Mineral Oil and Canola Oil as Knife Steel Quenchants can be a good option if you do not have access to or the extra $$ for commercial quenchants such as Parks or Houghton.
Note: I see people fairly often recommending engine oil to those new to forging and looking for a cheap quenchant. Please do not do this, quenching in engine oil is going to give you direct exposure to a plethora of toxic and cancer causing smoke and fumes.
Mineral Oil As a Knife Steel Quenchant:
- Speed: Mineral oil is generally a medium-speed quenching oil.
- Application: It’s often used for medium-carbon steels like 1050, 1060, and 1075, where a balance between hardness and toughness is desired.
- Advantages: It offers a consistent and controlled cooling rate and is less prone to spoilage compared to vegetable oils.
- Disadvantages: It can be more expensive and less readily available than canola oil.
Canola Oil As a Knife Steel Quenchant:
- Speed: Canola oil is a slower quenching oil compared to a commercial quenching oil such as Parks #50. It can be considered a medium-speed oil. You can somewhat speed up its quench speed by pre-heating it to 120-130°F (50-55°C). It can work as a fast quench speed oil like that and be used on let’s say 1095.
- Application: It’s suitable for lower to medium-carbon steels like 1045, 1055, or even 5160, where a slower cooling rate is acceptable.
- Advantages: It’s readily available, inexpensive, and non-toxic, making it a popular choice for amateur bladesmiths.
- Disadvantages: Its cooling rate can be inconsistent, and shelf life is substantially shorter at about 12 months after opening.
Both of these options are regularly used by bladesmiths that require a cheaper option or do not have access to commercial quenchants. They will not match commercial quenchants especially in stability of colling rates so it is possible to have some unexpected results.
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