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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 acts 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 that 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 foils 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:
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 is acting 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:
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
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: