When it comes to sharpening any blade or tool, some type of on-going maintenance must take place in order to keep them in optimal condition. A sharpening stone is one of the most popular and effective means for achieving this. Knowing how long to soak a sharpening stone before each use can significantly increase its longevity as well as the efficiency of your sharpening task. Soaking times vary depending on the type of stone used and can range from fifteen minutes to several hours. Factors such as temperature and contamination will influence the specifics with each unique situation, so having an understanding of these conditions is essential when determining your soaking time.

Overview of Sharpening Stones

Sharpening stones are an essential tool for sharpening blades and keeping them in optimal condition. From knives and scissors to chisels and razors, sharpening stones can be used to sharpen any number of tools. Sharpening stones come in a variety of sizes and shapes, made from various materials like diamond, oilstones (Arkansas stone), waterstones (Japan stones), synthetic or natural stones.

The amount of time needed to properly soak the stone before use depends on the type of stone that is being used. For instance, the Arkansas stone requires 20 minutes to an hour of soaking prior to use while a waterstone generally requires just 20-30 minutes. Natural or synthetic stones may also require soaking depending on their hardness, though they typically don’t require as much soaking as Arkansas or waterstones do—about 15-20 minutes should suffice. Soaking ensures that the pores in the stone already hold some lubricant which will make sharpening smoother and less likely to cause gouging. Additionally, some wet/dry abrasive paper may need to be treated with a lubricant during certain types of general maintenance or repair. Finally, metals such as steel generally require a period of pre-soaking in warm oil prior to use on any kind of sharpening stone regardless of material type.

Explanation of Soaking Times

For a water stone, it is important to let the stone soak for 10-15 minutes before sharpening, as this will allow the surface of the stone to become completely saturated with water. This helps to release any embedded particles that could cause scratching or etching. If you are using an oil-based stone, you should let the stone soak for at least 30 minutes so that all the crevices and surfaces can absorb adequate amounts of oil. While natural stones do not require soaking, synthetic stones may need to be soaked for up to 45 minutes depending on their condition and material composition.

The general rule of thumb is that if your sharpening stone has been in storage for a while, it’s always best to allow it some time to soak in its liquid medium before using it. This will help ensure even absorption and maximize efficiency when working with any type of sharpening tool or stone.

Factors to Consider

Stone Material – Different stones generally require different soaking times. Natural stones such as Arkansas, a softer stone than its synthetic counterparts, should be soaked for up to 20 minutes. Synthetic stones – such as aluminium oxide or silicon carbide – can withstand longer soaks of up to 45 minutes. Oilstones usually require the longest soaking times compared with other types of sharpening stones and may need up to an hour of soaking before becoming ready for use.

Size and Shape – The size and shape of the sharpening stone will also affect the ideal soak time. Smaller and thinner stones could require shorter soak times, while thicker or larger stones may necessitate longer soak times.

Environment – In addition, environmental factors must also be taken into consideration when determining how long to soak a sharpening stone. If you live in a humid climate, it is likely that your stones will become moist much faster when wet – which can reduce the required soaking time to less than what’s recommended above – whereas in dry climates a longer soaking period may be needed for the same result.

Strategies for Keeping Track

Sharpening stones must be soaked in water before they are used to sharpen knives, scissors, and blades. Generally, it is best to soak stones for at least five minutes. Depending on their type and size, some may need to be soaked for up to twenty minutes. For those who use sharpening stones regularly, keeping track of how long each stone needs to be soaked can be a challenge. Here are some strategies for tracking and remembering the soaking times for your individual sharpening stones:

1. Color Coded Labels: Attach bright color coded labels onto the stones or containers that hold them and write down their recommended soaking times onto each label. This will make it easier to remember which stone needs what length of time.

2. Write-on Tags: Alternatively, you could use refrigerator magnets or write-on tags with strings attached that can easily be hung up near the sink where you prepare your sharpening stone set-up. Then record individual soaking times onto the tags or magnets using a pen or permanent marker so you know what length of time each stone requires.

3. Apps: Lastly, there are a variety of app options available online (depending on your mobile device) that allow users to easily create personalized lists and reminders with dates/times associated with them—this could be useful in scratching off tasks as they’re completed or setting reminders for when certain stones should be taken out of the water after they’ve been soaked enough.

Safety Tips

Sharpening stones should always be soaked for at least 15 to 20 minutes before use. This helps to soften up the stone, allowing it to more effectively grind away material when in use. It also ensures that you do not damage the edge of your blade while sharpening as harder materials may cause increased friction and heat build-up when sharpening. Always wear safety equipment such as gloves, glasses and a breathing face mask while operating in a well-ventilated area when sharpening tools as small particles could fly off during the process; creating an unsafe work environment. Additionally, never press too hard against the stone while sharpening and keep it lubricated with honing oil or water, depending on the type of stone used (oil stones need honing oil whereas water stones require water). Following these basic guidelines will help keep you safe and create an effective sharpening session each time.


It is recommended to soak a sharpening stone for anywhere from 5 minutes up to an hour, depending on the type of stone you are using. Natural stones, such as Japanese water stones, should only be soaked for 5-10 minutes. Synthetic or man-made stones can tolerate a longer soaking time of 30 minutes to an hour. Regardless, any stone should be dried off before use and allowed to air dry after each use. Doing so will ensure your sharpening stone performs optimally and maintains its longevity. Ultimately, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific care instructions for your particular sharpening stone in order to get the most out of it and keep it in good working condition.