Difference between honing and sharpening knives

Honing vs Sharpening Knives

Every professional cook knows that there is a difference between honing and sharpening a knife. The difference may not be noticeable to most, but it’s there, and it is quite significant. In most cases, what you call sharpening a knife is honing.  You are probably wondering, what is the difference between the two?

To understand the difference between the two, you first need to know how a knife gets dull, and why it happens.  The sharp edge of a knife blade starts to get dull with regular use, but it doesn’t happen suddenly.  With each day, you will notice that the knife is having difficulties cutting through food, and at some point, will need restoration for it to function at all. It is in the process of restoring the sharpness that the difference between honing and sharpening comes into play. 


While honing is not a replacement for sharpening, it will extend the utility of your knife’s edge. Honing is essentially the process of pushing the edge of the knife to the center, using a knife sharpener. The honing process works on the edge while not overeating into the blade material.  While the process of honing does not fully sharpen the knife, it can give you the sharpness you need to get most of the things in your kitchen done. That’s because it better aligns the blade, making it easy for the knife to cut through foods. Now that you know what honing is, it is important to note that you should hone your knife after every use. This helps the blade stay sharp and also serves you for longer.


Sharpening is simply the process of shaving off bits of metallic or even ceramic material to create a new and sharper edge. This pretty much sums up the difference between sharpening and honing. While honing primarily aims to keep the blade edge straight, sharpening aims to make it razor-like for easy cutting. There are many tools that you can use when sharpening your knife blade. Some of the most common ones are whetstones, water stones, and for those who like to make work more comfortable, you can always do it with an electric knife sharpener. One thing you need to note about sharpening is that it is not done often.  Unlike honing, sharpening your knife just a couple of times every year should give you the results you need. The best part is that if you get the right training, you should sharpen your knife without anybody’s help. For those who don’t have the time for training, it is best to talk to someone who understands knife sharpening. Such a person will use the best sharpening tools available and help prolong the duration between one sharpening and the next.

While a more efficient knife is the primary goal when sharpening, the process also helps increase your knife’s lifespan. Besides, the process repairs dents and eliminates bends on the blade. You will have a much better time in the kitchen with a nicely honed and sharpened knife. 


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