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Razor sterilization (possibly problem with some vintage blades)

king

Well-Known Member
So, few days ago I made conversation with my friend and he pointed to me one thing that I never think about before. He told that some time ago people used to make sterilization of the straight razors using open flame (especially in 19th century but in early 20th also).
Sterilization by using open flame is not problem with full hollows (from the view point of buyer) because full hollows tend to warp lot and that can be easily visible with naked eye but it is problem with wedges and near wedges because it can not be visible so easy. In any case both of them lost their steel properties.
He also give advice to me (worth nothing for e-bay purchases) but it can be useful for buying "eye to eye". He told: "When you are going to buy wedge razor always take hone with you. Make few laps and if you feel that razor is honed "wavy" you can be pretty sure that razor is sterilized with open flame. It is much easier if there is no scales. In that case put the blade on a very thin rope and strike it with coin. Blade must have ring sound, if there is no ring sound chances that blade was sterilized with open flame are pretty high."
So, what are your oppinions about above and how to solve all of this with e-bay and B/S/T purchases?
Thx
 

Matt

Well-Known Member
That's a bloody wicked idea, I'd never think of doing this. :scared:

I guess this depends a lot what the owner did. I quickly checked
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and
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- definitely doing some damage is possible (surprise! lol).

Actually I don't think that you could often see any warps in hollow blades resulting from such practice. I believe it was done by putting the blade into a flame rather quickly, so the spine wouldn't heat enough to warp. The thin part could take some more beating. I'd rather look for discolorations, but we all know this already.

As for ringing, I have no idea - someone more experienced with metal processing should chime in (Ralfson comes to my mind, if he has some time to spare). From what I think I know, the sound tells more about macroscopic structure, so heat damage might not be revealed - in reverse, you might have a razor that doesn't sounds clear due to some micro cracks and would still perform perfectly.

Honing on the spot seems quite a good idea. With experience you should be able to assess the steel. Smythe shared a good tip on how to check edges' hardness recently (doesn't apply to wedges, of course).

regards,
Matt
 

Matt

Well-Known Member
How continuously is the question here. :) Someone puts the blade into a flame for, say, 2 s and let's assume he heats it up to about 200 - 300 ˚C. Shouldn't be a problem I suppose? He might do it after each shave for a long time. But if he repeats this 10 times within 25 seconds, I guess things could get dangerous. Keep in mind it's all just guesses.

But how will you know what the previous - often long dead - owner, had done to the razor, anyway? :D

Matt
 

king

Well-Known Member
Matt said:
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Exactly, that's the point of my question. Is there any way to find if the razor was sterilized using open flame (here I mean at time of buying it not after when you came home and perform all of this what Smythe pointed out
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).
 

torbenbp

Well-Known Member
Personnaly I can`t imagine many old timers ruining the temper of the blade by a prolonged stay in an open flame.

A razor were a valuable tool and thus it was taken very good care off..And even back in the ol` days people must have been aware of ruining the temper..and not unlikely,even more so than at present time.


Regards
Torbs
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
Also if we go back in time a little way, lets look at the choices there were for "Open flames"

There was a candle, maybe a match if you wanted to waste one, and maybe an oil lamp
Gas light is covered with a mantle, and stuck on the wall, so thats out, and of course you had a stove, I dont see many people wanted to wave a razor in an open fire, maybe one could use a splint lit from the fire though.

There were no butane lighters, no mapp gas blowtorches etc etc

so even if the practice went on, I doubt the flames involved were particularly fierce?

Regards
Ralfson (Dr)
 

Matt

Well-Known Member
I thought about that Ralfson. Did you follow my links? :) Even a candle flame yields whopping ~1100 ˚C (2012 ˚F), reaching 1300-1400 ˚C (2372-2552 ˚F) in hot spots... Seems to be enough to do some damage, eh?

regards,
Matt
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
Yowzers!

No you caught me out, its been a busy morning, yes then a candle would ruin a blade, but would you consider a flame that leaves the steel black and sooty clean? ;)

Ralfson
 

torbenbp

Well-Known Member
I honestly dont think anyone - except the odd few - would hold a valuable razor over a candlelight for a extended period of time.. And if they did so,they deserved to get a warped razor..

But..

1: Razors didnt come cheap.
2: A razor were an item you took very good care off.
3: It would take some cleanup afterwards.
4: I actually dont think men in the ol` heydays worried too much about sterilization.

Regards
Torbs
 

Tcensor

Well-Known Member
To the best of my knowledge, "real sterilization" i.e. the practice of elimination of any micro organisms from medical hardware came about 1826. Surgical instruments would be subjected to boiled (100 Celsius) water then dipped in spirit. For most tool steels this is not really of any consequence. Certainly not as much of a consequence as a bowled out hone, a steam driven grinder, or even a slightly drunken blacksmith. :rolleyes:
 

TM280

Well-Known Member
While germ theory was an idea in 1826 (and actually dates back to the late 1600's...) there was no consequent sterilization practiced, or general understanding of germ theory, until Joseph Lister's first sterile surgical performance in 1867.

Ignaz Semmelweis was laughed at in 1848 when he attempted to institute rudimentary hand washing sterilization in Vienna. And subsequently lost his job, went mad and died before Lister proved him right.

How long it took these ideas, and methods for following up on them, to spread to barbers and the general populace, I don't know. But it was certainly not right away. Just think about that the last recorded bloodletting (the ages old practice which germ theory replaced...) was in Philadelphia in the early 1900's (if I remember correctly).

regards,
Torolf
 
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