I'm sharpening honing my cutting knives with a (honing) steel. I'm sure I read/saw somewhere that you should wipe your knives after sharpening honing to remove any shards of metal. Is this correct or necessary? Am I getting confused with something else? It doesn't seem plausible to me that this would create metal shards, but obviously it being a safety issue I wanted to check. Thanks.

  • possible duplicate of How should I care for my knives? – TFD Sep 12 '12 at 2:36
  • if you allow more time before marking the correct answer you may get more answers – TFD Sep 12 '12 at 7:19

Depending on the type of honing rod and the technique you use for honing, you will remove more or less metal from the blade. You can confirm whether your rod removes metal by wiping the blade on a white tea cloth after honing. If you see a grey residue on the cloth then metal has been removed and you can decide yourself whether you want that in your food.

Types of Honing Rod

  • Steel rods, of the type that are perfectly smooth will not remove noticeable amounts of steel from a blade. Polished honing rods are used for straightening a curled blade edge. Other types have shallow grooves cut down the length of the rod that bite into the blade and shave off metal particles.
  • Ceramic rods are slightly abrasive and will remove small amounts of metal.
  • Diamond coated rods are used for sharpening in place of a whetstone and will remove relatively large amounts of metal.

What technique you use for honing depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you only need to realign the edge of a well maintained knife, then two or three swipes on both sides of the blade, maintaining light pressure should be sufficient.

If you do this with a polished steel, then I would be surprised if you need to wipe the blade afterwards. If you use one of the other types of rod, then you are also removing metal from your knife and you may want to strop the knife and give it a quick wipe after.

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  • Do you have any sources for this? – Andrew Ferrier Sep 12 '12 at 22:20
  • @AndrewFerrier although it doesn't coincide exactly with what I have said, this link is the source of some of this information. The rest is an amalgam of information from my own experience and multiple (largely forgotten) online sources. – Chris Steinbach Sep 12 '12 at 23:55
  • @AndrewFerrier I tried to re-track some of my sources and came across this on YouTube which agrees with my advice to strop the knife after using a diamond coated rod. And this video, also from expert village also suggests using a strop after using a ceramic rod. There are quite a few knife sharpening videos from expert village that are worth a look. – Chris Steinbach Sep 13 '12 at 0:25
  • Finally, this video confirms what I say regarding technique. – Chris Steinbach Sep 13 '12 at 0:42

Yes, you should clean after sharpening, which is not the same as honing.

No, after honing, it's not necessary.

By sharpening, you take some metal off the edge of the knife to create an edge.

By honing, you realign the edge of the knife.

See this answer for more details.

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  • Thank you. It turns out I was using the wrong terminology. I was talking about honing with a honing steel, not sharpening. So honing does not require cleaning afterward? – Andrew Ferrier Sep 11 '12 at 13:30
  • I never clean after honing, and I've never seen anybody else do it (butcher, fish-monger, cooks, etc.) – BaffledCook Sep 11 '12 at 13:39
  • OK, thanks. Appreciate the pointers. – Andrew Ferrier Sep 11 '12 at 13:40
  • don't mention it. – BaffledCook Sep 11 '12 at 13:41
  • Honing does remove VERY small broken shards of metal. If the knife is clean and non-magnetic (it should) these will fall to the bench or floor during the honing process – TFD Sep 12 '12 at 2:39

For the sake of a few seconds running the knife under the tap, or wiping it with a damp cloth, why would you not do this? Regardless of whether you remove large pieces of metal or just tiny particles - is it worth the risk of getting any of this in the food you prepare? I always give my knives a rinse and then dry them with a clean cloth.

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