The price of high-quality razor blades always seems to be on the rise.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the blades you shaved with had a little more longevity to them?
Becuase razor blades are made of such fine pieces of steel, they wear out more quickly than other sharp household appliances, such as kitchen knives. All that shaving across scruffy hair and tough skin create small chinks in the fine edges of the razor.
But once that blade goes dull after a shave, you don’t have to dispose of it right away. Why not make a sustainable and economical choice to make your used razor sharp again? The process is fast, easy, and works with disposable razors and cartridge razors!
Before we share great tips on how to increase the sharpness of your used shaving razor, let’s first go over the most popular sharpening process.
How Does Razor Blade Sharpening Work?
Sharpening razor blades isn’t a new technique. Using a common barbershop technique called “stropping,” people used to rely on a piece of leather material to refine and polish straight razors.
To rectify these tiny tears and bends in the metal, people use stropping material to remove ragged burrs and re-align the misshapen steel back into place. This process also removes any sharp points that may be catching the skin.
Although we rarely use a straight razor in our own home, the stropping process is not obsolete. In fact, you don’t even need a barbershop-styled leather strop. You can use some common household materials to strop and revitalize your disposable razors.
How to Sharpen Razor Blades: A Step-By-Step Guide
You’ll know it’s time to sharpen your razor blades when you notice you’re not getting a smooth shave. You’ll find that your hair is left patchy. Your skin may even burn after shaving. Worse yet, you may feel a slight tug or pinch as the dull blade gets caught on your hair.
When that time comes, you can utilize the stropping method to bring sharpness back to your blade. This method should work for both disposable razors and cartridge razors. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide you can use at home.
Step 1: Find the Right Stropping Material
When you’ve finally reached the point when your razor blades need sharpening, grab an old pair of denim jeans or canvas tote. While a traditional strop is made of leather, denim also does the trick. Because the stropping process could cause the material to fray, be sure to utilize an old pair of jeans.
Lay the fabric flat on a hard, dry surface. Remove all objects from the surface, as you’re going to be moving your arm forward in quick motions.
Step 2: Wash and Dry Your Safety Razor
Before jumping into the stropping process, clean the blade in a container of warm water and soap. This treatment will help remove all the hair follicles and gunk from the razor. Either dish soap or another blade cleaning solution can be used. For best results, you should soak the razor in the warm water for 15 to 30 minutes, gently swirling it around to dislodge any hair or dirt.
Be sure your razor is dry before you begin stropping. Shaking it over the sink should also do the trick, but you should follow that step by blow-drying or using a towel to fully dry the razor.
Step 3: Stropping Your Blades
Once you’re prepared, it’s time to start stropping. Glide your razor with the fabric’s grain 15 to 20 times in short, quick strokes. Instead of using a pulling motion as you would with shaving, you’ll be pushing the razor down the fabric.
Your goal is to apply just enough pressure to straighten out the nearly microscopic imperfections in the steel without bending the shape of the blade as a whole. You don’t want to apply too much pressure, as this can damage the razor to the point of no return.
Finally, you should switch hands and repeat the process in the opposite direction. This method will ensure you’ve evenly sharpened both sides of the blade.
Alternatively, you can also utilize the soft side of a leather belt to strop the blade. In this case, you would hang the leather belt and run the blades up and down the soft, suede side of the belt.
How Many Times Can I Strop?
Stropping to sharpen your razor blades will add longevity to them. It doesn’t make them invincible, though. You’ll reach a point when the blade will still be dull.
The number of times you need to sharpen your razor blades depends on how often you shave, how coarse and thick your hair is, and how well you’ve kept the blades clean and dry between uses. You’ll know when it’s time to discard the blade when you’ve sharpened it, but it still feels dull or rough.
When you reach this limit, it’s time to recycle your blades and move on to a new razor. You can safely recycle blades by making a blade bank.
Maintenance is Key: Keep Your Razors Clean and Dry
While the sharpening process is relatively quick and easy, keeping the blade sharp enough for a shave is all about maintenance. It’s all part of the process, so let’s cut right into it.
The best way to increase the shelf-life of your razor blades is to keep them clean and dry — which can be quite a challenge in the wettest room in the house.
Dry your razor by shaking it and patting it dry with a towel after each use. If you’re able to, consider storing your razor in a safe space in your bedroom until you need it.
If you must keep your razor in the bathroom, store it in mineral oil. Oil keeps moisture at bay, preventing rust. Not only does rust degrade the quality of the steel blade, but it can also cause minor infections.
You don’t want to store a dirty razor anywhere in your house, so be sure to clean it after every shave. Shaving cream and hair can get stuck in the back of your razor, making shaving more challenging. This debris also traps moisture, increasing the likelihood of harmful rust.
Other Sharpening Methods
While stropping is the easiest and cheapest way to sharpen your razors, there are other razor blade sharpeners for different types of blades.
For example, you can purchase the RazorPit, a sharpener that utilizes a thermoplastic elastomer to clean and restore blades after use. This will require a bit of an investment on your part, but the RazorPit team claims that the device allows customers to get up to 150 shaves with one razor, while the average number is 60 shaves.
Aside from purchasing a device like the RazorPit, another popular method is the whetstone (also known as a honing stone). It’s traditionally used to sharpen the edge of steel tools and straight razors. This method is typically only compatible with a single-blade straight razor, not your typical multi-blade razor.
Who Doesn’t Want to Shave Money?
When you sharpen your razor blades, you save money and increase the life of a disposable product — a very eco-friendly thing to do. Sharpening razor blades is a quick and easy procedure. If you’re still sick of spending loads of cash on razor blades, check out our inexpensive cartridge razors and bamboo razor and save even more.
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