In a traditional wet shaving routine, you have a razor, a brush, a soap, and a bowl—all pretty simple. But what happens when the soap doesn’t fit the bowl? This can derail your morning shave in one of two ways: Either your soap is too big for the bowl, or your soap is too small for the bowl. Let’s go over the solution to both potential problems.
In any situation, the first step is to take preventative measures: Invest in a shaving bowl that suits the dimensions of your other wet shaving tools. If you have a large tablet of soap and a brush with a robust head of bristles, buy a bowl that will accommodate their breadth. You’ll want to look at bowls that have a larger width so that the brush and soap can fit in, and bowls with more depth, so that the lather produced from the soap doesn’t spill over the edge of the bowl.
In cases where your soap tablet is too big to fit in your shaving bowl, take a traditional hand-grater, and shave down the sides of your soap tablet. Make sure to collect the soap gratings as you shave, as these will come in use later on. Once the body of your soap tablet is small enough to sit inside your bowl, take your gratings and pack them down over the crude edges of your soap, where there are pockets of space between the bowl’s edge and your soap tablet. Once you’ve packed in enough gratings to secure your soap in the bowl, pour a few teaspoonfuls of water over the grated soap area, and tamp it down again. When you’re done, cover the bowl and let it sit overnight. The next day, it should be ready for use. Note: using the face of your grater with the smallest apertures will produce your best results, as the gratings are easier to pack, the more finely grated they are.
In the case that your soap is too small for your bowl, and you find that it’s shifting around while you swirl a lather from it with your shaving brush, use your grater and repeat the same process. Another option is to grind the entire soap tablet into soap flakes, and to re-pack these into the bowl so that you can work up a lather more easily, the whole soap through.
And before you consider taking a short-cut by melting your soap, don’t: In melting your soap, you risk letting it overheat or keeping it heated for too long, hence burning away the soap’s fragrance and chemical properties that allow for proper lubrication and lathering—properties you need in order to successfully shave.
So, next time you find a mismatch between your soap and your bowl, don’t fret: the solution is right before you, inside your home. And who knows, maybe an opportunity will present itself: some shavers have even gotten creative with the fitting process and mixed soap shavings from two different bars to create their own unique blend.