Do Sharpening Steels Wear Out?

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Sharpening steels are perceived to be miracle workers. They take your old dull, blunt knife and transform it into an amazing tool, as good as new. They are thus seen as essential in the kitchen, helping you maintain the standard of your knives.

But do sharpening steels wear out? Yes, they do. Even if they are infrequently used, they still need to sharpen themselves after a while. Consequently, in this article, we would be looking at how long it takes for it to wear out.

What happens when the perceived Knife savior needs saving also? Find out in the content below.

What Is A Sharpening Steel?

This is a piece of material or rod that is used to peel off the old and blunt layer of your knife to reveal a new sharp edge.

They help ensure your kitchen knives are always usable without wasting your time or causing an accident in your kitchen. This is because blunt knives require extra pressure to work, and this can damage your food ingredients and hurt your hands/fingers.

A standard everyday sharpening steel has an ergonomically designed handle and a rod. The handle can be made with any comfortable material and helps you hold them while you sharpen your blade. However, the rod is made of steel/ceramic. You use this portion to sharpen the knife’s blade.

Difference between sharpening steel and honing steel

There are various rods made with different materials that can be found in the market. However, a vast majority of them do not sharpen your knife blade; instead, they help align the edges of the blades. This process of aligning the knife edges is termed honing; hence, most perceived sharpening steels are honing steels. So, it’s crucial you know the difference between both terms.

Sharpening generally involves the total removal of the outer layer of the knife’s edges. This process is different from realigning the blade’s edge, as it would help reveal a new blade edge that is very sharp. This is why they are made using a hard material than that of the knife blade.

The Types

There are two types: each type lasts for a long time. This is because of the nature and hardness of the material. They include;

  • Diamond Sharpening rod– this is impregnated with Diamond (they have an abrasive surface that is coated with fine diamond dust) and is the most commonly used. They will wear out eventually with constant use; due to the gradual removal of the diamond dust on the rod’s surface. Hence, their effectiveness decreases with time,
  • Ceramic Sharpening rod– this is not exactly viewed as sharpening steel because it is made of ceramics, not steel. They are long-lasting and can serve you longer than diamond-sharpening steel. However, ceramics is a very brittle material and is thus, easy to damage if one is not careful during usage or storage.

Related: Pros and Cons of Stainless Steel Knives

How often should you use sharpening steel?

Once every 6 months or even longer; they are not for constant use; otherwise, you would be doing your knives more harm than good.

This is why you have the honing steel; ideally, you should hone after using it the third time, then after 6 months, you follow with a sharpening steel.

Sticking to this routine ensures your knives last as long as they should, allowing you to enjoy them for as long as they last in your kitchen, as they would always have a sharp edge.

How long before sharpening steel wears out?

As a result of this infrequent use, your rod is at risk of a reduced lifespan, especially if you don’t keep it properly. Consequently, it is essential to take proper care of your product when it is not being used.

They thus do not last for a lifetime as one would think, even if you don’t use them often. However, as discussed above, the ceramic line is likely to last longer than diamond line.

However, to ensure that they both serve you well, you should separate them and prevent contact with other hard utensils in your kitchen. They can be kept in a separate container or bag made of cotton. Avoid keeping them in a drawer where you store other kitchen tools.

How to choose the best Sharpening steel for your knife?

Buying good product can be tricky as there are several characteristics that you should consider before buying. However, amid these characteristics, there are 4 major features you should consider, they include;

Type of Material

You can either have a diamond rod or a ceramic rod. Whatever option you choose, your product must possess a metal core, irrespective of the outer surface. This enables the rod to remain strong and solid.

The shape of the rod

They come in different shapes’ round, oval, flat, and square. The shape determines the total surface area available to sharpen your knife, but it also determines the weight. Hence, while flat-shaped has a larger contact surface, it is also very heavy, which is a disadvantage. The most ideal is the round-shaped.

Rod size

Sharpening steels come in different sizes too, just like your knives. Hence, you should pick one that corresponds with the size of your knife blade. The length of the rod should ideally be the same with or longer than your knife’s blade length.

The blade’s hardness

You need a sharpening knife with material harder than the blade of your knife. Hence, the harder your knife’s blade, the more abrasive your sharpening steel.

How to sharpen a sharpening steel?

Consistent use of your product will leave it clogged, thus leaving them ineffective. This can also occur when you don’t take proper care of your rod. However, they can be cleaned or revived in the following ways:

  • Rinse with warm water and wipe using a sponge.
  • Remove build-up using vinegar to unclog the steel.
  • You can also use a wet bar towel with kosher salt to polish.


Do sharpening steel wear out too? Yes, they do. Even if they are infrequently used, they still need to sharpen themselves after a while.

Consequently, you must take proper care of your product. But if they need saving too, then there’s an easy fix to resolve the issue, to enable you to enjoy your product as long as possible.

Further Reading:

How to Use a Honing Rod


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