In the best-case scenario, you will have a knife sharpener at home when the need arises. However, what can you be expected to sharpen a dull knife within a survival situation?
How to Sharpen a survival knife?
These tips will really help you in emergency situations.
- Create a whetstone: Scavenge around for small rough stones in river beds and use a substantially heavy and large stone to crush them into a pulp. Find yourself a tree or large living wood and strip off its bark. Once you lightly wet the bark, rub the stone pulp on it and use this as your makeshift whetstone. While sharpening your knife remember to keep it as close to perpendicular as you can at all times for maximum efficiency.
- Use a simple flat rock: I know this sounds too easy to be true, but if you’re lucky enough to find yourself a smooth and flat stone, it can satisfy your sharpening needs. Be sure to be on the lookout for sandstone or sedimentary rock, they should be easy enough to find in rivers or streams. They’re infinitely more preferable over other rock types you might find because the friction caused by the smaller abrasive grains on its surface will allow for a sharp finish. Just rub the edge of the knife along the length of the stone as many times as you think is required to sharpen it.
- Use your belt: This method of sharpening a knife is called “stropping.” Stropping is essentially a technique whereby you sharpen your blade by polishing it profusely and in doing so, smoothening out the edges. Use a leather belt, or if unavailable a piece of rubber-like the rubber sole of a boot and hold it down taut. Carefully drag the edge of the blade with the sharp end facing away from the direction of motion back and forth over the strop at a shallow angle. Take great care to do this to avoid slicing through the strop itself.
A good and relatively safe test to check if your blade has successfully been sharpened is to run it against the grain of your hair on your arm and see if it shaves as a razor would.
How to take care of your survival knife?
The star of your survival tool kit warrants at least some special treatment. As essential as a survival knife is to most outdoorsy tasks, and as resilient in the face of well-meaning abuse, it needs a bit of care at the end of the day before winding down. By guaranteeing proper care for your survival knife, you can ensure it lives to a ripe old age and continues serving you well.
1. Clean it:
You don’t have to overdo the cleaning after every little task it performs, but wiping it down before returning it to its sheath can definitely help lengthen its lifespan. When you clean it properly, just use a bit of soap and suds it up well especially around the handle. Bonus points if the soap happens to be anti-bacterial so it can kill any harmful bacteria you might have come into contact within the wild.
Make sure that there’s no remaining dirt or soap on the blade when you’re done, and dry both the blade and the attached handle very thoroughly before returning it to its sheath. Always check for moisture because it will lead to rust development over your star tool.
When dealing with stainless steel knives, take extra care not to touch the blade too much with your fingers because the lightly acidic sebum you produce could lead to corrosion.
2. Lightly oil it:
A supremely important point to note/jot/memorize/chant is that your survival knife’s Achilles heel is friction. Keep it as far away from friction as possible and it will continue to happily serve you. A small amount of oil (just about enough to completely lubricate it) on your knife’s blade is key to preventing friction and also avoiding rust. Just look for some good local lubricating oils or even motor oil. Just be sure to use a small amount and only apply it on the blade, not the handle.
3. Commit to sharpening it:
The importance of sharpening your knife can not be overstated. A dull knife isn’t only greatly reduced in how useful it can otherwise be, but is also dangerous for whoever uses it. You need to apply far greater pressure which can result in lesser control over the knife and possible injury to your fingers or hands. Learn to sharpen your knife yourself so you can skip the visits to professionals and make sure you make it a regular habit.
4. Store it in a dry place:
Remember that mantra I made you memorize a paragraph ago about friction being the worst enemy? You might want to add moisture to the list as well. Most sheaths are made of leather which can leak chemicals onto the blade, so you want to avoid storing it in its sheath for long periods of time. Instead keep it wrapped up in paper, plastic and a cool dry place, far away from any humidity or moisture. Oiling it lightly here is a great idea to protect from rust as well. le in storage, you’ll need to wrap it with paper, place it ion against rust.
And please for the love of god do NOT use an abrasive or metallic sponge to clean your survival knife. Not only is this wholly unnecessary but it could also irreparably damage the exterior of your knife and make it incredibly dull.