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People have tried many ways to sharpen their knives other than doing it the proper way. Some of these methods have come out of desperation, laziness, or looking for a new method. Aluminum foil used to sharpen scissors has been around as a hack for some time, but will this scissor-sharpening hack work to sharpen a knife?
Aluminum foil is not an effective means to sharpen a knife. Aluminum foil can be used as a means to temporarily restore a slightly dull knife edge, but it cannot be used as a substitute to properly sharpen a knife. Foil can be used to restore a slightly rolled-over edge or a slightly dull knife edge.
You may happen to find yourself in the situation of having a slightly dull knife and needing to quickly restore the edge, but you don’t have a sharpening stone or a strop on hand to get the job done. If you have aluminum foil available, you may consider using it as a means to sharpen your knife, but there are better alternatives you could use to re-establish the edge on your knife.
If you are interested in checking out the best whetstones for sharpening your knives we recommend and use you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Does Aluminum Foil Work To Sharpen A Knife?
While aluminum foil is known to work as a method of re-sharpening a pair of scissors, it does not necessarily work as a means to sharpen a knife.
The method that is used to sharpen a pair of scissors with aluminum foil is to tear off a roughly square piece of the aluminum foil and fold it in half several times until you have a square piece of foil that is about as wide as the length of the blade of the scissors.
The method is then to cut through the aluminum foil with the scissors, cutting the foil into thin strips. This will allow you to cut the aluminum foil with the complete length of the scissor blade several times.
The action of the layers foil between the two cutting blades of the scissors act as an abrasive that serves to restore the edge on the blade of the scissors.
However, this will not work with exceptionally dull scissors since the abrasive action of the foil will not be sufficient to restore the cutting edges of the blades.
The premise is that you can use aluminum foil to sharpen a knife the same way. The method proposed is that you fold the foil the same way as you would to sharpen the scissors and then slice through the layers of aluminum foil with the blade of the knife.
Since there are not two cutting edges that the foil can be crushed in between to act as an abrasive between the edges, the foil will not sharpen the knife if you try to cut through the layers of foil.
If anything, the attempt to cut through the aluminum foil layers will only serve to further dull the edge of the knife.
So how can you use aluminum foil to sharpen the edge of a knife?
How To Use Aluminum Foil To Sharpen A Knife
There are a couple of proposed methods which you can use aluminum foil to shake your knife slightly sharper than it was before.
However, these methods are not really classified as sharpening but rather as honing the edge of the knife, and it would work in a similar way to a honing rod.
Using A Rounded Foil Edge
To use this method, you will take a square piece of aluminum foil that is about 8 to 12 inches square. Fold the aluminum foil a number of times until the rounded edges become quite thick, roughly half an inch thick.
Once the foil has reached the desired thickness, you can run the edge of the knife along the rounded edge, always moving the knife along the foil in a direction away from the sharp edge of the knife.
The rounded edge of the foil will perform in much the same way as honing steel, and it will correct a rounded-over edge on the knife and make it sharp once again.
TIP: Honing is a quite popular sharpening method among a lot of people. But should you hone Japanese knives? Find out the answer in the article below:
Should You Hone Your Japanese Knives? You Should Know This
Using Aluminum Foil Over A Square Edge
To use this method, tear off a piece of aluminum foil that is about 8 to 12 inches square and then fold it about two or three times.
Place your folded foil over a 90-degree edge, such as the square edge of a kitchen counter, with one side of the foil on top of the surface and the other piece hanging over the 90-degree edge.
Run your knife edge along the 90-degree edge, using the foil-covered edge as a makeshift honing rod. Always move the knife along this edge in a motion that pulls the knife away from the sharp edge of the blade.
Pushing towards the cutting edge of the knife will cause the knife to cut into the foil and rip it away, and your knife will cut into the material underneath the foil, in this case, your countertop.
As with the previous method, the hard 90-degree corner covered with foil acts like a honing rod and will allow you to re-align a slightly rolled-over edge on the knife and restore sharpness.
To reiterate the point once again, foil cannot be used to sharpen a dull knife, but it can be used in the manner of hone to re-align a knife that has lost some of its sharpness in the same manner that a honing rod works.
TIP: Another unusual method on how to sharpen a knife is using a file. If you want to know how to use a file to sharpen a knife check out the article below:
How To Sharpen A Knife With A File? Follow These 7 Steps
What Else Can You Use To Sharpen A Knife
Aluminum foil should not be the first choice to restore a knife to being sharp if you do not have a knife sharpener at hand. There are other non-traditional methods to sharpen a knife that will potentially work better than using aluminum foil to sharpen your knife.
- Sharpening a knife with sandpaper.
Using a strip of a 600-grit sandpaper with a hard backing, such as a piece of wood, will be a much more effective method of sharpening your knife than using aluminum foil.
- Sharpening a knife on a smooth stone.
Picking up a suitable stone or rock in the garden, combined with a little water, can actually do a pretty decent job of putting an edge back on a dull knife. Historically, this was the way that knives were sharpened before fancy tools were used.
- Sharpen your knife on your leather belt.
Take off your leather belt and lay it on the countertop. Pull your knife edge across the leather belt, always pulling away from the cutting edge. Your belt will act as a strop and straighten and polish the cutting edge.
- Hone your knife on a ceramic mug.
A ceramic mug or cup that has a rough or unglazed base can also be used as a hone to re-alight the sharp edge of the knife. Once again, this is a honing process, not a sharpening process.
- Use nylon webbing to strop the blade.
A nylon strap, such as on a backpack, can be used to hone the edge of a knife in the same way as a leather strop.
- Sharpen with a nail file.
Use a nail file that looks like sandpaper, not the metal variety. These nail files are essentially made from fine-grit sandpaper and can be used to refine the edge of the knife and restore it to sharpness.
TIP: Are you looking to buy a new whetstone? Check out our recommendations (we personally use the first three ones):
Our PRO choice whetstones combo (Amazon links):
- Fixing stone: Whetstone SHAPTON Ceramic KUROMAKU #320
- Sharpening stone: Suehiro CERAX soaking whetstone: Medium #1000
- Finishing stone: Whetstone SHAPTON Ceramic KUROMAKU #5000
Our budget choice (Amazon link): Sharp Pebble Extra Large Sharpening Stone Set
Safety Precautions When Using Unconventional Methods
Experimenting with unconventional methods for knife sharpening, such as using aluminum foil, can be intriguing. However, it’s essential to prioritize safety above all else. Here are some safety precautions to keep in mind:
- Research First: Before trying any new method, take the time to research its validity and potential risks. Just because a method is popular online doesn’t mean it’s safe or effective.
- Wear Protective Gear: Even if you’re using something as seemingly harmless as aluminum foil, always wear protective gloves. This can prevent accidental cuts or scrapes.
- Secure Your Workspace: Ensure that your sharpening area is stable and free from obstructions. If you’re using a piece of aluminum foil or any other tool, make sure it’s securely placed to prevent slippage.
- Handle with Care: Always hold the knife by its handle and keep your fingers away from the blade. When sharpening, use smooth and controlled motions to prevent accidents.
- Test in a Safe Environment: Before using the knife on food or any other materials, test its sharpness in a controlled environment. This can help you gauge the effectiveness of the sharpening method and ensure the knife is safe to use.
- Avoid Distractions: When working with knives, it’s crucial to stay focused. Avoid multitasking or getting distracted by phone calls, conversations, or other activities.
- Stay Informed: Always be aware of the limitations and potential risks of unconventional sharpening methods. If in doubt, consult experts or rely on tried-and-true sharpening techniques.
- Store Safely: After sharpening, ensure that the knife is stored safely, away from the reach of children or pets.
Remember, while it’s exciting to explore new methods and DIY hacks, safety should never be compromised. It’s always better to invest time in learning proper techniques or seeking professional help than to risk injury.
While it is possible to use foil to hone the edge of a knife to a limited degree, it is not possible to sharpen a knife effectively with aluminum foil.
There are other methods available to sharpen your knife, even without a proper knife sharpener, that won’t potentially do more damage to the edge of the knife and have the opposite of the intended effect.
TIP: The best way to sharpen your knives is using manual or electric sharpeners. If you do not know which one to choose, find out the detailed comparison in the article below:
Electric Vs. Manual Knife Sharpeners: 5 TIPS How To Choose