There’s a wide variety of oils for folding knives and they all have unique applications! Some are good for rust protection, while others are best for pivots.
Finding the best oil to suit your needs is challenging, and that’s where this guide comes in! Read on as we cover the market’s top products to find the best lubricant for you. These are the best we have ranked in order:
- Our Top Pick: KPL Original Knife Oil
- Food-grade Oil: UltraPro Food Grade Mineral Oil
- Most Versatile Option: Kurobara Hamono Tsubaki Pure Tsubaki Camellia Oil
- Best for Rust Prevention: Yoshihiro TSOIL 100% Pure Tsubaki Japanese Knife Maintenance Oil
- Best Overall: KPL (Heavy + Original) Combo Pack
Why Would You Buy Lubricating Oil for Folding Knives?
Using lubricating oil on your folding knife can help you to wipe off dirt, smoothen joints, and fight off rust to make the knife last a longer time. Lubricating oil is also a plus when you’re sharpening the knife, as it gives the blade a keener and sharper edge.
There are many types of knife oils available, so let’s start by clearing that out. Further down the article, we’ll discuss how to find the right oil and why that oil works better for your folding knife.
What Kind of Oil Should You Use for a Folding Knife?
There are three types of knife oils to consider. Here’s a brief description of each one.
Food-Safe Oils: These oils are ideal if you use the knife for preparing food, cutting fruits, hunting, and fishing. You can use anything from vegetable oil to mineral oil. Mineral oil is perhaps the better choice because it doesn’t have any scent, it’s non-toxic, and also flavorless. You can find it in local pharmacies, though the price is a bit high.
Dry Teflon-Based: These dry lubes are designed to protect your folding knives from pocket lint. You apply it on the surface and leave it as a shielding coat to attract less lint and debris to your knife. This type of oil is available in tubes or cans for spraying.
Wet Petroleum-Rich: This type of oil is one of the most used for folding knives due to its thin viscosity and higher protection levels. It’s similar to the oil used on sewing machines and guns.
7 Best Oil for Folding Knives to Buy in 2023
Despite having only two years in the business, Texas-based company KPL claims that they offer the best lubricant for modern pocket knives on the market – and with this product, they deliver exactly that!
Boasting a synthetic formula, this lube is designed to stop premature wear on your knives caused by dirt and grit. In addition to that, this oil works to clean your pivot during use.
To care for different parts of your knives, this oil comes in two variants: KPL Original and KPL Heavy. We recommend you use the former for your pivots, while the latter is best used for your detents.
This product is very versatile and will work on AXIS and liner locks alongside other types of knives, but in our experience, it works best on Spyderco’s compression mechanism, which makes opening and closing it feels effortless.
For lubing, this oil works especially well on phosphor bronze washers but it’ll clean any type of bearing mechanism on your pivots.
This product doesn’t just clean well, it’s also an excellent lube for smoothness. When cleaning your pivots, you only need to apply several drops and work the oil in. Almost immediately, your knife should cycle effortlessly.
For ease of handling, this lube also comes in a small, compact bottle. However, you should be careful when handling it. It’s been known to be a little fragile and may burst if you squeeze it too hard.
Even with its slightly higher price point compared to other products, the KPL Knife Oil should be one of your first choices thanks to its incredible performance.
- The applicator needle works to ensure you don’t dispense too much oil at one time.
- This product is food safe, which makes it the perfect choice if you use your knife in the kitchen.
- The oil is well-scented, making your knives smell good after lubricating.
This entry into the knife oil market comes from UltraSource. Founded in 1883, the Missouri-based company serves processing and packaging needs across various food and medical industries.
This mineral oil has lots of uses – from moisturizing skin, taking care of food-handling equipment, and of course, maintaining your knives!
Because it’s food-grade, you’ll find the best use for this oil is to clean and lubricate your kitchen knives to keep them rust-free. If you use this type of lubricant, be sure to apply it every week or so to ensure that no corrosion happens.
While mineral oil is mostly used for kitchenware, it can also benefit your pocket knives. You’ll find that this product provides excellent lubrication for various types of folding mechanisms like AXIS and compression, but it provides the best performance on simpler systems like the liner lock.
In addition to keeping your blades rust-free, this oil can also keep your knife handles clean! However, you need to keep in mind that the viscosity of mineral oil makes it less suited for lubing pivots. For that purpose, we recommend that you use more specialized lubricants like the Nano-Oil.
If you’re looking for a multi-purpose oil that can help you around the kitchen, a container of UltraPro Food Grade Mineral Oil can help you lubricate your knives and so much more.
- This oil also cleans and lengthens the lifespan of wooden cutting boards.
- Comes in a large one-gallon container which is perfect if you have lots of knives or can make use of the oil’s other purposes.
- This product is also useful around the kitchen since it can also be used to preserve raw eggs.
Our third knife oil recommendation comes from Lucas Oil. This California-based company boasts more than 30 years of experience providing lubricants for cars and firearms.
- This product provides your knives protection from wear and moisture even in extreme conditions.
- Comes with a 1oz needle oiler for precise application of lube on your knives.
- Long-lasting oil that’ll keep your knives lubricated long after application.
Even though this product is marketed as gun oil, this lube works just as well for your knives! Its corrosion-inhibiting properties will make sure that your blades are protected from rust.
In addition to rust protection, this product also works amazingly to lubricate pivots. By applying several drops of this oil, you can allow your pocket knife’s blade to glide smoothly without resistance from dirt or grit.
While this oil’s thickness might make out the front switchblades hard to retract, this product works amazingly on AXIS locks usually found on Benchmade knives.
One thing to keep in mind when using this oil is that it’s not food-safe, so it’s best not to use this lube on any knife used in the kitchen.
If you’re looking for an affordable multi-purpose oil that can take care of your knives as well as your firearms, the Lucas Extreme Duty Gun Oil is right down your alley!Check Latest Price
This fourth pick was developed by Christian StClaire, a California-based lubricant expert with 30 years of experience in various civilian and military industries.
For different needs, this product comes in light, medium, and heavy weights. From thickest to thinnest, it goes 85-weight, 10-weight, and 5-weight. The heaviest, 85-weight, is very thick and somewhat limited in purpose – it’s best used to silence rattle on your assist springs or bars.
While the light and medium weights usually see more use, in our experience, the 10-weight works best for your folding knife’s pivots. In addition to those three options, this product gives you versatility by mixing them to obtain the consistency you need.
This product works on many kinds of knives. AXIS, buttons, and especially compression lock like on a Spyderco would benefit greatly from this oil.
This lube also works excellently on the Tri-Ad mechanism found on Espada knives.
Generally, you only need a little bit of this oil when lubricating your knives, so one small container can last you a long time. If you plan on using this product for extended periods, be sure to store it properly because the oil tends to gum up if left alone for too long, forcing you to squeeze the bottle hard to get it out.
If you put too much oil on application, it does tend to attract dirt. However, you can remove it simply by opening and closing your knife several times, wringing it to the ground repeatedly afterward to get rid of the excess.
Even with its relatively high price point, the Nano-Oil is effective, long-lasting, and provides great lubricating performance.
- This oil’s nano-bearing molecules can stick to the smallest crevices in your knife, providing lubrication in the tightest spots.
- This oil is multi-purpose and will lubricate your fishing reels and firearms in addition to lubing your knives.
- This product contains no metals or harmful solvents that may damage your knives.
5.Remington Rem Oil
This pick comes from the North Carolina-based Remington Arms Company, a 200-year old firearms manufacturer. While Remington’s offering is primarily made for firearms, it can provide great lubrication performance for your knives as well.
In our experience, this lube is best used on your folding knife’s pivot to ensure the blade swings smoothly thanks to its ability to reduce friction. Furthermore, this product is considered one of the best oils for rust inhibition by removing the smallest traces of moisture on application.
This product boasts good lubrication for most mechanisms like back and lever locks, but it brings out the best in locking liner knives.
Compared to other oils, this product tends to be a little less viscous. Due to this, it’s been known not to stay in place as well as its peers that offer thicker consistency.
For easier use, this product also comes with an applicator cap. One thing to keep in mind when using this oil is that you should be careful not to place the bottle upside down since it’s been known to leak at times.
Boasting a very low price point without compromising quality, the Remington Rem Oil can be a good choice for your lubrication needs.
- Also available in an aerosol can variant for lubricating large areas.
- You can also get this oil in a wipe form for on-the-go lubrication.
- This product features a unique Teflon formula that provides a thin and long-lasting film of oil for extra protection.
Worried about the sharpness of your pocket knife? Then check out this article on pocket knife sharpener.
6. Yoshihiro Tsubaki Japanese Knife Maintenance Oil
With over 100 years of experience in cutlery, Japanese company Yoshihiro provides the finest cutting tools for chefs worldwide. True to this longtime expertise, their entry into the knife oil market also reflects their high standards.
Originally used for cooking, Tsubaki or tea seed oil also helps to keep your high-carbon steel kitchen knives rust-free with just a few drops.
In our experience, this product is much better used as a rust preventive oil rather than a pivot lubricant. For better protection against dirt and dust, we recommend you use specialized lubes like the KPL Knife Oil.
Because this product isn’t quite optimized as a pivot lubricant, we recommend that you use it on simple mechanisms like lever and frame locks.
If you’re looking for a high-quality oil for your knives from an expert in the field, Yoshihiro Tsubaki Oil should rank very high on your list.
- This product comes with an extra rust eraser for knife maintenance.
- Tea seed is a great antioxidant and it can last for years if properly stored.
- It can remove rust while still keeping the patina on your knives.
7. Benchmade Bluelube Knife Care Lubricant
Manufactured by Oregon-based Benchmade, this product comes with an applicator that makes applying oil on the smallest grooves of your knives easy.
- Blue tint allows for easily-tracked oil application.
- Provides great protection against dirt.
- Thin-oil gives your knives a nice wet finish.
As it’s manufactured by Benchmade, you’ll find that this oil is optimized for their signature AXIS locks. With just a little application of this product on folding knives, they’ll be flying open with little effort. If you need a no-nonsense, easy-to-apply lube, look no further than the Benchmade Bluelube!
How Often Should You Oil Your Pocket Knife?
On average you should oil up the folding knife one or two times per year. If you use it regularly and expose the blade to gritty materials, salt, or water, oil the knife every month. Titanium blades and other premium metals are more resistant to rust, so these types of blades don’t require much maintenance.
Why It Is Essential to Use the Best Knife Lube?
Using the best knife lube helps to prevent surface oxidation and potential corrosion caused by moisture.
When you use low-quality knife lubes, pocket lint will likely compromise the knife’s functionality by damaging the pivot and locking areas. As a result, you will have trouble opening the knife, and the buildup around the lock keeps it from locking open or closed. Besides risks of injuries, these issues can leave the blade exposed to salt and water that could damage the knife permanently.
During maintenance, make sure to apply lubricant on the working parts of the knife, like the pivot points of the folding knife. Also, cover the blade’s entire surface with a thin film as well.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Knife Oil
Choosing an oil to lubricate folding knives may seem like a simple task, but it actually requires a comprehensive understanding of your knives. You must know about the blade material, the handle, and whether or not the oils are food-safe, among other things. Let’s explore all of these features to find the suitable one.
1. Intended Uses of the Knife
The purpose of using oil on a folding knife is to keep it clean to reduce friction, allowing the folding mechanism to open and close smoothly. Therefore, you need a versatile knife oil that keeps the joints smooth and supple, without any squeaking or rigidity.
If you use the folding knife to handle food, the oil must be food-safe and non-toxic. Food-safe knife oils won’t contaminate your food, and it’s mostly used on kitchen knives. We will talk more about this issue as we move forward.
2. Natural vs. Synthetic
Natural oils such as olive oil, vegetable, and canola oil can help you clean your folding blades and protect them from rust and corrosion. However, these oils have a greasy texture that inevitably attracts dust and dirt. If you use the folding knife in the wilderness or around debris, keeping it clean is more troublesome. We would recommend natural oils if you’re in a position where you can wash the knife right after using it.
Synthetic oils can be food-grade and non-food grade, indicating what type of knife you should use them. Food-grade synthetic oils are ideal if you use a folding knife for cutting fruits, slicing meat, or gutting fish. This type of oil is the one you would use with kitchen knives or any other knife that you use for prepping food.
If you don’t usually handle food with your knife, then synthetic non-food grade oils are a valid alternative to consider. This type of oil is not consumable, but it will help you hone and lubricate the folding knife to provide the blade with a protective layer against rust and corrosion. Synthetic oil is excellent for folding knives because they’re thinner and runnier. Applying it is just as easy as wiping it off.
3. Knife Brand
Japanese brands like Yoshihiro Tsoil and Kurobara make excellent oils for your folding knives, whether they have carbon steel or stainless steel knives. UltraPro, Smith’s, and Citadel are the next in line, coming from the USA with high-quality mineral oils, honing oils, and more. In many cases, knife manufacturers produce accompanying knife oils for their own knives. You don’t have to use them strictly, but some of those oils have specific formulas to complement the blade’s material. Therefore, they’re worthy of consideration.
4. Blade and Handle Materials
Carbon Steel Blades. Pretty much any oil will work on your carbon steel blades, from clove oil to olive oil. However, we recommend using canola or corn oil instead of olive oil, as the latter is more likely to go rancid without constant maintenance. Food-safe oils are a good choice if you have the time to care for them. Tsubaki oil is another solid option, as it works as an excellent deterrent against corrosion on carbon steel.
Stainless Steel. This type of steel is not as delicate as carbon steel, but it also needs periodic lubrication to protect and help sharpen the blade. In this case, you can use all-purpose oils, honing, or protecting oils to lubricate the blades. Conditioning oils also work every now and then, but it’s not essential. If you use the blade for food preparation, you could also apply food-safe mineral oils like wood block oil. Other than that, petroleum-based oils will also help you take good care of your pocket knives blades.
What oil should you use on wooden knife handles?
A wooden handle is vulnerable to decay if you don’t care for it properly. When you leave it exposed to moisture, the handle may crack. An effective method to prevent this issue is by using mineral oil. This type of oil protects the wood while enhancing its looks and feels.
Depending on the type of oil, you may have the opportunity to use it for one or more purposes. The most versatile oils like mineral oils can clean, condition, prevent rust and hone the knife. These are all-general oils that can help you save a lot of money and treat your knives right.
Other oils serve one purpose only. For example, honing oils are ideal for lubricating the blade before sharpening it. Another example is conditioning oil, which enhances wooden handles and blades.
6. Oil Viscosity
An important element to consider is whether the knife oil has light or thick viscosity. Thicker viscosity oils are better for carbon-heavy knives, which need higher protection against moisture and humidity. On the other hand, light oils will work better on your folding knives because you can wiggle the moving parts and remove the excess with ease.
7. Application Method
There are many methods to apply knife oil, so it’s up to you to decide which one you find more convenient. We particularly like the tiny tubes with needles or droppers because only a drop or two will do the trick. This method allows you to apply just the right amount of oil without wasting or spilling anything. Another benefit is that you can lubricate your knife joints easily as well.
But that’s not the only method available to lubricate the knives. Some brands offer grease tubes that melt at room temperature, reaching into the joints of the folding knife. Other options are sprays, which give you more precision on where to apply the oil. Lastly, you can follow the old-fashioned way, using a sponge to rub the oil over the blade.
8. Distinctive Scent
Using natural oils can be a blessing because they’re readily available almost anywhere, but some of them can go rancid. A similar situation happens with commercial oils, which can have strong smells and even be toxic if you inhale them for a long time. The solution in each case is that you should use odorless knife oils like mineral oil. Or, at the very least, make sure your preferred oil is not toxic even if it has a scent to it.
Natural oils are super easy to find, so you should always have one at home if you run out of synthetic oils. While synthetic oils are almost always available, finding a supplier can be tricky at a moment’s notice. Hence we recommend buying several of them at once. Luckily, folding knives only require one or two drops for lubrication, allowing your preferred oil to last longer.
10. Living Location
It may sound excessive, but the place you live or where you use the knife can also affect its performance. The air in coastal regions has higher moisture and salt mixed in, meaning you have to coat the blade’s surface with an oil film. This coating keeps salt-tinged moist air away from the steel of your blades, protecting it against corrosion.
Also, if you live in cold climates, make sure your oil has a lower freezing and melting point. The oil must remain liquid at room temperatures, or the knives will get greasy.
11. Can You Use the Same Knife Oil for Blades and Pivots?
A versatile oil will also work on the blades and pivot knife joints. In these knife parts, only a few drops are enough to maintain their mobility. We recommend using synthetic oils because they clean the joints perfectly, repelling dirt, lint, and static.
Choosing the best oil for folding knives isn’t just about performance! A great oil will also prevent rusting and other wear and tear that might come from frequent use.
For our money, the KPL Knife Pivot Lube Knife Oil is the best lube for pocket knives. The expertise put in this product really shows! It’s a high-performance product that’s completely food-safe.
Coming in at a close second is the Lucas Extreme Duty Gun Oil. Don’t let its name fool you, this lubricant provides long-lasting protection for your knives at a very affordable price.