How to Tell Sharpening Stone is Oil or Water

How to Tell Sharpening Stone is Oil or Water? Easy Tips for Beginners

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Sharpening stones are mainly used for sharpening the edges of steel-made tools and equipment such as knives, razors, blades, scissors, scrapers etc. They have a vast range of sizes, portions, shapes and compositions with their own specific characteristics and applications.

Sharpening stones are constructed of many natural materials and even man-made components. There are different types of stones; however water stones and oil stones are mostly used to sharpen knives or some other steel tools.

Sometimes we get confused in differentiating whether the particular stone is water stone or oil stone because they have many things similar. So if we learn some easy tactics, we can easily identify the water stone or oil stone.

Water Stone

Water Stone

Sharpening stones are often used with different cutting lubricants like water, oil etc. to enhance its sharpening capability and wash away metal dusts. Those stones used with water for this intention are called water stones.

Using water lubricants is the most common method of enhancing the long-lasting life and sharpening of the stones. Water stones can be put into both natural and artificial stones. Japanese sharpening stone is the best example of natural water stone.

Japanese sharpening stones are immersed in water for an hour before being used for functioning best in the sharpening process, so it is often referred to as Japanese water stones. Water stones are very soft and porous in nature than other conventional bench stones. You can find an in-depth suggestion for Tracker Knife by simply clicking here.

Oil Stone

Oil Stone

Oil stones are commonly known as bench stones or whetstones in which a flimsy layer of oil is used as lubricant to enhance the sharpness of the steel made accessories as well as help to keep the whet surface loading or glazing.

The Arkansas oil stones are the most popular oil stones used in sharpening knives or other similar tools. Oil stones and water stones are many things of similarity and also many things of dissimilarities. Yet you have to use as per your requirements. In addition, you can check the recommendations for the Large Chopper Knife.

Difference Between Water Stone or Oil Stone

Difference Between Water Stone or Oil Stone

There is no direct way to tell whether the stone is oil or water. However, you can also soak the stone in water and then in oil to see its performance. From the cutting speed and texture of the sharpening stones, you can clearly see whether the stone is an oil stone or a water stone.


Oil stones are generally made from aluminum oxide, silicon carbide. Besides, these stones are also constructed by a material called Novaculite and these stones are also referred to as Arkansas stones. Oil is used as a method of lubrication on the oil stones for sharpening the stones.

The aluminum oxide stones are often known as Indian stones. Th\\\\\ey are comparatively cheap, fast cutting, good cutting edge as well as very popular oil stones. On the other hand, the silicon stones are usually referred to as Crystolon stones.

The Crystolon stones are generally much coarsed and stronger than other oil stones. Plus they also rate cheaply.

On the contrary, there are many natural or man-made water stones. And mostly they are made from aluminum oxide. These stones are generally affordable and they are very soft. The softer nature of these stones makes it more effective to cut more.

Cutting Speed

Both stones have comparatively different cutting speed and mechanism. Oil stones cut slowly compared to the water stones. Thus the slow cutting speed of the oil stones makes the whetting process longer.

On the other hand, water stones offer faster cutting facility than the oil stones. Thus, they make the sharpening method faster. So comparatively it can be said that if you want fast cutting speed then you can go for water stones instead of oil stones.


Oil stones are mainly produced through man-made materials so their price is relatively cheaper than other stones. However, Arkansas stones are a comparatively high priced range among the oil stones. Due to its mixture of many man-made products, its price is low.

On the contrary, those water stones made of man-made products have the same price as oil stones made from similar materials. However, the water stones that are made from natural rock water range at a comparatively high price.

Mess Factor

Oil used as a lubricant is a little bit messy as it is difficult to clean after the sharpening process. Oil is more prone to clinging to the surface that creates difficulty. And this factor makes the oil stones less preferable and suitable for use in this sharpening process.

However, water is comparatively very less messy and easier to clean up after whetting. That’s why water stones are much preferred for use in the sharpening works. So in this regard, water stones are the best method of sharpening knives.

Oil vs. Water Stones: The Myth

There are two reasons behind the nature of oil rocks. First of all, they appear from years of tradition. Second, some whetstones have an oil-based lubricant in their binder manufacturing. Therefore, coating stones like India or softer rocks from Arkansas in oil makes it impossible to use water afterward.

As long as the stone’s binder is not filled with oil, water is still a valid choice for lubrication. In the end, the point of comparing oil and water stones is not the type of lubricant you put on them. Instead, it all depends on their binding material.

Final Words

sharpening stone is oil or water

Choosing between oil stones and water stones is personal acceptance, but if you are a beginner you should start with water stones. This is because they have fast sharpening capability and cause less mess than oil stones.

Besides, water stones are relatively less priced and affordable for use. So it would be better for you if you want to whet your steel made tools through sharpening stones as a beginner.

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