We can call them DE blades, safety razor blades and many other things, but for simplicity, I’m calling them blades from here on in. It’s just easier, and you all know what I’m referring to! This razor blades sharpness ranking post will include an instruction video, infographic, hot to safely handle and dispose of your blade, and much more!
There is a multitude of blade brands out there offering varying degrees of sharpness and quality. Once again, it can be a little overwhelming picking the correct ones. This chapter will detail the following:
- Blade Basics
- Safely handling your blades
- Provide an infographic on blades detailing their degree of sharpness, the manufacturers and country of origin
- How to maintain and safely dispose of your blades
Should you wish to read the guide on safety razor blades rather than watch the video:
I just wanted to give you guys a bit of a blade’s 101 lesson here, around the packaging, around the number of shaves you’ll get, that kind of stuff. You’ll notice I’ve got five different brands here, just laid out.
First thing you’ll always notice, guys, is the vast majority of the time you’ll see that says five blades per pack. Five blades per pack as well for the Shark. Voskhod or rather Voskhod, excuse me, I believe the K is silent, five blades. Occasionally, this brand here, Swiss quality steel, Sharp is actually, I believe, a Bangladeshi manufacturing company. These are actually 10 blades, but the vast majority of the time there are five blades, with the occasional 10. Sometimes you may get promotions, what it says in the branding, you’re getting one or two extra blades free, so you’re getting like seven. Another thing to notice always, as you have each blade, without exception, is always wrapped in this wax paper. For two main reasons. One for safety, so you don’t cut yourself. And number two, for quality purposes. To keep out moisture.
That’s one of the main reasons why you’re going to have something like this. I’m going to unwrap another couple of blades for you guys. But another thing to always notice as well is that, again, nine times out of 10, the branding on the blade says Teflon coating here. To see if I put this one the right way around, Voskhod. The branding tends to be on the blades, 9 times out of 10. Occasionally, I’ve seen the persona blades that are just completely blank. The vast majority of the time, it’s quite easy to identify when a blade is actually inserted into the razor.
So you see here, I’ve got the base plate, the top cap that has a blade sandwiched in the middle. So never just unknowingly run your hand across the head of your razor, because you could have a blade in there. If I was to do that, run my finger across there, I would cut it pretty badly. So don’t do that guys. Again, just for the purposes of the video demonstrations, I don’t mind using a couple of blades here, disposing of a couple of them, because it’s for everybody’s benefit. And given the price of the blades, I mean, they’re so cheap as well.
This Shark one is actually, you can see there’s actually a little bit rusting on there. I’ve been chopping and changing a couple of blades, storing them safely away in my cabinet. Leaving them exposed, that has actually caused a little bit of rust here. But this is the blade that I wasn’t going to use again. I’ve used this blade for four shaves, so it’s time to dispose of them. So this is the Shark brand, super chrome stainless steel. If let’s say this was a Derby blade pack, this is one way to dispose of it. You’ll notice that in the back of the cartridge here, you’ve got this little slot. That’s for used blades. You can dispense the blades as well at the front.
But there is also, at the back here, a different compartment altogether. You can put your used blades in like so. And to see if it’s stored away, you never want to … again, I’ll address this in this chapter guys, but you never want to just dispose of loose blades like this, or rather like this.
Don’t just chuck this in the bin, you need to be aware. You have the sanitation guys at the other end, or any family members that are taking out the trash. So keep them in like that, good way to dispose of the blades. Before you dispose of the blades, you maybe want to think about, okay, how long are you going to get out of the blades? Well, typically three to six shaves. Depends on the brand, depends on the aggressiveness of the blades, depends on your standards. I would always say, given the cost of the blades, the incredible cheapness of them, you would rather have one shave less than one shave too many.
I think it’s … excuse me, no exaggeration at all. If you have razor burn, especially bad razor burn, it can really ruin your day. So I would always say edge on the side of caution and do one shave less.
You can see here, I’ll put a new blade in guys. This came from the cardboard packaging of the Shark brand. 5 here, I’ve used one. Let’s take one out. The Shark blades aren’t the sharpest in the world, but they’re very smooth. Great for beginners. I’m a big fan of these blades, perhaps my favourite. So in terms of unwrapping guys, you’ll notice that there’s a slight little sticky piece of wax here that keeps this sealed. You always want to be cautious when you’re inserting and taking out new blades. So in terms of taking this blade out, unwrap both sides to reveal the blade. As I said, you can see how incredibly thin that is, because it’s 0.11 millimetres thick.
I would always say as well, have the base plates and a top cap already unscrewed from the razor handle. Just makes things easier, rather than having to set them down again. Trying to pick up a blade up from a flat surface, you can probably imagine, is a big pain! Notice how I put the Shark blade on top of the Voskhod blade’s because it is a nightmare to try to pick the blade off of the flat surface. Trust me. I always have this unscrewed. Why I do, it’s just simply, you’ll see the three slots here, nicely goes into the blades. Put the base cap on, the base plate on, excuse me, and screw your handle in. And you’ve got a brand new blade in there, ready to go in your razor.
I take the blade out just transiently to gently wash it post-shave. But apart from that, this blade will stay in here for the duration of its lifespan. In other words, I don’t normally … this is, again, just for the purposes of the videos, but I don’t normally keep loose blades out like this. It’s okay if you have one loose blade out to air-dry. Just do so in a safe location. Once they’re dried, put them away in your bathroom cabinet. Out of reach and sight of your children, you always want to think of safety first. That pretty much does it for the blades guys.
Another thing you’ll probably notice as well, you can probably tell by the size of the packagings, they are all the same size. That’s a great benefit of the double-edged safety razors, is that the blades are universal. They fit in literally every single razor. Whether you’re using a Merkur 34C or Muhle R89 like this one. The blades will fit in every single razor, even old school 1920s Gillette razors. There are never any issues with that. Some times as well, depending on the blades, I can also show you something else here. Another cool little trick for one of the Derby blades. Because sometimes there are numbers in the blades. Again, we’ll unwrap another one here. You may be thinking, Donald, what are these numbers? You see, number one, number two, this side, and number three and number four, that side.
That’s to do with quality identification. Very rarely you will have defective blades in the manufacturing process. I’ve literally come across maybe one or two blades, but even in the first shave and the first pass, I noticed tugging. And I’ve gone through, goodness knows how many hundreds of blades. So occasionally, there are issues with the blades in the manufacturing line. This is a way for the technician to phone the quality engineer about an issue with the blade at point 3, for example. So the numbering is more to do with a quality issue and ease of identification of any problems in the manufacturing process.
Blade Basics & Safe Handling
Okay, so we’re dealing with a sheet of metal that’s 43 mm long, 22 mm wide and 0.11 mm thick. It’s thin and flexible and forms a major part of your shaving routine.
The thing that’s awesome about blades is they’re compatible with 99% of safety razors on the market. Even old-school Gillette razors from the 1920s! There’s never going to be an issue of the razor not fitting.
Blades sharpness infographic
As you can see from the infographic above, I’ve listed the 7 brands of blades I unboxed and trialled recently, as well as two other brands I’ve used consistently over the years: Derby Extra and Personna. So we have an analysis of 9 blades.
The sharpness scale I’ve made ranges from 1-5, with 5 being the sharpest and 1 being the least aggressive. I do want to point out that a super sharp blade (5) doesn’t mean it’s a better blade.
There’s a clear difference between a less aggressive blade and a dull blade. The latter is a blade that’s worn out and should be safely discarded. A less aggressive blade, that is, a blade that’s a 1, gives a smooth shave. It still shouldn’t give you any tugging if the blades of good quality to begin with.
Choosing the right blade for you is dependant on your skin type, and may come with a little trial and error. Hopefully, the information in this chapter and infographic will allow you to make the correct decisions. I would always recommend starting with a milder blade if you’re new to wet shaving, and work your way up to a sharper blade if you like.
How to maintain and safely dispose
It’s a common question most newcomers to wet shaving have: “what on Earth am I suppose to do with used blades?” The main reason we want to get this right is due to safety. Meaning, the safety of you’re family who takes out the trash and the sanitation workers on the other end handling it. Trash bags get chucked around and handle considerably, so it’s quite conceivable someone could get badly cut. They have enough to deal with so let’s implement the following practices…
First of all, you should know that your blades are classified as contaminated hazardous waste.
Without question! It has your skin and possibly blood on them, so they fall into the same category as medical waste like syringes and scalpels. Therefore, there are 2 things we mustn’t do:
- Dispose of loose blades (for the obvious reasons mentioned)
- Do not recycle. It pains me to say it, but you cannot recycle your blades. They’re far too small and can actually damage the recycling machines and get clogged up
As such, we must gather them into a secure-lid container and dispose of in the general waste or take to your pharmacy, depending on where you live and local legislation (more on that later). Here are your options:
- I’ll start with the worst option first. You can wrap the used blades individually before disposing of. Set aside the wax paper the new blades come in and place in your bathroom cabinet. After your blade has gone through its 3-6 shaves, retrieve the paper, rewrap the blade, put a little sellotape on it and dispose of in the bin. Essentially, you’re dealing with each individual blade as it comes and disposing of it. Personally, it’s a lot of hassle and the following options are better
- Another option is the slotted compartment at the back of some blade cartridges. You would have seen in the video I demonstrated this with the Derby blades, but of course, this is limited to the brand. As many manufacturers will only offer blades in mini cardboard packets so that options out the window if your favourite brand only produces cardboard
You can make your own blade bank. You could use soup cans, old pill bottles or whatever. The disadvantage to this is the added hassle and dependence on your availability of workshop tools. To make a slit, you’d ideally need a bandsaw or a hammer and chisel as a second option. Actually, you could skip the tools and use a piggy bank. That would work really well! In any instance, make sure the improvised blade bank is labelled so people know not to mess with it. Tape the slit before disposing
Purchase a sharps container, as in the image on the left. This is the best option, as depending on local legislation, you may be able to take this to your local pharmacy for proper medical waste disposal
Something similar is a blade bank purchased from an official blades manufacturer. Mühle and Feather make a couple, and the stash will last you years before you need to empty it. You’ve removed the risk of loose blades lying around, which is great. If the blade bank is steel, you might be able to recycle the entire thing after years of building up blades but check your local legislation depending on where you live in the world
As well as the information on razor blade sharpness ranking and handling in this post, here’s some extra infographics:
Safety razor handling checklist: click here
Shaving map to identify the direction of hair growth: click here