What is Honing Oil and How Do You Use It?
If you have a premium straight razor, you probably take very good care of it. You want that razor to last as close to forever as possible. Part of taking care of your blade is sharpening it, which is a manual process that requires a series of hand tools. Honing oil is one of the most important parts of your tool kit.
Some straight razors and old style professional barber razors need to be honed in order to keep the sharp edge you need for a perfect shave.
Honing Oil is Only for Bladed Straight Razors
Honing oil is only for straight razors with fixed blades. If your razor has replaceable blades, you simply toss out the old blade and pop in a new one. It takes seconds and costs pennies, and many people use those kinds of straight razors because they prefer that convenience.
Higher end straight razors function like knives. You need to maintain the blade yourself. This requires stopping and honing the blade periodically to keep the edge sharp. It’s a commitment, but many people enjoy the labor of perfectly reviving the razor’s edge.
What is Honing Oil?
Honing oil is the oil you use when you hone your razor. It’s typically made of petroleum, but can sometimes incorporate other oils. It comes at varying price points, but it’s all essentially the same.
When you’re shopping for honing oil, “premium” is just a marketing word that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
Do You Need to Use Honing Oil?
You need to use some kind of oil, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be honing oil. Thicker oils like mineral oil, olive oil, and grapeseed oil will do the job just as well. If you already have a bottle of something else hanging out in the back of the cabinet, you don’t need to go out and buy a new bottle of special oil.
All that matters is that you’re using an oil with the right viscosity. You can technically use any dense oil.
How to Use Honing Oil
Honing oil is used to lubricate a sharpening stone. Before you sharpen your razor, you need to apply a thin coat of honing oil to your stone.
The oil lubricates the stone, preventing dry friction that can damage your razor while you sharpen. If the stone wicks up all the oil, apply a little more. You don’t want your stone to be soaked, but you don’t want it to be dry or have dry patches.
You might find that you need to reapply honing oil during the honing process to keep your stone lubricated. Keep your honing oil nearby when you’re honing your razor. Periodically touch the stone to make sure it isn’t drying out.
The oil will hold onto the metal shavings, making them easier to wipe away with a rag. After you’ve honed, cleaning your stone will be a breeze.
When You Shouldn’t Use Honing Oil
Honing oil can be used on all sharpening stones with the exception of diamond sharpening stones. Most other honing stones are porous, giving the oil somewhere to go. Diamond stones don’t have any pores to catch the oil. The end result will be a slippery, wet mess that does a worse job of sharpening your razor if you even achieve any sharpness at all.
How Often Should You Hone Your Razor?
Honing your razor is a delicate and time consuming process, but it’s not one you need to do often.
Some people prefer to hone their razors once a month, but once every three months should be adequate. Other people find that they only need to hone their blades once a year. Annual honing is a better option for men who generally keep a beard or occasionally keep a beard and as a result, aren’t shaving as frequently.
Honing your blade removes tiny pieces of metal. Over time, this will considerably shrink the size of your razor. You never want to hone any more than necessary, which is great news for people who don’t want to devote all that time to maintenance. You should always put off honing for as long as possible.
Stropping every few shaves will prolong the edge of your blade without honing, and is arguably more important. Stropping only takes a couple of minutes. If you strop properly, you’ll be surprised by how long your razor stays sharp.
Choose high quality leather stops and be mindful of your technique. If you strop correctly, your blade will feel like it’s newly honed.
Getting the Most From Your Straight Razor Shave
A sharp razor, whether freshly honed or properly stropped, is a key element of the perfect shave. You should be frequently stopping and occasionally honing to maximize the performance of your straight razor.
You chose a straight razor because you wanted a professional quality shave every time. Go all the way for the best shave you’ve ever had.
To complete the barbershop experience, you’ll need a few other things. Your skin needs to be adequately protected from a very sharp blade during the shaving process. Barbers do this with hot lather and high-quality shaving cream.
LTHR’s hot lather machine was designed by master barbers to achieve the same hot lather your barber uses.
Our chemical free shaving cream is deeply moisturizing and safe for sensitive skin. Aloe vera soothes, while ingredients like coconut oil lubricate, moisturize, and protect your skin. You’ll never experience a better shave.