Should You Use Water When Sharpening a Knife?

One common question is “should I use water when sharpening my knife?” There are a few different schools of thought on this subject, and we’re going to break them down for you so you can make an informed decision about what will work best.

Does water help sharpen a knife?

Water can help to sharpen a knife in two ways. First, water can be used to flush away metal filings and other debris that can dull the blade. Second, the act of sharpening a knife on a water stone can actually help to create a sharper edge.

Dry or wet, natural sharpening stones work well for sharpening knives. However, moist is the preferred method of usage. Cleaning the pores of the stone with water, water-based honing oil, or petroleum-based honing oil enables a smooth sharpening action and dissipates frictional heat.

Before you begin sharpening, soak your water stone for at least five to ten minutes in water. When sharpening, the water acts as a lubricant, making it easier for the particles that are removed from the blade to exit the stone.

Do you need water for whetstone?

Despite the name, “whet” means “to sharpen,” and this stone requires neither oil nor water to operate. Other sharpening stones often have two sides: one coarse side and one fine side.

What should you not do when sharpening a knife?

First, never sharpen your knife on a power-driven grinding wheel. This can damage the temper of your knife, making it more likely to break or chip. Second, don’t use a handheld knife sharpener on a very dull knife; you could end up putting too much pressure on the blade and causing it to snap.

Third, belt-sharpening knives is not recommended. Using a belt grinder to sharpen the blade can cause the blade to heat up and alter the molecular structure of the steel.

Can you use water instead of honing oil?

Yes, water may be used in place of honing oil. You may use your honing stone dry or wet, as previously suggested. You must apply a lubricant to preserve its pores if you use it dry. You must immerse the honing stone in water in order to use it when wet, though.

How long do you soak a sharpening stone?

Soak your whetstone in water before you start sanding it. Unlike coarse grit whetstones, fine grit stones require just a few minutes of soaking to avoid splitting. After soaking for 15 to 20 minutes, coarse grit whetstones should be ready to use. If you like a finer grind, you may set it on top of an absorbent kitchen towel after it has been soaked for at least an hour.

Related Questions and Answers

How often should I sharpen my knives?

Experts suggest that you get your kitchen knives professionally sharpened at least once or twice a year, in addition to honing them after every 2-4 uses at your house. A dull knife might be more hazardous than a razor-sharp one, therefore sharpening them is recommended.

Why do I need to soak my whetstone?

It is necessary to soak the whetstone in water before using it to let the stone absorb the water, which slowly leaks out when the blade is rubbed over its surface.

How do you know you are done sharpening?

Try slicing through a ripe tomato with a chef’s knife or paring knife. You can tell whether a knife is sharp if it slips easily into the flesh. If it does not work, you’ll have to go back to the sharpening stone.

How long should a knife stay sharp?

A knife should be sharpened when it starts to feel dull. Depending on how often the knife is used, this can be anywhere from once a week to once a month. A knife can also be sharpened before each use if desired.

The sharpness of high-quality ceramic knives may endure up to 10 times longer than the sharpness of equivalent steel knives. The lifespan of your ceramic knife is directly correlated to how well you take care of it.

Do you sharpen both sides of a knife?

Holding the knife at a constant angle against the stone will help you achieve the same degree of sharpening on both sides of the blade. Keep in mind that the included angle refers to the intersection point of the two blade sides, not the actual angle of the blade itself.

Can you use WD-40 on sharpening stones?

In addition to cleaning sharpening stones, the oil spray known as WD-40 may be used for a variety of other reasons. Spray the stone with the oil and make sure you cover the whole surface before sharpening the knife with it.

What is a good substitute for honing oil?

For sharpening purposes, a wide variety of vegetable oils are suitable. Drying or semi-drying oils include tung oil, flax oil, walnut oil, poppy oil, safflower, and certain kinds of sunflower oils. You have to be cautious not to unintentionally pick these oils.

What mistakes do beginners make when sharpening knives?

This video provides some details:

What kind of oil is used for knife sharpening?

Knife sharpening can be performed using:

  • Honing oil
  • Mineral oil
  • Baby oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Olive oil
  • Motor oil
  • Penetrating oil
  • Miner’s grease

How much does knife sharpening cost?

For an 8-inch chef’s knife, professional sharpeners charge roughly $1 per inch, or $8. Make sure your knives receive the best care possible by hiring a professional knife sharpener to do the job for you.

Do honing steels wear out?

Sharpening “steels” made of ceramic never wear out, although the surface might get clogged with metal particles that have been removed throughout the process. This may be restored to new condition by using a scouring pad to remove the gunk.

Can you soak a water stone too long?

It is best to soak rough and medium-grained whetstones for 10-15 minutes before using them. When sharpening with fine stones, just mist the stone with water. Fine stones might break if they are soaked in water for too long.

How do you sharpen a knife with a stone as a beginner?

By placing your blade perpendicular to the stone and then rotating it halfway between vertical and horizontal (to generate a 45-degree angle), you may easily get an angle of 22.5 degrees every time.

Which side of a sharpening stone is coarse?

There are two types of grit on a typical whetstone: coarse and fine. Using the coarse side, the pre-sharpening is done by removing any burrs and rough edges. The fine grit side completes the job by sharpening the dull blade.

What angle do you use for honing?

Honing should be done at an angle of twenty degrees.

What does grit mean for sharpening knives?

The grit of a whetstone refers to the stone’s coarseness. The coarser the stone, the more abrasive it is at each grit level, and vice versa.

Are diamond stones better?

Diamond sharpening plates are plainly inferior to sharpening stones when it comes to honing or finishing a tool’s edge since they cannot be created in the finer grit grades. You can’t get a mirror finish with a diamond plate, such as on a knife blade.

How many swipes do you need to sharpen a knife?

Whether it’s 15 degrees for a Japanese knife or 20 degrees for a German or French blade, you want to get the angle just perfect. Make sure the whole blade is sharpened by swiping gently down, away from you, for about five swipes on each side.

Do you sharpen a knife in one direction?

Stroke the blade in a roughly straight direction if you’re using a tiny portable sharpener. Remember to always cut into the stone, and never drag your edge backward by pulling or dragging it backward. The blade’s edge should be facing the same way you’re squeezing the handle. Moving the metal away from the edge is what you’re basically doing.


Knife sharpening is a process that requires the use of water. The process involves using a stone or whetstone to create a knife edge. Hopefully, this article provided you with the information you need to get started sharpening your knives.

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Jack Harrison
About Jack Harrison

JT Harrison is an expert Survival Instructor, focused on wilderness and urban survival techniques. He focuses on survival, prepping, food, water, shelter and other essential steps individuals and families can take to live for long periods outdoors, or in crisis situations. JT has been trekking and climbing for 20+ years in some of the harshest environments in the world. Learn more about JT here or connect with him on Twitter