The VINTAGE Williams Project

Discussion in 'Shave Soaps' started by GDCarrington, Jul 4, 2015.

  1. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Now the discussion about the saga involving the current version of Williams soap can be seen in the link below.

    Note the link above is discussing the current version of Williams soap.

    The history of the J.B. Williams Company and the various continuations can be seen in the attached links.

    Understand that the original factory in Glastonbury, Connecticut made Williams shaving soap exclusively until 1960 when the manufacturing was moved to the Cranford, New Jersey facility. Sometime afterwards Combe acquired JB Williams the list of ingredients was changed. Potassium Stearate was from then on listed as the first ingredient and Sodium Tallowate as the second ingredient. Now for years people have been obtaining the earlier and more tallow heavy formula via old antique stores and Internet auction sites. Now here is a project that I do with some of the older formula Williams to add menthol to the mix and to place in a mug of my choice. Now there is no use of a microwave and nor should you use one with Tallow based soap. The boiling hot water used will quickly absorb the menthol crystals and will be absorbed by the soap when stirred to make a thick solid block of soap. This will continue to cure and dry over a period of a few days and the added water will allow the long lasting soap to be extended even further. So let's begin with the project.

    First we have two 1 and 3/4 oz. pucks of Vintage Williams. From the looks of the inside wrappers, which did not want to yield from the soap pucks and tore all to pieces, this soap was made before a switch to the Bicentennial offer so they appear to be older than 1975 but younger than 1960 since the Cranford, New Jersey facility is listed on the boxes.

    Vinage Williams in the Box.jpg

    After removal from the wrappers, the soap is then grated up in a cheese grater that has been specially purposed for soap grating only. Here is the grated up pucks of soap.

    Vintage Williams Ready To Mix With Boiling Water and Menthol.jpg

    Yes, it does look somewhat like macaroni in this state. Now 5 grams of Menthol crystals are added to the bottom of the shaving mug that the soap will be placed in. Menthol crystals can be obtained here. The mug can contain about 7 - 8 oz of total product so 5 grams of Menthol crystals should do well to provide a cooling effect when shaving.

    At this point the soap is placed in the mug and an amount of boiling water equal to the soap is placed in to the mug and the mixture is stirred until it is thick. Now I could have chosen to place some Fragrance oil into the mix such as Bay Rum, but I wanted to leave the soap unscented. Yes, the Vintage Williams has long lost whatever scent it had over the long period of time and it now has a neutral soapy scent. Now too much heat can dissipate the Menthol so when the hot water is added no more heat should be applied to the mug or mixture. After about half an hour the soap mixture looked like this and has become fairly hard but not completely.

    Mentholated Vintage Williams Ready To Finish Drying.jpg

    After a few days the soap should be fully dried, depending upon ambient humidity, and ready to use. This soap should last me quite a while in rotation. Oh and one last thing, a lid was taken from a container of over the shelf cake icing and one of the sides of the vintage box was used to accent the lid accordingly.

    Mentholated Vintage Williams in Milk Glass Mug with Top.jpg

    Now this can be done with any tallow based soap and is easier and cleaner than trying a double boiler approach or other approaches to rebatch the soap.

    I hope you enjoyed this little project.


    Last edited: Jul 17, 2015
    brit, Jim99, Douglas Carey and 13 others like this.
  2. Darkbulb

    Darkbulb Cookie Hoarder

    You actually made me want to buy a puck.
    Well played :)
  3. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    The Vintage is harder and more expensive to come by than the current but it is worth it. :D
  4. david of central florida

    david of central florida Rhubarb Rubber

    can the process be completed with only the old version?

    could a puck of vdh anda puck of new Williams be grated and mixed, then mentholated?

    the end result would be menthol van Der Williams.
    Douglas Carey and GDCarrington like this.
  5. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Any soap with a tallow based formula should work if the puck is solid and hard (soft pucks and croaps have water that will not allow this to work).
    Douglas Carey and 45auto like this.
  6. Jayaruh

    Jayaruh The Cackalacky House Pet

    Supporting Vendor
  7. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Now you need to realize that Williams is a thirsty soap that will absorb a 1 to 1 ratio of water to soap.

    Other soaps may not need that much water to work properly and become hard.
    So you need to only use the amount of water necessary to mix the soap yet keep it thick.
    A thin runny mixture will not work well and will take a lot of time to dry.
    Another non tallow or low tallow soap may not accept water as well as hard tallow soaps so be vigilant on your water to soap mixture.
  8. RaZorBurn123

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

    Simply beautiful! Thanks Burma Shave!
    Douglas Carey and GDCarrington like this.
  9. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Will there be skeeters in this thread? I'm guessing no...
    Douglas Carey and GDCarrington like this.
  10. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    You are correct, unless they decide to crash the party uninvited!
    Douglas Carey likes this.

    SHAVEWIZARD420 Well-Known Member

    this is a good idea to mentholate a triple mill soap. does the boiling water melt the soap?
    Douglas Carey and GDCarrington like this.
  12. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    Yes it does while it absorbs into the soap. The real question is how much water can be absorbed without making the setting mixture too gooey to dry quickly and re-harden.

    This is a modification of the heating method below.

    Here is another method.
    Douglas Carey and SHAVEWIZARD420 like this.

    SHAVEWIZARD420 Well-Known Member

    ok cool. thank you. I have tried grating and adding a little water to a C&E puck I had thinking I could get a batter lather from it that way lol was I wrong. This method sounds easier to mix the menthol into the soap.
    GDCarrington likes this.
  14. macaronus

    macaronus Sir Nice-a-Lot Staff Member

    Thanks! Cool idea!
    GDCarrington likes this.
  15. CyanideMetal

    CyanideMetal Wild and crazy guy

    Yes. It. Is!
    GDCarrington likes this.
  16. poppi

    poppi Well-Known Member

    Great idea! It's kinda like what I do with the modern pucks. I grate the modern Williams into a container and add water, a little at a time, to help tamp it down. I think adding menthol is a great idea too. Think I'll try it out.
    Jayaruh likes this.
  17. Darkbulb

    Darkbulb Cookie Hoarder

    Or for the lazy could try picking up a Williams Mentholated soap :)

    As the video here shows there's sometimes still quite a kick left in some of them:
    GDCarrington likes this.
  18. Douglas Carey

    Douglas Carey Wildman

  19. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    ... and if you want current Williams to lose that Citronella scent.

    You can always grate it up and leave in a cool dry place for a month or two and the scent will dissipate before you remold it. Arko also comes to mind as well.
    PLANofMAN, Primotenore and Darkbulb like this.
  20. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    15 July 2015

    brit and old-school shaver like this.

Share This Page