You may have heard some people don’t wash their knives. They claim the water (or more like the dishwasher) dulls their blades. But knives get so much bacteria and germs. So if they don’t wash them … how do they keep the knives clean? Well, oil is one solution to this challenge.
The oil wipes off dirt, prevents rust, and for folding knives, it keeps the moving parts lubricated. You can also use oil while sharpening your knife, to give it a keener, sharper, longer-lasting edge. So let’s look at the best knife oil for both pocket knives and cutlery.
For lovers of Japanese knives, Yoshihiro Tsoil is probably held in equally high esteem. Tsoil is a mashup of ‘Tsubaki’ and ‘oil’, making it easy to remember the brand when you’re feeling overwhelmed in the knife oil aisle. Tsubaki oil – also known as camellia oil or Japanese tea seed oil) – is edible. It was previously used for beauty and cooking. It’s now a popular knife lubricant.
Yoshihiro Tsoil is 100% Tsubaki. The package comes with a cleaning cloth for easy oiling. The package also has a rust eraser. You can rub this carefully on the blade to get rid of rust, the follow up with a few drops of oil. The bottle has a nozzle on its lid, so you can easily measure out the amount you want with minimal wastage. The nozzle is also helpful for spot treatment.
This oil is multipurpose. It cleans and conditions while also preventing corrosion and rust. Also, while Tsubaki oil is generally edible, this particular bottle is formulated for knife-cleaning. So yes, it’s safe to use this knife on food after it has touched Yoshihiro Tsoil … but don’t use the oil in the bottle for dressing salads. It’s not designed as a kitchen ingredient or a cooking substitute.
Tsoil is environmentally friendly, versatile, and easy to apply. The complimentary cleaning cloth and Sabitori (rust eraser) make it easier to oil and condition your knives.
Kurobara oil comes in two variants, so you have to double-check the pack to be sure you got the right one. If you buy the bigger bottle (8.6 oz) you get an aerosol. This is easier to use since you simply spray it onto your blade. The smaller bottle (3.5 oz) has a nozzle on its lid, so if you prefer to work with drops rather than droplets, opt for the smaller packaging.
Both variants have a pretty golden-yellow color and comprise 100% camellia oil. This product is intended for the global market, so its instructions are helpfully translated into English. Like many Tsubaki oils, Kurobara has no discernible taste or smell, though it has a slightly floral flavor. It’s safe to use in the kitchen but it’s not an edible oil, so you shouldn’t put it directly into food.
This knife oil can be used to lubricate the blades, needles, and moving parts of other devices such as sewing machines, swords, and more. It’s especially effective against rust. It can also be used to condition rope and wood, so you can safely use it on wooden knife handles and composites. Cleaning cloths and sabitori aren’t included, so you should get some separately.
This Kurobara oil comes in different sizes with two applicator options, so it’s more convenient than some of its competitors. The oil stays fresh for several years, but keep it away from dust.
The products we’ve looked at so far were Tsubaki oils, so while they’re technically food-based, they’re not intended for consumption. UltraPro from UltraSource is designated food-grade, and it’s edible mineral oil. It’s a multipurpose oil that can condition bot your blades and your chopping boards, as well as various machine parts, grinders, and gears.
This oil has no noticeable taste or color, so it’s suitable for sensitive users. It’s good at preventing rust while keeping your (wooden) knife handles supple and shiny. On wood, it penetrates deep into the timber fibers and creates a moisture seal. On metal, it forms a protective film that keeps your blades smooth, sharp, glossy, and corrosion-free.
Apart from cleaning knives, UltraPro is a handy ‘first aid’ tool to keep around the house. Some people refer to it as liquid paraffin and it’s versatile enough to serve as an emergency replacement for baby oil, make-up remover, skin moisturizer, and laxative. It can also remover sticker stains or soak paper doggie bags for crisper leftovers. It’s a petroleum-based oil.
UltraPro is a top contender for best knife oil, but it can be used for hundreds of other tasks as well. It doesn’t evaporate so your knives will stay sealed and protected for longer.
Knife oils have four key functions: cleaning, rust-prevention, conditioning, and sharpening. Honing oils are especially good at the latter. You may argue they’re not really knife oils because you don’t apply the directly onto the blade. But they’re specifically formulated to lubricated sharpening surfaces, so they’re tailored for use with knives. They work on various sharpeners.
These include Diamond Stone and Arkansas Stone. The homing solution cleans the whetstone and unclogs any residue in its pores. But as the blade rubs against the stone, the rust inhibitors infused into the honing solution are transferred onto your knife. In this way, the honing solution protects your blades from corrosion and harmful oxidation while also keeping the knife clean.
Smith’s Honing Solution is a no-petroleum product. It cleans the whetstone before your knife blade touches it, so it’s not quite a knife oil. But it’s helpful for knife maintenance.
On its own, Tsubaki oil can be safely consumed. But many camellia oil extracts are mixed with other additives. Meaning Tsubaki oil isn’t guaranteed to be food grade. But Citadel Black’s version is. The camellia seed oil is cold-pressed and blended with white mineral oil.
The oil is smooth and doesn’t get gritty or gummy during use. Which is good, because it’s such a small bottle – you can’t afford to waste it. The Citadel Black knife oil is packaged in a clear glass bottle with a tit dropper for easy application. The oil is packaged in a premium box with clear instructions on the inside cover of the box. Citadel Black is a fully US-made brand of knife oil.
You don’t need much of this oil to do a good job. Just a few drops on a lint-free cloth should do the trick. But because it’s sold in such a small volume, you should order more than one. Besides, if the bottle breaks during shipping – or if you drop it while unpacking, you have to order afresh.
The oil is tasteless, colorless, and odorless so it’s safe for kids and pets. It has a thin consistency for stress-free application. But be careful with that fragile bottle. The lid sometimes cracks too.
In America, everything is king-sized, and this honing oil is the perfect example. At 12 ounces per bottle, it’s packaging is three or four times larger than most competitors. Its colorless formula seems to be a favorite on the American market – Japanese knife oils tend to be more golden-yellow. Thirteen Chefs has no distinct smell either, and it’s a food-grade product.
Like the previous US-made knife oil we looked at, Thirteen Chefs remains stable under extreme temperature, so it’s suitable for US weather. The oil never breaks down or deteriorates. Thirteen Chefs is a trusted knife brand, but you can still use its oil on other knives. The oil is designed to deter rust and help your knives hold their edge for longer after sharpening.
Being an American product though, usage portions are equally large. For most knife oils, a drop or two will do With this one, you need a teaspoon applied to each side and rubbed into the knife. The manufacturer suggests oiling after every wash, preferably after hand-washing and hand-drying the knife. So although it’s a honing oil, it’s not just for sharpening.
This versatile oil can be used on fixed knife blades and pivot knife joints, where a few drops will help you maintain mobility. It’s tasteless, hypoallergenic, and can be used on whetstones as well.
Pivot knife oils are much smaller than regular knife lubes. This is because you only use a few drops at a time, and folding knives are oiled roughly once a month. As opposed to heavy-rotation kitchen knives which could be oiled weekly. No-wash knives are sometimes oiled after every use, so that could be several times a day. But KPL is specifically for knife joints and locks.
KPL stands for Knife Pivot Lube and it’s a synthetic oil. Folding knives do better with synthetics because they’re thinner and runnier so they apply and wipe off more easily than regular oil. Synthetics are also cleaner oils for joints since they repel dirt, lint, and static. KPL is an excellent wicking oil, so it can safely penetrate ceramics and stubborn metals.
This oil is intended for use on locking mechanisms, bearings, and blades. It’s effective against rust, pitting, galling, and regular wear-and-tear. It’s perfect for your knife’s moving parts.
For a product with ‘natural’ in its name, Lansky’s petroleum base may surprise you. It’s mainly for sharpening systems, so you apply it directly to your whetstone. The ‘natural’ mainly refers to its recommended target – Arkansas Natural Benchstones and Lansky Sharpeners.
The product comes from Buffalo, New York, so for buyers keen on products of American origin, this is a good choice. It doesn’t ship internationally, so it’s mainly made with US consumers in mind. The product code is LOL101, which may be an inside joke, but the effectiveness of the product will certainly get you smiling. Don’t use it on Lansky Diamond sharpeners though.
The bright yellow Lansky bottle can be spotted from a mile away. It keeps your blades sharp and rust-free, but it doesn’t ship outside the US, so make appropriate plans if you’re overseas.
Sentry is a good name because the product serves as a ‘sentry’ that guards your precious tools and weapons. We add ‘weapons’ because this multi-use knife oil can be used on guns as well. It can also protect more benign household items like hinges and fishing rods. Sentry is a rust inhibitor, so it prevents oxidation and corrosion while retaining flexibility on your moving parts.
The lube has cleaning properties too. It gets rid of any dirt or grit that accumulates in your knives. Some oils attract dust, but this one doesn’t. Instead, it creates a fine film over metal surfaces that keeps dirt away. The oil retains its consistency even in extreme heat or cold, so it works equally well in high summer or frigid winter. The oil is built off nanotechnology.
Tuf-Glide is a form of dry lube, meaning it’s a solid lubricant rather than a runny liquid. It also means your lube could wash off if it gets wet, so it’s a good solution if you prefer to keep your knives unwashed. Dry lube is lighter than wet lube, meaning a little Tuf-Glide goes a long way. That also explains the tiny bottle size. The bottle has an applicator to cut down wastage.
The applicator is a slim metal spike with padding at the tip. It helps you slip between the minute gaps in your knife joints. The applicator also works well with narrow gun barrels and the often unreachable spaces between hinges. This means you only use what you need, unlike sprays or droppers which would spill excess oil over the top of your hinges, fishing rods, and blades.
Sentry Tuf-Glide is the ideal bodyguard for your knives and metallic appliances. The applicator needle is convenient, and the bottle has a pocket clip to secure it in your pants without spilling.
10. Daiwa Oiler with Needle Dispenser Knife Oil 0.8 Oz
The previous product we looked at had a needle applicator. These applicators are popular features when you’re shopping for the best knife oil. But Tuf-Glide is a CDLP, which means it’s a ‘clean, dry-lube protectant’ that washes off. Daiwa Reel Oiler has a needle, but being a wet lube, it’s more fluid than Tuf-Glide. It also has a clear bottle, which is helpful for restocking.
The bottle is slightly larger than typical needle lubes, and the 8-inch needle is longer too. This means it suitable for squeezing into tight spaces. It’s ideal for spot cleaning and narrow gaps in hinges, gears, and other moving machine parts. It’s a low-grade, low-budget oil, so it’s fine if you’re doing basic repairs and maintenance, but it’s a light mineral oil with low staying power.
Daiwa is prettily packaged and the extra-long needle is convenient. But the oil quality is low and it washes off easily. It’s fine for monthly pocket-knife lube, but not for daily knife cleaning.
Unless your knife has a folding joint, you don’t need pivot lube. Regular honing oil will do fine. But apart from the presence or absence of moving parts, what other factors help you decide the best knife oil to buy? Let’s look at some pointers that could influence your decision.
Lots of us swear by Japanese knives. Others prefer German steel. Many popular blade brands make their own knife oil to accompany their cutlery. And while you don’t necessarily have to use the lubricant designed by your blade-master, these oils are often calibrated to suit that specific blade, so consider buying it. Or at least buy from a recognized company to assure quality.
For a switchblade, pocket knife, or folding knife, your main focus is to reduce friction. So you need a knife oil that keeps the joints smooth, supple, and squeak-free. But for fixed knife blades, you may want to remove food particles and prevent rust. So your lube needs additional cleaning properties. For kitchen knives, the oil must be food-grade to avoid accidental contamination.
If you live by the beach, your knives are more susceptible to salt and corrosion. So the best knife oil for your blades should be formulated to work against abrasive salt and sand. On the other hand, if you live in cold, snowy climates, you need oil with a lower freezing and melting point. Ideally, you want an oil that stays liquid at room temperature. Otherwise your knives get greasy.
If you’re vegan, vegetarian, or environmentalist, you’re probably worried about synthetic oils and petroleum products. You’re concerned about the damage they do the environment. You may also rebel against oils tested on animals. In such cases, double-check that your oil is organic, cruelty-free, and refined using free trade and open market methods. It should be biodegradable.
Petroleum-based knife oils are the most common kind on the market. They’re ‘wet oils’ rather than greases or jellies because the latter attracts more dust and debris to your blades. You can also find spray cans and grease tubes. Both these oil types are light and quick-drying, so they’re preferred for folding knives. You can even use your regular cooking oil as a food-safe lubricant.
Many of us oil our knives after every use. We might rinse the knife, air dry it, then lubricate it. So consider the thickness that works best for your knife. Folding knives prefer a light, runny oil so you can wiggle the moving parts and easily wipe off the excess. Carbon-heavy knives may need thicker oil to protect the blade against kitchen humidity. Steel knives need a glossy sheen.
Size and Handle
You only need a few drops of oil at a time. But if you find an oil you like, it may be cheaper to buy a large bottle. If only small ones are available, considering ordering a whole box for wholesale pricing. But remember, your knife handle will get dribs of oil too, so buy a brand that’s safe for your selection. Wooden handles are especially sensitive, so mineral oil is best.
As we’ve seen, knife oil generally comes in small sizes. It could be a tube of grease that melts at room temperature, working itself into the joints of your pocket knife. It could be a quick-drying low-dripping spray that makes less of a mess. Or it could be a tiny tube with a needle or dropper to reduce wastage and spills. Some knife oils need a sponge or cloth to rub them onto the blade.
Lots of home products can be repurposed as knife lubricants. These include vegetable oil and turpentine. But some of these oils – just like some commercial oils – have strong smells. Some of these smells can be intoxicating, or even toxic. You’ll only oil your knife ever week or so, but smells can linger. So buy a type or brand whose smell you can tolerant for prolonged periods.
Sometimes, the best knife oil isn’t in stock. If your preferred brand tends to run out, always buy it in bulk and top up when your supplies start to dwindle. You should also have a mental list of your top three oil preferences. That way, if your favorite is missing, you won’t be starting your selection from scratch. If all else fails, you can use a household solution like olive oil.
Make that Blade Shine!
Given the data we’ve gathered, we recommend Yoshihiro Tsoil as the best knife oil: Here’s why:
As a Japanese brand, it has a certain prestige.
It comes with a free rust eraser.
A cleaning cloth is also included.
The oil is 100%pure camellia.
Being a Tsubaki, it’s green and biodegradable.
100ml (3.4 oz) is a cost-effective size.
The nozzle offers easy application.
The oil is both preventative and restorative.
Tsoil reduces corrosion and abrasion.
It has cleaning, shining, and conditioning properties.
What knife lubricant do you use? Show us a photo of the oil bottle. Show us your knives too!
Florence is a writer and editor located in Irvine. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Buzzfeed, and Wikihow, among others. She enjoys Pets and Cooking and serves as a consulting editor for The Cannibal Beer & Butcher.