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Water or honing oil

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by MarkMark, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. MarkMark


    Jul 11, 2018
    Hello i recently bought a hard Arkansas stone to sharpen my knifes in between fileting fish and gutting deer, my concern is if i use honing oil will it contaminate the fish or is there a food based oil that is safe and will work well, or should i just use water which i think doesnt pit as good of an edge on my knifes as honing oil, any advice or opinions ? thanks.
  2. Wowbagger


    Sep 20, 2015
    I use water, even on a hard Ark.
    As long as the blade is really clean before you take it to the stone.

    Mimeral oil, food grade, might be usable if you want oil.
    If it were me and I wasn't going to use water I would use kerosene and just wash the knife after but it stinks.
  3. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    Water should work if you prefer the feel of oil ... Norton's Honing Oil is food grade and safe to use.
  4. jc57

    jc57 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2012
    Norton Honing oil, the Mineral Oil USP sold at pharmacies as a laxative (you drink it), and the mineral oils used for cutting boards (the kind without beeswax added) such as Howard Cutting Board Oil or IKEA Skydd, all will work and are considered food-safe.

    I prefer mineral oil with my Arkansas stones. I like both the Norton Honing Oil and Howard Cutting Board Oil. I find the mineral oil USP from the pharmacy to be too thick.
    Blues, Eli Chaps and JJ_Colt45 like this.
  5. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    I would agree with jc57 on the pharmacey mineral oil being a bit thicker ... I like the feedback better with Nortons.
  6. george65


    Dec 21, 2008
    I like rubbing alcohol
  7. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    If you prefer not using oil a touch of dish soap works well also.
  8. Some mineral oil will do a better job 'floating' the swarf on the stone, so it doesn't get clogged up. That 'floating' tendency also makes it easy to wipe the stone clean periodically; a microfiber towel works real well for this. As mentioned by others, Norton's Sharpening Stone oil is very good and is rated food-safe as well. As far as the oil being on the blade is concerned, it will clean up easily with a little dish soap & water, or Windex on a paper towel does a pretty good job of removing it as well, before using the blade on food. So, there's very little reason for concern in using mineral oil for sharpening.

    Water will do in a pinch, but the swarf generated will tend to settle more quickly into the pores of the stone, if water is used. So a little more diligence is necessary to keep the accumulated swarf from getting too heavy. More active scrubbing is needed to clean the stone afterward, to remove the swarf that's settled into the stone. Water also evaporates, so a little more attention is needed to make sure the stone's surface stays adequately wetted.

    I noticed the above differences recently, in experimenting with using water on one of my oilstones. When periodically wiping the stone with the microfiber towel, I noticed how much less 'black stuff' was being picked up on the towel, than if compared to doing the same on an oiled stone used for the same grinding task. The swarf had to be going somewhere, if the towel wasn't picking it up. There's only one place it could've gone: deeper into the stone. It occured to me, after seeing this, that I'd also noticed the tendency of the swarf to settle in water, back when I first tried using some of my stones immersed in the sink, with water. All the swarf went straight to the bottom of the sink, showing that water just doesn't suspend it very well.
  9. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    I have always found oil to be better on natural Arkansas stones. I used Smith's stones and oil for many years, and switched to water for a bit, but went back, as it didn't work as well for me. I would wash the stone and blade after sharpening, so oil on food wasn't a problem.
    David Martin likes this.
  10. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps

    Apr 20, 2018
  11. MarkMark


    Jul 11, 2018
    Thanks to everyone for the advice, im definitely going to use the Nortons oil since it is safe food based, i am going to virginia for 3 days on a fishing trip for flounder and croaker and they have a cleaning table on the pier , i like to touch up my filet knife periodically while cleaning several fish, that is why i posted the question, was concerned about getting honing oil on the filets. Thanks again to everyone !
  12. CasePeanut

    CasePeanut Gold Member Basic Member Gold Member

    May 25, 2018
    Has anyone tried diluting USP mineral oil? Seems like the cheapest route if it works
  13. It won't dilute with water, and some sort of petroleum solvent would be needed to thin it, like mineral spirits, etc. Then it's not food-safe anymore, and perhaps even toxic in other ways (inhalation hazard, thru-skin absorption, etc) with a solvent added.

    Mineral oil really isn't that expensive anyway. If cost is a concern, the laxative-grade stuff is likely the least expensive. I get it in 16 oz. bottles for ~ $1.98 at Walmart, for example. And even the pricier stuff, like the Norton oil, goes a pretty long way on a per-use basis. If used on stones that don't really drink up a lot of it, it goes even further. The 'food-safe' stuff is worth every penny, when you think about it. Unless one DRINKS it outright, it's otherwise completely inert and harmless, and it solves a lot of issues in sharpening.

    Some synthetic oil stones will drink a lot of oil, if they're not pre-filled with oil/grease from the factory. Of these types that I use, I keep them stored in a sealed bin filled with the 'cheap' laxative-grade mineral oil, to help minimize their 'thirst' for the stuff when I'm using them. Then, when I need to add a little oil during use, I can drizzle a little bit of my better oil (Norton & others) on the stone, without feeling compelled to completely fill the stone with it. That helps to stretch the life of my better oil.
  14. CasePeanut

    CasePeanut Gold Member Basic Member Gold Member

    May 25, 2018
    Thanks. Good tips. I put some USP mineral oil in a little spray bottle. Works fine, no dilution needed.

    @Obsessed with Edges do you see a big difference between the Norton Oil and the cheap stuff?
  15. A difference, yes. But probably not enough to matter much for most of my sharpening. Some stones really feel & sound nice when using them with a high quality, light-viscosity oil like Norton's; it's real nice on their India stone, for example. That extra feedback can be helpful at times. But in terms of results, I generally don't have reason to complain when I use the inexpensive stuff either, especially when doing 'utility' sharpening of kitchen knives & such. They don't need anything fancy anyway, to get the job done.

    I like using the Norton oil on diamond hones. A lot of that is just due to how effective it can be when used just a few drops at a time on a hone that doesn't absorb it (like a diamond hone). Keeping the application very light is that much easier when using a light oil, like Norton's. It also dispenses more easily from the needle-tip oiler I use with my diamond hones.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
    CasePeanut likes this.
  16. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Oil is recommended on hard natural stones, as the abrasive is mostly silicon dioxide (quartz), and that's barely harder than fully hardened steel, so the grains blunt fairly fast. Oil has high lubricity, and the reduction in friction increases the cutting life of the abrasive grains so you can go longer before needing to dress the face of the stone to expose fresh surface.

    NORTHWEST_KNIFE_GUY KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 14, 2017
    As suggested, mineral oil works well! I use the swan brand 99.9% laxative stuff from the drug store, only a few bucks.

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