Unless you want your razor to look like this, read on
I get asked this question often and have come across many poorly maintained straights. So this post is to show you how to keep your well honed razor sharper longer, and prevent rust.
Rust is the enemy. Corrosion eats away at the edge and turns your well honed razor into a not so well honed piece of steel. Unfortunately, there is no escaping the fact that a straight razor requires more care to keep the edge well honed and rust free. But if you follow these steps it shouldn’t be too difficult or time consuming.
- Dry your razor off thoroughly after each use. Water both causes and accelerates rusting. Water is the enemy of steel. To make sure your razor is thoroughly dried, you have a number of options: dip the blade in alcohol (the most severe), wipe it off thoroughly on a dry towel (emphasis on dry), or you can strop it on the canvas portion after the shave and drying it on a towel. If you choose to use the towel method use your thumb and forefinger to “sandwich” the razor in between two sides of the towel, then strop backwards a couple of time on a dry area to get the last of the water droplets off the edge. It is important that you remove any water that got in between the scales and in the pivot area.
- Keep your razor away from moisture. Bathrooms are an inhospitable environment for steel. A well-honed razor isn’t going to stay well-honed for very long if left exposed to the humidity of a bathroom. Ideally you would store your straight razor away from the moisture, but this is not always possible.
- Keep the straight in a waterproof container. If you must store your straight in the bathroom, make sure you store it in a waterproof container. Travel toothbrush holders work well for this task. A less effective method is to just wrap the razor in wax paper; while it works, it isn’t ideal. Use dessicant packs as an extra precaution against humidity.
- Oil the blade. This is a necessary step if you live near salt water (salt water corrodes steel extremely quickly). This is an optional step for everyone else. If you don’t have a waterproof container, the layer of oil will protect your blade from rust. But it does dry out so it does need to be re-applied if your putting your straight into long term storage. It is not foolproof, nor is it waterproof, so you should check your razor if storing it for any lengthy period of time. Any oil works, but should consider the fact that you’ll be wiping it off before each shave. I prefer light mineral oil (you have to request it from the pharmacy sometimes) but regular mineral oil also works. Camellia oil is another popular choice.
- Strop! While you absolutely, positively, don’t need to own a strop or strop your razor. Stropping sure helps keep the rust off your well honed razor.