Carbon Steel Vs Stainless: Which One is Best for Shaving?

August 23, 2020 5 min read

Carbon Steel Vs Stainless: Which One is Best for Shaving?

Naked Armor

In wet shaving, the blade is half of what makes a good shave.

Published by Naked Armor

Ancient razor made from bronze.
Photo by: Flickr user Centralasian

In olden times, it would probably be very hard to get a nice close shave given that our ancestors were using bronze metal for their blades.

Bronze was brittle and prone to develop a rusting pattern, although it never rusts through the metal. Later on, when iron replaced bronze as the go-to metal for blade making, it was just a slight improvement. While iron razors were less likely to break or bend during use, they were prone to corrosion.

It wouldn’t be until the Industrial Age, when the English developed Sheffield steel, that razor blades started to evolve into what it is today.

Modern Steel Razors

Today’s modern razor blades are made from stainless steel and carbon steel. Occasionally, one can find a razor blade made from Damascus steel with a carbon steel edge to it. But because of the way Damascus steel is manufactured, it is not ideal for straight razor shaving. The qualities that make Damascus steel good for knife manufacturing does not apply to straight razor blades.

The discovery of rustless steel in Sheffield by Harry Brearley was a game changer. Brearley was a metallurgist who developed new steels that could better resist the erosion caused by high temperatures. Because of him, the process for large scale manufacturing of rustless steel was perfected. The Bessemer process made it possible for the use of Sheffield steel in all manner of tool development, including the production of Sheffield steel straight razors.

Razor blades these days are made from stainless steel.

The best quality of stainless steel is that it is resistant to corrosion. Made from a combination of iron, carbon and chromium, stainless steel is more durable than any other metal alloy. It also looks lustrous, making it reflective like a mirror.

Carbon steel, meanwhile, contains only iron and carbon as the main alloying elements. The higher the carbon content, the harder the blade. But this same quality of hardness also makes it brittle, making it easy to break or fracture. Blades with high carbon steels can also become magnetized over time. It also looks dull. Carbon steel blades often have a matte finish that is similar to a cast iron pot.

Pros and Cons of Stainless Steel

Because of the chromium metal added into the alloy, stainless steel does not stain or rust as easily. It also holds its edge longer.

It’s more long-lasting. Stainless steel is famously resilient, making it the only real material for shaving as far as experts are concerned. The blade will stay sharp for a very, very long time, meaning that one blade will last you many shaving sessions.

It also absorbs heat very quickly. Just running your stainless steel razor blade under warm water will have it ready to go in virtually seconds. Then, you can enjoy the sensation of nice, warm steel gliding against your face, adding to the relaxing nature of wet shaving.

The downside is that it’s harder to hone it.

Stainless steel blade will stay sharp for a long time.

Pros and Cons of Carbon Steel

In contrast, carbon steel is easier to hone. It’s also cheaper than stainless steel.

But the downside is that it easily stains and rusts without proper maintenance and does not hold its edge as long as a stainless steel blade.

While it isn’t difficult to properly maintain a carbon steel blade, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s quick to rust. The slightest amount of moisture is enough to start the corrosion process.

Taking the time to dry the carbon steel will certainly help keep the blade from deteriorating and so will using a little razor oil from time to time.

Stainless steel razors are high tempered and stay sharp for a longer time. It also requires less maintenance because you do not need to sharpen it often. In fact, when honing a stainless steel razor blade, you only do it every two months or so. More importantly, it doesn’t rust easily.

— Derek Dodds, Naked Armor Founder

Which is Better for Shaving

Here at Naked Armor, we always recommend a stainless steel razor. While it may be cheaper to buy a carbon stainless steel razor, consider it as a long term investment when choosing a straight razor.

Stainless steel razors are high tempered and stay sharp for a longer time. It also requires less maintenance because you do not need to sharpen it often. In fact, when honing a stainless steel razor blade, you only do it every two months or so. More importantly, it doesn’t rust easily.

A stainless steel straight razor is the only tool you need to be able to achieve a close shave. That’s because a straight razor has a single blade with a narrow profile. It easily glides in close to the skin to cut the whiskers off at its base. This gives you a smooth finish minus the razor bumps.

Shaving with a stainless steel razor is better than shaving with a carbon stainless steel razor.

Naked Armor Stainless Steel Straight Razor Blade

What is particularly great about some of Naked Armor’s razors is that they’re made from Japanese high grade stainless steel. It’s one of the best in the world. Combined with a centuries-long tradition of blademaking that has produced legendary samurai blades, a Naked Armor blade is a work of art.

Naked Armor's Bela Straight Razor with Japanese stainless steel blade + Mahogany wood handle

Naked Armor's Merlin Straight Razor with polished stainless steel blade + powdered steel handle

Naked Armor's Lancelot Straight Razor with Japanese stainless steel blade + stainless steel handle

Even more unique is how the Naked Armor stainless steel blade is designed. It is made in between a full hollow and a half hollow grind. This makes it versatile for all kinds of hair textures and types. It’s also a razor that a newbie or a pro can also use just as easily.

With a Naked Armor straight razor, your shaving experience will not only be comfortable and easy, but also a luxurious one.

Intrigued? Visit our site to see more of our blades.



More Naked Armor Reads

Should I Try Out a Kamisori over a Straight Razor?
The Best Budget Straight Razor
How to Choose the Best Point for your Straight Razor

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