DO NOT USE ANY OIL ON RAZORS WHILE IN SLEEVES UNLESS IT WILL ALLOW WATER TO ESCAPE/EVAPORATE!
Blessed with as much panache as an ’89 Camry & as fine a worker as that damn tremendous collection of bolts, these mildly-eyesoreing cotton sleeves protect straight razors from developing rust – and do so tremendously.
If you want a low-maintenance relationship with a carbon steel razor and live in an environment that’s ever humid, this is really is the only way.
Like malaria pills, all you must do is actually use ’em & you’ll have nothing to worry about again; they become less oily over time but that does not affect their capacity for wicking away moisture according to their producer. They’re an effective anti-rust solution for a lifetime; not merely barriers prohibiting entry of moisture, but rather tools which continually draw moisture from the inside to the outside. Think of them as creating a reduced-humidity ‘fog’ within and beyond the razor, with the more arid the environment in which the razor’s stored the bigger the foggy area (and, of course, the more humid the area, the smaller a more arid zone its trick can ‘buy’).
Always leave these sleeves in a place where they can expunge the moisture to larger environments if possible, and if those larger environs are as crazy humid as a sailboat or a rainforest’s interior (= routinely ~85% relative humidity or higher), we recommend you take the extreme step of putting the razors/sleeves in an airtight container with some fresh silica gel packets enclosed within (Ewa Marine make a very thirsty and reusable desiccant option). In that case, ensure your sleeves don’t touch your desiccants, and routinely check your desiccants…if they start to feel different it is time to put them in a toaster oven at a very low heat setting for 30-45mins so they regain their capacity (any quality desiccant brand allows you to do this several times, and the Ewa Marine ones go a step further by visually changing their color when it is time to do this).
I’d like those of you with longer attention spans and minds given to the scientific method to think just a moment about how myopic these two opines upon the subject are;
– “I just dry my carbon steel blades, have never had a problem.”
– “They’re probably effective, but wholly unnecessary. Use your razors periodically, dry them well when you’re done, & that’s all they really need.”
Conditions for oxidation of steel vary wildly! Were these folks in Nevada, in Singapore, or somewhere in between? While we can be sure that their methods to prevent oxidation proved effective for those genius writers (in their sample sizes of perhaps just one not-particularly-challenging environment) , a more scientific mind might wish to ask them what was the highest humidity their blades were exposed to, and what was the maximum duration of said exposure? If their sage advice had begun “I live full time on a sailboat with my razors, and…” , one should perhaps take it as a plan wherever humidity is less intense. But without qualifiers for how oxidation-friendly the environs, it is effectively meaningless.
Carbon steel tools can rust in a single day, or never at all in a century, and the rules of the game never change; when pro-oxidation conditions are presented to the steel, oxidation begins immediately, unfailingly. A steel’s formulation, level of polish, post-shave cleaning/drying regimen, and the ambient relative humidity of the environment in which the steel is kept will all have a say in whether steel oxidizes or not. Succinctly stated, if and when such sage advice as above proves inaccurate for you, it is now your problem, and not theirs…but we can be sure they know they’re right. Perhaps they didn’t think about the relative humidity where they live, and whether it might be exceeded here and there in other locales on earth, before they spoke.
Further online internet expertise upon these sleeves posits “Remember, they keep moisture out to a certain degree, but they will also keep it in, if the razors are damp when placed in it.” Well, there’s nothing subjective here; that’s simply untrue. If you have two equally-damp razors in an otherwise-equal environment, one ‘sleeved’ and the other deployed open, the ‘sleeved’ razor will be fully dried MUCH more quickly than the razor left partially-deployed and open. I’ve tested in many times (with stainless steel razors), & it ALWAYS dries quicker. While the advice here is NOT to do as I do, a bit of perspective; I can truthfully declare that since the spring of 2010 I’ve relied upon the sleeves for 100% of my post-shaving oxidation prevention regimen. 2010-May ’12 was in oceanfront property, and since May ’12 ~1.5 miles inland. During the oceanfront time, the relative humidity of the domicile rarely dropped below 68%… living inland now conditions are better, but >60% remains commonplace. In all that time, my routine has never deviated, and I’ve not yet experienced oxidation on a ‘sleeved’ razor; after a thorough rinsing, I give a half-assed attempt to remove standing water with a photographic blower brush (‘Giottos Rocket Blower’, specifically..the biggest one). Next, I spritz a bit of isopropyl alcohol upon the blade to accelerate the evaporation. I then rapidly move the deployed (open to the shaving position) blade about the bathroom, securely in my hand (PLEASE don’t do that! I’m NOT a role model). Then I ‘sleeve’ it; that’s it! They are always moist (hopefully, only with isopropyl alcohol) when ‘sleeved’, and I’ve never had a bit of oxidation.
Before moving to Florida in ’09, I’d had a “pre-C135” late-90s carbon steel Theirs-Issard razor in a <60% relative humidity environment for a decade or so…I never oiled it in that time, just always dried very well, it never showed oxidation. Upon moving back home to Florida (and being unaware upon the issue), it oxidized aplenty on the first post-shaving day inside my air-conditioned FL home. I cleaned it with Flitz polish, honed it again, and kept it well oiled until the sleeves came along. When this shop started stocking the sleeves in 2010, I intentionally shaved with the TI, gave a cursory but probably not especially thorough drying, ‘sleeved’ it, and then set the TI outside on a shaded windowsill for 3 days during the summer, on oceanfront property! It already bore some deep oxidation stains that weren’t goin’ anywhere, so I didn’t care too much if the sleeve proved useless, though to be fair I did give it several peeks during the evaluation. It did NOT develop any new oxidation stains, and while that’s an extreme test and likely could have failed, I’d like to think that anyone who believes that a bone-dry version of that same razor outside the sleeve remaining rust-free in that Florida beachfront summer environment is welcome to take their beloved blade to me and prove it! These things work, and it wasn’t me that came up with them; they’ve proven their mettle protecting things like 19th-century revolvers for years.
While it is certainly true that even one of these sleeves costs more than a lifetime’s supply of a really cheap oil that would be just as effective at preventing rust assuming you really do fully dry that razor prior to the oil each and every time it is employed, if you go the cheapskate route you’ve got to fuss with oil every damn shave for the rest of your life! That sounds awesome. Place yourself anywhere upon the time/$ continuum as you see fit; there is no ‘right’ answer. To put it bluntly, as we always do here; we’re not after the “$5 is too much” pockets, we’re after the pockets that’ll spend $100 on fancy razor/brush stands, and if we were just shilling to you then I’d hope those deep-pocketed people would never buy our sleeves and always buy our stands! I’m sure someone’s out there, but I’ll take a single $100 razor/brush stand sale to a customer than a lifetime of selling them the sleeves any day, because almost all will spend far less upon sleeves (giving us less profit).
Made by hand for decades in the USA by various American firms for the firearms industry (known as “gun sleeves”, “silicone cloths”, etc., quite a few companies offer it), these particular oil-and-silicone-treated-cotton sleeves are from 100% USA materials/labor and make oiling steel within irrelevant; I’ve used them for a high carbon oldie that I never oil, living in frequent 70-75% relative humidity environs. Not a drop of rust anywhere in >3 years. That’s very impressive. In fact, the makers say to not oil the steel, for this can seal moisture under a film of oil (they’ve also decreed that if one must be as anal to both sleeve and oil, use a product which allows evaporation-by name they recommended Ballistol).
This is an excellent, practical travel solution, too, provided you keep it away from porous surfaces in-transit.
WARNING: When you get it, the inner surfaces of this little sleeve are much more slippery than, say, a dry terry cloth towel. It is not intended as a protection tomb from impact, and offers no protection from the laws of physics; this is only a tool to eliminate the risk of rust. If you forget which end of the sleeve is the open end and expose that open end marginally more towards the center of our earth as opposed to away from it, it is very likely that the razor will fall out of it, possibly damaging you, the razor, or both. Be careful carrying it around. I myself have already made this stupid mistake once (okay, twice, but that is really going to be the last time), but still wouldn’t trade these things for the world. One less thing to worry about.
DO NOT USE ANY OIL ON RAZORS WHILE IN SLEEVES UNLESS IT WILL ALLOW WATER TO ESCAPE/EVAPORATE!