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Best Honing Steel – Realign Your Crooked Knives

Gerard Paul
April 5th, 2021

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In a rush? I recommend the Green Elephant Ceramic Sharpening Rod.

How does it feel when you slice open a juicy, sizzling chunk of beef? Mouthwatering and satisfying, right? Well, that can only happen when you have a sharp knife as your able assistant. 

Invest in the best honing steel to keep your knife cutting edges aligned and cutting well.

In this post, I present the top six best honing steel rods (and combination honer-sharpeners) for any amateur or expert chef: 

  1. Green Elephant Ceramic Sharpening Rod—Best Overall
  2. Shun Classic Combination Honing Steel Rod—Best Multi-Surface Rod
  3. Wusthof Honing Steel—Most Durable
  4. J.A. Henckels ZWILLING Steel—Best Design
  5. Kota Japan Professional Sharpener Rod—Best Diamond Steel
  6. Messermeister Ceramic Rod Sharpener—Most Efficient

Why Use a Honing Steel?

If you're wondering what that rod in your fancy kitchen knife set is all about, start smiling now: for the puzzle is over. Essentially, that smooth rod helps you maintain the shape of all your kitchen knives. 

Sharp knives are essential for cutting or slicing food when you're cooking and preparing food – and honing doesn't sharpen the blade, which entails removing material. However, when you use your knife on brittle chicken bones or hit them hard on chopping boards, you can bend the cutting edge. Honing realigns your already sharp blades, so they have the same performance you expect.

Is Honing the Same As Sharpening Steel?

No, not necessarily. Honing simply means realigning your already sharp blades – blades that have been pushed out of place due to past kitchen prep. Sharpening is an extractive process; sharpening blades means you remove some of the knife's edge to return the blade to glory.

This post contains rods that do both – they align (hone) your knives, but many also are slightly abrasive and will help sharpen as well.

How To Choose the Best Honing Steel

Scouting for the best honing steel for your kitchen can be daunting when you have little knowledge of what's on offer. 

Here are simple guidelines on what should drive your search. 

Length of the Rod

The length of the honing rod determines the technique you can use to sharpen your knife. A longer rod provides more space to run the knife along without struggle. The most convenient length should be at least 10 inches to accommodate both smaller and longer blades.

Shape

Although it may sound insignificant, the shape of the rod can affect how you use the honing steel.

A round rod provides a more even surface and is lighter than other styles for easier handling. Oval rods are better for student chefs as they have wider surfaces. Flat rods are heavier, with wider surfaces for faster honing. Finally, square rods are more robust and a better choice for professional chefs. 

Rod Material

Next, consider the rod material. There are three options one can choose from in the market. 

Stainless steel is the most common type, with longer and slender rods than the other two. Their running edges provide for smoother and easier strokes for chefs. 

Ceramic rods have more coarse and abrasive surfaces for harder blades. In essence, they provide a hybrid of sharpening and honing, with fewer effects on blades in comparison to various sharpeners. These are a top choice for honing steels, but they can be fragile if dropped so you must take extra care.

Diamond steel rods have more abrasive surfaces for harder blades such as Japanese chef knives. In comparison to the previous two, diamond rods are great, but not for daily use as they are closer to sharpeners and remove a significant amount of metal from the blade.

Blade Material

Knives have different blade strengths. The hardness of the blade material determines the honing steel coarseness you will need. Depending on the types of knives you own, make sure the honing steel you opt for is effective on this particular material.

Reviews of the 6 Best Honing Steel Rods

Green Elephant Ceramic Sharpening Rod—Best Overall

Several fine points put the Green Elephant Ceramic Sharpening Rod at the forefront of the honing options. It's made from quality steel ceramic material and boasts efficient durability that lasts for years. With an average length of 11 inches, it's long enough to handle even the biggest knives in your kitchen.

This ceramic rod is stronger than many other options on the market, with a hardness of 9 Mohs, a Rockwell rating of 100, and a grit of 1,500. 

The shock-absorbing properties keep it safe in case you accidentally drop it. There's no reason why the tool won't serve you for a long time. In a case study, 100 Green Elephant sharpening rods were dropped from 3 feet to tile flooring, and surprisingly, 80 percent of them incurred no damage.

The sturdiness will allow any chef to hone even the toughest steel knives. The manufacturer offers a 30-day hassle-free money-back guarantee to ensure you're happy with your purchase.

Pros:

  • Durable and long-lasting.
  • Works on all types of kitchen and chef knives.
  • Lightweight.
  • Comfortable grip. 
  • Affordable for a steel ceramic rod.
  • Shock absorbing, so doesn't break easily when dropped.
  • One-month money-back guarantee to ensure satisfaction.

Cons:

  • Packaging is difficult to open.
  • It doesn't have a protective bag for storage and is not recommended to store in a drawer with other utensils as it can damage.
  • Users reported its thick frame does not fit in knife blocks.

Shun Classic Combination Honing Steel Rod—Best Multi-Surface Rod

The Shun Classic Combination Honing Rod stands out for being part of a traditional Japanese kitchen brand's fine cutlery collection. It comes with an in-built angle guide for honing precision. The reinforced stainless steel works well on the Shun knife collection, as well as others.

With a 9-inch length, it allows quick and efficient strokes for smaller knives. The dual-sided rod with smooth and micro-ribbed surfaces will allow robust weekly and daily honing for better knife performance. The D-shaped handle provides a better grip when operating, as it doesn't skid around. 

The beautiful design and ebony wood handle make it an ideal gift for someone who loves spending time in the kitchen.

Pros:

  • Easy to operate with a good grip.
  • Handcrafted for precision.
  • Versatile for daily and weekly use.
  • Comfortable wooden handle. 
  • Can also hone kitchen scissors.
  • Equipped with smooth and micro-ribbed surfaces.

Cons:

  • Some users suggest improvement as it has a one-sided angle guide making it hard to balance when honing.
  • Not as long as I'd like.

Wusthof Honing Steel—Most Durable

A robust piece of fine German craftsmanship, the Wusthof Honing Steel is ideal for knives, scissors, and cutters. The cleverly designed magnetic steel attracts any tiny metallic fibers from knives as you hone, leaving a clean work tool that's ready to slice. A 9-inch steel rod makes a suitable runway for gentle stroking and easy storage. 

I love the round black handle that provides a comfortable grip for your hand. Another impressive feature is the fine grit that allows for frequent use without wearing down your knives too quickly.

With all these features, you can understand why this durable and corrosion-resistant rod is so popular. 

Pros:

  • Suitable for daily use.
  • Doesn't leave metal fibers on the table or floor.
  • A good grip allows for better honing.
  • Easy to store in drawers or knife blocks.
  • Compatible with most smaller knives.
  • Restores the cutting edge without abrasion.
  • Reputable brand in the market for customers.

Cons:

  • Several users complain of relative magnetic ability, with only the tip working well.
  • Size is not ideal for large or wide knives.

J.A. Henckels ZWILLING Steel—Best Design

Arguably the most visible kitchen knife brand from Germany, the J.A. Henckels ZWILLING 10-inch Steel appeals both in design and efficiency. It features a hard stainless steel rod with a matching synthetic handle for a good grip. The hanging loop offers better storage convenience for easier retrieval when working. 

With a 70 Rockwell hardness, this product is more robust and efficient than most alloy steel products in the market. The legendary design and logo are an assurance of years of quality engineering and reliability. 

The longer rod length is ideal for honing almost all types of knives, plus it's also available in a 12-inch version if you want more versatility. This product provides some of the best features and benefits if you can afford to spend a little extra for a long-lasting honing rod. 

Pros:

  • Formidable brand name.
  • Suitable for all types of kitchen blades.
  • Has a combination of honing and grinding effects on knife edges and blades.
  • The loop allows for easy storage on hooks or wooden closets.
  • The design is sturdy and durable for better service.
  • Light in weight for easy handling.
  • Users appreciate additional use on shears.
  • Serrated edges help in faster honing.
  • Easy to use for amateurs.

Cons:

  • Some customers complain that it is heavier than other comparable rods.
  • This product is at the higher end of honing steel prices.
  • The handle may scratch with rough usage.

Kota Japan Professional Sharpener Rod—Best Diamond Steel

When speaking of state-of-the-art honing rods, the Kota Japan Professional Sharpener Rod has to be included. It can work on multiple types of blades, such as kitchen and hunting blades. The diamond electroplating ensures robustness and efficiency when aligning edges for sharpness.

The diamond plating ensures the rod is super hard and long-lasting. You can hone and sharpen titanium, ceramic, carbide, tool steel, and pretty much any hard material used by knife manufacturers.

The oval design gives more surface area for blade contact, and the generous 12-inch length means you'll be able to sharpen any knife in your kitchen. The appealing design with an ergonomic rubber handle gives comfort to any user. 

One thing stands out when it comes to maintenance – you only need to wash it with clean water and store it. The rod features a plastic tip that you lean on a surface with slight pressure, and it should be secured against slipping.

The product comes with a lifetime guarantee, showing that the manufacturer really believes in its diamond honing steel.

Pros:

  • Lightweight for easy handling.
  • Easy to use with a convenient handle.
  • Sturdiness makes it suitable for all blades.
  • Durability stands out with the diamond alloy.
  • Lifetime guarantee.
  • Faster sharpening saves time for more kitchen activities.
  • Less pressure is needed when honing.

Cons:

  • Some users complain of the diamond coating coming off.
  • The inside of the rod is hollow.
  • Some customers noticed that the plastic tip keeps on falling off.

Messermeister Ceramic Rod Sharpener—Most Efficient

There is so much to love about the Messermeister Ceramic Rod Sharpener, and you're about to understand why. It's slightly heavier than most rods for better stroking and more durability. The 1200-grit ceramic is slightly abrasive to hone as well as sharpen sturdy blades.

This product is a solid rod, giving it robust resistance to breaking in an accidental fall. The 12-inch length allows you to hone knives of all shapes and sizes. 

With an ergonomic handle, users can easily secure a firm and comfortable grip. Regular cleaning with a piece of damp or dry cloth clears the metallic fiber build-up on the surface for better functioning. The ceramic sharpener comes with a plastic sleeve to protect it against damage if you store it in a drawer with other utensils. 

The Knife for Life guarantee offers you a lifetime warranty against both manufacturing and material defects. Chefs without wooden blocks can hang the product on a secure hinge or hook using the convenient hang ring. 

Pros:

  • Comfortable handle for a firm grip.
  • Plastic sleeve cover included for storage.
  • Easy to use with simple strokes.
  • Works on all types of blades.
  • Affordable in comparison with other ceramic rods.
  • Faster aligning on blades and knife edges.
  • Easy to maintain with periodical wiping.
  • Robust material for durability.
  • Lifetime warranty.

Cons:

  • You need to clean it periodically or it loses its functionality.
  • Slightly too coarse for some users.
  • Fragile if dropped.

Conclusion: Get Your Honing in a Row

Of all the great honing and sharpening rods on display today, I would recommend the Green Elephant Ceramic Sharpening Rod rod from all the six rods we reviewed above. It's sturdy and long-lasting, works on all types of knives, and gives you a comfortable grip while you use. For a ceramic rod, it offers shock absorption to prevent damage if you drop it, and it's lightweight and easy to use.

Whether you are an amateur or expert in the kitchen, invest in the slightly higher product fee and celebrate the value for your investment. 

Gerard Paul
Prolific eater and founder of ManyEats.

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