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Stainless vs. Carbon Steel Straight Razors

Selecting a straight razor is a serious procedure. Market is full of different offers. Some razors are cheap, some are expensive. But the first criteria for classification is not the price. When you make a decision about which one to purchase, one of the most important questions is what blade to prefer: stainless or carbon? Though these two major groups of blades have slight differences, you should make a decision about which one you want to use.

An unexperienced person will not pay attention to these differences and will not take them into account. But if you are reading this article you take your shaving ritual seriously and you wish to buy the best cut throat razor. That’s great. This article will help you to understand the differences between these two types of blades.

Stainless vs Carbon Straight Razors

Rust

A razor blade touches water regularly and it may get rust if you don’t pay attention to drying it after usage. Stainless steel blade is much easier to use because it doesn’t get rust fast. It contains chromium, nickel, molybdenum and other additional metals that react with oxygen from water and air forming special film that prevents the blade from getting rust.

Carbon blade doesn’t contain chromium, nickel and molybdenum. It is made of pure steel and thus it can get rust. Moreover, this can happen very fast. If you forget to dry it after shaving it may get rust within several hours. This will change its appearance and you will have to polish it before using next time.

As you see if you don’t want to take care about your blade your choice is Stainless razor. It will not require serious drying after shaving is done. You can just clear it with water and shake to remove big water drops.

If making your razor dry is not a problem, you may go with any type of steel. We think that, a serious man must always keep his blade clear and dry.

Honing and Stropping

Honing is a very important part of straight razor maintenance. You need to hone a blade every 2-3 months (depending on how often you use it). You will also most likely have to sharpen it right after purchase before using it for the first time. That’s because most of the razors are not Shave Ready, though manufacturers say that they are.

Stainless steel is high tempered. That’s why it’s more difficult to hone and strop it. A carbon blade will require less time to be honed and stropped.

Is this important for making final decision? On our opinion NO, that’s not very important. You will just spend more time for honing and stropping stainless steel blade. But you will be able to make it sharp anyway. The process will just take a little bit more time. It becomes less important if you are going to use honing services.

Stropping time also doesn’t differ a lot. With carbon steel you will have to do about 5 strops for each side, while stainless will require you to do 10 or 15 strops. You will spend about 30 seconds more. As you see the difference is not so serious.

Sharpness

Some people think that you can get a sharper edge with stainless steel. Carbon blade is “softer” tempered and that’s why it’s more difficult to make it really sharp. But that’s wrong! Both blades can be extremely sharp and both will cut your facial hair easily. You just need to form perfect edge.

But there is a slight difference in how fast the blades made of different types of steel become dull. Stainless holds sharpness for longer time, while carbon becomes dull faster. That’s not a problem if you can hone it yourself. You can do it anytime for free if you have whetstone and skill. But it can be serious concern if you use honing services. With carbon razor you will need to use honing services more often. That means you will have to pay more money for this. That’s why we always recommend people to learn how to hone their razors. This skill is very useful.

Final Thoughts

Now you know the most important differences and you are ready for making decision. On our opinion you can go with any type of steel. This is not very important. Both will be cutting your facial hair like butter. Many experienced straight razor owners think that type of steel is not very important.

But Stainless is more preferable in most cases. It’s much easier to use it and it holds sharpness for longer. But the cost will be higher. Anyway it’s you to decide. The table below will help you to make the decision faster:

Blade Type Pros Cons
Stainless
  • High tempered and stays sharp for longer time.
  • Requires less maintenance. You will need to sharpen it not so often.
  • Doesn't get rust fast.
  • Requires more time for honing. Also more difficult to strop.
  • The cost is higher.
Carbon
  • Softer tempered. Requires less time to be honed and stropped.
  • The cost is usually lower.
  • Becomes dull faster.
  • Requires special care: it can get rust if not dried and cared for.

Best Stainless Steel Razors

Here is a list of best stainless steel blades. They are manufactured out of high quality materials by well-known companies. Though the prices are rather high they will serve you for many years. If you wish to see more offers visit our Comparison tool. It will help you to select the best shaving razor fast.

Dovo INOX
Single Item
Shave ready: Yes
Handle: Steel
MORE INFORMATION

Problem…

There is one problem: when a manufacturer says that he uses a stainless / carbon steel we just know the type of steel. But we know nothing about its hardness. Hardening is a very important process. If the blade is hardened correctly it can stay very sharp for a long time. But when you purchase a razor you know nothing about how the steel was hardened.

You also know nothing about overall quality of the steel. That’s why we recommend not to purchase cheap razors on E-bay. Very often they are made poorly. The steel used for their producing has low quality and thus it’s difficult to make it sharp and even if you managed to do it, the sharpness will be lost very fast.

If you want to have high quality blade you should purchase razors made by well-known brands only! Use our comparison tool in order to pick the best straight razor. It’s much better to pay $70-$100 for high quality steel blade and enjoy shaving. Unfortunately some people don’t understand this.