Tallow-Based Soap: A Compendium

Discussion in 'Shaving Soaps' started by Jim, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. Jim

    Jim Moderator


    I. Tallow-Based Soap: A Compendium.

    This compendium is a comment on my soap journey, it is not unbiased, nor is it a complete list of every tallow soap. On my journey to shaving Nirvana, I have accumulated quite a few soaps. Some are of old stock, some new. Fairly early in this journey I realized that I was a tallow-based, triple-milled kind of guy and consequently my soap explorations have leaned heavily in that direction.

    I do enjoy some of the melt and pour based soaps such as QED, Saint Sue’s, and Honeybee Spa’s, to name just a few. Yet, it’s always the triple-milled, tallow-based soaps that I return home to. The following list is comprised of my own experience and opinions. All of the soaps listed in this report are very good. The perfect soap for you may be among them. I have indicated below any reviews that were done on the B&B review forum, a link to vendors that may carry the soaps and a Wiki link to an article that explains what soap is.

    II. The good old days prior to reformulation - Old Stock

    Yes the good old days- Many high end soaps are made of tallow, and the best tallow was from the fat found around the internal organs of beeves. This tallow is processed and is saponified into a soap base. This soap base is then further processed; additional ingredients such as clay, fragrance oils and emollients are added. The mix is then fed through a soap mill and driven under pressure and heat through smaller and smaller screens. This dries the soap and makes the resultant product very dense and hard.
    Below is a list of some of the traditional soaps we enjoy in our pursuit, unfortunately all have been reformulated or discontinued.

    I listed this first for a reason. Floris used to manufacture their soap in-house and the few pucks that I have found were absolutely the tops. It is the finest soap I have. Floris makes a thick, dense and rich lather, slick and just a joy to use.
    The soaps have a subtle but accurate representation of the accompanying Floris scent.

    Just as nice as the Floris, and why not? Floris manufactured the tallow based bath and shave soap for Penhaligon's! These soaps are a dead-on match of the fragrances in the line. Old stock soap would list tallowate first in the ingredients list. Good stuff indeed!

    Geo F. Trumper’s
    I have most of the old pre re-reformulated Trumper’s and these are also a wonderful soap to use. The coconut and rose are two of my favorites. Grab them if you can find any. Shave soap base and or toilet soap base in the ingredients list would indicate tallow in the formulation.

    D.R. Harris
    The original formulation was predominantly tallow-based. The lovely Mahogany bowls are another sign of the old stock to look for.
    Many men feel the Lavender is the best of the best in this product range, I would have to agree.

    Taylor’s of Old Bond Street
    Taylor’s Gentlemen’s Shave Soap is remarkably like the Floris soaps. The Gentleman’s shave soap had been out of production for quite some time when I was gifted this soap. Very subtle fragrance and a tip top performer. Is it a “back door” Floris Product? Who knows!

    Truefitt and Hill
    T&H is another reformulated soap, I have not had the opportunity to try the tallow based version, yet.

    Another legendary soap that lives up to its reputation. Creamy, dense, stable lather, very slick and protective. Personifies what the good old days mean!

    Crabtree and Evelyn
    A marketing powerhouse that has sprawled through suburban malls across the land.The original version of this English soap were, of course, tallow based. The vintage barbershop sized soap puck that I have gives me that great shave only a tallow based soap can deliver.
    The reformulated soap currently available is a very poor performer by comparison, avoid it at any price point.

    Old Spice
    Yep, this inexpensive old standby was tallow based when I was just a peach fuzz wetshaver back in the "good old days" it was easily available in supermarkets and drugstores. I recently acquired a puck from the early 1950's and its actually better than I remember. Strictly speaking,its not a triple milled soap. A shame it is no longer available.

    Keep your eyes open, it’s a lucky day when you can find any of the above mentioned soaps kicking around on some dusty shelf behind the new school stuff, snap it up when you can. Happy hunting!

    So what's a guy to do when he needs a great soap? Well, all is not lost; let’s take a look at what currently available today.

    III. Currently available triple milled tallow soaps - New Stock

    It is the baseline for triple milled tallow based soaps. This soap is readily available, reasonable in cost and a fine performer. The scent does leave some men cold. The soap is available in a nice ceramic container or as a shave stick.

    Czech & Speake
    This boutique brand is still manufactured with tallow; the lather is very slick and dense. The fragrance is bright and pronounced; it is spot on to the C&S # 88 and Oxford & Cambridge colognes.

    Art of Shaving
    This soap may be the best of the currently available triple milled tallow based soaps in this group, It is certainly as good as any of the legendary English soaps that we love. As an additional plus this line has a variety of fragrances to chose from. This soap is an excellent place to start if you are just looking to explore triple milled tallow-based soap. The lavender is an especially fine choice.

    D.R. Harris
    This soap contains both Palm oil and tallow. This is a very good soap and the lack of 100% tallow has not greatly diminished the effectiveness–still a good choice.

    IV. Some other options

    The list below contains soaps that are tallow based. These soaps will have almost all the benefits of their more expensive cousins. The products are loosely listed in order of my preference.

    Olivia's Crema, soft soap

    Valobra Shave Stick (not the "soft" soap)

    Mitchell's Wool Fat
    This soap has legions of fans. Not particularly fragrant or exciting scent-wise, but a solid performer. If you have dry or sensitive skin this can be a godsend. It can be expensive with the ceramic bowl so shop around.

    My Time Bath and Body soft soap

    Palmolive shave stick

    Cella Crema da Sapone and Crema da Barba AllĀ“Olio di Mandorla

    Speick Shave stick

    Erasmic Shave Stick* This has been reformulated and no longer contains tallow This soap once again is made with tallow.

    Sir Irisch Moos Shave Stick

    V. looking ahead

    If you spend any time on-line looking at boutique soap-makers, you can see that tallow based soap is alive and well today. Unfortunately the equipment to make a top shelf triple milled soap is out of the reach of virtually all of them. Let us hope that the big company’s realize what they have lost by moving their soap production “offshore” and re-initiate production of these best of the best soaps.
    There are still a few choices left for a great tallow based soap. So grab a good soap brush, get lathering, and let me know what soap works for you.


    VI. Links

    Triple milling, soap formulation, phases of the moon.

    Soap reviews

    How to make a lather

    Shopping Links

    What is soap anyway?

    I am very grateful to the Men whom assisted me on this project- Thank you!
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2017
  2. Jim

    Jim Moderator

    Here is a Contributers pre view of a small project I am working on.
    I hope to add some more info about who makes what soap, and where, in the coming weeks.
  3. Lots of great info, Jim. An invaluable resource and very comprehensive. Thanks for doing this!

    ...now if I could only find me some original, tallow-based Trumper's Rose....
  4. Jim, What an awesome start to your little project. I have been leaning towards soaps more and more these days and this has just about put me ove the edge.
    I can't wait to read more...and try some Trumper's Violet...:wink:
  5. This is a great post. This page has just been bookmarked. Thanks, Jim!
  6. Tabac was my first soap purchase and my instant love affair with it has turned me toward tallow soaps.

    I now have a Valobra stick and Kent puck in the rotation.

    Thanks for providing this article. Very well done.

    Edit: I was under the impression that Arko was tallow based. Incorrect?
  7. Gruder

    Gruder Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    An impressive contribution, Jim. Hopefully this'll help put down some of the growing confusion about old and new formulations. If it's available, adding dates to the entries in the "good old days" section might help further (e.g. Yardley ceased production of this soap in ####, Soaps with the new Harris formulation bagen release in ####.

    A wonderful addition to the site -- Thanks!
  8. Beautiful review and presentation! It is too bad the trend is going away from Tallow based soaps. You are fortunate to have acquired those that you have:) I agree with your opinion on the new formulation of C&E. I have not been able to get a descent shave out of the Sienna yet even those it smells heavenly. I am still enjoying the use of the Truefitt & Hill puck that I acquired from you during your last den cleanout:) I am searching for the "perfect" lavender soap and think that I will have to go with the Dr. Harris. Cost really can't be an issue with these soaps since the life of the soap is so long and will bring many of superb and quality shaves.
  9. Many thanks! I have been curious about what was what with this. I have seen mention of the reformulation but it was in bits and pieces. Great to have all of the info in one place.
  10. Jim, thank you, very nice review.

    Tell me, are there any creams that are tallow based?
  11. Thanks Jim.

    I found it interesting that Floris make Pen's soaps. Perhaps the tallow to palm transition explains the lack of Pen's soaps on the market right now?

  12. No e-shave? No Le Royale? Bah!
  13. Jim

    Jim Moderator

    Arko and Williams are two soaps that are unacceptable to me, especially to be included in this list of fine soaps.

    This type of information is very dificult to obtain, some of it required liberal doses of rare steak and cork pulling to get. When these products were changed may be interesting,however from a practical standpoint meaningless, as the soaps are not dated.

    I am not a cream guy, I do not have too much info on that. In section IV, I list some nice tallow based soft soaps which are between the soap and a cream. It sounds like we need another post.:001_smile

    Joel I think e-shave is veggie based, Le royale is a an awesome soap but some guy has not got off his duff and made any!:tongue_sm

    Thanks Gents!
  14. scoopster

    scoopster Moderator Emeritus

    Of course he hasn't made any tallow LeRoyale. You know how much it costs to reject 80% of the cows you are using to get "da fat"?
  15. jkh


  16. Jim, thank you for posting this. I had no idea that there were so many tallow based soaps oout there.
  17. I'm pretty sure Valobra stick is triple milled. In fact, many think that the AOS is the same as the Valobra stick with scent. I think the MWF is also triple milled. It's a pretty standard industrial soapmaking process. If it doesn't say it, that doesn't mean its not.
  18. Fantastic display of info, Jim -- many, many thanks!
  19. Jim

    Jim Moderator

    The fine AOS soaps are more than likely made by the same outfit that makes Valobra, I am awaiting some confirmation on that. MWF is a tallow based soap, but it is not triple milled. Milling dries the soap making it dense and very hard.
  20. Wasn't BurmaShave soap tallow based?

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