How to Sharpen Razor Blades for the Long Term

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These days I have been doing a lot of thinking about my daily hygiene and beauty routine as it relates to a long term survival situation.  I don’t want to appear frivolous but for me, feeling clean and looking nice are an important part of feeling good about myself in general.  I do not think that my thoughts in this regard are limited to women and in fact, the Survival Husband feels much the same way, albeit without the need for a touch of lipstick and blush.

While an article on survival hygiene is long overdue, today I want to share with you a great tip for increasing the longevity of razor blades.  Anyone who shaves – and this includes men and their beards and ladies and their legs – knows two things.  One, razor blades are darn expensive and two, a dull razor blade will cut you up and result in a big bloody mess.

Sharpen Razor on Jeans

For the past few months I have been doing some research, trying to learn how to increase the longevity of the common razor blade.  One strategy that worked well was drying the blade with a hair dryer after each use.  Good to know, of course, but highly impractical in a survival situation.

I recently learned of a new technique and after testing with three separate razors, I can attest to its efficacy.

Sharpening a Razor Blade Using Blue Jeans

This method of sharpening a dull razor blade is so very simple that I am surprised more people don’t know about it.

1.  Clean your razor in a little cup of soapy water.  Let it sit for awhile so that all of the old goo and gunk float away.

Sharpen Razor on Jeans (4)

What I did was spray some of my Tea Tree Wonderful in a glass and let the razor soak for about an hour.  I could not believe the crud that came loose!

2.  Dry your razor by shaking away then excess moisture the wiping it off with a towel (or in my case, a microfiber cloth).

Sharpen Razor on Jeans (3)

These are the razors I used for testing.  All were old and dull.

3.  Going in the opposite of your normal shaving direction, run the razor across some blue jean material about 20 times.  This is called stropping. Remember, you want to run the shaver backwards!

That’s it – easy peasy.

The Testimonial

When I was done sharpening the razor blades, I handed the Survival Husband his razor and told him to give it a try.  Now let me say this: he was doubtful to say the least.

Sharpen Razor on Jeans (1)

The first words out of his mouth were “Wow, this is really sharp”.  I asked him how old the blade was and he said about a month.  It was ready for the trash any day now.

Need convincing?

As part of my research, I came across the following YouTube video.  It demonstrates the process for you and although the author refers to sharpening a disposable razor, in my tests a standard razor (not the disposable type) worked equally well.

The Final Word

I like to save money just as much as the next person.  As near as I can tell, refill razor blades cost over $2 each.  Let’s say you can get one month’s use out or each.  That would be $24 a year.  If you could double their life by sharpening the blades on a pair of blue jeans, you would save $12 right off the bat.

How many times can you re-sharpen the razor blades?  Time will tell but if you ask me, my best guess is that you can re-sharpen then at least twice, if not more.  It certainly is worth a try.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Bargain Bin:  Stock up on a small supply of razor blades then sharpen them yourself!  Check out these and a few more items related to today’s article.

Gillette Sensor Excel Razor:  This is an extremely popular razor.  According to the reviewers, it is difficult these days to find it locally.  Shelly (the Survival Husband) uses this razor with the 3-blade refills.

Gillette Mach3 Men’s Razor Blade Refills 15 Count:  These are the refill blades that Shelly uses.  He has not felt the need to go beyond the 3 blade type of razor.  Can you imagine giving these the longevity of 30 or even 45 blades?

Gillette Sensor3 Smooth Shave Disposable Razor 8 Count:  Many folks prefer disposable blades but personally?  Although we use them, we like the heft of a traditional, non-disposable razor.

Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Bar SoapDIY Liquid Castile Soap Wonderful Backdoor Survival:  This is a great price at $3.79 for 3 bars from DIY Liquid Castile Soap Wonderful Backdoor SurvivalAmazon also sells Kirk’s here – Kirk’s Castile Soap Original (3pk) .

Amazon Basics Microfiber Cleaning Cloth, (Pack of 36)DIY Liquid Castile Soap Wonderful Backdoor Survival: I just noticed that Amazon is selling their own brand of Microfiber cloths – 36 for less than $20.  They are not as “fuzzy” as the Z-wipes.  I have both types.  Whatever you choose, they will last for years and will allow you to replace paper towels forever.  I color code using green for glass and windows and the other colors for everything else.

Soft ‘N Style Clear Spray Bottles I happen to like these smaller bottles and you can not beat the price for a set of 6.  Likewise for these Pump Dispensers.

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How to Sharpen Razor Blades for the Long Term — 50 Comments

  1. Bought some of the freeze dried salmon and cannot find a recipe for it. please share if u find some good ones. I use more expensive 4 or five blade razors and sharpen them after every use. A blade usually last me at least a month. I use a scrap piece of leather to strop it.

    • @Jerry – I plan to make a smoked salmon dip and some salmon patties. I will post the recipes on the Sunday Survival Buzz after I confirm how they work out – unless you would like them sooner?

  2. Everything I read about dealing with the zombies is that I need to blend in. If I run around without whiskers, and not loosing weight, they will know I am different. I will grow whiskers.

    It is funny that you speak of lipstick and blush. Selco posted a great article recently about the rescuers of the Jewish prisoners in the death camps in the second world war. They passed out lipstick to the women. It was said that this brought them back into humanity. Women that were so starved that they were nothing but skin and bones, with no clothes, walking around with lipstick and a smile on their faces. I would have never imagined.

    • I agree with you John. Bet you that growing a beard will actually became fashionable when there are no more razor blades around. I feel for the ladies though. If they cant wax it, they’ll probably will have to cover it up.

    • Hey John R: It is funny that Palestinian children react similarly to themselves and their parents not being beaten, shot and thrown out out of their homes by Jewish squatters.

  3. two comments:
    1. I heard many years ago that stropping is NOT sharpening, but only straightening and smoothing. You have seen them do it in western or old time movies. i.e. “the color purple”. The person who was giving the info said they kept referring to it as sharpening when they were smoothing. Even my dictionary has it wrong. Razors are the thinest blade and get nicks and bends very easy from just human hair. That is what is cutting you. It is not dull.
    From wikepedia: A razor strop is a flexible strip of leather or canvas used to straighten and polish the blade of a straight razor, a knife, or a woodworking tool like a chisel. Unlike honing or sharpening a blade, in which a whetstone removes metal bent out of alignment from the blade’s edge, stropping the blade re-aligns the indentations without removing any material.

    Manufacturers will not tell you this, because they can sell more product.

    2. I have been doing this for many many years now. But I use my thumb while I run water over the blade. It also cleans the blade at the same time. (admittedly, I am only getting a partial cleaning) I can usually get up to 4 months on just ONE blade. I can tell when it finally becomes dull. first it takes more and more strokes to get a close shave. Then at some point the blade will ‘tug’ just a little before cutting the hair. That is when I dispose of it.

    Just a word of warning: when transistioning from an old blade to a brand new one, go light on the strokes. As the blade does become more dull, you will instinctively apply more pressure to get the cut. If you apply that much pressure on a brand new blade, you will get bad skin cuts.

  4. Many months ago I purchased a RazorPit for this very purpose and it works ok but then somebody told me I could just use a pair of blue jeans (or something similar) and get the job done too… wish I’d known that before I spent $20!

  5. Good tip!
    Another is to buy Wilkinson Sword razors or blades. They are available at Walmart for less than half the cost of Gillette. I haven’t found them anywhere else.
    I hadn’t seen the brand since the ’60’s – I used to buy them at the PX when I was in the Air Force. They are very sharp! Be careful the first time you try one. They also seem to last longer.

  6. have you tried the entrees?? i have been looking at the various brands of emergency foods and i’m really wondering about taste….. if things are bad enough or if it’s just a month long disaster i would be glad of anything to eat. but tasty sure would be better!!!

    • @Echo – I have tried the entrees. They are actually pretty good and much better than boxed stuff (such as hamburger helper and the like). Also, I have found the serving sizes to be pretty accurate although just to be safe, I often cook up 3 servings for the two of us. At the prices right now, cooking from food storage is cheaper than making the same thing from scratch (by the time you go out and purchase all of the ingredients).

      One thing I am not real fond of are the desserts although the ice cream sandwich is really good.

  7. Get an ‘old fashioned’ double edge razor that uses the double edged blades. The whole concept of more blades equals more awesome shave is a little bit correct and whole lot of bunk.

    You should be able to get 4-6 weeks out of a single blade without any special care. If you take the blade out and strop it by running it back and forth on the inside of a glass (real glass not plastic) you’ll get longer results. 100 blades runs about $10-12.

    That runs you about $1 a year on shaving without any extra care. Maybe .50 a year if you clean and strop the blade once every couple of weeks.

  8. This is cool !!!!!!!!!! that has been a constant bane for most men , constantly going through disposable razors . I find that a NEW razor , rather than a dull one will cut you up faster , I do this once in awhile when I forget that I just swapped out the razor and I dont have to bear down so hard .

  9. I agree with Paul Anthony, buy Wilkinson Razor blades at Wall Mart. They’ve been around a LONG time, quality material, and they’re made in U.S.A.! Look at the country of origin on all the others and you’ll see they all come from over seas! The consumers of this distressed country can make a difference by supporting what’s made in our own back yards! You all talk survival and independence, now back it up with home products to get this country back on track! The journey may be long and hard, but it all starts with the FIRST STEP!

  10. Thanks for this article, I have loads of old blades to give this a go on to see if I can resharpen. The savings would be a a lot more than $2 here in the UK. blades here cost between £5 and £8 a standard size pack.

  11. Thank you for the tip.
    I have been using a “Razorpit” for two years now and I get THREE monthe out of a blade .I discard after this time so I don’t know how long one could last.

    Another technique is to strop the blade on glass under water, this old tip worked in the 50’s and sharpens as well as stropps.

    Back in the 70’s there was a commertially availabe pyramid that you kept the razor blade in and somehow it remained sharp!Don’t ask me how but it was very popular in Russia .

  12. I will have to add this to make tricks. I buy one razor a year. I clean it after every use and once a week treat it with a Qtip and baby oil. i could probably have it last longer but I get a new one for my birthday. i am new to your blog but am thoroughly enjoy it. Can’t wait for the Kindle links.

  13. I always rinse my blades with water while shaving, but then when I am done I give the shaver some quick flicks and then I rinse it in a jar of 91% isopropyl alcohol.

    Thanks for the blue jean stropping method!!! 🙂

  14. Another great tip to keep your razor blades from getting dull in the first place is to dry them off thoroughly after each use. I only go through about 3 blades for my Gillette Fusion per year. Now I might be able to use only one a year with this tip. Thanks!

    • I heard a loooong time ago to use only cold water on your blades as the hot water will tend to take the temper out of the blade..

      • Gaye,

        I used to sharpen my scissors with folded up foil. It works, but it wastes good foil.

        Then I decided to try using a well-rinsed out aluminum soft drink can instead.
        I simply start by poking a hole at one end and cut the can just like you would peel and apple when you keep the peeling in one long strip.

        Works every time.

        You don’t waste any usable foil.

        And if you usually recycle your aluminum cans, you can still recycle the can after it has been cut into strips.


        • That is a great tip and something I will try. I typically use old, repurposed foil that I save for scissor sharpening but the soft drink can sounds better. I can crush the can then snip away.

          BTW, I have tried this method of snipping through foil with my garden shears but have had only marginal success. I really do need to learn how to sharpen them on my own.

  15. That’s all fine, but the premise is misleading. Razor blades are actually quite cheap; it is disposable razors that are expensive.

  16. Another tip i have been using for several years also will extend razor blades up to from 6 – 10 1/2 months on a single razor with no strapping at all. All you have to do after use is to rinse it well under water, immerse in a small container of vegetable oil, shake for a second and leave the razor in the oil until the next use. The blades must be under the oil level. I use a small pimento jar with olive oil. I got this tip from a friend who works with the man who invented and holds the original patent on the technology for ‘coating’ razor blades in a special process which allow a very hard coating on an extremely thin metal surfaces. He says the blades don’t get dull they get dirty with skin and hair particles too small to see. I use one of those razors with 3 or more blades. After about a week you will begin to see the accumulated junk in the bottom of the jar. When you take out the razor, let the oil drain for a second so don’t lose too much oil for each shave. When the oil level gets down low enough to expose the blades i throw out the oil, rinse out the junk and replenish the oil for another 3-4 months. I usually use about 1/3 of a cup of oil for each razor usage over time. My longest razor has gone 10 1/2 months, shaving once per day. You time of use will depend on how much dis-comfort you tolerate before you got for a new razor. I will start using this strapping process and see how long a single blade can last!

  17. One thing you might consider is to buy a straight razor, a hone, and a strop. Its going to be a lot cleaner than a multi-bladed thing that will collect skin and whiskers, and that can only be sharpened only so much.

    A straight razor provides a much better shave, and its something you can keep sharp forever with only just a couple things. Your grandson will be using the same razor, hone, and strop.

    For those who don’t want to use a straight, you could also consider a double edge razor. The single blades for it cost less than 5 cents, and they stay sharp longer.

  18. Another idea to save money is the safety razor. The razor itself can be bought for $20-30 on Amazon. The blades are incredibly inexpensive and can last a week (longer if you only shave every other day). I bought a couple of hundred of them for around twenty bucks, which should be enough for a couple of years. Oh, the shave is great, too.

    • Exactly. The multi-blade razors cost so much because they are multi-blade razors. The double edge blades are cheap, and you get a much better shave with it.

  19. Another alternative is a straight razor. There is a bit of upfront cost but essentially, you get a great shave and one razor could/should last forever. Plus, it’s old school….you don’t have all that useless packaging to throw away etc. An intermediate step is a safety razor and one can use the same stropping technique, I just use a hand towel, that is documented in this article. I can easily shave for a month on a single double-edged blade. And, if you use the four pass method (down/l to r/r to l/up) the shave will be so close you will not have to shave every day. You will never get that close a shave with an electric or a cartridge razor. Anyway, good article…..lots of good, old-fashioned ideas.

  20. I am interested in buying a pk.#10 blades of Gellette Sensor Excel 2 blade,pk.#10.If I
    buy more,do I get a discount ? Your sugesetion about resharping the blades sounds great.Thanks for the tip. I will try it.

  21. We used to prolong zip-knife type razor blades by sharpening them on glass. In a pinch, an extremely smooth piece of concrete can be used but glass will produce the finest edge.

  22. Really helpful!!! I go through razors abnormally fast, and this will help save money. Only annoying thing is the amount of stuff which comes off the jeans and clogs the razor

    • Kat, make sure the denim you’re using has been washed a couple of times. This will get rid of that junk. You might want to wash it after every time you’ve stopped with it.

  23. I will definitely try this. I’ve been trying to figure out how to strop my razors for years. I usually get 4-5 months on a cheap disposable razor. My trick is to keep a small bottle of mineral oil handy in the shower. When I’m done shaving in the shower, I put a drop of oil on the blade and tilt the blade to let the oil coat it. The oil pushes away the water and keeps the air from getting to the blade, preventing or minimizing oxidation (rust or corrosion).

  24. Great how-to on extending the razors life, although leather is the best to use. Even a belt if it’s real leather, and a straight razor would be perfect for SHTF, only stropping is needed to sharpen the blade, and a quality one will last a lifetime.

  25. Just use a straight razor. I’ve been using a 100 year old straight razor for about ten years now. I paid $15 for it on ebay. This one razor will last generations. And I never have to resharpen it. All I do is strop it before every use. I use a balsa wood strop that I cover in chromox buffing compound which is essentially a giant green crayon with super fine particulate in it. I bought it when I bought my razor ten years ago, and in that time I’ve used about 1/16th an inch of a 4″ stick. Stropping on newspaper also works incredibly well. Apparently the micro texture of the printed text acts as a fine buffing compound.

  26. Double edge razor blades can cost less than $10 for a hundred. And a vintage Gillette razor will outlive you. Just sayin’.

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