Where to Buy Chromium Oxide:
CrOx is widely available in a variety of forms. Knife-making, honing, and straight razor sites are a sure bet, and have the most options. If you're looking to save a buck (let's face it: who isn't?), you can find generic versions at most hardware stores, though some will dispute the purity of these options. We purchased our three-pound brick of "Knifemaker's Green Rouge" from knifemaking.com for $12.95 and it does the job. You will never use three pounds of CrOx, unless you start painting your face with it every day (which I invite you to try; don't forget to take pictures and tag us on instagram)!
When to Paste:
Knowing whether your razor can benefit from a pasted strop is tricky. Maybe you've noticed a tugging or roughness while shaving, or maybe your razor isn't popping hairs the way it used to. Whatever your test, when there is a noticeable change in performance that isn't corrected by casual stropping, then it's time to paste.
We use our Chromium Oxide pasted strop every day just on the razors we manufacture. It gets a lot more use than the casual shaver ever will, and we still only need to reapply paste every couple of months, using the strop a dozen times every week. You will likely only need to paste your strop once.
Where to Paste:
Stropping on a pasted surface shouldn’t be part of your daily shave routine. The idea is to create a more abrasive surface than your normal strop, so we recommend pasting on the prep side and not the leather side; it generally holds the CrOx better, distributes it evenly over time, and has worked well for us for years. Apply CrOx right in the middle of your strop where it gets the most traffic, but consider the following:
- If you have multiple strops, you can simply decide which strop will be your pasted strop and use it only when your blade needs a few restorative passes.
- If you have just one strop, the ideal placement is on the reverse of your prep side.
- If your strop is a one-piece hanging strop like Dovo’s small cowhide/linen strop, this may not be possible without seriously modifying the strop.
- On the other hand, two-piece hanging strops like ours give easy access to multiple stropping surfaces (ours also have interchangeable components with screws instead of rivets). With these, you can just flip your prep side over, secure the leather side out of the way, and paste away. Depending on how you’ve anchored your strop, this can be a little harder to do in practice but is much cheaper than buying a second strop.
How Much Paste:
A quarter-sized portion of CrOx will do the trick. Rub the chalky stuff directly into the center of your strop and spread it with gradually increasing circles. Normal stropping will spread it more evenly over time. If you like it less chalky and prefer a more pasty consistency, add a few drops of mineral or neatsfoot oil and mix them beforehand. Apply the oily slurry evenly to your strop and let dry, wiping off excess oil with a clean cloth. There are also some nice CrOx sprays out there. Just shake, spray, let dry overnight, and strop!
Stropping With Paste:
10-20 passes on a pasted strop is more than enough for a quick touch-up. You can visually check the bevel for even distribution by looking for a characteristic fogginess where the paste is working. Go to your normal prep side for a standard 30-40 passes to smooth it out and remove excess paste, and then your leather for 40-60 passes for the extra 10%!
Pasting your strop helps keeps the honemeister away. Your stropping technique should be somewhere between ‘competent shaver’ and ‘razor-wielding ninja’ before you worry too much about going out and buying Chromium Oxide. It makes good stropping better when used in moderation and bad stropping much, much worse. If your razor isn't cutting hairs at all, no amount of pasted stropping will save you and it's time for honing.
Help us keep new shavers on the cutting edge! What are YOUR best tips for pasted stropping?