We all love an unsolved mystery. Trying to get our heads around something that at first glance seems impossible. Two of our favourites here at Men Rock are the ‘Antikythera Mechanism’ and the ‘Oak Island Money Pit’. But if you find these puzzling, The Boss has a new one to exercise our grey cells: why do razor blades go blunt when it’s tough steel against (relatively) soft bristles?
After extensive research, we can reveal that while we were unable to crack either of the first two mysteries, we can shed some light on the razor mystery.
But first, for anyone not familiar with the great mysteries, we should explain. the ‘Antikythera Mechanism’, built thousands of years ago and thought to be the oldest computer known to man. Incredibly intricate, this analogue ‘computer’ was found in a shipwreck near Greece in the year 1900 and is believed to have been used to determine the positions of celestial bodies using a mind-bogglingly complex series of bronze gears. Who built it? Where did they get the advanced knowledge and skills? What was it used for?
Likewise the ‘Oak Island Money Pit’ located on a tiny island off the coast of Nova Scotia in eastern Canada. Buried treasure and booby traps figure in the strange story of this incredibly deep and intricate pit discovered in the pirate days of 1735.
Below the pit are a series of wooden platforms, and even deeper, booby trap flooding mechanisms formed from multiple underground canals leading to water. At the 90ft mark, an inscribed, encoded stone tablet was found that was deciphered to read ‘Forty feet below, two million pounds lie beneath’.
The money has never been found.
With your appetite sharpened, on to the current day mystery of the blades…
Is it possible that manufacturers cynically build in this easily-blunted trait to sell more blades? Unlikely, as customers would very quickly suss out the duff blades and move to a smart competitor whose wares were longer lasting.
Could it be the effect of water or air, corroding the metal? In which case manufacturers would have by now developed more resistant blades, so again, this is unlikely.
Bristles tougher than steel?
Could it be that some bristles are tougher than steel, so quickly blunt the weaker blade? Not possible.
Maybe the soap’s the culprit? That and the debris and grease that accumulate on the blade are the most likely suspects.
It’s long been known that, to be effective, blades must be regularly cleaned of the debris that builds up and clogs them. Multi-blade razors are worst for this as soap and hair will soon clog up the narrow gaps between blades (when using this kind of razor, keep an old toothbrush to hand to scrub between the cutting edges).
Of course we all clean our blades as we go, don’t we? Even so, most of us end up changing them regularly as shaving with blunted edges brings its own problems.
So it must be that the soap and grease leave a blunting film that is all but invisible. Considering the miniscule width of a razor’s cutting edge this is hardly surprising