Can you sharpen Razor Blades?
Shaving has changed a lot during the last decades, and it went from the classical method of using a straight blade to disposable razors with 2 blades. Then, manufacturers started to add more and more blades, and you can now find devices with up to 6 of them. Not only this, but you also have the option of using an electric shaver and be able to cut your beard on the go, without any water or shaving cream.
There is a small percentage of people who still use a straight blade, and also quite a small percentage that have switched to an electric razor. The big majority of men are still using disposable razors or safety razors. And as you already know by now, the blades used on these devices get dull very quickly and need to be replaced quite often. Is there anything that you can do about this? Can you prolong the life of a blade? Let’s find out!
Can You Sharpen Razor Blades?
The answer to this question is not that simple: technically, you can’t sharpen a razor blade. But you can actually strop it, which eventually leads to a better shave and a prolonged use. Many people think that they are sharpening their disposable razor, safety razor or straight blade, when they are actually stropping it against a piece of denim or leather. Stropping basically means to realign the thin edges of the blade which get bent off from shaving. It’s not actually sharpening (which is the removal of parts of the blade to create a new and sharper edge), but it’s still a good way to get a few more shaves with the same blade.
How To Sharpen Razor Blades?
As mentioned before, this process is actually called stropping and it has the purpose of realigning the edges of the blade. It can give you more shaves and save you some money on the long term. Let’s see the process step by step:
Step 1: get a pair of old jeans. While the traditional item used for stropping is a piece of leather, you can also do a great job with a pair of jeans. Take an old pair that you don’t need anymore, as the process may fray or damage the fabric. The last thing you want is to damage a good pair of jeans and then spend more money buying a new one than you would spend on disposable razors.
Step 2: place the jeans on a flat, clear and sturdy surface. Use a table or the counter top of the sink in the bathroom. Make sure to clear the area so that no objects are found underneath the jeans. The surface should be clean, even and also dry.
Step 3: clean the razor in a cup of warm water mixed with dish soap. This will remove any razor gunk that has been accumulated. Let it sit there for 15 to 30 minutes and swirl it up occasionally. You may also use a formula that’s specially designed for cleaning razor blades. This solution works well for skin and hair buildup, and you can find it in plenty of online stores.
Step 4: dry the razor completely. Hold the razor firmly over the sink and shake it a few times in order to remove excess water. Then use a cloth to wipe the remaining water or dry the razor with your hair dryer. No water should be present when stropping it.
Step 5: run the razor along the jeans. You have to do this with the direction of the blades, and not against the blades. Imagine that the jeans are your face. In this case you don’t want to shave the jeans, but rather to go upwards. Do short and quick strokes and repeat for about 20 times. This is the actual process of stropping, and it will remove burrs and irregularities, making the razor straight and ready to cut. Use light pressure. If you press too hard, you might do more damage to the edge of the blade than good.
A safety razor blade has two edges, so once you are done with one of them, make sure to strop the other as well. Use the same section of the jeans or leather, and repeat the movement for the same number of times, so that both edges are equally sharpened.
In case you don’t have an available piece of denim or leather, some people recommend to do the stropping along your forearm (the inner part which is hairless). You would move the blade upwards towards your elbow, and NOT as if you are shaving your forearm. Use moderate pressure, quick and short strokes, and repeat the motion for 10 to 15 times. Since you go with the blades and not against them, you shouldn’t cut yourself. But be extra careful to not slip or run the blade sideways!
How To Maintain A Razor Blade?
Besides stropping, there are a few extra steps that you can take in order to maintain the razor sharp for a bit longer than usual. Here they are:
- Clean it after each use – the blade can quickly get clogged up with hair, dead skin and shaving cream, so it’s very important to clean it after each use. Also make sure to put it under the tap every few strokes in order to remove the hair as you shave. Then the blade will be easier to clean at the end
- Dry it after each use – water can really deteriorate the thin edges of the blade or make it rust. So it’s very important to dry the blade after each use. You can use a towel, but the easiest and most effective method is with a blow dryer
- Oil it after each use – even if you dry it carefully, a blade can still get damaged by the moisture in the air (especially that in the bathroom). By adding a thin layer of oil (even cooking oil can work), you will protect the blade against oxidation and moisture
There you go! Now you know if you can sharpen razor blades or not, and also a few tips on how to prolong the life of the blade.