What's a Shaving Scuttle? And How do I Use One?
The Scuttlebutt on One of Shaving's Lesser Known Tools
Back in the old days....
Before there was that miraculous cylinder in your garage or basement known as a hot water heater, having a steamy bath or a well prepped shave was a process. Tubs and basins were filled from boiling kettles on the fireplace or potbellied stove. The shaving scuttle was invented in the 19th century to remedy the need for hot shaving lather. Lucky for you, this antiquated device still helps deliver a top quality shave.
But what is it?
Essentially a scuttle is a shaving mug that has space around it to hold hot water. Think of it as a mug inside of a mug. You fill the outer chamber with boiling water and place your shave soap or cream in the inner chamber. The heat from the surrounding water keeps the lather nice and warm. The inner bowl of many scuttles have ridges or concentric rings that hold water and aid in building a world class lather.
Why would I want one?
One of the keys to a great shave is softening the coarse facial hairs so the razor can glide smoothly across your face. Razor burn and nicks are most commonly caused by razor drag due to tough hair and thin lather. Hot water, along with a good pre-shave oil is crucial to decreasing razor drag. Adding heated lather to your routine will dramatically improve the quality of your shave. Plus you want to prep your shave brush properly by soaking it in hot water before you start the lathering process. Scuttles have a convenient hole in the top that allows your shave brush to rest in the hot water.
Another key to that elusive “baby’s butt smooth” shave is thick, quality lather. Building a good creamy lather is more art than science and one of the main ways that is done is with hot water. Without a scuttle you have to put a few drops of hot water in your shave bowl and take your brush that has been soaking in the sink and make your lather. The problem with this method is that by the time you start your second pass, the bowl and the lather has cooled. The insulated scuttle will keep your lather nice and warm for the duration of your shave.
Where to find one?
Scuttles are as varied and unique as their owners. You can buy them from large retailers that sell shaving gear and you can find antique models on ebay and other sites. I like to support local artists, so I found a handmade pottery scuttle on Etsy. Look around, finding the right one for you is as much a part of the fun as using one.
If you are considering a scuttle, you my friend have already gone down the rabbit hole of artisan shaving. You no doubt have scrolled through endless pages of information on razors, creams, and brushes. You likely have the beginnings of a respectable shave den growing around your sink and you are steadily gaining the ire of your significate other for devoting so much time and money to “just shaving your face.” If this is you, then you need a scuttle. You are the type to appreciate the difference a hot, rich lather can make in your morning shave. Go for it!