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Thread: Birch Tar Soap

  1. #1

    Default Birch Tar Soap

    Over the past few months I have become increasingly interested in scented body products. I have been fortunate enough to get my hands on a bar of vintage Piver Cuir de Russie soap as well as vintage Knize Ten soap and shower gel. Anyway, along the same lines, I have been looking at birch tar soap (mainly to use as hand soap). I love the smoky, leathery scent and it apparently has the added bonus of being rather good for your skin. Anyway, I have yet to purchase any birch tar soap although I have been able to find a few manufactures who offer the product — Nevskaya Cosmetics via Green Eye Trading 1 and Elena's Natural Soap 2. So I was wondering if anyone has tried the stuff and might be able to offer some feedback about the fragrance. I have used Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap 3 and I guess I'm curious how similar this product is to those containing birch tar. I have included links to the products mentioned below.


  2. #2

    Default Re: Birch Tar Soap

    Thanks for the suggestion. I have used Grandpa's soap in the past and also liked the tarry smell. I'd assume it smells very close - in a soap one cannot tell much of a difference. If you go ahead and try, please report. (Somehow, I was under the impression that birch tar is restricted also in the US, not just by IFRA, but evidently not).

    I'm not sure how good it is for the hands, though. Tar is used for certain skin condition like dermatitis or acne, as for instance in anti-dandruff shampoos.

    Incidentally, you probably know that the current Knize Ten soap and shower gel do not smell leathery at all and are quite a let down. However, the Bandit shower gels smells fantastic, very close to the perfume, the butchest leather around (it is not birch tar, however, but some type of isoquinolines, I believe).


  3. #3

    Default Re: Birch Tar Soap

    I had no idea that Knize was still producing soaps and body products—distributuion in the U.S. is quite limited. But since you metnion it I do recall seeing a complete line online a few months back.

    I believe the birch tar restriction applies to one particular component of birch tar which can be removed. You may recall that Le Labo's Patchouli 24 was reformulated a while back and now the juice is now much lighter. I read that Annick Goutal chose to discontinue Eau du Fier (another birch tar heavy fragrance) rather than go through the process of reformulating with the "clean" birch tar since Eau du Fier wasn't a big seller. Quite a pity. Anyway, I can report that Patchouli 24 smells almsot exactly the same pre and post birch tar facelifts. I know Chanel's Cuir de Russie also contains birch tar and that the original birch tar was swapped out a few years back for the new stuff.

    Thanks for the tip about the Bandit shower gel—I'll have to grab some. BTW, the molecule is Isobutyl quinoline and it's actually responsible for the leathery aspect of both Bandit and Knize Ten.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Birch Tar Soap

    Thanks for the info. Indeed, I have the Patch too (and Cuir de Russie) and they still smell gorgeous. I got the K10 body products at Colonial drugstore in Boston, but, as said, it's not worth bothering. The face cream is slightly leathery (in a Tuscan leather sort of way), the rest of the products are not.


  5. #5
    hednic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    McLean, NYC, & Búzios

    Default Re: Birch Tar Soap

    Quote Originally Posted by The Mod Cabin View Post
    Birch tar soap smells very similar to Pine tar soap.
    Very hard for me to distinguish the two.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Birch Tar Soap

    Birch tar scent can vary depending on quality and harvesting methods as well.

  7. #7
    Basenotes Junkie
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Yorkshire, UK

    Default Re: Birch Tar Soap

    here in the UK we have 'wrights traditional coal soap' that has s similar smoke, heavy smell not too dissimilar to birch tar. My wife hates it and I've switched off of bar soap now but when I used soap it was one of my favorites.


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