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wd40 as honing oil

Using WD40 as Honing Oil? Exploring the Pros and Cons

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When it comes to honing metal tools, using the right oil is crucial to achieving a smooth and polished finish. Many DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike have wondered whether WD40, a popular multi-use lubricant, can be used as honing oil.

While WD40 may seem like a convenient substitute for honing oil, it is primarily made up of petroleum-based solvents and mineral oil, which can attract dust and debris and leave behind a sticky residue when used on metal surfaces.

WD40 is not specifically formulated for honing purposes and may not provide the necessary lubrication and protection needed to prevent damage to the tool being honed.

Therefore, it is generally not recommended to use WD-40 on the surface of your stone.

Keep reading to find out why.

What is Honing Oil?

Sharpening a chef knife on a whetstone using WD40

Honing oil is a lubricant that is used in the honing process to reduce friction and heat, which helps to prevent damage to the honing stones and the workpiece.

It is a critical component of the honing process, and without it, the honing stones would quickly become clogged with metal particles and lose their effectiveness.

This type of oil is specially formulated to provide the necessary lubrication and cooling properties for the honing process.

It’s typically made from a blend of mineral oils and additives that help to reduce friction and heat and also provide rust protection and other benefits; some oil can also clean a sharpening stone and lubricate the pores of the stone.

Essentially, the oil you use can have a significant impact on the quality of the finished blade.

Different types of oil can be used, each with their own unique properties and benefits.

For example, some honing lubricants and oils are designed for use with specific materials or honing processes, while others are more versatile and can be used in a wide range of applications.

Can WD40 be used as honing oil?

When it comes to honing an edge, finding the right lubricant is essential to achieving the desired results.

Some people have suggested using WD40 as honing oil, but is this a good idea? Is WD-40 bad for knives? Here are some pros and cons.

Pros of using WD40

I have personally found that WD40 can be used to lubricate the sharpening stone in a pinch, as it does provide some lubrication on the surface of the stone.

It is also readily available and affordable, making it a convenient option for some people.

Additionally, from my experience, I find that WD40 can help to clean and protect the metal surface of the tool being honed. It can remove rust and other debris, which can help to improve the overall performance of the tool.

Cons of using WD40

While WD40 may be a convenient option, it is not the best choice for honing. WD40 is not specifically designed as a lubricant, and it may not provide enough lubrication to prevent damage to the tool being honed.

Furthermore, WD40 is not a long-lasting lubricant, and it may evaporate quickly. This means that it may not provide enough lubrication for the entire honing process, which could result in uneven edges or other issues.

Finally, using WD40 may not be the best choice for those who are concerned about the safety of their tools.

WD40 is a petroleum-based product, and it can be flammable.

This means that using it near open flames or sparks could be dangerous.

Using WD40 to remove rust from a packet knife

What are the alternatives to WD40?

While WD40 is a popular choice for honing oil, there are a few alternatives that can be used as well.

Below, we explore some of the best alternatives to WD40 and the benefits they offer.

Traditional honing oils

While WD40 can be used as a good substitute for honing, it’s not the best option for those looking to achieve the best possible results.

Traditional honing oils are specially formulated to provide the lubrication and cooling necessary for honing, and they come in a variety of different types and viscosities to suit different needs.

Some of the most popular traditional honing lubricants and oils include:

  • Mineral oil
  • Kerosene
  • Baby oil
  • Soluble oil
  • Vegetable oil (might go rancid)

Each of these oils has its own unique properties and advantages, so it’s worth experimenting with different types to find the one that works best for your needs.

Other lubricants that can be used as honing oil

While traditional honing oils are the best option for most honing applications, there are a few other lubricants that can be used as a honing oil substitute. Some of these include:

  • Motor oil
  • Transmission fluid
  • Cutting oil
  • Machine oil

However, it’s important to note that these lubricants are not specifically designed for honing, so they may not provide the same level of lubrication and cooling as traditional honing oils.

Additionally, some of these lubricants may contain additives or contaminants that could damage your honing stone or the surface you’re honing.

Is Honing Oil the Same as Mineral Oil?

Honing oil and mineral oil are two distinct types of lubricants. Honing oil is specifically designed and formulated for use during the honing process of machining operations, where abrasive stones are used to precisely smooth and shape surfaces.

Honing oil is typically petroleum-based and contains a variety of additives that help to reduce friction, dissipate heat, and flush out debris.

While mineral oil can also be derived from petroleum, it is a much broader category that encompasses a wide range of different oils with varying properties and uses.

Mineral oil is commonly used as a lubricant and rust inhibitor, as well as in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. However, even within the category of mineral oil, there can be significant differences in composition and performance.

Therefore, it is important to carefully consider the specific application and requirements when selecting a lubricant, whether it is honing oil or a different type of mineral oil.

While there may be some overlap, it is not accurate to classify honing oil as simply a type of mineral oil.

Why do People use oil for Sharpening Historically?

Throughout history, people have used oil combined with a whetstone as a means of sharpening tools and weapons.

The reason for this is that oil helps to protect the blade while it is being sharpened, preventing the metal from becoming too hot and annealing or losing its temper.

The oil also acts as a lubricant, reducing friction between the stone and the blade and preventing the stone from becoming clogged with metal shavings.

Additionally, oil carries away the metal particles that are generated during sharpening, keeping the blade and stone clean.

In this way, it allows the sharpener to maintain a consistent angle and force, resulting in a more uniform edge. Oil sharpening is particularly useful for blades that are made of stainless steel, which can be difficult to sharpen with traditional sharpening stones due to their hardness.

The use of oil for sharpening is so widespread that there are now specific oils made for the purpose, such as mineral oil or honing oil.

While modern tools and blades have advanced and become more durable, the use of oil for sharpening remains a staple technique due to its effectiveness and efficiency. 

Buying a can of WD40 from my local Walmart

Final Thoughts

Can you use wd40 on a whetstone? After conducting thorough research, it is clear that WD40 should not be used as honing oil.

Although it may seem like a quick and easy solution, using WD40 can actually do more harm than good to your tools and equipment.

Firstly, WD40 is not designed for use on a synthetic sharpening stone. It is a multi-purpose lubricant that is intended for use in a variety of applications, such as loosening rusted parts or protecting against corrosion.

Its viscosity and chemical composition are not suitable for honing, which requires a specific type of oil with a particular viscosity and lubricating properties.

Secondly, WD40 can leave behind a sticky residue that can attract dust and debris, which can lead to further damage to your tools and equipment. It can also cause buildup on the honing stone, making it less effective over time.

Finally, using WD40 can also be dangerous. When heated, it can release harmful fumes and smoke, which can be hazardous to your health.

Therefore, it is highly recommended to use a dedicated oil for honing your kitchen knives that is specifically designed for this purpose.

This will ensure that your tools and equipment are properly lubricated and protected, and will help to prolong their lifespan.