Sharpen your shaving blades

Special to Idaho StatesmanFebruary 19, 2007 

The practice of shaving goes way back.

So for thousands of years, folks have been throwing away dull blades. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as many as 2 billion razor blades are tossed in the trash each year.

This is a tough problem to tackle and I'm not sure there are any perfect answers.

Of course, one could just go hairy.

But for a lot of us, that isn't an option.

I have to confess, I've never been an electric razor guy. Even when I didn't have real whiskers, I didn't think my electric shaver did a very good job. But if it works for you, that might be the way to go. An electric shaver does use energy, of course, but there isn't anything to throw away.

The least wasteful shaver is probably the old straight edge. Again, for a lot of us, this is not an option. The straight edge can be sharpened regularly and will last forever, but I have neither the attention span nor the steady hand to use one without inflicting injury on myself.

There are many varieties of razors that have a permanent handle and use disposable heads. I opt for one that has three blades. Any more than that seems pretentious.

One way to make the blades last longer is to not believe the package. My brand says that once the lubricating strip loses its color, you should toss the blade. The strip loses its color after about three shaves, but and I can regularly shave for two weeks with the same head.

However, I wanted more. Those blades are expensive, often $2 each, and come in much plastic packaging that also goes into the trash. So I was eager to try out the Razor Saver that I found at this Web site:

Supposedly, you just run the blade over the "sharpener" and it will last for 45 shaves or more. It turns out the sharpener is a mirror. According to the patent, this is supposed to keep the blades sharp.

I'm not so sure. I first used it on a dull blade and it didn't seem to sharpen it. So now I'm using it on a new blade to see if it will prolong the life. Making one of these yourself isn't that hard and would save you $10. Just take a glasscutter and cut a strip the width of the razor head from an old mirror.

If, for some unfathomable reason, disposable razors are your style, you can buy razors that have handles made from recycled materials from this site:

Do you have an idea or tip for our weekly Environment at Home column? Let us know. Send an e-mail to with subject line "Enviro at Home."

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