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Williams Shave Soap

By April 29, 2018February 10th, 2023One Comment
williams shave soap

Williams Shave Soap

vintage williams shave soap

Williams Shave Soap is well known as the Original Mug Soap.  It has been around since 1840, and it was manufactured by James B. Williams.  It can be purchased online, and it can usually be found in your local pharmacy.

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The puck comes in a small blue and white box with a very retro look to it.  A quick glance at the box, and you may think there is a mug of root beer on the box because you see a large mug with “head” or foam pouring out of the top.

Williams Shaving Soap Ingredients:

Potassium Stearate, Sodium Tallowate, Sodium Cocoate, Water, Glycerin, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Pentasodium Pentatate, Fragrance, Titanium Dioxide.

Ok, I am not a chemist, just tell me what is in it.

Stearic Acid (which usually comes from Palm), Tallow (from Beef), Coconut Oil, Water (duh), Glycerin, water softener, chelating agent, Smells, Makes the soap white

The Tetrasodium and Pentasodium are supposed to help the soap lather in hard water.  Despite having those 2 ingredients, there are quite a lot of complaints around ease of lathering with this product.


The scent is similar to Arko Shave Stick, which we reviewed here.  It is a clean, soapy scent.  Some have described it as a mild citronella scent (think mosquito repellent), or a mild lemon scent.  The scent is not overpowering, and it is not offensive.  You may not love it, but I doubt you will hate it.


The price for this soap is not very high.  It can usually be purchased for around a couple of bucks.

One thing to consider is that the size of the puck is only 1.75 ounces or 50 grams, so it’s around a dollar per ounce.

You can check out the price on Amazon.

How To Use Williams Shave Soap

williams shaving stick

Williams seems to be the first “soap” that a lot of people try when shaving.

It is in a lot of local pharmacies, and it is inexpensive.  It has been around forever, so most men that have browsed the shaving isle before have probably noticed it.  For only a couple of bucks, you can throw it in your shopping cart and shave the traditional way when you get home.

If you are not new to wet shaving, you will probably try it at some point because it is hard to avoid.  It is always just sitting on the shaving isle, year after year.  At some point, your impulse takes over and you grab it.  It’s only a couple of bucks right?

You need to have a shaving mug, a shaving brush, and of course, a razor.  You do not need a straight razor or DE razor to use this soap.  You can use a cartridge razor or a disposable razor.  You could use an axe as well, if it was sharp enough, but we do not recommend that.

I am going to describe the normal way to use a mug shaving soap, and then the better way for this particular soap.

Why are you going to give me two ways?

First, if you are new to shaving with a mug soap, this soap can be difficult to lather, and I do not want you to be discouraged because you may not get the lather right, and you might have a sub-optimal shave.

Second, if you are an experienced wet shaver, you might try it once and throw it in the garbage because it does not lather easily like most other products.  And, you have plenty of other options.

The Normal Way to Lather a Mug Shaving Soap

(This is a very, very brief overview of Mug Shaving.  If you have never done this before, I recommend you watch a video on the technique.  We have added one for you at the bottom of this article.)

Put the puck in a mug or shaving bowl.

Soak your brush in warm water and put some warm or hot (not scalding) water on the puck.

Let the water soak for a minute or so.  This softens up the soap a bit and helps bring the scent out.

Get your brush out of the water and get most of it out of the brush and pour the warm water out of your shaving mug or bowl.

Swirl the brush on the soap until you see some good lather.  This can be around 20 seconds to a minute depending on your water and how hard and fast you are swirling your brush.

Take the brush with lather and apply it to your face trying to work the lather all over.

Once your stubble is covered you can now shave with your razor.

The Best Way To Use Williams Shaving Soap

The best way that I have found as well as many others it to put your soap puck in your mug, and cover it with hot water.  Let it sit for 5 minutes minimum.  If you shave right after a shower, you can let it soak in the mug while you shower.

Empty the water out of your shaving soap mug, and then lather.

Soaking the puck for much longer than normal really softens up the puck and allows your brush to pick up more of the soap.  This provides a much better lather, and you can get a solid shave from this product.

You may find all the success you need using the standard way, but if you get sub-par results, try this method.

Do You Really Need To Lather In A Shaving Mug?

Not really.  You can actually, take the puck after it has soaked in warm water and rub it over the stubble on your face.  This will put a thin film of the soap all over your face, and then, you can simply take your shaving brush and face lather.  This should produce a nice lather.

James Woods

James Woods

Hi, I am James Woods, the founder of Beardedblade. I have extensive experience working in the men's grooming industry. I have worked in the beard care and shaving industries, so I have first hand experience working with products in those areas. I also enjoy all things outdoors and topics related to men's lifestyle. I am an avid camper, hiker, biker, and all around outdoor enthusiast.

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