Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Mailbag: Answering Some Emailed Questions

Q: I can't find Bluebird blades available for purchase. Do you know of any suppliers?

A. Unfortunately, I have done some checking recently, and haven't found anyone still selling Bluebird blades in quantity.

Q: How often do you turn your blade in the razor?

A: I recall that Mark at researched this and found no benefit to the practice of turning the blade in the razor between shaves to extend the life of the blade or the quality of the shave. That said, I do flip the blade between shaves as part of my daily blade-and-razor-care process. Do I think it matters? Probably not, but I do it anyway because it costs me nothing in terms of time or trouble. It's just part of my routine.

Q: How often (if ever) do you clean and dry your blade and razor?

A: Every day as part of my shave clean up, I rinse the blade, press it dry with TP on a dry wash cloth (no wiping, no rubbing -- the coatings on the blade edge are thin and fragile), and also dry the parts of my razors on the same wash cloth, with the same square of TP. I typically would disassemble them anyway because I most frequently shave with a different razor head every day. Even when I use the occasional one-piece razor, I rinse and shake the water out, and wipe dry the exposed surfaces with that square of TP after I've used it on the blade.

So my razors NEVER have accumulated soap haze, other debris, or even water spots from day to day. I'm not saying everyone should do this. In fact, Merkur recommends (as I recall off the top of my head) to merely rinse the razor, with blade still installed, and set out to air dry after shaves. Then, I believe that they recommend wiping/cleaning the razor to remove any soap haze when changing blades -- or periodically as needed if one is a frequent blade changer.

Correction: I looked this up (that is, what Merkur recommends), and once again I've proven the unreliability of my memory. Merkur actually recommends cleaning the moving parts of the razor (as applicable) after each shave. They also recommend breaking down the razor and thoroughly cleaning it when one changes blades. Finally, if your water is hard (with high mineral content) they recommend periodic soaking in a warm, diluted de-calcifying solution for 15 to 30 minutes, moving it in the solution periodically during that time, and working any moving parts during the soak as well.

I am more fussy with my shaving instruments because I hate the thought of water, minerals, and other residue slowly doing its damage as it always eventually will. This way I should virtually never have to worry about staining or other discoloration on my more durable razors made of brass substrate, and I won't have much concern about damage to plated zamak castings on my other razors including most modern two- and three-piece razors as well as some prized vintage instruments such as my 1965 Travel Tech top cap. This is also the reason that every six to twelve months I try to put a fresh coat of polymeric auto wax on my razors -- it's another barrier to prevent or dramatically slow any long term degradation of my razors' materials.

Happy shaving (and maintaining of your shaving gear)!

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