Best Sharpening Steel Reviews 2018: Top 5+ Recommended

You have probably seen all those fancy cooks use them on TV shows.

They are often included in good knife sets; maybe you even have one at home. 

Most people know what those are, but don’t utilize them at all.

They rarely come with instructions, but if you use them in a right way, your knives will be sharp for a much longer. I'm talking about a sharpening steel - a handy little tool to have in your kitchen arsenal.

If you don’t have it, read on. I’ll teach you what it is, share the benefits it brings, and guide you on the way to select the best sharpening steel on the market right now.

So, what is sharpening steel? How do we use it?

Sharpening or honing steel is a tool which maintains the blade sharp or makes it even sharper, by rearranging and realigning the edge of the blade.

Or to be more precise – when you sharpen the knife with this sharpener, you are actually removing fatigued material and uncovering a fresh beveled edge.

It is very important to make the difference between sharpening steel and sharpening stones because sharpening stones sharpen dull edges of a knife

The blades are made of high-quality steel alloy and hold an edge for a quite long time.

As they cut, the edge eventually becomes dull, so we need to maintain its perfect cutting quality by using sharpening steel.

Related: Best Knife Sharpener Reviews


What to look for when buying a sharpening steel?

1. Material of The Rod

The material of the rod is certainly the first feature that comes to mind when deciding what the best option is. Three most common materials rods are made from are steel, ceramic and diamond.

Steel rods

  • Steel rods are a classic pick and are best used for regular maintenance of the blade. They are the type that often comes with a kitchen knife set. Steel rods come with the smooth or ridged, square or round edges.
  • The ridged steel rod is superior in terms of honing the blade, but they tend to wear it down faster. They also make the honing process faster. So if you want your blades to last longer, you should pick smooth steel rods.
  • However, you cannot sharpen Japanese blades on them, as they are too delicate. Those knives are made of harder steel than western steel and will tend to chip on a steel hone. Only a ceramic or diamond hone can handle the Japanese steel without damaging it. Reasons for not using the rigid rods are that your honing is smoother and more precise. In my experience, the ridged steel works better at aligning the burrs (or sawtooths).

Diamond rods

  • Those are traditional butcher’s sharpening steel tools and are used to hone blades in a fine way, maintaining the sharp edge. The coated steels are smooth but embedded with abrasive diamond particles.
  • However, they can be a bad choice for regular honing, as their abrasive diamond coating can remove more substantial amounts of metal. There are many complaints regarding diamond rods, as their coating tends to wear or fall off after a short period of time. So it is wise to choose a quality product from a renowned producer.

Ceramic rods

  • Just like their steel counterparts, they are also a great option if you hone your knives on a regular basis. The downside of ceramic rods is that they are brittle, so they can be broken if you are not careful enough. They offer a slight sharpening effect and are gentle enough not to do anything drastic to your blade.

2. Length of the Sharpening Surface

  • Regardless of the material you choose, one of the most important features when selecting a sharpening steel is certainly the steel length. The logic is quite simple - the longer the steel, the more runway to pull the knife along.
  • This is very important when honing longer knives. You want the length of a rod (not including the handle) to be at least 2 inches than the longest knife you plan to sharpen. I'd personally recommend a minimum length of 12 inches, just to make sure your knife won't hit the surface below in the process. Safety should always be a #1 priority.

3. Ease of Cleaning

  • It may come as a surprise to you, but this feature is important when you choose a sharpening steel. You want your blades razor-sharp fast for everyday kitchen work, and without a mess, I suppose. The time spent for cleaning the sharpening steel should be minimal, so consider getting one that is easy to clean.
  • You have to clean your sharpening steel, or it will get clogged up with the super tiny metal particles, and will gradually lose its effectiveness. The best way to do this is to wipe them with a clean cloth thoroughly. 
  • You should also scrub it in hot soapy water every few weeks, but be careful not to use anything harsh that could scratch. I personally do not advise using cleansing powders for cleaning them, as the abrasiveness of the powder will wear down the surface of the rod.
  • Ceramic rods are a bit more challenging to keep clean because steel blades leave gray marks on them (metal particles). The best way to clean this type of rod is to use an erasure.
  • Finally, no matter how well you maintain your sharpening steel, it will eventually wear off. Don't expect it to last the lifetime of your top quality knives.

4. Comfortable, Slip-Resistant Handle

  • When it comes to safety, this may be the most important feature. The handle should be slip-resistant, and should have the right thickness to ensure a firm grip.
  • It should rest in your hand comfortably. If the handle is too large or too small for your grip it can easily wear out your wrist while using. A good and quality handle will make sharpening process much easier.

5. Price​​​​​

  • A common saying goes "don’t judge a book by its cover." The price may tell the difference between quality and bad product, but the expensive one is not always better.
  • However, buying quality items is one of the top ways to save money. Even if you only cook a few times a week, your kitchen items will get a fair amount of wear and tear, so you want to make sure to get the best product for the price.

Most Recommended Sharpening Steels Currently on the Market – My Reviews 2018

Image Credit: Amazon.com

This is a fine quality honing ceramic steel, big enough to work well for pocket knives all the way up to 10 inches carving knives. The sharpening surface is made from the highest quality ceramic available on the market. It will keep your knives razor sharp easily while being very comfortable to use at the same time.

Probably the best option for regular knife maintaining, as it doing slight honing for a smooth edge, making the blade perfectly effective in just a few minutes. The lightweight and comfortable handle will provide effortless and safe sharpening experience, and its unique design will make you enjoy your creative side in the kitchen without interruption of a dull knife.

It comes with an exclusive shock-absorbing feature, which protects the rod when dropped. Plastic cap at the end of the rod to prevent drop damage is unique and excellent design cue.

It is easy to clean; you should use regular detergent and air dry for it. With extraordinary hardness, it just the right tool for hard Japanese knives and will last for years if maintained properly. It may not be a cheap product, but the quality and durable indeed.

Things I Liked

  • Lightweight and ergonomic handle, making it easy to use
  • Rubber cap at the end of the rod protect it from accidental drops
  • Unique design and color
  • Easy to clean

Things I Didn’t Like

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    Price
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    With the length of 11 inches, it is not suitable for honing the longest of knives

Image Credit: Amazon.com

This one is a pretty safe choice, simply because ceramics never runs out. This 12-inch sharpening tool is everything you want for getting everyday work done fast, and it can handle the vast majority of long knives. It is made from 1200-grit industrial ceramic, and it is ideal in terms of preventive maintenance of your knives.

As the product described above, it has a slight abrasive characteristic, that will provide a perfect edge finishing. However, it does take off a little steel from your knife with each pass, instead of just aligning, so make sure you only apply light pressure to preserve your knives' lifespan. The best bet is to keep this rod as a short-term sharpener, perhaps using it once every two weeks.

It this sharpening steel is very fragile, so be careful not to drop it. The handle is soft-grip and ergonomic, providing a very secure grip.

The cleaning isn’t a big deal – when the surface gets clogged with gray swarf from sharpening, use an erasure. As for regular cleaning, hot, soapy water and a damp cloth do the trick. However, it is a bit expensive, if you ask me.

Things I Liked

  • 12- inch ceramic surface, perfect for long blades
  • Ergonomic and comfortable handle
  • Easy to use, does not make a mess

Things I Didn’t Like

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    Very fragile, so be careful not to drop it
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    A bit aggressive than standard sharpening steels
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    Pricey
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    Not a super-fine grit, but more than sufficient for general purpose kitchen work

Image Credit: Amazon.com

When talking about Winware Stainless Steel Rod, the first thing that catches the eye is the price of this product. But don't get tricked – it does its job perfectly, and may certainly be a nice addition to your kitchen. If a knife has trouble getting through the skin of a tomato without slicing in a sawing motion or has trouble gliding through meat, it needs a quick hone. And that is exactly where this sharpening steel excels.

It features a stainless steel, 12-inch rod, and a plastic handle with hanging loop. There is nothing too fancy about it; it does a great job as a regular maintenance tool. However, it's not a professional tool, so if you expect a razor-sharp edge, you will likely want a diamond, or other similar fine-grit tools as well.

This rod is rather large and heavy, so sharpening blades with it may not be piece of cake. The handle is comfortable, with a good hand guard. It is very easy to clean, all you have to do is to wipe it with soft damp cloth. This is a great value buy, and a quality product indeed.

Things I Liked

  • Very cheap, comparing to its counterparts
  • Extra long steel helps with reducing the number of passes required to get your knives nice and sharp.
  • Hanging loop makes it easily accessible

Things I Didn’t Like

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    Too big and heavy
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    Far too rough for any expensive fine edge blade
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    It takes more effort to hone an edge

Image Credit: Amazon.com

Made by a renowned Swiss producer, this honing steel is excellent at maintaining the edge of the knives and extends the life of your cutlery with regular use. Cooking is so much more enjoyable when you have the proper tools for the job, and sharp knives make a big difference.

This tool features chromed plated steel, giving the surface increased hardness and stain resistance. With the 10-inch length, it is long enough to sharpen almost any knife in your block from a small chef’s knife to large butchering knife. It is easy to clean and comes with a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects.

This product is perfect if you have a decent cutlery, as it finishes off your quality blades whenever they lose their edge. The fibrox handle has somewhat of a square shape to make it secure in your hand, making it extremely easy to hold onto even when wet.

Things I Liked

  • Very nice quality at an affordable price
  • Durable and hefty
  • Nice, professional design
  • Good size and not too heavy

Things I Didn’t Like

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    No ring/hole by the handle
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    Has the logo in the metal filing area, so the top part of that face is unusable

Image Credit: Amazon.com

This all-around sharpening steel features 10-inch diamond coated sharpening surface. Its handle is made from polypropylene material and has a hand guard to prevent the blade to reaching your hand if you slip. It is great at sharpening/honing and comes with a tri-sided grit with fine sided 1200, medium side 750, and coarse 325.

It does its job quickly and easily – you can sharpen knives, hatchets, axes, nail clippers, and much more, even if you are not an expert. It is awesome at bringing back dull knives to service, but if you want a mirror-polished edge, this might not be the right product for you.

To keep it clean and well maintained, you have to make sure to get all the metal particles out from between the diamond grit. You can do that with dish soap, warm water, and a toothbrush. A very light rubbing with olive oil should make a big difference in the sharpening results.

Things I Liked

  • Ultra lightweight, only 6.9 oz.
  • Handguard ensures safe sharpening
  • Versatility
  • Very easy to use

Things I Didn’t Like

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    Price
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    Not too good at fine honing works
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    Harder to maintain than steel or ceramic sharpeners

And the winner is...

Ok, we reviewed top 5 products and now is a time for a verdict.

Among all of them, I consider the Green Ele​​​​phant Knife Sharpening Steel the best, as it has met most of the features you should look for.

With unique design, top quality ceramic steel, it is a perfect option for a wide variety of knives, including sturdy Japanese knives. The lightweight and comfortable handle provide effortless and enjoyable sharpening experience.

You will finally have razor-sharp knives with fine mirror-polished edges. The exclusive shock absorbing feature, with the rubber cap at the end of the rod is simply awesome, as it will protect your steel sharpening rod from shattering when dropped.

With the highest quality ceramic available, there is less than 80% probability for shattering, which beats all other ceramic rods. It also beats all other products in this category in quality-price ratio.

If you have questions and suggestions, let me know in the comments section below. If you like this post, feel free to share it. 🙂

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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