Soaking a whetstone is a great way to get the most out of your sharpening process. A whetstone, also known as an oil stone or a water stone, is a block of material used for sharpening and honing knives and other blades. Whetstones are made from different materials such as natural rocks, man-made ceramics, and synthetic particles that are able to provide a high quality edge with minimal effort. The stones absorb liquid during sharpening, which helps to lubricate the blade, prevent metal build up, and keep the blade cool. So how long should you soak a whetstone?

The length of time required to soak your whetstone depends on the type of material it is made from. Natural stones typically require at least 15 minutes of soaking time in water; however, if you are using an oil stone it may take as little as 5 minutes of soaking in honing oil before being ready for use. On the other hand, synthetic or ceramic stones can take anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour of soaking depending on their composition and hardness. In addition to soaking time though, some stones will require additional time after soaking to ensure they reach the optimal surface temperature for sharpening. Any pre-soaking instructions should be explicit; therefore reading any accompanying documentation before use is always recommended.

Factors to Consider Before Soaking

Before soaking a whetstone, it is important to consider the size and type of stone you have. Natural stones usually require more soaking time than synthetic stones. Smaller stones may not need any soaking at all. Additionally, harder stones may not need to be soaked for prolonged periods of time as they are less porous. Also, depending on what you intend to use the whetstone for, determine how long it should be soaked for in water or oil to achieve desired results. As a general rule of thumb, most dense synthetic or natural whetstones should be soaked for 30 minutes to 1 hour at minimum; however, softer or larger stones may require up to 3-4 hours of soaking time. Allow for extra time if the stone has been sliced thin as this will allow more liquid penetration into the material.

Different Types of Whetstones and the Recommended Soaking Times

Natural Whetstones: Natural whetstones usually need to be soaked for 20 minutes – 1 hour. It is important to note that if you are using a natural whetstone, it should never be soaked longer than 1 hour, as doing so can cause the stone to become too soft and porous.

Synthetic Whetstones: Synthetic whetstones will typically require a shorter soaking time of 10- 30 minutes depending on how coarse the stone is. Make sure to dry the stone off before using it.

Combo Stones: Combo stones are both natural and synthetic, so they will require a medium length soak time of 15-45 minutes before use. Again, always remember to dry the stone off with a towel before using it.

Advice From Experienced Sharpeners

If you are using a waterstone, you should immerse it in water for at least 20 minutes before usage. When soaking the stone, make sure to continually move the stone around to evenly distribute the water throughout the hone instead of just having it sit on one spot during soaking. Some sharpeners use a shallow container of water and even add few drops of dish soap to assist with breaking down grime from previous uses. Once you have finished using your whetstone, thoroughly rinse off any metal particles and air dry or pat down with a clean cloth.

Cleaning and Maintenance Tips After Soaking

Once you have soakeed your whetstone for the appropriate amount of time, it is important to properly care for and maintain it. First, use a stone fixer or cleaning solution specifically designed for sharpening stones. Gently scrub both sides of the whetstone with a damp cloth until any dirt is removed from the surface. After lightly cleaning the stone, rinse it off with water and dry it off completely with a soft cloth or some paper towels. Finally, make sure to store your whetstone in a safe and dry place. If possible, seal it in an airtight bag or container before storing to keep out moisture which could damage the stone if left unchecked.


The amount of time to soak a whetstone varies depending on its size and width. Generally, it is recommended to soak your whetstone for at least 20 minutes; however, stones with a wider width may require up to 30 minutes or more of soaking. It is important to note that too long of a soak may weaken the bond that holds the stone together. For best results, follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to how long your particular stone needs to be soaked in order for optimal performance. Additionally, make sure that after soaking your whetstone, you immediately rinse off any excess water before using it, as any remaining liquid can interfere with the sharpening process and reduce its efficiency. Finally, regularly checking and adjusting the water temperature as needed will help improve the longevity of your whetstone. With proper care and attention, you can achieve maximum efficiency from this invaluable tool in order to get professional-grade sharper blades with every use!