How To Tell if Sharpening Stone Is Oil or Water

If you have just gotten a sharpening stone or thinking about getting one, but you have no understanding of what types there are, you might have many questions regarding if a sharpening stone is made up of water or oil. How could you differentiate between both of them? Or what are the distinctive qualities that make them different from each other?

There seems to be no effective procedure for identifying whether a sharpening stone is made of oil or water. Nonetheless, you can experiment only with stone by drenching it in water and then leaving it in oil to see how this all reacts. You can only deduce for certain if your sharpening stone is oil or water-based on the basis of characteristics about how fast it cuts and the surface.

To gather knowledge about what sharpening stone is the best for you and your needs, you should read this article to collect more insight.

Difference Between Oil Stone and Water Stone

It’s difficult to differentiate between the sharpening stone you’ve acquired, and there is no easy way to know which one is. Instead, you might employ a rather more complex and oblique method of determining the visual distinction between water and oil sharpening stones.

The oil stones have the benefit of not wearing out as soon as the softer water stones. On the other hand, water stones extract a lot more material and are thus simpler to use. The binder utilized determines the distinction between the two. A soft material binds the honing granules of a water stone, while a tougher material binds the molecules of an oil stone. Magnesium, for example, reacts significantly to water while being incredibly strong. As a result, never immerse metal sharpened stones in water.

How Do I Find I Have an Oil or a Water Sharpening Stone?

How Do I Find I Have an Oil or a Water Sharpening Stone

As previously stated, there is no easy way to identify whether a sharpening stone is oil-based or water. However, you can do several experiments to determine the type of stones you’re utilizing. You should have your sharpening stone with a tiny bowl in which you will soak the stone. Oil for honing is also needed, which is used in the lubrication of the stone, as well as the water is also required to test your stone by lubricating.

Step 1: Acknowledge and Accept the Risks

Bear in mind that performing these tests may cause irreparable damage to your stone. If the stone is a water stone, one of the procedures needs you to add oil to it, which may prevent it from functioning properly. Let’s move forward if you’re okay with it.

Step 2: Using Water, Moisten the Stone

Water can be applied to a sharpening stone in two different ways.

Sit tight for the bubbling to subside before submerging the stone in water.

You can pour a few droplets of water into the stone’s edge.

Step 3: Make a List of Your Conclusions

At this point, you should know whether your stone is good for cutting or not or if the stone’s surface is polished, rough, or smooth. How quickly can the stone eliminate material and, most importantly, the effect of water on the stone?

Step 4: Soak Your Stone in Oil

Use a cloth or a brush to spread a few drips of honing oil on either side of the stone.

Step 5: Make a List of the Outcomes

Take the same notes you did after you sprayed the water.

Step 6: Compare and Contrast the Results

You have to pay close attention to details at this stage, as minor details are easy to ignore. These minor details will help you determine whether a sharpening stone is made of oil or water. Oil stones are typically tougher, while water stones are typically softer.

Because the sharp granules are squeezed together, water stones have a rough feel. The hue of water stones is usually consistent across their outer surface. Orange, Gray-green, crimson, or orange are examples of these colors.

The consistency of oil stones is much less than water stones. The first noticeable thing about these stones is that their color isn’t enough; spirals and other marks are all over their surface. Oil stones are finer than water stones. If you run your finger over them, you should notice that there will be no broken grains.

Two things might happen after dipping the stone in water. To begin with, the stone will not always absorb any water at all. You have an oil stone on standby in case this effect occurs. It’s also possible that the water drops will compress out. Your sharpening stone becomes a water stone when this occurs.

Is Applying Oil to a Water Stone Possible?

If you use oil to clean your water stone, it will get damaged. Like some other liquids, the oil will seep into the sharpening store and thicken the stone over time, making it a brick. The oil won’t be able to flow, and water won’t be able to get in. As a result, your water stone will be destroyed. However, thin oils made for water stones are used skillfully on small fragments since they appear to assist you to hone a smoother edge than water, although they can only be used with very small stones by professionals.

Is Applying Water to an Oil Stone Possible?

Water cannot be used on an oil stone that has been formerly oiled with oil. If you go about it the right way, the stone will trap moisture while repelling water. The water will not be able to combine with the hydrophilic oil that has been soaked through the stone. As a result, you’ll need to remove oil in hopes of turning it into a water stone. Applying water in a fresh, intact oil stone provokes the stone to soak the water without any complication.

Should I Sharpen My Stone With Oil or Water?

It’s a personal choice whether to hone with oil or water a sharpening stone. Oils are terrific for preservation, but if you’ve already used oil, you will not be eligible to apply water on the stone. Water is far less tacky than oil, and it also maintains the pores clean. After every use, don’t forget to wash and dry your honing stone.


Always keep your purpose insight while selecting a sharpening stone. Do you want your knives to twinkle like a reflecting mirror? If that’s the case, you should avoid using an oil-sharpening stone. In that scenario, we suggest using a water stone with large grain size. On the other hand, diamond stones are a terrific option if you’re happy with far less brilliance and want quick results.