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Alum Blocks: how do you know when to replace it?

Purchased my first alum block about a year ago (Maggard). It's been used approx. 2X/week. It doesn't seem to be shrinking but it's developed a "hollow" on the inside. I carefully dry the block after each use and let it sit out in the open air to dry completely.

How do you know when an alum block needs to be replaced?
 
Alum doesn't wear out. It just gradually wears away with use. I think a lot of alum blocks get replaced when they are dropped to the floor and shatter.

There are also alum sticks available. These are convenient to use since they have a handle to hold on to and have a travel case.

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as someone that used to swear by an alum block, I really no longer need or use one, as a matter of fact I don't even have one at this given moment, however I can tell you that they just start to either crumble, or wear away as mentioned, then plus on top of that, they get dropped and pieces start to break off. The only alum block I have seen that doesn't have those issues is the Osma blocks, but they are somewhat pricey.

I have used the sticks before, the Razor Rock one to be exact, and I really like the performance and the results, I would maybe consider getting one again sometime in the future, however at this time, it's just something I don't need.
 
I have been using mine for 8 month a cheepo from amazon or ebay ... getting harder to use as the alum has disolved over time, but the 2 chipped corner are really the problem plowing into my skin in an unpleasant matter. I guess I'll do my french heritage some honor and get an osma block next
 
I've used an alum block after every shave for over a year (I don't remember when I got it). I only just noticed that it has shrunk a bit from its original size. I don't worry too much about it as I bought it for $2 at my local Indian market. I've even dropped it on the ground a couple times and it's only barely lost some small chips. (I just rub the rough surfaces against my granite countertop to smooth them out a bit before reusing.)

You likely have years to go before having to replace your alum block.
 
I have been using mine for 8 month a cheepo from amazon or ebay ... getting harder to use as the alum has disolved over time, but the 2 chipped corner are really the problem plowing into my skin in an unpleasant matter. I guess I'll do my french heritage some honor and get an osma block next
I had an alum block which was chipped in such a way and I simply smoothed off the rough edges using a nail file or emery board. I don't find alum beneficial in my shave routine so these days I use it as a deodorant,. I will not replace it when it is used up - in about ten years time.
 
The only alum block I have seen that doesn't have those issues is the Osma blocks, but they are somewhat pricey.
They can still get dropped on the floor or the sink :sob:
But they are definitely a solid block, no little hollow caverns inside.

You likely have years to go before having to replace your alum block.
I must use a lot. I bought a 2 pack of Osma blocks from Amazon 6 months ago. Still on my first block. It's about half the original size. If I hadn't dropped it I estimate it would have lasted me about 1 year of daily use.

...smoothed off the rough edges using a nail file or emery board.
:clap:
 
I had an alum block which was chipped in such a way and I simply smoothed off the rough edges using a nail file or emery board. I don't find alum beneficial in my shave routine so these days I use it as a deodorant,. I will not replace it when it is used up - in about ten years time.
yeah I have been thinking of doing some corner smoothing work on my 1000 knife sharping stone
 
In my experience there are two distinct types of alum block.

This is a pic of the more common, and less expensive, variety. This type is made of compressed alum powder. These blocks have a consistent milky white appearance throughout. These blocks disintegrate in a granular sort of fashion, for lack of a better way to put it, because that's what they are. To use an analogy, think "particle board":

Alum Block 1.jpg

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Osma alum blocks, and a few others, are more expensive but that's because they're one solid piece of alum cut from a larger stone. They have a sort of "wood grain" to them, a sort of marble-esque look and are somewhat translucent. These types of block take on a very smooth, glassy appearance and feel after a few uses. Keeping to my previous analogy, think 2x4:

Osma Alum Block.jpeg


This is probably a good time to start thinking about a replacement:
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Used Alum Block.JPG
 
Got a cheap alum block off eBay. It does the job. Should it disintegrate I'll just buy another one.
Just a curiosity question; on average how long do alum blocks last anyway?

Jason.
 
Got a cheap alum block off eBay. It does the job. Should it disintegrate I'll just buy another one.
Just a curiosity question; on average how long do alum blocks last anyway?

Jason.
It's somewhat like car tires. I know people that get 40,000 miles on them. Then there are people who could completely wreck them in a weekend.
 
Got a cheap alum block off eBay. It does the job. Should it disintegrate I'll just buy another one.
Just a curiosity question; on average how long do alum blocks last anyway?

Jason.
I have an Osma block I got when I first started wet shaving and for several months used it daily. I don't use it very often any more but, on occasion, I'll pull it out. For all intents and purposes it still looks brand new. Maybe a little shinier than when I got it. Barring any unfortunate accidents, I don't anticipate needing to replace it during my lifetime.

The OP mentioned a "hollow", or cavity, forming in their block which is a complaint I have read about before with regard to "poured" alum blocks. This is what it looks like when that starts to happen:
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Alum Block Cavity.jpg
 
I have an Osma block I got when I first started wet shaving and for several months used it daily. I don't use it very often any more but, on occasion, I'll pull it out. For all intents and purposes it still looks brand new. Maybe a little shinier than when I got it.

The OP mentioned a "hollow", or cavity, forming in their block which is a complaint I have read about before with regard to "poured" alum blocks. This is what it looks like when that starts to happen:
.....
View attachment 1342252
Ahh I see. I am really not bothered about how the alum block is made as long as it does the job. The cheap one I got off eBay does a really good job for its cheap price so should it 'fade away' I'll simply buy another one. No problem at all.

Jason.
 
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