding water drop by drop method on a Semogue 830 boar, just like yours. Not sure how broke-in yours is, but mine is REALLy broke-in and quite floppy-soft, splaying very easily (which I happen to really like). Seems that no matter what I did, I could not get enough product on the ends. Since I use a lot of soap samples in my rotation that do not have adequate sized containers, I bowl lather mostly. All I could build up in the bowl was a smallish lather that I estimated would allow 2 passes. When I painted the lather on my face, it looked like any other properly made lather (shiny, thin-ish as my preference), but within seconds the lather literally dissipated to a transparent film. By wetting my face, I was able to get the first pass completed fine (this soap is really slick), albeit without any cushioning. After that, I just rubbed the sample half puck on my face like a stick for each of the last two passes - same dissipating lather result, but incredible slickness and amazing post shave feel. Based on this, I saw enough to really want to get this lather puzzle solved. So this morning, I went back at it with the Cuppa Joe flavor. This time I used my other brush (only have 2 in the rotation these days). This one is a Semogue 2 band badger. It has way more backbone than the 830 and I had no trouble getting a pasty protolather built up on the end of the brush. I used Merkur Man's method and in no time my lather bowl was overflowing with lather. I felt the lather was pretty shiny, slick and so I wetted my face and painted it on. However, once I got thru the first two quadrants of my face/neck, I could see the lather again dissipating and it was the same dried film by the time I got to the last quadrant. Since I had so much lather in the bowl, I was easily able to just keep painting on more thru all my passes. But, this seems not quite right. Now I am not sure what to think. Seems like MW does not like my 830 boar, but loves my 2 band badger. But with either, my lather seems to dissipate. Am I not using enough water in building the lather? How thirsty is this soap? Normally, I am a pretty much a Marco Method man, and I usually start with a very wet brush, so this wrung brush, drop by drop and Merkur Method is not my usual way. I would be grateful for any pointers you can suggest b/c despite these issues, I can definitely see (and feel) that this is a phenomenal soap that I really want in my regular rotation.
Unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes...

Thanks, Celestino. I'm going to give Merkur Man's method a try next time.
(02-23-2016, 09:55 PM)NeoXerxes Wrote: Thank you celestino for the experiment, the writeup, and for everything else Smile. You are a true exemplar of the wet shaving community!

LONG POST WARNING (you have been warned)

Here's my experience, so you folks can hear what led up to this (sadly, the preceding discussion and context is on another forum):

Anyone having difficulty lathering MW or any other soap, I strongly recommend buying a synthetic brush with an Ubersoft or Plisson knot. Also, I would watch that video by Merkur Man that Celestino posted. That is the best lathering video I've ever seen and I credit it for improving my lathers. I believe everyone should at least try a Plisson or Ubersoft brush once, especially if having any issues lathering any soaps or creams whatsoever.

NeoXerxes likes this post
(02-24-2016, 04:04 AM)Hobbyist Wrote: Anyone having difficulty lathering MW or any other soap, I strongly recommend buying a synthetic brush with an Ubersoft or Plisson knot. Also, I would watch that video by Merkur Man that Celestino posted. That is the best lathering video I've ever seen and I credit it for improving my lathers. I believe everyone should at least try a Plisson or Ubersoft brush once, especially if having any issues lathering any soaps or creams whatsoever.

I followed the Merkur Man method in the video (both the regular video and the one specifically for Mystic Water) and was not able to achieve fully consistent improvements (though it did help occasionally). A synthetic would have been my next step, but I skipped it and went straight for the water softener lol.

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