Thursday, January 4, 2018

RazoRock Alum Stick

I caught an interview with RazoRock Joe on the Moustache and Blade Podcast.  By the sounds of it, alum was the start of RazoRock.  As the story goes, Joe was tasked by his father-in-law to find alum blocks while on vacation in Italy with his uncle and business partner.  Eventually they found a little shop in Tuscany that had it and they purchased all they had left.  At dinner one night they had the idea to import these alum blocks and sell it.  They would call it RazoRock and the rest is wet shaving history.  Check out the podcast here: Moustache & Blade Podcast - Episode 2 : Feature Interview with Italian Barber

RazoRock Alum Stick
Admittedly, prior to getting into traditional wet shaving the only time I heard about alum was from Looney Tunes cartoons I watched as a kid.  I’d remember Sylvester the Cat getting this powder poured in his mouth and his lips would involuntarily unwilling pucker until he could only try to ingest Tweety Bird with a straw.  I remember that I asked my father what that Alum on the label was and he simply said that it was for shaving.  Fast forward a few years and I would find out from a cursory Google or Bing search that this was most likely Potassium Alum. 

"Birds Anonymous" - the toon that turned me onto alum (around 5:33 mark)

According to an article on ThoughtCo: “Potassium alum is a fine white powder that you can find sold with kitchen spices or pickling ingredients.”   Potassium Alum is also the most commonly used form of alum in wet shaving.  There are a lot of great sources and detailed information on the types, chemical make-up, and different uses for this compound.  But rather than get too deep into that; check out the article Shaving alum: what it is, why you shoulduse it on Why I Wet Shave, it's a good read.
If the alum in stick form isn't your preference, RazoRock also has it available in a block version 
In many of the forums I hear that an alum block is a great way to get “feedback” from your shave.  Basically, this means that you experience some stinging when applying the alum those are areas that have probably shaved too roughly.  It also helps to stop the bleeding from nicks and cuts. 

The stick and base weighed 72 gm on our scale.  The base alone was 5 gm.  So, got a little more alum than the 60 gm listed on the box 
Personally I like using alum (block or stick) as an aftershave.  It provides good feedback for my head shaves and is an indicator if I need to replace my DE Blade or HeadBlade cartridge.  Moreover, I like to use alum on the head because it soothes my scalp without having to apply a splash; which (depending on the aftershave) can make me feel as if I’ve bathed in it. 

The base is a soft plastic that could be cut away and free up about 22 gm of  alum used to secure the stick in place.
I also enjoy using it for my face shaves as well.  My face, particularly my upper lip, craves more of the astringent sting of an aftershave splash .  I’ll do a first post shave pass with the alum, but will follow it up with a splash and potentially an aftershave balm.  Then I’d complete the routine with a moisturizer, preferably one with some SPF protection. Specifically, I like the RazoRock alum stick for travel. The alum sits in a plastic holder and is protected by a plastic cover.   In its case The Alum Stick measures about 3 inches tall and 2.5 inches at the base. So it doesn’t take up a lot of space in my small dop kit. 
My small hoard of RazoRock Alum sticks

As far as the weight goes, the package notes 60g. But I wasn’t sure if the usable alum was 60 grams or if the entire stick was 60 grams. After weighing, it appeared as if the alum stick and the plastic base weighed 71 grams (on our scale), and the plastic base weighed 5 grams. So, the entire stick of alum weighed 66 grams. There is product in the plastic base to secure it in place. I’ve seen photos of people breaking it apart to get at the remaining alum, but I prefer cutting the base with a pair of small scissors. What was left was a 22 gram alum block that can be used for a few more shaves. I have a small hoard of RazoRock Alum Sticks because since discovering alum, I use it quite regularly in the routine. 

Overall, I really like it. The alum stick is a nice, compact, post shave that soothe my skin after a shave and it doesn’t leave any residual odor that could mix oddly with my aftershaves.  Are you a fan of Alum in your shave routine? Please leave a comment below and let us know.

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