Can A Sharpening Steel Wear Out?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 04/27/21 •  5 min read

A sharpening steel is undeniably one of the most important tools when it comes to maintaining your knives, shears, and blades.

These steel rods keep the cutting edge sharp as well as prevent the edge from wearing out extensively.

Consequently, these steels come in handy when you want to maintain your blades in pristine and excellent condition at all times.

A common question among most people is; if it prevents blades from wearing out, does the steel wear out itself?

A diamond sharpening steel is hardy and takes quite long before they wear out.

The diamond abrasive embedded on the surface of the steel gets dislodged with time due to constant sharpening.

As such, the steel wears out.

Ceramic ones, on the other hand, never wear out.

However, the surface of this steel gets clogged with metal particles removed from the blade while sharpening.

What is it, anyway?

It is a sharpener that eats away a small layer of the cutting edge.

This exposes a new layer and thereby sharpening the blade.

The grinder is designed for removing the dullness and bluntness that builds on knives and shears over time.

These steels come in two types; ceramic sharpener or a diamond impregnated rod.

Obviously, ceramic rods are not steel but they are made using the same concept of a sharpening rod.

How does honing steel differ from sharpening steel?

Most people get confused between these two.

However, these two types are quite different from each other and have different purposes.

A honing steel is a standard grooved rod that is used for realigning the edge after sharpening.

Honing rods do not grind away the cutting edge like sharpening steel does.

A sharpening rod on the other hand is designed for use in sharpening edges by removing tiny bits of the edge to reveal a new and sharp layer.

It is worth noting that you cannot use a honing to grind a blade.

Another difference between these two types of rods is their frequency of use.

A honing rod can be used after every 2-3 days while a sharpening rod is only used after months.

How long do they last before wearing out?

Since these tools are specifically designed for sharpening the cutting edge, you should expect these rods to wear out at a point.

However, you do not sharpen your blade after every one week but rather after a few months.

This should give you an idea of how long these rods can last before they wear out.

With appropriate use, care and maintenance, these rods can last for a decade or more without wearing out extensively.

However, for this kind of durability and reliability, you need to keep the steel away from hard utensils.

Also, avoid storing these rods in moist and wet conditions due to the risk of rusting and corrosion.

Maintainance tips

The number one maintenance practice is cleaning it.

Ideally, during sharpening, metal particles from the blade get clogged onto the surface of the rod.

To remove this clogging, it is advisable that you clean the rod preferably after every use.

Rinse the rod under warm running water.

You can add a mild detergent and a soft cotton towel to wipe the surface.

Cleaning the rod regularly helps in eliminating the likelihood of buildup on the steel rod.

After cleaning the rod, wipe it off with a dry cotton towel before storing it.

Do not leave the sharpening rod to air dry.

A bonus tip

When you are shopping for the best products out there, it is necessary that you consider the length of the rod of choice.

This is because longer rods give you more runway for pulling the knife while sharpening.

As such, you won’t need to keep pulling the knife back and forth over the same spot while sharpening.

Also, a long rod provides you with flexible sharpening for all types of blades; large and small alike.

Another aspect worth considering when in the market for these rods is the handle.

Always opt for a rod with a solid and ergonomic handle that will provide you with a stable and firm stance when sharpening.

Most rods feature rubberized handles as they provide a non-slip grip even on wet and sweaty hands.

When using this sharpening rod, ensure that the rod is firmly secured so that it does not slip when sharpening.

Otherwise, you may end up slicing your fingers in case it slides and the knife comes into contact with your fingers.


A sharpening steel is easy to use for everyone including inexperienced chefs and cooks.

It is also economical to use as it is free to use and maintain.

The rod promises to provide you with years of consistent performance throughout its life.

The best quality rod will make it effortless to maintain your blades in the best working condition.

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.