Sharpening Knives Without Oils

When I was a kid my dad would very carefully sharpen his knives with a whetstone using oil. After I discovered my oil intolerance I didn’t sharpen my knives because our whetstone had oil on it. I had no intention of becoming sick from a trace of industrial oil. As a present my mom bought me a new sharp knife.

It is a thing on beauty and I love it. I had no idea chopping things could be so easy! Thankfully she also bought me a water whetstone. Unlike the traditional stones that are whetted with oil this one is soaked in water. I don’t have a honer which apparently really helps keep knife edges straight but I could probably get one. I probably should too.

Sharpening my knives properly was kind of scary at first. I’m not terribly good at using a real whetstone, I have always simply used a cheap rolling sharpener which didn’t work terribly well. The whetstone works better. Reading has taught me that sharpening has to be done regularly so I have started doing it every other week.

This is what the box of my water whetstone looks like.

This is what the box of my water whetstone looks like.

The only difference between using oil and whetstone and a water whetstone is that with a water one it needs to be soaked first. I generally soak it overnight but a few hours is fine. My mom got me one with a plastic base and I have to say having a base does  make it easier to use.

Most of the time I will get the knife damp and then start sharpening. But because the stone has been soaked I don’t think that is completely necessary. I’ve made a short video demonstrating the technique my dad showed me.

I don’t do as many strokes as are needed to make a knife sharp but there is nothing quite like seeing something done. The first stroke I made was at the wrong angle and I had to start again.

My dad told me to angle the knife so that it feels as if you are slicing off part of the whetstone. It takes a few tries to find the proper rhythm, but it gets easier with time. The sound when it is at the right angle is distinctive and I always listen as much as I try and gauge the feel.

I keep my water whetstone in its original box when not in use and you might notice in the picture of the box that it is a little warped. This is because one time I did not completely dry the stone out before putting it away. It takes almost two days to dry out where I live, which has fairly dry air. I know this because bread doesn’t mold when left out, it dries into a hard rock. I imagine in a place with higher humidity there might be a bit more of a difficulty getting the stone completely dry. Which is the only downside I can see to the water stone. Over all I think it is a great piece of equipment.

This entry was posted in Health, Oil Intolerance, Oils and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sharpening Knives Without Oils

  1. MAL Knives says:

    Pretty impressive that you can sharpen using only one hand. I’ve always used my left hand as a guide to keep the bevel angle consistent. I’ll have to give this a try. Thanks for the video.

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