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oil for sharpening

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
goood morning!

i was wondering if someone could chime in and tell me...where can i buy some oil to sharpen my knives? i borrowed 2 stones from a friend, but she didnt have any oil so i need to pick some up. i was hoping to avoid getting ripped off in a kitchen store if there is an alternative place to get some.

and what do i need to buy... mineral oil, right?

thanks

Dave
post #2 of 23
You can get mineral oil at any drug store between here and timbucktoo. Look in the pharmacy/cosmetics area.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #3 of 23
DO NOT USE STRAIGHT MINERAL OIL as "honing oil." Straight mineral oil is too heavy and viscous.

First, make sure her stones are oilstones and not waterstones, and that they're already oily.

If they are oilstones, and already oily:

One doesn't usually seek out "honing oil" at a restaurant supply. Nearly all hardware stores carry pre-mixed honing oil, usually "food grade." It's good stuff. The smallest amount is enough for many sharpenings, and farily inexpensive. Plus, giving her the remainder of the tin (or bottle) when you return her stones, would be a nice way to say "thanks" to her for helping you out.

It is, however, very easy and thrifty to make your own. It only requires two things, mineral oil and kerosene (or mineral spirits). Since each has so many other uses, they make good purchases.

Use unscented mineral oil from the pharmacy, and mix it 50/50 with the kerosene or mineral spirits.

If her stones are not only oily but black with steel filings (swarf) from previous sharpening sessions, you'll probably want to clean the stones before using them. Use a brass or steel bristled BBQ brush. powdered cleanser, plenty of elbow-grease, and just do the best you can. Rince well, and you're good to go.

A little oil goes a very long way. You want just enough so that it "gooshes" when you press your edge to the stone; just enough to you get a micro bow-wave as you sharpen; just enough to see the swarf-laden dirty oil move as your knife traverses the stove. Most sharpeners use too much.

The purpose of using oil is preventing the stone from clogging with swarf during the sharpening session. It is not to lubricate the stone.

If her stones aren't already oily:

Forget the mineral oil altogether and use water as your only lubricant or sharpen dry. Don't screw up her stones with oil unless she uses it; getting the oil out of a stone is a royal pain.

Each of the three methods suitable for "oilstones," oil, water, and dry, each has its own benefits and drawbacks. In my opinion dry is fastest and gives the best results. However, since you're still at the "borrowing" stage, you're stuck with whatever she does.

Waterstones require an entirely different prep. Soft stones with clay binders need to be well soaked; many harder stones with resin binders are splash and go. In any case, you should call her.

I'm a good sharpener with loads of experience, who uses nothing but oilstones -- manmade and Arkansas. But I chose them for nostalgia, not practicality. Waterstones are much faster and more versatile than oilstones, at the cost of a little extra maintenance. When it comes time to buy your own kit, buy waterstones.

BDL
post #4 of 23
If you really want to go the oil route, then a whole gallon of mineral oil for around $12 can be purchased at most tack and feed shops or at Tractor Supply.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
whoa....apparently this is more involved than i thought! and maybe i need to find out more about her stones...

here is what the box says...

Brand: Norton
blurb on the back: "Norton sharpening stones are made of the highest uality materials and are unequaled for long sharpening life, maintainence of shape and smooth cut. CRYSTOLON and INDIA stones are electric furnace abrasives. ARKANSAS stones are made of natural novaculite rock in utlra fine grit. To obtain best reults, always lubricate your stone with Norton Sharpening Stone Oil."

thats all i know...there is nothing else on the box besides that
post #6 of 23
Crystolon (Norton's name for silicon carbide stones), India (Norton's name for aluminum oxide), and Arkansas stones (everyone's name for novaculite), are all "oilstones." So you don't have to worry about the waterstone thing.

If the stones she gave you feel really oily, she uses oil. If they're clean and dry, they may either be just cleaned (probably not, it isn't easy to get a stone truly clean), you should call her and ask how she uses them. It's only a phone call.

If they're new Crystolons and/or India, they're impregnated with oil from the factory. That's the one tricky situation because most better modern sharpeners who still use oilstones sharpen dry or with water, and it would be a shame to start oiling them right off the bat instead of running through them dishwasher to get rid of all that oil. It is however a lot less tricky because they're not your stones. Use the phone.

There's like a 99% chance she either uses oil or plans to use it. So don't worry too much about it. Even if you oil stones she plans to use dry, it's not the end of the world -- the oil can be cleaned out with patience, elbow grease, kerosene and a few trips through the dishwasher. We'll burn that bridge when we come to it.

BDL
post #7 of 23
It doesn't have to be. Mineral oil works just fine. It costs about a buck for a bottle that will last a long time. I personally do not think sharpening dry on an oil stone is the best advice for many but there are a lot of ways to skin a cat. I've been using mineral oil on Halls Arkansas stones for years. Just thin it like BDL suggested. If you want to buy honing oil look for a sporting goods store near you like Gander Mountain or Cabelas.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #8 of 23
NO! NO! Norton Honing Oil is, indeed, mineral oil, an item that can be pruchased at a well stocked tack and feed (horse) store for around $12 a gallon. Works fine for me.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #9 of 23
I don't think the OP is going to need a gallon. Buying the honing oil just saves the trouble of thinning. A quart is probably $3-4 and enough to last most several years.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #10 of 23
But think of all the little christmas gifts it'll make if the gallon could be broken down into pints and half pints!

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #11 of 23
I was thinking of all the things I'd have to do around the house to use a gallon! :lol:
I do like shopping at TSC though. God knows they have made a few dollars off me over the years.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #12 of 23
Mineral oil can be rubbed into wooden kitchen utensils, too!

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #13 of 23
You can mix 1 part paraffin or bees wax to ten parts mineral oil to maintain your cutting boards, knife block etc. Works nicely on the handle of a WA gyuto as well.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #14 of 23
i have sharpened my knives with vegetable oil before... worked just fine and i dont see the need to go and buy oil especially. it might be a bit cheaper but its only a few drops so whatever
post #15 of 23
I've also try sharpening my knives with vegetable oil. But its better for you to have Mineral oil for better results.
post #16 of 23

No no no

Vegetable oil dries out, becomes very sticky and clogs the stone. It is very much a thing of "those who don't know any better," and the reason so many restaurant tri-hones sit abandoned and useless.

BDL
post #17 of 23
Right you are. A lot of cooks use vegetable oil when sharpening their knives. After a while the oil goes rancid, and your stone smells awful. Mineral oil will not go rancid, so it is your best bet. Make sure to clean your knife after you are finished sharpening it.

Jason Sandeman

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Jason Sandeman

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post #18 of 23
You are soooooo right about mineral oil's superiority over vegetable cooking and salad oils. You can't repeat it too often or with too much emphasis:

DON'T USE VEGETABLE OIL ON STONES!

AND FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, DON'T USE VEGETABLE OIL ON A RESTAURANT KITCHEN'S TRI-HONE!!!

Rancidity is the least of it. Most vegetable oils (including all of those you're likely to find in a kitchen), if left on the stone for any length of time, turn into a sort of very thick gummy residue. When you sharpen, the (fresh) oil mixes with swarf (aka the metal filings and dust that comes off the knife during sharpening); which works into the pores of the stones; then when the work is finished and the stone rests unused for a couple of weeks, the oil/swarf partially dries and clogs the stone; rendering it useless.

The stones can be thoroughly cleaned immediately afterwards with kerosene or mineral spirits; a metal brush and cleanser; run through the dishwasher, or boiled with dishwasher detergent in a pan; and stored dry. But that's an awful lot of maintenance to do after every sharpening session just for the convenience of not going to the hardware store for special purpose "honing oil;" or the going to the pharmacy for mineral oil and mixing your own honing oil with mineral spirits or kerosene (which you already probably have in your garage).

BDL
post #19 of 23
thanks for the advice on veg oil, good thing ive only done it a couple of times.
started working with a new chef and he told me to use dish washing liquid for both water and oil stones. he has had his current stone for 2 years and it still works fine
post #20 of 23
Soap, eh? Sounds like it would be a good way to cut any grease which happens to get on the stone, but how would it help the sharpening process more than water? The idea of oil isn't to lubricate the stone -- in fact that's an unfortunate byproduct. Rather the idea is to keep the swarf from clogging the stone.

I actually tried soap, but moved back to honing oil, on to plain water, and then dry sharpening, after learning from a sharpening guru, excellent amateur cabinet maker, superb dolly-grip, great humanitarian and a close personal friend for many years, that the oil's purpose was not to lubricate the stone -- which like nearly everyone else I'd assumed to be true. Soap made maintenance a lot better than vegetable oil or WD-40, in the "First, do no harm," sense. But it sure made sharpening sloooooooooow. So, while dishwaser soap and scouring powder are effective parts of stone maintenance, I just don't see dish-soap as being more useful than a spritzer full of plain water.

Quality stones like Norton Indias or any Arkansas should last years and years -- needing only regular cleaning and perhaps a lapping and/or flattening every couple of years. That your chef got two years out of his, and it's still working like new (one hopes), shows that at least soap isn't hurting anything. A very good thing. The questions of how sharp his knives are, and how long it takes him to sharpen are also important.

At the end of the day, I'm agnostic on anyone else's method. Whatever works.

BDL
post #21 of 23
you learn something new everyday.
you gave me something actually worth remembering =p
i always thought the oil was a lube, knowing this i will be sure to go and buy some proper oil for my rock
thanks for the info XD

i have one more thing i need to know though,
if an oil stone uses the oil to stop **** getting in its pores...
how does a water stone work ??
post #22 of 23

Today I just finished spending several hours cleaning gummy vegetable oil from a tri-stone that was given to me for free by a kitchen manager due to the fact it was useless due to the vegetable oil build up.


The stone was actually given to me 20+ years ago after I'd tried to clean it by running it through a dish sanitizer 20 or more times and scraping off the build up - which didn't work.


It was then given to me as a lost cause. I took it home and tried several times to clean the surface of the stones with dish washing detergent (Dawn), soaking, more scrapping, running it through my home dishwasher, scrubbing with GO-JO, and lots of elbow grease, it worked, but only partially, the edges of the stones were still unusable.


I then put it away for 20 years.


Yesterday I took it out of storage and disassembled it. This morning I boiled everything, case and all. This made some of the oil build up softer, so I scrapped it off. It also made much of it extremely sticky. It did nothing to make the stones more usable.


I then scrubbed them (and the case and metal pieces) with Ajax Cleanser (or the equivalent - Bon Ami?). This removed more of the oil and made them more usable but still didn't clean the stones or the other components completely. I felt the next step was going to be using wet dry sandpaper on the stones to remove some of the surface.


However while taking a break from my scrubbing I logged onto the internet and did what I should have done to begin with; I searched for "cleaning off vegetable oil build up" and found that I should have been using an alkaline cleaner. I started with the mildest version of these that I had - baking soda. I boiled everything except the case in baking soda water.


While everything else was boiling I tried cleaning the buildup that was still on the case off with a backing soda / water paste. It worked!


Then I took all the parts and the stones out of the now brown colored water and easily scrubbed off the build up that was left with a green pad and some more baking soda water paste.


So now I finally have a usable tri-stone after only 20+ years.


The moral of this story is "DON'T USE VEGETABLE OIL ON YOUR SHARPENING STONES"


enny

A Japanese water stone is a softer stone and while sharpening on it you remove a small layer from it also. Due to this you sharpen on a new surface all the time. Never use oil on one of these stones as it will clog the stone and destroy it.


But back to your original question - as far as the using of water instead of oil on these stones - it works exactly the same as the oil does and provides a substance for the metal shavings to be suspended in instead of staying in the stone.


You can use water instead of oil on a oil stone also. It will work the same as the oil. -Unless you've already used oil on the stone. As oil repels water they don't work well together, and the oil that soaked into the stone will cause problems.


If you've already used oil it's better to stick with it, or run the stone through a dish washing machine several times to hopefully remove the oil - getting the oil out is very difficult.


Edited by Dropkick - 2/3/13 at 8:48pm
post #23 of 23

Since this thread as been revived it is probably smart to mention once again, when looking for mineral oil for your stone you need to make sure it is food grade.  This is important as there are many mineral oils out there that are not appropriate for use in a kitchen.

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