A whetstone, also referred to as oil stones or sharpening stones, are a traditional tool used for sharpening and honing steel blades. They can be made from natural materials such as novaculite and arkansas stone, a composite material, waterstones (an aluminum oxide abrasive), or diamond-infused synthetic stones. Each type of whetstone requires a different level of preparation before it can be used for sharpening. The amount of time needed to soak a whetstone depends on the type that you are using.

Novaculite and Arkansas Stones

Novaculite and Arkansas stones typically require the longest soaking times in order to be ready for use. These types of whetstones should be soaked in mineral oil overnight or at least an hour before use. Soaking them longer may actually be necessary depending on the type and size of your stone.


Waterstones need to be soaked in water for approximately 10 minutes before using them for sharpening. The amount of time required for soaking may vary depending on how coarse the stone is, so it’s best to check the manufacturer’s instructions prior to use.

Diamond Infused Synthetic Stones

For diamond-infused synthetic stones, no special preparation is necessary before use as they come pre-soaked in lubricants and oils that help reduce friction while sharpening. All you need to do is wipe down the surface with some water prior to usage.

Matters of Soaking Time

Oil Stones: Oil stones are relatively soft and require soaking for 10 to 15 minutes before use. For best results, it is important to use the correct oil when sharpening with an oil stone; some experts recommend honing oil specifically designed for water stones, while others prefer the combination of honing oil and kerosene. After each sharpening session, an oil stone should be wiped down or scrubbed clean with a nylon brush and then soaked again in a fresh coat of oil.

Synthetic Stones: Synthetic stones are tougher than oil stones but still need to be saturated with water before use. Because these are nonporous materials, they will have a much shorter soak time (usually 5 minutes or less). It is important to thoroughly dry the stone after each use so as to prevent rust spots from forming on the surface.

Natural Stones: Natural stones tend to be harder and more porous than either synthetic or oil stones—in that case, it is recommended that they be soaked for 20-30 minutes each before use. This allows for proper absorption of water into all their microscopic pores, which is essential for creating a slurry that can efficiently abrade the metal of your blades during sharpening. As with any whetstone material, make sure you rinse off any metal particles or debris after each use!

Soaking Times for Oils

The ideal amount of time to soak a whetstone in oil depends on several factors. The type of oil used, the type of stone and its porosity, the size of the stone, and how it is shaped all play a role in determining how much soaking time is necessary. If an oil with mineral spirits or petroleum-based lubricants is used, a longer soaking period may be required to ensure optimal performance. Coarser stones will require much more soaking time than finer stones because the larger pores need more time for the oil to penetrate. Finally, the shape of the stone plays a significant role in determining its stiffness; round stones tend to have thicker surfaces than flatter ones and therefore require longer soaking times. Ultimately, it may take some experimentation to determine the ideal length of time necessary for each specific whetstone.

Soaking Times for Synthetic Materials

The optimal time for soaking a whetstone varies depending on the particular synthetic material used. Generally speaking, relatively soft stones should be soaked for 5-10 minutes while harder stones should receive increased amounts of time. For most synthetic stones, like diamond and oil-filled stones, 15-30 minutes is considered sufficient. It’s important to not oversoak your stone because excess water can compromise its cutting performance. Additionally, if poorly stored, wetting can also cause rusting in some models so it’s always wise to store in a dry place. As with other aspects of sharpening, it is always best to test out soaking times and consult the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal results.

Soaking Times for Natural Materials

In general, a whetstone should be soaked in water for at least five minutes prior to use. If the whetstone is made of natural material, such as Arkansas or silicone carbide, this time can increase depending on several factors. Temperature and humidity, as well as the hardness of the stone, can all play a role in how long it needs to be soaked.

For stones that have been stored in lower temperatures and are made of very hard materials, such as Arkansas or carborundum stones, the soak time should increase up to 10 minutes or more. Humidity can also impact soak times; if the humidity is high then these same stones may require 15 to 20 minutes of soaking—or more if needed. Stones made from softer materials such as Japanese waterstones need less soaking—generally just two or three minutes before using. That being said, soaking longer will not harm them as natural material stones are designed to absorb water without damage.

The Benefits of Soaking

Soaking a whetstone before use can bring about many benefits. This process helps the stone become lubricated and prevents it from becoming dry and brittle. When a whetstone is allowed to soak, the pores in the stone open up, allowing oil or water to fill them and provide optimum cutting potential. The more a stone soaks, the deeper and better the penetration. This allows for higher performance when sharpening knives or other tools with a whetstone.

Additionally, regular soaking of your whetstone can prolong its life and ensure you get the most out of its use. As oils and water enter the pores of the stone they prevent it from breaking down due to overuse by providing lubrication. Without lubrication, grit buildup on your blade would wear away at your stone instead of sharpening your blade, reducing its lifespan considerably.

Soak time for a whetstone typically ranges from 15 minutes up to overnight depending on what type of stone you have as well as its thickness and size. Keep in mind that it’s always best not to oversoak a whetstone as this can cause swelling or cracking due to prolonged exposure to moisture which could damage your tool over time. In general, stones should be soaked for long enough that you are able to feel little beads at the surface (good visual indicator) prior to beginning use— anything beyond that could easily lead to oversoaking.

DIY Soaking Sink

1. Choose a container that is both deep and wide enough to fit your whetstone(s). A plastic bin or bucket works well. Make sure the container has no holes in it, as this will allow water to leak out.

2. Cut a piece of drainage pipe slightly longer than the length of your container. Place the pipe inside the bottom of the container and make sure it fits snugly against the walls and base. This will create a drain for excess water to escape from the sink once you have finished soaking your stones.

3. Add some sand or gravel to the bottom of your container, around the drain pipe, to keep it in place during use and prevent any excess water from leaking out.

4. Fill up the container with cold (not hot) tap water until it reaches just below where you want to put your stones; typically 3-4″ below the surface works best when soaking whetstones or other sharpening tools.

5. You can now add a few drops of dish soap if desired, however avoid using too much as this can damage stones over time or contribute to their erosion process more quickly than normal.

6. Finally, submerge your whetstone(s) in the water until fully submerged, making sure they are placed evenly along one side of the sink so air bubbles can easily escape from underneath each stone-this helps them absorb more water faster and remain soaked without constantly being re-submerged while you sharpen your blades on them (for extended use).

7. Once finished sharpening, remove stones from sink and allow excess water to drip off before storing away for future use!

Tips for Soaking

Soaking your whetstone is an incredibly important step in sharpening. Not only does it make the stone better at cutting and providing a quality edge, but it also helps extend its lifespan and reduce wear. Unfortunately, not many knife sharpening enthusiasts are sure how long to soak their stones correctly. To ensure you’re soaking correctly and maximizing the potential of your stone, keep these best practices in mind.

First of all, pay attention to the type of water you use to soak your stone. Different types of whetstones take best to different types; oil stones tend to absorb less water when soaked in warm water rather than cold, whereas waterstones generally respond positively to both warm and cold water for soaking purposes. Be sure you read up on the type of whetstone you have before attempting to soak it for any length of time.

It’s also important that you pay particular attention to how long your stone should be soaked for – this time varies depending on what type of materials were used in making it; some stones require more time than others. Generally speaking, most waterstones need somewhere between two and five minutes while most oilstone takes around 15 minutes or so. Double-check with manufacturer guidelines if you’re unsure – their advice will be the most reliable estimate for how long you can go for safely soaking your whetstone properly!

Once the desired times has elapsed, carefully drain off excess liquid from your stone before storage – leaving moisture on it may cause damage from rusting over time. With a few simple tips like these in mind, utilizing a soak as part of your sharpening routine will improve both results and efficiency significantly!


The amount of time one should soak their whetstone before use depends on the material of the stone. For synthetic, or artificial stones, a minimum of 15 minutes is recommended, whereas natural stones may need to be soaked for up to one hour. The purpose of soaking is to bring the stone’s surface moisture content to an optimal level, allowing it to perform effectively when used. Soaking also ensures that any debris or debris on the pores of the stone are released prior to sharpening blades. Doing so helps you achieve better and more precise results during sharpening. Taking the time to soak your stone correctly will ultimately improve your knife sharpening experience and help produce shaper edges on your blades.