What Is a Shaving Scuttle & How to Use One

Used originally in the late 19th century by barbers to provide a hot shave for clientele, a traditional shaving scuttle is a wet shave accessory that resembles a tall gravy pourer with an extra top compartment. Not to be confused with a standard shaving mug or shaving bowl, a shaving scuttle is distinct in that it is made with a separate area to hold hot water.

a shaving scuttle bowl and a brush

Shaving Scuttle – Origins

As it became more popular in local barbershops, traditional shavers bought their own scuttles to use at home. The original shaving scuttle was convenient because it kept the shaving cream warm during the shave. However, the scuttle was soon modified so that traditional shavers could use it to mix and heat the shaving cream as they lathered their faces.

The scuttle’s unique design allows it to safely store hot water for dampening the shaving brush, precisely warming the brush and shaving soap, and easily storing the shaving brush while shaving. A shaving scuttle comes in two sizes: small and large. The upper part of the bowl holds the shaving soap or cream, and the bottom part is a basin that stores the hot water. Vintage scuttles were intricately decorated, but most modern scuttles have fewer ornaments.

How Does a Shaving Scuttle Work?

A shaving scuttle works by heat transference. The first law of thermodynamics is at work here as heat from the hot water stored in the bottom of the basin warms the metal or porcelain scuttle. The heat travels to the upper part of the scuttle and causes the shaving cream or soap inside the bowl to warm up. Once the shaving cream or soap begins to liquefy, a shaver slowly adds warm water to the substance to create a warm, rich lather.

Shaving Scuttle – Nowadays

Today, shavers who desire a traditional wet shave can purchase scuttles from online stores, such as eBay. Shaving scuttle prices range from $7.99 to over $100.00. Since scuttles are making a comeback among traditional shavers, popular shaving accessory companies have started to primarily sell scuttles from three designers: Moss, Georgetown, and the Dirty Bird shaving scuttles.

Each of these modern scuttles maintains the original form and function of vintage scuttles while adding a distinct variation that improves upon the original shaving scuttle design.

Using a shaving scuttle will change a traditional shaver’s way of shaving. According to Dr. Chris Moss, inventor of the Moss scuttle, the following steps will keep the shaving cream lather hot during a shave and enhance the overall shaving experience.

10 Easy Steps on How to Use a Shaving Scuttle

two shaving scuttle bowls placed one into the other

Step 1: Fill Shaving Scuttle Bowls with Hot Water

Fill the interior compartment of the upper bowl and outer compartment of the scuttle with hot water. This water can be hot tap water or boiled water that has cooled enough so that it does not scald.

Step 2: Set the Lather Brush in the Upper Bowl

Sit the dry lather brush in the upper bowl of hot water for three minutes. This allows the bloom of the brush to soften and provides a few minutes for the scuttle to warm-up. While waiting, you can set up your shaving area to include the shaving cream, a razor, a dry cloth, and a damp cloth.

Step 3: Empty the Water Bowl

Remove the lather brush and shake off excess water then empty both compartments of water. Make sure to place the lather brush on a clean cloth as to not contaminate the bloom.

Step 4: Pour More Hot Water

Refill the interior compartment of the upper bowl with fresh hot water.

Step 5: Add Shaving Cream

Squeeze a little shaving cream on the end of bloom or in the upper bowl. The amount of shaving cream needed depends on the size of scuttle, the size of the lather brush, and the type of shaving cream. Typically, a fingertip of shaving cream is sufficient to create a rich lather. However, it is suggested that shavers experiment with how much cream is needed to create the lather desired.

Step 6: Start Building the Lather

a small modern shaving scuttle

Use the tip of the lathering brush to mix the shaving cream in hot water. To build up a hot foam, shavers should use small, controlled circular motions. Adding a few drops of hot water will help the lather build faster.

Step 7: Lather Up!

Once the foam has built up, take the lather brush and apply it on your face. The trick is to make sure the lather and the brush stay warm between applications. The time that elapses between shaving and lathering the bloom is called “a pass.” Dr. Moss suggests for shavers to sit the brush back in the upper compartment of the scuttle and press down, allowing the brush and scuttle to touch as much as possible between passes.

Tip: The shaving scuttle should have the shaving cream foam nice and warm by now because metals and porcelain are great heat conductors. This heat will also transfer to the bloom’s bristles once the lathering brush is placed back in its holding place.

Step 8: Time to Shave

This is the fun part! Take your razor and begin to shave. Once you have completed your initial shaving strokes, pick up the lathering brush that has been resting in the upper compartment of the shaving scuttle and apply more hot lather to your face.

Tip: Some shavers use a damp cloth to wipe the excess foam from their faces before re-lathering and a dry cloth to clean the razor of hair and cream residue.

Step 9: Repeat Steps

From step seven, shavers can continue as many passes as needed to achieve the perfect shave.

Step 10: Cleanup

Once you are satisfied with your shave, rinse your face. Empty the scuttle of the remaining water and lather then clean the razor, brush, and scuttle.

Let’s Recap

Shaving with a scuttle can be a great experience for any traditional wet shaver who enjoys a warm lather. While each shaver’s grooming needs vary, there is a shaving scuttle that is made for even the pickiest shaver. Generally speaking, the described steps and tips mentioned will help shavers achieve their perfect shave because all shaving scuttles have the same function.

They are made to keep the water and shaving cream lather warm during a shave. To find the right scuttle for your perfect shave, conduct an online search of the words “shaving scuttles for sale” to populate listings of unique or handmade shaving scuttles.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3

You may also like...