Oil for Blades, Choji research

Discussion in 'Himalayan Imports' started by ddean, Oct 31, 2002.

  1. ddean


    Mar 26, 2002
    -----moved from another thread due to length-----
    Does anyone know which came first:

    'Clove' oil as Choji oil?
    Camellia oil as choji oil

    Sells the latter version

    Oiling Sword Article at SwordForum.com, mentions clove oil

    Page including instructions for oiling Japanese swords

    I'm guessing the Camellia oil is more traditional,
    being a plant oil rather than refined petroleum.
    But I'd like to find some specific info.

    Olive oil would probably be a good alternative.
    An old acquaintence worked as a craftsman bookbinder.
    He used olive oil on leather for binding books,
    because he claimed it was archival and non-drying,
    and it would not go rancid.
    Probably the lighter grade olive oil the better.
    1% clove oil could be added to it.

    Clove oil has some antiseptic properties.
    Maybe it also has some anti-oxidative properties.
    Which may be why it was originally added to mineral oil.
    Mineral oil from the pharmacy usually contains Vitamin-E.
    Vit-E is an anti-oxidative.
    I didn't know that mineral oil could go bad/rancid.
    Can it?

    There are several weights of pharaceutical grade mineral oil.
    The heavier ones are used as laxatives,
    the lighter ones are used as skin emollients.
    You can get a good idea of the weight by shaking the bottle.
    Light mineral oils feel more like water and you get --Lots--
    of little bubbles.
    The very heavy mineral oils hardly shake up at all.
    'Baby oil' is a 'pure' light mineral oil; if you don't mind the fragrance.
    Some honing oils are light mineral oil.
    Some are not or have many additives.
    I ordered some pure light mineral oil from the pharmacist.
    Go to a woodworking store and ask for Rottenstone.
    For something coarser they carry Pumice powder.
    The latter comes Course to Very Fine.
    AHA !!! I think I just found my own answer to which came first !

    Look at this flower:
    Common name: Camellia ------- Variety: 'Choji Raju'


    So originally, Choji oil must have been the oil of the Choji Camellia plant.
    I need to find research into flower varieties in Asia.
    BTW, Camellia oil is commonly sold as a fragrance additive.
    Soap, candle, perfume, potpourri incense, & more.
    It is also sometimes used as a cooking oil.
    AHA!!! AHA!!!
    "Genuine Katanas are famous for their polish and mirror like finish. This is not for merely cosmetic appearance. Steel has microscopic surface irregularities that can collect moisture and corrosive elements. A finely polished blade has smaller irregularities and sheds blood much more easily than an unpolished one. Hence, the more corrosive agents that collect in the pores, the more tarnish and rust will accumulate. A sword should be wiped down with a clean piece of cloth to remove old oil before use. Oil on the blade can interfere with its cutting ability. After use, the blade should be wiped off again to remove skin oil and perspiration, then lightly oiled before storage. As to the selection of what kind of oil should be used, here are some things to consider. You will be handling the blade when you re-sheath it (noto) and a little oil will get on your hands. Most petroleum-based oils are toxic and can build up after being absorbed through the skin. Common vegetable oil quickly goes rancid when exposed to the air and can severely discolor carbon steel if not properly removed on a regular basis. For centuries, the Japanese have used Kurobara (camellia oil) to care for their swords and tools. This oil is non-toxic and non- allergic. In a pinch it can readily be used for cooking and it even works well as a skin softener. A little bit of this excellent oil goes a long way and can easily remove light surface rust. Among Kurobara's other benefits is that this fine oil also conditions wood. A proper saya (scabbard) made of wood can soak up oil over a long period of time and help preserve your steel sword every time you re-sheath it. If you can't find Kurobara, choji (clove oil) works very well and has the added advantage of being a natural anesthetic for small cuts. Lastly, extra-virgin olive oil can serve to protect your sword from rusting."
    "Camellia Oil. Not too long ago it was used for cooking. Today it's used as a rub on fine wood, swords, tools, etc. It can also be used on Stewartia to redden and accentuate its beautiful bark."
    "Oil: Traditional, Japanese clove oil known as choji abura is best; however, a fine grade of camellia oil, tsubaki abura, may be used as well. Avoid any heavy oil as it will have a tendency to collect inside the saya and gather dust."

    RE the spice Clove

    "Japanese: Choji . . . . Chinese: Ding xiang, Ting hsiang, Ding heung"

    So, the Japanese word for Clove is Choji.
    So, maybe the Camellia 'Choji' flower was named for a clovelike fragrance.
    A site selling oil says
    "Choji Sword Oil
    Oil speciallized to lubricate the Katana to avoid rusting. Made of Choji fruit oil."

    Does this mean pure clove oil? Unlikely.
    Perhaps 'Choji' as a variety name is more modern.
    Camellia japonica 'Choji-Raju' was one name out of many for Japanese Camillia varieties.
    From a Japenese glossary page:
    "CHISA == Slang for CHOJI OIL"


    "4. Abura: A rust preventive oil called choji a chamomile-like flower oil much like clove oil."
    "2. Uchiko: The most finely ground claystone powder (between 30 - 35 grams and about 8000 grits, with powdered deer horn for bulk), used for cleaning the blade surface."
    This, I think, differs from other references I've seen to powdered limestone or waterstone powder left after sword polishing.
    I've got to stop myself.
    I've got things to do........really.
    Just one more link; to a thread about Japanese water stones / polishing stones.
    Good info on how they are different from sharpening stones.
    And makes me wonder if there's a similarity to the kamis' Magic Stone.
  2. Yvsa


    May 18, 1999
    I used olive oil when I first started out in here. It does turn rancid and becomes like a sticky glue as well. It took many, many coats of food grade silicone spray to get the scabbard loosened up to acceptable.

    Rusty's Kama Choji oil is still quite strong on the khuk and scabbard he sent me.:eek:
  3. firkin


    Jan 26, 2002
    This is ddean's brain....

    This is ddean's brain on Google.

  4. ddean


    Mar 26, 2002
    :eek::D :eek: :D :eek: :D :eek: :D :eek:
  5. stephensee


    May 17, 2002
    Yvsa said : "I used olive oil when I first started out in here. It does turn rancid and becomes like a sticky glue as well."

    I'agree with you Yvsa. I have met the same problems with olive oil.
    I'always use it when I go in the woods, because it's not expensive and because I can keep a close eye at the rust.
    I don't like machine oil because it's not alimentary : yes the high carbone steel do not rust, but you can't cut food.
    Same problem with monoï oil : good against rust, it smelt good, but not alimentary.

    I like to use butter : cheap, alimentary, no rust.
  6. Federico


    Sep 5, 2000
    What to use on blades. I started off treating knives the way my dad treated his. Left outside in the grill when not in use:( Hey the logic was, the darn hand made horn hilted knife is cheap in the Philippines, and if it ever broke or rusted through it could easily be replaced with another knife of said quality (if only he knew how hard it would be to find such knives of said quality here in the US). Then a friend told me I should be oiling my knives, and should care for them (mind you this is all when I was just a wee lad, so I everything was real new to me). Not knowing better I looked around the house for oil, and all I could really find was baby oil, so on it went, all over the blade, on the horn hilt, and on the leather sheath. For years thats what I used on my knives, and was happy as could be. Then came the internet, and I read on a forum that Choji oil was all they used on Japanese swords, and how great it was since its been used for centuries, etc.... So I went off and paid a bunch to get some. After lots of unhappy results (found myself having to check and oil the blades much more often), I went back to baby oil, and was happy. However now, that the collection has grown bigger. The simple act of going knife/sword/sharp pointy thinging to knife/sword/sharp pointy thingy, and cleaning them and oiling them all would take some time. Not as bad as some collections, but hey Im lazy. So its car wax Ive gone. So far the longest piece I have waxed has not been touched since last may, and so far the little durba is still gleaming. Its also easier to apply on mirror surfaces than oil. So what was the point of this long convoluted post. Well sometimes its the simple things that work the best.
  7. BryanH


    Nov 25, 2001
    Than article you linked to at bujinkantaijutsu.tripod.com was written by my sensei, Kendall Kelsoe, here in Texas. He DEFINITELY knows his stuff.

  8. Russ Kay

    Russ Kay

    Dec 19, 2000
    Two or three years ago, I went to the Blade Show in Atlanta and bought, among other things, a $40, 5-inch kitchen knife from Murray Carter, one of his semiproduction Muteki-branded models. He took the knife from me and spent 5 minutes sharpening it and then rubbed it all over with camellia oil.

    That knife takes a better edge than any other knife in the kitchen. I find I sharpen it more often than any other because the difference in performance between sharpest and not-sharpest is dramatic. When it's sharpened, the tomatoes seem to fall open before the blade even touches them.

    My main regret is that I was too cheap (and had spent so much else) to spend an extra $30 or so for one of his hand-forged models.

    In case this piques anyone's interest, his knives are now carried by Kellam Knives.

    (Standard disclaimer: no interest but a satisfied customer.)

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