Tallows listed first so this soap should make some rich creamy lather. Soak the puck while you soak your brush. Williams like's water. Load your brush like you hate it, and right when you think the lather looks good add a little more water. The lather should look like whipped cream and have lots of peaks. It should feel cushiony between your fingers.
Thin lather equals razor burn for me. I get a good load on my brush, plus as I load what ever excess lather goes into my salsa bowl also. With about two teaspoons of water and some work with my brush I can make some Vintage Williams like lather that will allow me to do a comfortable multipass shave. A puck of the reformulated Williams will last me about a month and I don't mind that because it's inexpensive, and available at my local store. Matter a fact I bought a box yesterday for a $1.04.Williams is rather controversial here, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a great soap. It will not make mountains of hard, dry foam under any circumstances, but even thin rapidly dissipating Williams lather will be super slick and give you excellent shaves.
You only need enough lather on your skin to keep it wet while you are shaving. Make that lather shiny wet and soft, and you will get much better shaves, plus your blades will last longer (mainly because there is less skin drag). Big piles of dense, dry lather do absolutely nothing for shaving, it makes the skin sticky and causes irritation since you have to use too much pressure to get the razor to move.
Once you figure that out, Williams is a great way to shave. My brother has been using a single puck for about 8 months now, so you can get an idea of how much soap you really need.
Used properly four pucks should last you a couple years.
On hot days I like to do a superlather of TOBS Peppermint/Williams. Talk about a cool shave.It took my many tries to get a decent lather from this one. I bought a few pucks when the last scare about them discontinuing production. With that said, the primary virtue for me is that it is inexpensive. I just don't think that it takes too much extra work to get a decent lather. However, when combined with a nice cream it makes the scent more agreeable and the lather a lot easier.
Thin lather has air bubbles in it and that's why it causes irritation. Modern Williams can be lathered into MWF type cushiony lather, it just takes a little more work with your brush and about two teaspoons of soft water. My lather doesn't go away or dry up either.I think the modern Williams has too much stearate, I made a soy wax based soap with 70% stearic acid in the fatty acid profile and it's much like Williams -- rather difficult to lather up and tends to collapse. Slick as all getout thought, which is the point. I may grind up a puck and mix it with a lower stearate soap and see what happens, although I don't mind it as is.
If thin lather "causes" irritation for you, likely you are either using too much pressure or need to adjust your shaving angle. If the soap is slippery, correct blade angle should give you a great shave every time regardless of the amount of lather on your skin, it's only active at the interface of skin and blade. I missed today on making lather with my home made soap, so the second pass was VERY thin, but super slick -- felt about the same before and after the pass. Super comfortable shave, super close.
I'd adjust my technique rather than depending on dense, thick lather to protect my skin, but I'm a cheapskate. Looks as though I'm fixed for soap for a couple decades at the moment....