Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium Gun Powder & Lead Shaving Soap Review

Discussion in 'Shave Soaps' started by Shaver X, Aug 30, 2015.

  1. Shaver X

    Shaver X Well-Known Member

    Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium Gun Powder & Lead Shaving Soap

    Around six years ago, I read some positive comments about Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium's Gun Powder & Lead shaving soap. This was from someone who had made many good recommendations before. Thinking about that recently, I decided to order some. That was done also keeping in mind that artisan soaps can be hit or miss. Would this be a hit or a miss? Read below to see what I found out.

    Note that the Gun Powder & Lead [sic] name appears to refer to the grayish color of the soap, as it definitely does not smell like gunpowder and does not contain lead.


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    Overall: (8/10)

    The Gun Powder & Lead shaving soap is very good overall. While better than average on the whole, it is not ideal and there was a mild burning sensation when using it. Regardless, it is much better than most artisan soaps and a goodly number of commercial soaps. It is well worth trying and a capable performer.

    Ease of lathering: (9/10)

    This soap lathers very readily with both a boar and a floppy badger brush. While lathering really well with the badger brush, it does even better with the boar brush. This is something I have also noticed with some other shaving soaps. One can whip up a thick, creamy lather in no time, and here is the method I found to work best: Start with just a little water in the brush and start lathering. The result is a very sparse, dry paste. Now run the tip of the brush under the faucet for a moment. Lather some more, and repeate as necessary. The lather then becomes rich, creamy, slick and very fragrant. There was easily enough lather in the brush for three passes, with plenty left over. Keep in mind that I was lathering in a mug. If you are face or bowl lathering, you might need to adjust your method accordingly.

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    Life span of lather: (8/10)

    This is where artisan soaps often fall short, but not the Gun Powder & Lead soap. The lather easily lasted long enough for me to complete each pass at my leisure. No vanishing lather this! After one minute, the lather had started to disappear a little, but was still quite slick and perfectly usable. I did not wait beyond that point, as I wanted to get my shave done.

    General skincare: (6/10)

    Gun Powder & Lead soap has wonderful skincare in some ways, but not in others. It is quite moisturizing, yet not at all greasy. Were it not for one thing, it would have received an easy 10 in this category. So why the mediocre score? To me, irritation from the soap falls under the skincare category. This soap gives me a mild, yet still uncomfortable and very noticeable burning sensation after the lather is applied. Quite an annoying characteristic, to say the least. This problem was much worse when I first started using the soap than in the ensuing weeks. It was not bad enough to keep me from using the soap, although it would have been if it was any worse. I tried a shave with Bathouse Soapery's Tweed shaving soap. It had the same problem, but to a lesser degree.

    I am not prone to skin irritation, and have had this problem with only one other shaving soap (Kell's). My guess - and this is only a guess - is that it is due to the scent. There is nothing in the ingredients list that was not in other soaps I have used.

    Lubrication: (8/10)

    Gun Powder & Lead soap is not ultra slick, but still does quite well in this regard. The razor easily glided over my face, with no dragging, tugging or any difficulty whatsoever. With a really good blade, it was easy to get a nearly baby bottom-smooth shave every time and with little effort. Not bad at all!

    How protective: (9/10)

    When shaving with this soap, I got no nicks, cuts or irritation due to the razor. That is more than enough for the soap to get high marks in this category. Even when I was a little sloppy and careless, shaving a little two fast, there were no problems. Well done, Bathouse Soapery!

    Scent: (10/10)

    Oh wow, this soap has the most amazing, incredible, cosmically good, perfectly done scent. The only reason I gave this soap a 10 is that 3,000 out of 10 would look silly. It really is that good, and is by far the best smelling shaving soap I have ever used. The scent strength is just right for me - not too faint, yet not the overpowering, industrial, soaked-in-scent strength of some other artisan soaps. The scent is so good that I used the soap for over a month, despite getting a mild burning sensation. The Bathouse Soapery website describes the scent as "sexy, masculine and manly. Bullseye. It reminds me of being in a lightening storm on a hot, summer evening". I don't get the lightning storm bit, but it does smell sexy and manly. Bullseye indeed! It is hard to describe the scent, other than warm and luxurious. It smells almost exactly like a high-end perfume a lady friend of mine wears, only more masculine.

    Price: (9/10)

    Gun Powder & Lead soap costs $7.00 per 4.5 ounce (128 grams) cake. The cake is 3 inches (76 mm) diameter on the top, 2-1/2 inches (64 mm) in diameter on the bottom, and 1-1/2 inches (38 mm) high. That represents a fine value indeed, especially given the quality of the soap. From what I have seen so far, I estimate that each cake will last three to four months in daily use.

    Would you buy again: (6/10)

    I am disinclined to buy Bathouse Soapery shaving soap again because of the burning sensation, although I might be tempted because the scent is so darned good. They don't have an unscented shaving soap, so that is not an option. Don't let that stop you, though. You might not get the burning sensation I got, and the soap is otherwise good to great on all counts. At the very least, Bathhouse Soapery soaps are worth a try.

    Shaving soap ingredients:

    Taken from the label on the soap wrapper:

    Propylene Glycol, Sorbitol, Water, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Laurate, Argan Oil, Calendula, Sunflower, Aloe Leaf, Carrageanan, Marshmallow Root, Hydrolized Silk, Honey, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid

    Brushes used:

    Dovo 918 052 pure badger
    Omega 50014 boar travel brush

    Note that although the Dovo brush is sold as a pure badger, the brush characteristics and cost indicate that it is actually a better grade than pure.

    My water hardness:

    46 ppm as CaCO3 (soft)

    The water hardness was taken from my utility's latest water quality annual report. The scale below was used to correlate water ppm to the soft/hard rating, and is from the US Geological Survey website.

    Water hardness scale (as CaCO3):

    0-60 mg/l: Soft
    61-120 mg/l: Moderately hard
    121-180 mg/l: Hard
    Over 180 mg/l: Very hard

    mg/l is milligrams per liter
    Some utilities give water hardness in parts per million (ppm)
    1 mg/l = 1 ppm (not exactly, but very, very close)
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
    RaZorBurn123 and PatrickA51 like this.
  2. PatrickA51

    PatrickA51 Well-Known Member

    Great review.
    Shaver X likes this.
  3. RaZorBurn123

    RaZorBurn123 waiting hardily...............

    Outstanding review :happy088:
    Shaver X likes this.
  4. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    Great review.

    My wife picked up two pucks of BathHouse soap for me a few weeks ago when she was in Hot Springs, where it is made.
    I'll agree with all of your review except I did not experience any burning sensation.
    Shaver X likes this.
  5. MarshalArtist

    MarshalArtist Psychiatric Help 5¢

    There's no soap in that "soap." SLS and sodium laurate are sudsing agents not saponified fatty acids.
    Shaver X likes this.
  6. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    "Soap", "sope" - I still got a nice shave. :p
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  7. MarshalArtist

    MarshalArtist Psychiatric Help 5¢

    Part of what I wrote was cut off. The rest said that some people are sensitive to one or both of those chemicals, which might explain the burning sensation.
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  8. Primotenore

    Primotenore missed opera tunity

    Article Team
    Very thorough review. Thank you.
    Shaver X likes this.

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