Oil vs Water Sharpening Stones – Which One To Use?

Oil vs Water Stones Choosing the Right Sharpening Stone

Sharpening stones are an essential tool for maintaining the sharpness of your knives, scissors, and other cutting tools. There are two main types of sharpening stones: oil stones and water stones. While both types of stones can be effective for sharpening, it’s important to know the difference between them so you can choose the right one for your needs and use it correctly.

Oil vs Water Sharpening Stones: How to Tell What You Already Have?

One of the easiest ways to tell if your sharpening stone is oil or water is to look at its color. Oil stones are typically dark in color, often appearing brown or gray. Water stones, on the other hand, are typically lighter in color and may appear beige or even reddish-orange.

Another way to tell the difference is to feel the surface of the stone. Oil stones are typically smooth to the touch, while water stones are more porous and may feel slightly rough.

How do I tell what type of sharpening stone I have?

If you’re not sure what type of sharpening stone you have, there are a few other ways you can determine its type. One way is to check the packaging or any documentation that came with the stone. This should indicate whether it is an oil stone or a water stone.

Another way is to check the manufacturer’s website. Many manufacturers will provide information about the types of stones they offer and how to identify them.

If you still can’t determine the type of your sharpening stone, you can try contacting the manufacturer directly. They should be able to provide you with the information you need.

Can You Use Water With An Oil Sharpening Stone?

No, you should not use water on an oil stone. Oil stones are designed to be used with oil, which helps to lubricate the stone and prevent the formation of a slurry, which can clog the pores of the stone and make it less effective for sharpening.

If you use water on an oil stone, it will wash away the oil and cause the stone to become dry and less effective. This can also cause the pores of the sharpening stone to clog, leading to a decrease in its effectiveness. It’s best to only use oil on oil stones and water on water stones.

What are the Benefits of Oil Sharpening Stones?

Oil stones have several benefits, including the fact that they are very easy to use. Unlike water stones, which require soaking before use, oil stones are ready to use right out of the box. They are also very durable and tend to last longer than water stones.

Another benefit of oil stones is that they are less messy to use. Since they are used with oil, they don’t create the slurry that water stones do, which can be messy to clean up.

Additionally, oil stones are less sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, so they can be used in a wider range of environments.

What are the Benefits of Water Sharpening Stones?

While oil stones are easy to use and less messy, water stones have their own set of benefits. One of the main advantages of water stones is that they are able to produce a finer edge on your knives and other cutting tools.

This is because the pores of the water stone are able to break down and remove more metal from the blade during the sharpening process.

Another benefit of water stones is that they are less expensive than oil stones. This makes them a good choice for those on a budget or who are just starting out with sharpening.

Additionally, water stones are more versatile than oil stones. They can be used for sharpening a wide range of tools, including knives, scissors, chisels, and other cutting tools.


Oil and water stones are both effective for sharpening knives and other cutting tools. While oil stones are easy to use and less messy, water stones are able to produce a finer edge and are more versatile. Ultimately, the choice between oil and water stones depends on your personal preferences and needs.

Author: Hadwin Fisher

Hi, my name is Hadwin. I've been a long time wood carver and whittler. My day job is as a carpenter, but I like to work on and write about my wood carving hobby on the weekends and evenings. I hope you enjoy learning from my past experiences!

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