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Honing Oil Substitutes – 5 Best Alternatives Widely Available

A sharpening stone is a chef’s best friend, and so is the honing oil. Used as lubrication, the honing oil keeps the sharpening stone protected by reducing friction and removing debris. But what happens when there’s no honing oil nearby? In that scenario, you look for an alternative.

Mineral oil, baby oil, olive oil, and even water are excellent honing oil substitutes. Most of these alternatives are widely available and come at affordable prices, meaning you can replace them quickly to avoid dealing with dull knives. Use them correctly, and both the stone and knife will remain healthy.

Of course, there are also a few disadvantages you must know about these substitute substances. So, let’s not wait any longer and head right into it!

What’s Honing Oil and What It Is Made of?

Honing oil is a solution added to the sharpening stone to protect its pores while sharpening a knife’s blade. This product also goes by the names of tool oil or cutting oil. Nonetheless, the components used to produce honing oil are the same: a petroleum or non-petroleum base with sulfur, chlorine, and other additives.

What to Check in a Honing Oil Substitute?

There are many things to consider before using any type of oil on your sharpening stone. You have to check the thickness and viscosity to know whether it’ll damage the stone. Plus, easy access to the honing oil replacement is also important. 

Let’s talk about that.

How Thick Is the Oil?

Ideally, you want to use low-viscosity oil substitutes to avoid clogging the pores of the stone. When that happens, the sharpening stone loses its efficiency to sharpen a blade. A clear example of an alternative that clogs stones quickly is motor oil.

Will It Clog Your Stone?

Clogged pores in the stone can render it useless. Therefore, you must focus on using light oil substitutes instead. These will make the sharpening process smoother, and there won’t be any need to worry about potential stains.

Read Also: How to Clean a Clogged Sharpening Stone?

Is It Widely Available?

The purpose of looking for honing oil alternatives is that you have easy access to them as soon as you need them. There’s no need to look for other sharpening lubricants if they are hard to find. That’s why you must look for a widely available alternative like mineral oils or baby oils.

Is It Reasonably Priced?

You will find that some of the products recommended here are considerably more affordable than the honing oil price. It will help you improve your sharpening skills without spending too much money on expensive lubes. 

Tip: Before buying, check if the replacement is difficult to maintain if you use the sharpening stone regularly. Don’t go for an expensive product that you can’t continue to use. 

What Is a Good Substitute for Honing Oil?

Mineral oil, baby oil, and olive oil are only some of the most common substitutes for honing oil. Products of this nature are affordable, easy to come by, and super effective for getting a great edge without messing up the stone.

Mineral Oil

Mineral oils are an everyday product most households have. It’s a good alternative to honing oil because mineral oil is light. You can use it on the sharpening stone as much as needed and the oil won’t set. This type of oil doesn’t go rancid either, meaning you won’t have to deal with an unpleasant smell or clogs.

Since many brands make their mineral oils for babies, they don’t have fumes or odors that could come off as toxic. Lastly, this is an affordable alternative for honing oil.

Even better, there are no significant disadvantages after comparing honing oil vs mineral oil. Many people straight out ditch honing oil to use mineral oil instead.

Baby Oil

But what if you run out of mineral oil? Well, you may want to try baby oil instead. Yes, you read that correctly.

Using baby oil as a honing oil replacement is great because it’s a super affordable product. In essence, baby oil is mineral oil plus a nice fragrance added to the mix. Other than that, this oil type shares plenty of the same benefits as mineral oils — it’s light, non-hardening, and it doesn’t get spoiled.

Downside: The smell can be uncomfortable for some people.

Olive Oil

It’s surprising how chefs often go with olive oil to lubricate the sharpening stone. That’s a product people wouldn’t normally consider, but it still does well for knife sharpening. Olive oil is also non-hardening, and it won’t damage if you clean it thoroughly after use. 

If you use it properly, olive oil is a light type of oil that doesn’t leave a rancid smell on the sharpening stone.

Downsides: Regular maintenance is necessary & the price is a bit high.

Glass Cleaner

A glass cleaner is capable of entering the tiny pores of glass to get rid of everything that entered before. The same principle applies to sharpening stones, which the cleaner protects with great efficiency. 

Downsides: Not a widely available product.

Honing Oil vs Water

Using honing oil or water as a lubricant for the sharpening stone is a debate that has been going on for years. If you’re not sure why people prefer one or the other, here’s a quick guide on the pros and cons of each one.

Why Use Honing Oil on Sharpening Stones?

Honing oil protects the sharpening stone, but it also protects the blade. After applying it, the oil keeps the metal from rusting. Another benefit of using honing oil is that there are many variations of it. Multiple brands have their own, allowing you to choose between several options.

Some people argue that handling the knife during sharpening is trickier when you use honing oil. However, it’s a matter of perception. Many people prefer oil, while others go with water. Realistically, one of the biggest differences between the two is that one is free and the other one isn’t.

Why Use Water on Sharpening Stones?

Water is natural and one of the simplest substitutes to honing oil. Use a dab of dish soap with some water, and the effect on the stone and the blade is interesting. With this solution, the blade’s bevel almost suctions the stone. As a result, working on the bevel in the knife is easier and hassle-free.

There are other benefits to using water instead of oil. For instance, soapy water can lubricate the stone and keep it clean while taking good care of the knife as well. The grip feels better and more comfortable.

Which one to Use? Ultimately, it all boils down to which lubricant you prefer to use. Nonetheless, keep in mind one thing. Some sharpening stones won’t work well with water if you use the oil first. Pick the one that gives you optimal results, and stick with that one if you don’t have other stones.

Is Honing Oil Toxic?

Honing oils compatible with a sharpening stone are not toxic. For this reason, you must focus on getting oils compatible with the stones.

Is Honing Oil Necessary?

Yes, adding honing oil on the sharpening stone is necessary for many reasons. First, it works as a protection for the stone. Secondly, the honing oil carries away debris or swarf. Finally, this type of oil allows you to create a sharper edge on a metal blade efficiently.

Is Honing Oil the Same as Mineral Oil?

Honing oil and mineral oil share several similarities, but they are not the same thing. The honing oil is either petroleum-based or non-petroleum-based, and it has additives. Mineral oil is petroleum-based as well, but it’s odorless. Plus, mineral oils don’t come with the additives found in the honing oil.

Can I Use 3 in 1 Oil on a Sharpening Stone?

You can use 3-in-1 oil on the sharpening stone. This type of lubricant is another form of mineral oil, which works well on the stone. In some cases, manufacturers add colorant to prevent making it obvious that their honing oils are mineral oils.

Is Gun Oil Good for Knives?

Yes, you can use gun oil on knives. However, the smell some of these oils can leave may be off-putting. If you intend to use the knives to touch food, using mineral oil would be the better option. 

Read Also: What is the best oil for knives?

Can I Use Vegetable Oil on Sharpening Stone?

You can use vegetable oil on the sharpening stone as long as you don’t let it go rancid or allow it to set on the stone. Veggie oils like corn oil, soy oil, and peanut oil are ideal choices for this purpose. Almond and macadamia oil also work, but they’re often more expensive.

Semi-drying or drying oil like flaxseed, linseed oil, poppy, and safflower would clog the stone. It would be useless afterward.

If you’re not familiar with vegetable oils and how they can affect the sharpening stone, don’t use them. Check thoroughly first.

So, What Can Be Used in Place of Honing Oil?

Mineral oil, baby oil, olive oil, water, and glass cleaner are some of the most efficient alternatives to lubricate oil stones. If you don’t have any other method, consider using one of these products as an alternative.

About Brian M. Casey

As a food lover, Brian M. Casey developed a fascination for cooking at an early age. He soon realized that not only the ingredients matter but also the knives and the accessories used to turn those ingredients into a delicious dish. This way, Brian began his journey on the magnificent world of kitchen knives, outdoor knives, knife accessories, and much more. After years of experience with many ups and downs, Brian now wants to share everything he’s learned during his journey as an avid knife collector, a well-seasoned knife maker, and an all-around knives enthusiast.

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