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Whetstone: What Is It And What Are They Used For In Japan?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  November 2, 2022

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A Japanese knife whetstone is a specific type of whetstone that is designed for sharpening knives.

There are several different types of whetstones, each of which has its own unique properties. Some of the most common types of whetstones include diamond, Arkansas, and water stones.

Whetstones are made of very hard materials such as silicon carbide or corundum. They are often used in pairs, with one coarser stone for preliminary sharpening and a finer stone for finishing.

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What is the origin of whetstones?

The use of whetstones to sharpen tools is thought to have originated in China. Whetstones were also used by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks.

What is a japanese whetstone

Do I really need to use a Japanese whetstone?

If you want to keep your blades in great condition for a long time then yes!

Japanese whetstones are a little more expensive than other brands. But being higher in quality than most other options, they’re definitely worth the investment!

Plus, they’re really easy to use and keep your blades in great condition for a long time. They’re made from a range of materials that can be used wet, dry, or with oil.

Plus they have an optimal grit size for ceramic blade knives, carbon steel knives, and stainless steel knives.

What are the benefits of using a Japanese whetstone?

There are many benefits to using a Japanese whetstone that make cooking in the kitchen much easier and more efficient.

Some of these benefits include:

They help you achieve a razor-sharp edge quickly

As mentioned before, getting a sharp edge is the key to the perfect dish.

Japanese whetstones can help you achieve this quickly and easily, allowing you to get back to cooking in no time.

They’re convenient and easy to use

Japanese whetstones are incredibly easy to use–simply soak them in water or oil (depending on the stone material you’re using) for the recommended amount of time, then sharpen your knives on the stone.

What’s more, they don’t require any special equipment or skills to use. So pretty much anyone can do it.

They’re durable and long-lasting

Another great benefit of Japanese whetstones is that they’re built to last. With proper care, your whetstone will last for years–meaning you’ll spend less time and money replacing them.

They’re easy to use and require little maintenance

As mentioned before, Japanese whetstones are very easy to use and require little maintenance. Just presoak or oil, then wash with water once you’re finished.

This makes them a great option for those who are typically short on time and don’t have it spare to spend on knife sharpening.

There’s a type of whetstone for every need

No matter what your budget or cooking style, there’s a Japanese whetstone that’s perfect for you.

How do I use a Japanese whetstone?

To use a Japanese whetstone, simply soak it in water for the recommended amount of time, then sharpen your knives on the stone.

Regardless of which type of stone you’re using, it’s important to keep your stone wet while you’re using it. So be sure to check the water level regularly and top it up as needed.

Depending on the type of Japanese whetstone you’re using, there are some other considerations you should be mindful of.

FAQ’s

Are you supposed to wet a sharpening stone (whetstone)?

The answer to this common sharpening stone question is yes and no. It really depends on the type of sharpening stone that you have.

For example, if you have a natural honing stone, then it is recommended that you do not soak it in water before use.

However, for most other types of sharpening stones, including synthetic, man-made stones, it is generally recommended that you soak the stone in water for at least 20 minutes before use.

The reason for this is that soaking the stone in water helps to “lubricate” the surface of the stone and prevents the metal from being pulled away from the stone too easily.

Soaking the stone also helps to “rehydrate” the stone and prevents it from drying out too quickly.

How long should you soak a whetstone?

It is generally advised that you soak your whetstone for at least 20 minutes before use.

This will help to ensure that the stone is evenly saturated and ready to provide a consistent sharpening experience.

Can you use water on a whetstone?

Yes, water is the most common lubricant used when sharpening on a whetstone. However, some stones can also be used with oil.

Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions before using oil on your whetstone.

How often should I use my Japanese whetstone?

It’s important to use your Japanese sharpening stone regularly to keep your knives in top condition. Depending on how often you use your knives, you may need to sharpen them weekly or monthly.

If you notice your knives are losing their edge more quickly, it’s a good idea to increase the frequency of your whetstone use.

On the other hand, if you find that your knives are still holding their edge well, you can reduce the frequency of sharpening.

The key is to find a happy medium that works for you and your knives.

How should I store my Japanese whetstone?

To keep your sharpening stone in top condition, and ensure its use for years to come, store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.