Many people are intimidating by using sharp knives when preparing food, but it may surprise you to know that dull knives are far more dangerous. Dull blades require more force to cut through food and are hard to control. So, if you spend any time in the kitchen here’s how to keep your knives razor sharp.
Honing vs sharpening
The difference between honing and sharpening is pretty straightforward. Sharpening involves grinding away portions of the blade to create a new edge using a wet stone or grinder. Knives should be sharpened at least once a year either by a professional knife sharpener (yes, it’s a thing!) or with a set of sharpening stones from niche stores.
What most of us picture when we think of sharpening is in fact honing. With use the knife edge begins to bend and curl, so that it seems the blade is dull. Honing straightens the existing edge of the blade without losing knife material. Using a honing rod before each use of the knife keeps it in usable condition until it’s time for its yearly visit to the professional sharpener.
Honing a blade is pretty easy once you get the hang of it and into a routine. Here’s how:
- Place the honing rod tip on a stable surface to keep it stationary and hold it secure in your non-dominant hand.
- Hold the knife in your dominant hand and place your thumb on the back of the knife blade. Place the heal of the knife blade (the part closest to the handle) against the honing rod.
- Hold the knife edge at about a 20° angle against the honing rod. Mantain it at a constant angle throughout the honing.
- Draw the blade along the honing rod. Simultaneously sweep the blade from heal to tip across the honing steel. Ideally you want the entire blade edge to make contact with the honing rod during this motion.
- The direction you move the blade doesn’t really matter, as long as the motion is consistent on both sides of the blade.
- Repeat this motion on the other side of the blade edge.
- Repeat this action four or five times on each side of the blade edge.
- Rinse or wipe off any residue before using the knife.
And that’s all there is to it. Most professionals recommend honing your blades before each use so get practising!