09-03-2013, 05:39 AM
#1
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I want to try an open comb razor; I have a thin but full beard with sensitive skin.

What should I look for in an open comb razor and what would you recommend I buy?

Thanks!

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 09-03-2013, 06:10 AM
#2
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Hi - just like straight bars, open combs can run the gamut. I've never tried them personally, but from what I've read, Gillette OC TTOs like Aristocrats and Sheratons are mild. The Merkur OCs (11C and whatever replaced it) are also mild. But open combs like the FaTip and Joris are super-aggressive, just a notch below the infamous Muhle R41.

My personal favorite razor overall is the iKon open comb deluxe, which I believe is based off of the Gillette NEW short-comb model. I find it to be right in the middle on the aggressiveness scale.

Also, I don't think that open combs should be looked at as being separate and distinct, shaving-wise, than a straight bar. In fact, open combs were pretty much the only style someone could get for a long time and the straight bar came about because it was cheaper to manufacture.

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 09-03-2013, 06:22 AM
#3
  • ischiapp
  • Senior Member
  • Ischia, Naples, Italy
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Before you go on aggressive razor ... maybe is better you have a good technique.
Then, IMHO, Ikon Slant is THE choice !!
As open-comb i like Merkur 15C, Gillette NEW (vintage Tongue )
BTW look at http://shavenook.com/thread-what-is-your...comb-razor

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 09-03-2013, 07:23 AM
#4
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It's often said that Open Combs are more aggressive... that is IMHO a lie. They are less forgiving of faulty technique, that is true, but aggressiveness is governed by the same factors as in a closed comb razor: Blade angle and blade gap.

The Merkur Open Comb - like on the 25C and 985CL - head is pretty mild, but efficient. The Cadet Open Combs are even more efficient, but liable to bite if you get the angle or (lack of) pressure wrong. For what it's worth I like both, and find my Merkur Slant to be more 'nippy' than either...

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 09-03-2013, 07:52 AM
#5
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IMHO I noticed that OC is great for problem hairs that a str8 bar just cant grab, without overshaving and therefore causing irritation. I loved trying the vintage Gillette's because they were very affordable and if I actually loved the head I could take the plunge and have it/them replated. For me the Merkur 11C had a great handle and set up but just wasnt agrressive enough, even with adding shims. then it became a chore to play with the shims

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 09-03-2013, 08:00 AM
#6
  • dcc
  • Polsilver Vendor
  • EU
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Merkur 15c is good choice

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 09-03-2013, 10:05 AM
#7
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As others have stated, there are so many choices. From some of the most mild such as the Merkur OCs to the Muhle R41 (hybrid open comb). You really just need to try one to see what you think. i would try to get a Gillette Old Type for a cheap price at a flea market or second-hand store to experiment with to see if you like OCs. Good luck.

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 09-03-2013, 10:49 AM
#8
  • bjorney
  • Senior Member
  • Los Angeles
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(09-03-2013, 10:05 AM)celestino Wrote: As others have stated, there are so many choices. From some of the most mild such as the Merkur OCs to the Muhle R41 (hybrid open comb). You really just need to try one to see what you think. i would try to get a Gillette Old Type for a cheap price at a flea market or second-hand store to experiment with to see if you like OCs. Good luck.
Or a Gillette NEW, they are very readily available on Ebay and are
a nice gateway into OC shaving.

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 09-03-2013, 11:09 AM
#9
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Often one can obtain a razor at low cost just by placing a WTB ad on the forum (which can be done once you have 45 posts).

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 09-03-2013, 01:02 PM
#10
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I agree with Celestino. There are so many options, but I think it's best to work towards certain options, rather than just jumping right in.

I went from my Merkur HD > EJ89 > Single Edge > Merkur OC > Slant > FaTip > R41.

I found that the Merkur OC was too mild for my face, and the vintage single edge razors where just not for me. The EJ was nice, but ended up with my Dad.

I love my R41, and only use it if I some major growth. I don't need to shave for 2 days after using it.

I regret selling off my Italian FaTip, and my Slant(s) are used daily.

Experiment and have fun.

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 09-03-2013, 03:07 PM
#11
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Summarizing what most of you have said, would it be fair to conclude that the safety bar is optimal for a person's first DE razor?

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 09-03-2013, 04:06 PM
#12
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(09-03-2013, 03:07 PM)asharperrazor Wrote: Summarizing what most of you have said, would it be fair to conclude that the safety bar is optimal for a person's first DE razor?

* Lee, not necessarily. They could easily get on well with most OCs depending on the individual. Having said that, i would have to say that a safety-bar (closed-comb) DE would probably be the best option for a newbie to allow for an easier way to start the journey.

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 09-03-2013, 04:34 PM
#13
  • vferdman
  • Artisan
  • Western Massachusetts
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(09-03-2013, 05:39 AM)Starkicker Wrote: I want to try an open comb razor; I have a thin but full beard with sensitive skin.

What should I look for in an open comb razor and what would you recommend I buy?

Thanks!

I think a little more information would help to guide you. Are you using a DE now? Have you been using DEs? How long? What is the reason for wanting to try an OC? Just for fun or is there a particular issue you are trying to solve?

In general, I will add to most people's opinion that OC razors in and of themselves are not all that different from solid bar DEs in principle. However in practice many modern OC razors are made to be on the aggressive side. Not, all, but many. Modern Merkur OC is an extremely mild raozr. So much so that for me it was impossible to use (for shaving, that is, it was beautiful to look at). Vintage Gillette OCs are very good and very moderate in aggressiveness. Those are New, New Improved, New Deluxe and Old. Old was a prototype for the modern Merkur OC, but is a bit more aggressive. Still very mild and I could not use it because of that. If you are shaving with what is considered a "first DE" such as Merkur safety bar or EJ, then you can most definitely try a vintage Gillette OC. I would recommend a New Improved or New (there are two versions: long comb and short comb. I prefer the long comb. They shave differently, but both are moderately aggressive). As was pointed out New Deluxe, which is pretty much a New with slightly heavier head was an inspiration for Ikon SS OC. I recently bought a Gillette New Deluxe and can attest that it shaves a lot like New long comb, which is to say beautifully.

If you are a bit more advanced and want to test the waters of a slightly more aggressive OC than a vintage Gillette, then there is no better place to start than RazoRock/Cadet OC head on your choice of handle (handles they come with are excellent, but a heavy bulldog handle makes them even better). These are made in India razors sold by Italian Barber under RazoRock brand and many others under Cadet brand. They are inexpensive and outstanding medium-aggressive shavers. I really enjoy mine.

So, here's the break down of OCs in order of aggressiveness:

Modern Merkur OC - the mildest razor I have tried. I think Gillette Tech is more aggressive.

Gillette Old - pretty mild, but a bit more efficient than the Merkur

Gillette New Improved - fairly mild feel with potentially good bite if the pressure is not maintained at a minimum (or zero)

Gillette New long comb/Deluxe - excellent shaver and a good choice for a first OC experience

Gillette New short comb - very similar to long comb, but for me a little rougher shaver. This is in a YMMV category. Most folks love it and it's another great choice for a first OC.

RazoRock/Cadet OC - Extrememly good shaver, but a bit more bite than the above. Very affordable and a good way to step it up a notch with aggressiveness.

Fatip/Joris OC - this Italian head is similar in design style to the RazoRock/Cadet, but is a very different animal. Pretty aggressive, but if mastered produces wonderful close shaves.

2011/2013 Muhle R41 - this is the most aggressive OC DE I know of and have tried. The 2013 version is somewhat mellower, but only in feel. The aggressiveness is the same. This thing was too much for me. I shaved with both versions and got okay shaves, but they were not comfortable and not all that close. I was able to get a closer shave with a RazoRock/Cadet OC. Probably my technique, but I just did not feel like I was having fun anymore with these puppies.

There are others and lots of them are foreign vintage which I have not tried, but the most commonly available choices are right there.

Good luck and keep us in the loop on what you decide.

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 09-03-2013, 07:14 PM
#14
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Wow, thanks for all the advice.

I still consider myself a newbie; I've been shaving for a few months now and am currently using a EJ86. I had started with a RazoRock TTO which came with the starter kit I bought but it was far too aggressive for me; it felt like it tore a strip off me every time I used it.

I then did some research and bought a EJ86. I'm still trying to get my technique down, its still hit or miss as to how good my shave is. When I started, the AD kicked in and overbought on soaps/creams, brushes, etc. I never really had RAD until I saw some of the SS offerings. I like the pieces from ATT, but they are beyond my budget. I'm leaning towards getting a Weber to replace the EJ86 and then getting an OC baseplate or OC head of some sort.

I'm trying to pare down and embrace my inner minimalist, but there is far too much stuff out there that I'd like to try.

That said, I have sensitive skin and I typically shave every 3 days. I'd like to be able to shave every day; I've read that you can "train" or condition your skin to not be so sensitive and have it stand up to daily shaves. I'm not there yet.

I saw some pictures of replated NEWs I think and I really liked them. I had always assumed that OCs weren't for newbies so I never paid them any attention but I'd really like to try one to see what it's like. Your advice has been extremely helpful; now at least when I'm on ebay I have an idea of what i'm bidding on.

Again, many thanks for all the advice.

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 09-04-2013, 07:05 AM
#15
  • vferdman
  • Artisan
  • Western Massachusetts
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(09-03-2013, 07:14 PM)Starkicker Wrote: Wow, thanks for all the advice.

I still consider myself a newbie; I've been shaving for a few months now and am currently using a EJ86. I had started with a RazoRock TTO which came with the starter kit I bought but it was far too aggressive for me; it felt like it tore a strip off me every time I used it.

I then did some research and bought a EJ86. I'm still trying to get my technique down, its still hit or miss as to how good my shave is. When I started, the AD kicked in and overbought on soaps/creams, brushes, etc. I never really had RAD until I saw some of the SS offerings. I like the pieces from ATT, but they are beyond my budget. I'm leaning towards getting a Weber to replace the EJ86 and then getting an OC baseplate or OC head of some sort.

I'm trying to pare down and embrace my inner minimalist, but there is far too much stuff out there that I'd like to try.

That said, I have sensitive skin and I typically shave every 3 days. I'd like to be able to shave every day; I've read that you can "train" or condition your skin to not be so sensitive and have it stand up to daily shaves. I'm not there yet.

I saw some pictures of replated NEWs I think and I really liked them. I had always assumed that OCs weren't for newbies so I never paid them any attention but I'd really like to try one to see what it's like. Your advice has been extremely helpful; now at least when I'm on ebay I have an idea of what i'm bidding on.

Again, many thanks for all the advice.

Based on what you've said I can recommend you stay with a single razor for about 50 or more shaves. I know it can be hard and RAD will try to sway you, but trust me, rotating a razor is not a good way to learn DE shaving. They all shave a little differently and your muscle memory will not build up properly if you change things all the time. If you want to try an OC you should go for the Merkur at this point as it is super-mild. However, a mild razor for me only leads to irritation because I keep making more passes to get a close shave. An aggressive razor with proper technique is the easiest on your skin. You do minimum number of passes and you are clean shaven. While you develop the technique and your skin is adjusting to the new shaving method you will do well to keep as many things constant as possible. It's hard, I know, but you have lots of variable already at the beginning. Your technique is in constant state of flux, your skin is adjusting and your beard is also adjusting, so it is not constant. I do not recommend varying the razor at this point. It would be great of you could find a razor and blade combination that felt good to you and just stick with it. I think your current razor, EJ DE86 (same as DE89 head? I think so. I am familiar with DE89 as it was my first DE) is just about perfect for learning and probably beyond. For may it is the only razor they ever use. For me it became too mild after a while of DE shaving. I still have mine and I think it's a super razor, but I rarely use it anymore. I actually think there is a much better first razor alternative. It is not open comb, but rather a Merkur Progress. It's adjustable and people caution against adjustables as a beginner razor, but in case of Progress I think it is a perfect first/beginner razor. In fact, for me it is the end of the line in DE shaving. It is perfect and it is flexible. I do not recommend fiddling with adjustments at all at first. Just find a setting that is comfortable and stay with it for a month or more. A setting of 2.5 - 3 is roughly equivalent to your EJ and Progress just shaves so well! I think the head design on it is superior to most DEs out there. It's a great razor and is the one that can stay with you for ever since it can be adjusted as your technique matures. I set mine to about 3.5 - 4 now and it never fails to give me the closest, most comfortable shaves. It also gets along with pretty much every blade I loaded in it.

So, my updated recommendation is do not buy any other razor and just stick it out through the learning curve on the DE86 you have. It's a great tool and you should be able to advance on it with no problems. Choose a fairly sharp blade for it like Astra SP or Personna Super (US made, aka lab or med prep. Can be had on ebay for $13/100 - great blades, very sharp) or something like that. Using a sharp blade will train you to use a light touch. A mild blade will train you to force things and that's not good. Use a very light touch. You basically want to hear the razor, but almost not feel it on your skin. It's a magic place where you are cutting at skin level, but not into the skin layers. You'll know you got it when you have little to no sting on the aftershave or alum or whatever you use and still have a smooth face. That's perfection and that's something to strive for. There are many blades out there, but beginners always start with mild ones and I think that's a mistake. Start with a sharp blade in your fairly mild razor and if you get cut or irritated adjust the technique. Using a mild blade to compensate for poor technique at the beginning will only make you get into bad habits that are hard to break later. Sharp blade will give you feedback instantly if you are too rough. The blade for your type of skin and hair may be a milder one, I don't know, but find the sharpest one you can deal with and not get super irritated. I am of the opinion that the blade can be as sharp as possible in a mild razor and the technique can take care of the rest. Still, a super sharp blade is less forgiving. So keep that in mind. Try a few different blades, settle on one, buy a bunch of them and stick with them for a while. After the learning curve you can go nuts with RAD, RBAD, etc.

Prepare to have cuts and nicks and irritation for the first few weeks. That means you are learning. At some point you will begin to get shaves you will not believe. It will happen if you stick with it. Keep variables at a minimum, be consistent with your routine and be mindful of your touch when you wield that razor around your face.

Welcome to DE wet shaving. I am sure you will eventually get better shaves than with whatever you used prior to this journey (carts, electric?).

Good luck!

Oh, and if RAD really bites, get a Progress. You will not regret it. But don't use it until you feel you are consistent with what you have now.

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 09-04-2013, 07:18 AM
#16
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(09-03-2013, 04:06 PM)celestino Wrote: * Lee, not necessarily. They could easily get on well with most OCs depending on the individual. Having said that, i would have to say that a safety-bar (closed-comb) DE would probably be the best option for a newbie to allow for an easier way to start the journey.

I also think that a closed comb/safety bar razor has the least variance in terms of aggressiveness. The only really aggressive (i.e. for "advanced" users) DEs out there are high-end ones like Above the Tie or iKon.

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 09-04-2013, 08:15 AM
#17
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Would you guys recommend sticking to one kind of soap as well? I've spent far more than I anticipated getting samples of various soaps/creams and i'm the type of person who saves the stuff I like the best until the last but i'm always tempted to get something new so my stockpile (for me) is quite large and ever growing.

I got a sample of Pre de Provence; I love the scent and my first shave was really nice but i've used it twice since and my shaves haven't been as good and far more bloody. I'm tempted to pick up a tin of it but I don't want to buy more of something that doesn't work well for me. I get the impression that I'm trying to make myself like it more than my face actually does.

So far, the soap that's worked the best for me has been MWF. No matter what soap I initially use, I ultimately end up finishing my shave with MWF; usually because the other soap's lather breaks down and/or my face feels like it's on fire and MWF I find is very soothing. I tend to use after shave balms as opposed to splashes; mainly because I find the splashes messy. The only balms I have are Real Shaving Co because it's available locally and Institute Karite. I want to get some more but there are so many products out there that it becomes confusing.

I bought a blade sampler and have a Personna (blue) blade. I tried using it today and while it wasn't painful or irritating, it did leave my face very bloody. I've found that Sharks Super Chrome have worked the best for me, but they've apparently stopped making the ones that came in the white and blue wrapping; I've tried the newer ones that come in the yellow and red wrapping and it's just not the same. But i've only used 5 kinds of blades so far (Derby, which worked well but I had to make a few extra passes to get nice and close, Shark Stainless, Shark Chrome, Astra SP, Personna). I've found the Astra to have a little more irritation/burn compared to the Personna and the Shark SS are slightly better than the Derby but below the Shark Chrome in terms of comfort. When I shaved with the Chromes, I didn't even feel the need to use any after shave balm.

I was planning on picking up a box of Personnas since I can't get the white/blue Shark Chromes any more; would you still recommend Personnas or is there another brand that would work better?

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 09-04-2013, 08:17 AM
#18
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Safetybar - Bike with Training Wheels

Open Comb - Bike

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 09-04-2013, 08:48 AM
#19
  • bjorney
  • Senior Member
  • Los Angeles
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(09-04-2013, 08:15 AM)Starkicker Wrote: I was planning on picking up a box of Personnas since I can't get the white/blue Shark Chromes any more; would you still recommend Personnas or is there another brand that would work better?
You are asking for a "Holy War" of opinions... Smile
Blades are probably the most subjective part of the kit.

That said... I would recommend trying DORCOs if you want a smooth blade, Rapira for a sharper, but still smooth blade and any of the St. Petersburg blades (Astra, Perma-Sharp, Polsilver, Gillette Yellow etc.) for sharper still. Then there's Feather, the sharpest of the bunch, but stay alert with them!

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 09-04-2013, 05:34 PM
#20
  • vferdman
  • Artisan
  • Western Massachusetts
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(09-04-2013, 08:17 AM)olblueyez Wrote: Safetybar - Bike with Training Wheels

Open Comb - Bike

I would have to respectfully disagree with this analogy. It just does not hold up. First of all, there are plenty of OC razors that can be trainer razors. Merkur OC, vintage Gillettes, for example. Second, there are plenty of SB razors that should be avoided by beginners. Tradere, Ikon, ATT all have SB versions that are very aggressive.

I would more accurately say:

Safety Bar DE - hard top car

Open Comb DE - convertible

(09-04-2013, 08:15 AM)Starkicker Wrote: Would you guys recommend sticking to one kind of soap as well? I've spent far more than I anticipated getting samples of various soaps/creams and i'm the type of person who saves the stuff I like the best until the last but i'm always tempted to get something new so my stockpile (for me) is quite large and ever growing.

I got a sample of Pre de Provence; I love the scent and my first shave was really nice but i've used it twice since and my shaves haven't been as good and far more bloody. I'm tempted to pick up a tin of it but I don't want to buy more of something that doesn't work well for me. I get the impression that I'm trying to make myself like it more than my face actually does.

So far, the soap that's worked the best for me has been MWF. No matter what soap I initially use, I ultimately end up finishing my shave with MWF; usually because the other soap's lather breaks down and/or my face feels like it's on fire and MWF I find is very soothing. I tend to use after shave balms as opposed to splashes; mainly because I find the splashes messy. The only balms I have are Real Shaving Co because it's available locally and Institute Karite. I want to get some more but there are so many products out there that it becomes confusing.

I bought a blade sampler and have a Personna (blue) blade. I tried using it today and while it wasn't painful or irritating, it did leave my face very bloody. I've found that Sharks Super Chrome have worked the best for me, but they've apparently stopped making the ones that came in the white and blue wrapping; I've tried the newer ones that come in the yellow and red wrapping and it's just not the same. But i've only used 5 kinds of blades so far (Derby, which worked well but I had to make a few extra passes to get nice and close, Shark Stainless, Shark Chrome, Astra SP, Personna). I've found the Astra to have a little more irritation/burn compared to the Personna and the Shark SS are slightly better than the Derby but below the Shark Chrome in terms of comfort. When I shaved with the Chromes, I didn't even feel the need to use any after shave balm.

I was planning on picking up a box of Personnas since I can't get the white/blue Shark Chromes any more; would you still recommend Personnas or is there another brand that would work better?

Just stick with stuff that works for you as far as soaps. If MWF works really well for you and is soothing, then use that. If there is another soap that is a sure bet, like Proraso or Cella or something, then use it, otherwise just stick with is guaranteed to work.

Blades, well, it's highly personal (just like everything else in wet shaving Smile ). If a milder blade works better for you then use a milder blade. DORCO is a very good mild blade. I have the ST-300, which are older and I think have been replaced with ST-301, but even my ST-300 blades are super smooth if not all that sharp. Still, they work well if a milder blade is desired. Another pretty decent mild blade is Walmart Wilkinson Sword. They are sold at Walmart for $1.72/dispenser of 10 and are German made. They are okay. I think Merkur blades are actually a bit better, but way overpriced. A really decent blade to try is Rapira. It's fairly mild and pretty smooth. Also Lord Platinum (also from Egypt like Sharks) are really good and fairly mild. Just try a few blades and stick with the one that treats you best. Also, you say you cut yourself up pretty bad. This means no shaving until most of the skin heals up. You knew that, right. If the skin is not healed up it won't matter what blade, razor or soap you use. You'll just keep opening it up. It's the hardest thing at the beginning because you usually damage the skin learning and then you want to improve results, but you go and shave too soon and results are worse than before. It can be frustrating, but give your skin a break after a "bad shave". If you have red spots or scabs, let them heal. They'll heal faster if you put some unrefined shea butter or extra virgin coconut oil overnight after washing with soap and water. Don't ask me how I know...

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