There is a lot of scattered information out there on shave sticks, how to make your own, how to turn shave sticks into pucks, how to turn pucks into shave sticks, how to store your shave sticks, etc. This is my attempt to distill most of the relevant bits of shave stickisms into one thread. Pears Shave Sticks were immortalized by the poet Rudyard Kipling in the poem "The Post That Fitted." The subject of the poem would use the soap from the shave stick to pretend epilepsy and froth at the mouth. I've included the relevant verse here: Did he, therefore, jilt Miss Boffkin -- impulse of a baser mind? No! He started epileptic fits of an appalling kind. [Of his modus operandi only this much I could gather: -- "Pears's shaving sticks will give you little taste and lots of lather."] WHY A SHAVE STICK? Before there were creams, there were soaps (pucks) in a bowl or mug and shave sticks. Shave sticks were the easy way to lather, they didn't take up much room, and they could be easily carried with you. The first shave sticks were created by Francis Pears in 1849. They reached their height of popularity in the 1950’s, shortly afterwards, shave stick use began to decline. I speculate that the growing popularity of new products, such as Burma Shave brushless cream and the appearance of aerosol shave creams were largely to blame. More and more wet shavers are turning to shave sticks for various reasons. Some find them economical and less wasteful than a regular puck of shaving soap, some use them for travel, and others use them because their favorite soap only comes in stick form. Still others have found that the particular brand of soap they like to use only lathers well for them if it is in a shave stick. Some shavers just use them for a change of pace or for more variety in the shaving routine. I fall into the latter category. Colgate claimed that shave sticks eliminated waste and prevented germs and dust from collecting on top of the soap in the mug. Of course that did not stop them from selling soap pucks for mugs. Some shavers find shave sticks too rough for tender skin. For these shavers, they may find that soaking the tip of the stick in warm or hot water for a few minutes before use makes a world of difference. Another thing to try would be to use a softer stick such as Arko or a homemade stick made from Italian shaving soap. MAKING YOUR OWN SHAVE STICKS or MAKING YOUR SHAVE STICKS BETTER. You can’t talk about shave sticks without mentioning Arko. Love it or hate it, Arko shave sticks are “the” shave stick. These Turkish shave sticks are, with Williams shave soap, the cheapest way to wet shave. Arko’s biggest failing is its packaging (and some would also say it’s pungent industrial lemon cleaner smell). Most shave sticks come in a variety of packaging, some better than others. Arko comes wrapped in foil and a paper sleeve. For those who don’t mash it into a puck and keep it in a mug or bowl, most keep Arko in a pill bottle with a few holes drilled in the top. These pill bottles are available from your local druggist or pharmacy, usually for free. If you want to make your own shave stick, there are several things you must consider. Is your shave stick going to be Glycerin or Tallow based? If the soap is made from tallow, you must chop up or grate your soap. If it is made from glycerin, the process becomes easier because glycerin based soaps are a “melt and pour” soap. TALLOW, TRIPLE MILLED, OR COLD PROCESS SHAVE STICKS. There are three ways to make a tallow shave stick. The easiest way, if the soap is soft enough (Italian style soaps) is to rip it into small chunks and form it into a stick. More on this later. The other ways are to grate it using a cheese grater (use the largest holes), or to use a food processor. Adding a small amount of water (1/2 teaspoon or more) and mixing it with the grated or chopped soap will make forming it into a shave stick easier. The average puck contains enough soap to make two (2) 2 oz. shave sticks. Tallow, triple milled and cold process soap can be melted, but as the results by a beginner typically produce a shaving product that is inferior to the original puck either in performance or scent, I will not go into that process. If you wish to know more, the process is called rebatching and is best left to experienced soap makers. If you want to know more, the link below details rebatching failures, remedies and successes: http://www.millersoap.com/re.html GLYCERIN SHAVE STICKS. Put the glycerin shave soap in the microwave and nuke it. This is best done in a pyrex or other glass container with a pour lip. Glass Pyrex measuring bowls are ideal. Heat it for 10-15 seconds at a time. When the soap has mostly liquefied take it out of the microwave. If you wait for a few minutes the remaining chunks of soap should continue to liquefy. If you leave it in the microwave too long the soap will begin to boil. When this happens volatiles are lost. The first thing to go is the fragrance. If you don’t want your house to smell like your soap or worse, your soap to just smell like ordinary soap, you will not let the soap boil. Boiling soap can lead to burning soap. Soap on fire is not good… If you like to experiment, toss a puck of Williams in the microwave for a few seconds and watch it turn into a marshmallow. There is a reason why we only use glycerin based soaps for this. (TSD Soaps are glycerin based and can be used in this method!) REMOVING THE SOAP FROM IT'S ORIGINAL CONTAINER. Getting the soap out of the original container is often a difficult task. If you have trouble, often putting it in the freezer for a while to make the soap contract will work. If it still proves to be stubborn, running warm water over the container can cause the container to expand and will often help to dislodge the stubbornest of soaps. DIY CONTAINERS. You no longer have a puck. You are ready to make a shave stick! Now for something to put it in. You have a lot of options. Reuse, reduce, recycle. Empty push up deodorant stick containers work well, as do empty chapstick containers. You may want to clean them first. You can pack in the tallow sticks, adding a little at a time and pressing firmly. If you are working with melt and pour soaps a different approach is needed. The empty containers should be placed in the freezer for a time so they are nice and cold. This serves two purposes, first the cold contracts the plastic which will let the soap contract as it cools. This should make getting the soap to come out of the container when you want it to an easier process. Second, hot things are less likely to melt cold containers. Plastic doesn’t like stuff over 160 degrees F. As Sara pointed out in the comments below, letting the soap cool for a few minutes is a good idea. Glycerin soaps stay liquid for ten to fifteen minutes at room temperature and soft for up to thirty minutes. Twist up deodorant containers don’t work well because most have perforations at the bottom. If you don’t mind seeing liquid, rapidly hardening soap spreading all over your counter, be my guest. As Williams Warrior pointed out below in the comments, layering the bottom in tinfoil will overcome this problem. The metal or plastic tube. A short length of plastic or metal tube in the diameter of your choosing is what we work with here. A solid object slightly smaller than the tube is also used. Place the tube on a hard, flat surface and slowly fill with soap, pausing at intervals to tamp it down. When you get the desired length, push it out of the end of the tube with whatever you were using to tamp it with. Wrap with tinfoil or place in pill bottle or both. If using a melt and pour soap, use common sense. Put a cap on the bottom before your pour and wait for it to cool and solidify. Skip packing it down. Push it out the same as you did for the tallow soap. See Bill's comment below for another variation on this method. Wrap it in tin or aluminum foil or toss it in a pill bottle or… Reuse shave stick packaging. Some shave sticks come with plastic bases and plastic or cardboard covers. One of the nicest are the Lea shave sticks from Spain. The Lea shave stick is o.k., but the packaging is excellent. They come with a white base and a clear plastic cover that has holes in the top. The only label on the shave stick peels off with no residue. It’s great for travel! (This great package may not be available for long, I have read that the company that makes Lea shave sticks has gone to a more “retro” style of plastic packaging). This makes for a classier looking package than the pill bottle. Buy new containers. There are several sites that sell new containers that will work for shave sticks. There is only one that has many sizes and styles, and that is http://www.elementsbathandbody.com. They also have the best prices. THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO USE SHAVE STICKS. Most people (men, anyway) apply shave sticks to a wet face until a thin soapy lather appears. They then proceed to use a damp brush and face lather. Others prefer to load their brush on the tip of the stick and then bowl or face lather. You can use the end of a stick, side of a stick, whatever works best for you. Hanzo pointed out another method as well. Take the brush's knot and grip it in your hand so the bristles are tightly packed together and just poking out past your thumb and forefinger (like the tip of a broom handle), rub the stick directly on the end of the brush. At this point, you can either bowl or face lather the soap. If you can’t get your puck of soap to lather any other way, you might want to consider turning it into a shave stick. Williams and Mitchell’s Wool Fat Soaps are among the most popular shave stick converts. For those who want a wide variety of scents in a shave stick, but don't want to make their own, Mama Bears Soaps http://mamabearssoaps.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=2 has a large selection of handmade shave sticks (17 scented plus 1 unscented). LATHERING WITH SHAVE STICKS. This thread will teach you how to lather anything. It helped me refine my own techniques. http://theshaveden.com/forums/threa...-shavesticks-in-a-bowl-and-on-the-face.15278/ A special note regarding shave sticks. Visualize how long you load a brush on a puck of soap. Triple that time, that is how long you should be rubbing a shave stick on your face because you are loading soap off of a smaller area. At some point, I may add pictures. I believe that most of this information can be found in scattered threads that contain pictures with a minimum of searching. That is part of the fun, after all. I will also continue to update this post with new information. As a side note, this post marked my change from Active Member to Well-Known Member!