I have been using Choji oil from a Japanese sword dealer on all my swords. I clean them with a microfiber cloth, and a bit of denatured alcohol. All of my swords are in polish. I started using Breakfree collector on one of my swords, and although it seems to work well at preventing rust, it is very thick and seems to attract dust. I wasn’t sure if it was the oil or my perception. Since I am thinking of trying other oil, I started researching alternatives.
I have been looking at oil tests available online, but found that they are geared towards guns. The usual tests show someone treating a piece of metal with oil, spraying it with salt water, then leaving it out in the element for weeks. This seems like a good test for a gun which may be out in the elements for a week of hunting. My issue with these tests are that the conditions tested aren’t really what I’m concerned about. My main worry is someone touching my treated blade (either customs, a guest, sword show, or my own negligence) then being left unnoticed and then developing rust. I am also concerned about the oil attracting dust with sticky residue. My other minor concerns are oil staining the shirasaya and unpleasant smell.
I developed a test based on these ideas, but focused more on nihonto. I used the same piece of mild steel. 36” long by 2” wide. I separated the steel into 11 equal sections, using 1” duct tape. I thoroughly sanded and cleaned the steel, then treated each section with a different type of oil. I left one middle section unoiled as a control.
I used 10 different oils in my test:
- Choji oil from a well-known nihonto dealer in Japan.
- 3-in-1 multi-purpose oil.
- Breakfree CLP.
- Hoppe’s elite gun oil.
- Rem Oil.
- Breakfree Collector.
- Marine Tuf-glide.
- Singer All-purpose Machine Oil.
- M-pro 7 gun oil.
After liberally applying the oil, I wiped off any excess with a new cloth. I then set aside the steel for 10 minutes.
I created a saline solution of 1%, which is similar to sweat, blood, and spit, any of which may end up on our swords. I applied saline solution to each section, then wiped it with my bare thumb. All of this was to simulate a situation where someone touches the bare blade.
I then left the steel inside on a table to measure rust.
I also put a sample of each oil into a zip-lock bag to judge color and smell.
Finally, I treated separate knives with oil, let them dry, then touched each one to judge stickiness.
Results to come!