How to Tell If Sharpening Stone is Water or Oil

by knifeideas

Just imagine that you got a gift of a sharpening stone, but the thing is, you don't have a clue about the type of this sharpening stone. You don't know anything to differentiate between the types of sharpening stone. It could be water or oil or some other sharpening stone. So what to do in this situation? How to find the kind of your new sharpening stone? Is it possible to detect contrast between sharpening stones?

All I can say is there is no exact method that differentiates between an oil and water sharpening stone. Yet you can find out by soaking the sharpening stone in oil and then in water to notice how the sharpening stone reacts. You can know your stone type by seeing if the texture changes or if the stone gets cut. Both of these things will make it pretty clear if it's a water sharpening stone or oil sharpening stone.

But before you carry out anything, make up your mind because this process has drawbacks, like your sharpening stone could get ruined. Bearing that in mind, let us move forward to identify the sharpening stone.

How to Tell If Sharpening Stone is Water or Oil
How to Tell If Sharpening Stone is Water or Oil

Is it feasible to distinguish between an oil stone and a water stone?

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Knife Sharpening Stone Set, ENTAI 4 Side Grit 400/1000 3000/8000 Water Stone, Whetstone Set with Non-slip Bamboo Base, Flattening Stone, Angle Guide, Leather Strop and Cut Resistant Gloves

The method required to differentiate the sharpening type is not a direct one. Instead, you can find the sharpening stones' kind if you follow some indirect and complicated steps. These steps will show some of the visual contrast between oil stone and water stone.

How to make sure if the sharpening stone I have is water or oil?

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Knife Sharpening Stone Set, Finew Premium 4 Side Grit 400/1000 3000/8000 Water Stones, Non-slip Bamboo Base, Flatting Stone, Angle Guide, Leather Strop, Polishing Compound and Honing Guide

As mentioned before, identifying between an oil and water sharpening stone does not have any clear-cut method. Alternatively, you can perform some tests that might indicate the sharpening stone you have.

Here are some steps you can follow to know the type of your sharpening stone:

The things you'll require

Some of the items are mentioned here that you need during these steps:

· Your sharpening stone on which you are going to experiment.

· You need a small pot or bowl that will be used to sink the sharpening stone.

· You need honing oil to lubricate the sharpening stone. You can also use baby oil, olive oil, or mineral oil in place of honing oil.

· The last thing you require is water. It will be needed for lubricating the stone during the process.

Step 1: This process is risky, so be sure

Be mindful that this method might damage your sharpening stone beyond recognition and repair because one particular act involved in this process is lubricating your sharpening stone with oil. So if that sharpening stone turns out to be water, it will be ruined and won't function anymore. If you are sure about this so let's begin.

Step 2: Wet the sharpening stone with the water

You have to soak your sharpening stone, and for that, there are two courses of action you can follow:

· You can throw some droplets of water on your sharpening stone or,

· You can drown the stone in the water. Then wait until the bubbles stop forming.

Step 3: Observe and jot down the results

Note down the upcoming things:

· Note if the sharpening stone got some fin cuts or not.

· Note if the stone's surface is polished, scratchy, or smooth.

· Observe the color or shade of the sharpening stone

· Observe how sharpening stone reacted to water.

· Note how quickly the stone removes the material it got during blade sharpening.

Step 4: Rinse the sharpening stone with honing oil (or mineral oil)

The next step involves dropping some oil droplets on both sides. Then brush the oil equally on sharpening stones' surface.

Step 5: Jot down the results

Repeat the observations you did with the water process.

Step 6: Match the observations

Here things get challenging because now you need to pay concentration to minute facts that are easily missed. These small details are necessary to notice because they determine if the stone is water or oil.

  • Usually, water stones are soft, and oil stones are hard. You can test the texture of the stone by touching it to check its consistency.

Water sharpening stone


  • In water sharpening stone, sharp grains are pressed together, making it rough to touch.
  • The water sharpening stone has an even and consistent color all over its surface.
  • The colors of the water stone could be red, green, grey, and orange.

Oil sharpening stone

  • In oil sharpening stone, the surface is spotty and has some marking and swirls all over it.
  • The oil sharpening stone does not have an even color over them.
  • Oil sharpening stones have low consistency.
  • The oil sharpening stone surface is smooth. When you feel the surface, there are no fragments that make it rough.

Check Your Observations and Notes

The next thing you need to do is analyze all the observations you took while soaking the sharpening stone in oil and water.

This is how you can add up your inspection; two possible things could occur after you soaked the stone.

· If the stone does not sink in the water in any way then, it means your sharpening stone is oil-based.

· If the stone gets water droplets to settle down, then it means you have a water sharpening stone.

Oil sharpening stone does not soak in water. Why?

Oil and water do not mix, which is one of the main reasons behind this. Oil and water are the least compatible liquids because oil repulses water. That is the same case with the sharpening stone.

The water sharpening stone has grains on its surface, and when it is soaked, the old grains fall off. So while sharpening, your knife is sharpened by sharp and new grains. That is the reason behind the fact that water sharpening stone cuts more faster than oil sharpening stone. If you pour oil on the water sharpening stone, it gets broken down prematurely because oil forms a layer on the old broken grains and grind with new ones.

Tips For An Water-based Sharpening Stone

Here are some valuable tips you can follow if you own a water sharpening stone.

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Sharpening Stone Whetstone Set 4 Side Grit 400/1000 3000/8000, Professional Whetstone Knife Sharpener, Knife Sharpening Stone Kit with Bamboo Base, Flatting Stone, Angle Guide & Leather Strop
  • Do not use or apply oil on the water sharpening stone because it damages the stone.
  • Soak the water sharpening stone for an estimated time between 10 to 15 minutes.
  • The stone gets a little dirty while sharpening, so clean it by washing.
  • While sharpening, stroke 10 to 15 times per side and then switch the side of the knife.
  • Water-based stone is a perfect option for Japanese blades and knives.
  • When you have completed sharpening your knife, wash it with water.
  • Keep the clean, sharpening stone in a towel for storage.
  • If you can afford it, choose diamond stones because it is advantageous and suitable for sharpening pocket knives and kitchen knives.

Tips For An Oil-based Sharpening Stone

Here is some valuable information if you have an oil sharpening stone.

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Norton Abrasives - St. Gobain 614636855653 IB8 1-by-2-by-8-Inch Fine/Coarse India Combination Oilstone, Red, One Size
  • You can lubricate the oil sharpening stone with honing or mineral oil. Apply the oil all over the exterior of the stone.
  • With the help of a cloth or your fingers, spread the layer of the honing oil evenly.
  • After sharpening, clean away the oil residue and metal shavings with a damp cloth.
  • If you want to, you can clean the stone with a detergent with the help of a scrub brush or toothbrush.
  • You don't have to cleanse the oil stone daily. It only needs to be cleaned after a significant time of use.
  • Store the sharpening by placing it in a towel or container.

Is it okay to use water on an oil-based sharpening stone?

If your sharpening stone already has oil applied to it for lubrication purposes, you cannot use water on that stone. If you use water, then oil sharpening stone will repel it.

But if you are washing an unused and brand new oil-based sharpening stone, it can quickly soak up the water.


Can I apply water or oil to my sharpening stone?

Employing lubricants like water and oil on your stone is up to your preferences. Oil act as a lubricant, and they protect the stone ideally. But if you have oil on your stone, you cannot use water because both these liquids are incompatible.

Contrarily, water is an excellent and natural lubricant. Using water is effortless on sharpening stones. Water is a lot less grimy than oil, and it is elementary to use on stone. It maintains the pores on the sharpening and keeps the stone clean. Water makes old grains on the sharpening stone fall, and new edged grains appear on the surface.


Do every sharpening stone is required to be soaked/wet?

For the sake of preserving efficiency, sharpening stones need to be lubricated and soaked. Lubrication is essential for accelerating the sharpness of the stone. The mess that gathers on the sharpening stone while using it gets cleaned by washing or lubrication. So no scratches or marks will be left out after soaking the sharpening stone.

In the case of industrial or ceramic diamond sharpening stone, soaking or wetting is not mandatory. So for some sharpening stones, lubricating or wetting is not a need.

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