Ice scissors are the best type of shears to cut with. Some skeptics do not believe that ice tempering steel produces a better blade but, as we will show you, they are dead wrong. The best shears are always ice tempered to ensure that the blade stays sharp for the longest time possible. Tempering gives the steel added properties without increasing the production cost.
What is Ice Tempered Steel?
Steel can be made of carbon or stainless steel. Carbon steel is harder, would stay sharp longer, and is brittle. Stainless steel resists rust more than carbon steel but dulls faster. The difference between carbon steel and stainless steel is that chromium is added to stainless steel to prevent free radicals (oxygen) from bonding with the iron.
In addition to changing the composition of the alloy, steel can be further hardened with tempering. Tempering is the manipulation of steel temperatures after it has been forged to give it additional properties. Ice-tempered steel means that the steel has been cooled anywhere between 10ºF and -150ºF. The extremely low temperatures would optimize the atomic alignment of the steel to give long lasting sharpness. Ice-tempered steel is not harder than non-ice tempered steel–it just dulls slower. It could be described as the steel being “optimized” in its chemical structure (by cooling it rapidly during the hardening process to 120 degrees below zero). I know that can sound confusing, but you’ll have to trust me on this. It’s not “harder” steel as much as it’s “optimized and efficient” steel.
If you care to know a bit more about ice-tempering, read on!
Often, the term “ice” is bantered around very liberally when referring to steel treatment processes and sometimes it seems like a cruel joke. You see, some descriptions of scissors claim they are “ice-tempered” even though they are carbon steel. Technically speaking, that does not actually make sense. Ice-tempering is only valid and helpful on stainless steel.
In case you still care, stainless steel is basically regular steel with lots of chromium added, and that just makes the steel more resistant to the rusting process. The problem is that the more chromium you put into a steel, the quicker the edges dull. That’s where “ice-tempering” comes in. The steel is brought to a very low temperature, and that essentially gives the steel is “hardness-holding” properties.
Further, in order to make steel hard, it has to be treated with high heat. For stainless steel, that means bringing the temperature of the steel to over 2000ºF. Once the temperature reaches that mark, the structure of the material is at its peak or target structure (don’t ask me who figured that out exactly and how they did it!). The only way to effectively preserve the achieved structure is to turn it very cold, very quickly, and then tempered at around 450ºF. If you do that properly, then you are left with a good hardness and flexibility, but you still have the problem with the chromium not allowing for a long-lasting cutting edge.
In order to make a longer-lasting cutting edge, the steel is then blasted with a deep freeze of around -120ºF. That’s what the “ice-tempering” means. The steel is not effectively “harder”, but the steel structure is at its optimum (or optimized). Another quirk in the process is that it’s not really possible to determine if a steel was in fact ice-tempered without a steel analysis (which normal folks like you or I) would never do. I guess the only other way to prove ice-tempering is to see how long your shears last before they get dull! Happy cutting!
Top Ice Tempered Scissors Overview
As many of you know, Solingen, Germany produces some of the best cutting implements on earth. That fact is without dispute. If the statement, “you get what you pay for” has any truth at all, then you’re getting the absolute best quality scissors, but also at an affordable price. What that means is that you can get a lesser pair of scissors with some level of tempering for close to $10 while this pair is pushing the $40 level. However, for $40 you’re getting a pair for life!
This pair of scissors by Fisher includes a removable finger rest and also comfort inserts for your finger and thumb. The shank itself is rounded to enhance comfort and the micro-serrated blade offers added grip on your cutting material and also an enhanced level of durability. This is actually a professional salon scissor ideal for details. It measures just over 4.5 inches in length.
Like our previous entry on this list, Solingen, Germany is the home of the Burmax Diamond ice-tempered shear. The shear is directly marketed to professional barbers and stylists since it is far more reliable and effective (not to mention longest lasting) shear than many others that are not ice-tempered. Burmax has been around serving the beauty and hair-cutting industry since just after World War 2! Crazy huh? Since 1948, it has catered to wholesale distributors of very high-end cutting tools.
This shear measures 5.5 inches and will last for up to a year of daily use without any sharpening or maintenance.
The feather switchblade shear is a bit of a different animal on our list. Firstly, it hails from another quality steel-producing powerhouse – JAPAN! Then, it is designed with a “switchblade” feature which has nothing to do with the knife often used in gang fights! Switchblade just means that you can easily “switch the blade” with a new set of blades when your old ones get dull. That’s a bit of a weird paradox since ice-tempered scissors remain sharp longer than any other steel given the process by which they were forged.
Still, at some point, your blades will become a bit duller than they were, and when that happens, you don’t need to waste any downtime, or waste money purchasing multiple quality shears just to sit and wait as a backup. With switchblade shears, you just remove the dull blades and replace them with a brand new pair!
If you are looking for a great, well-rounded ice scissor, check out the German-made Burmax shears. My stylist lives by it and, if you want to be a great stylist like him, get a pair of Burmax shears. They have an understated elegance I really like, but then, so do the Golden Supercuts and the Feather shears. The Burmax is great for anyone new to cutting hair and is very well priced for beginners. In fact, Burmax distributes to beauty schools worldwide! If you often cut rough and product soaked hair, give the Feather Switchblade a look. It cuts very well and will save your good shears from damage. Replacement blades are available HERE.
Article References: PrecisionSharpening.net 2020